The default settings and configuration for your computer
are not necessarily the most efficient for your particular usage. Here
are some tips and tweaks to speed up your computer and improve performance.
First Do Essential Housekeeping
Before undertaking any system changes, be sure that the basic maintenance
chores are done. Also be sure that you know how to get
back where you started in case changes don't work out. As a reminder here are the things that
need to be done regularly:
Make your computer start faster
Getting the computer up and running involves several stages. There are
various tweaks that can be applied for each stage to speed things up.
In my own experience, only a few make much difference. The most important improvement by far comes from
controlling the programs that are loaded at start up.
This item will be discussed in more detail below but
first here is a survey of other possibilities.
- The boot process involving the BIOS
- There are a variety of tweaks that are possible in this first stage but
I have never found one that did more than shave a second or two here
and there. Furthermore, the BIOS is terra incognita for the average PC user. There are probably more fruitful areas where
time-saving measures can be looked for but those who love to tinker
can get some ideas from this ExtremeTech
- About Bootvis.exe
- This graphical Microsoft developer tool is mentioned and recommended
as a way to speed up booting in countless places. I see it so often
that I felt constrained to devote a separate section to it. This is
what Microsoft has
that Bootvis.exe is not a tool that will improve boot/resume performance
for end users. Contrary to some published reports, Bootvis.exe cannot
reduce or alter a system's boot or resume performance. The boot optimization
routines invoked by Bootvis.exe are built into Windows XP. These routines
run automatically at pre-determined times as part of the normal operation
of the operating system.
From what I understand (I'm no expert) a brand-new setup might take a couple
of days before Windows XP finishes optimizing and, if you just can't
wait, Bootvis.exe might
help you optimize right away . But, basically,
you can forget about using this tool in spite of what everybody keeps
saying. You can't even download it from Microsoft anymore although
there are sites that still have it. There seem to be several versions
and one or more may not work in SP2.
In any event, it seems it is possible to carry out
some of the type of optimization done by this tool just by using RUNDLL32.EXE.
In Start-Run. Enter the command
- Loading Windows
- Windows XP loads pretty fast but there are some ways to hurry it up a bit.
Unfortunately, a lot of the stuff you read isn't too useful. Here are a few
of the common suggestions.
- A study has shown that cutting down on the number of fonts
being loaded will speed things up. If you have many hundreds of fonts, you might consider removing some. Those who wish to manage their fonts can read this
- There is a lot of discussion of configuring "Prefetch" and
the related subject "boot defrag".
The average PC user can ignore these subjects since Windows
XP basically takes care of this area on its own. These configurations
are part of what the utility "Bootvis.exe" discussed above was
supposed to help manage. If you must tinker, do the RUNDLL32.exe
command given above in the Bootvis.exe section. However, forget
the often-mentioned idea of regularly deleting the contents of the \Windows\Prefetch\ folder. In fact, deleting Prefetch will initially slow down the boot until
the folder is rebuilt. See Ed
Bott's blog on the subject. Also see this bad
- The Start menu in Windows XP contains an entry, My Recent Documents, where a list of all the recent documents that you have opened or used is kept. This provides a quick way to reopen any document. After a while the list can get quite long and it has the effect of slowing the bootup process. Details of managing this feature are discussed here. What isn't obvious is that the list of files that can be accessed from the My Recent Documents entry in the Start may be only the tip of the iceberg. The folder, %USERPROFILE%\Recent, where the entries are stored may have many more. This folder should be cleaned regularly. This can be done manually or automatically every time you log off. To make the cleanup automatic you can edit the Registry. (The usual caveats about Registry editing apply.) In the Registry editor Regedit, navigate to this key:
Create a DWORD value named ClearRecentDocsOnExit and give it a data value of 1. Shortcut entries for “My Recent Documents” will still be collected during a login session but will then be cleared at logoff.
For those who shun Registry editing, I have written an INF file to do the Registry change. Download the zipped file here to anywhere convenient and unzip. Then right-click and choose “Install” from the context menu. The change will take place when you log off or reboot.
Note: This file is offered without any guarantees and the user assumes all responsibility for its use.
- Drivers and hardware
- Part of the boot process is loading and initializing the hardware.
the drivers for your peripherals and other hardware up-to-date. This
may require checking regularly at the Web sites of the manufacturers. If
you have older equipment, be sure that you are using drivers written
for Windows XP.
- You may want to disable rarely used peripherals or hardware services. Possible
examples are game ports, IR ports, MIDI devices, and Firewire. Disabling
devices does not remove them and they can be re-enabled if desired.
Use Device Manager to make changes. Click here to see how to use Device Manager.
- Networking tweaks
- Network cards can be a substantial drag on
startup time since they can spend a lot of time getting network addresses.
Also if you have a lot of network protocols , loading them can take
- If you have a home network and are using automatic IP assignments,
you may be able to speed things up by assigning permanent IPs to
the computers on your network. Consult the instructions for your
router. Also see this
- If you are using DSL and connect by PPPOE directly to a modem (not a
router) you definitely want to assign a permanent IP to your network
card. Otherwise, there is a considerable delay while the card hunts
for an address when you boot. Consult your ISP for instructions.
Also see this
Limiting the programs and services that start
This area is where the big savings in time can be made. The average PC user
probably has far too much stuff loading at start up. Also, Windows starts
up a lot of services by default that many systems do not need. The measures
to take are covered in great detail on pages
elsewhere on this site. How to use the Windows System Configuration Utility
and the Services Console to control both programs
and services is discussed. There is also some excellent freeware to help
manage your startup and one program,
WinPatrol, is evaluated here.
Making the system run better
Controlling what starts up is also a major way to make your system faster
and more efficient once it is up and running. Other ways to help
your system run more efficiently are discussed on the next