The Complete Guide To Optimising Windows XP

Over the last 12 months I’ve made several posts that list ways in which you can optimise XP – 10 Simple Ways To Speed Up Windows XP, 10 Intermediate Ways To Speed Up Windows XP and More Ways To Speed Up Windows XP.

I thought that now that I’ve already moved one of my PCs over to Vista, and the second one will be moving over next week, it’d be nice to pull all of these tips into one single guide for all of you who know better and are sticking with XP! I’ve also updated these tips based on the feedback received through comments.

My Complete Guide To Optimising Windows XP
is split into 3 sections – Beginners, Intermediate and Expert. You can either work through each tweak in order, or just jump straight to the section that matches your ability level.

Update: If you are using Windows Vista then check out 10 Simple Ways To SpeedUp Windows Vista.


Remove Annoying Delete Confirmation Messages

Although not strictly a performance tweak I love this fix as it makes my machine ‘feel’ faster. I hate the annoying ‘are you sure?’ messages that XP displays, especially if I have to use a laptop touchpad to close them. To remove these messages:

  • Right-click on the ‘Recycle Bin’ on the desktop and then click ‘Properties’
  • Clear the ‘Display Delete Confirmation Dialog’ check box and click ‘Ok’.

If you do accidentally delete a file don’t worry as all is not lost. Just go to your Recycle Bin and ‘Restore’ the file.

Disable Indexing Services

Indexing Services is a small little program that uses large amounts of RAM and can often make a computer endlessly loud and noisy. This system process indexes and updates lists of all the files that are on your computer. It does this so that when you do a search for something on your computer, it will search faster by scanning the index lists. If you don’t search your computer often, or even if you do search often, this system service is completely unnecessary.

To disable do the following:

  • Go to Start
  • Click Settings
  • Click Control Panel
  • Double-click Add/Remove Programs
  • Click the Add/Remove Window Components
  • Uncheck the Indexing services box
  • Click ‘Next’
  • Optimise Display Settings

Windows XP can look sexy but displaying all the visual items can waste system resources. To optimise:

  • Go to Start
  • Click Settings
  • Click Control Panel
  • Click System
  • Click Advanced tab
  • In the Performance tab click Settings
  • Leave only the following ticked:
    • Show shadows under menus
    • Show shadows under mouse pointer
    • Show translucent selection rectangle
    • Use drop shadows for icons labels on the desktop
    • Use visual styles on windows and buttons

Speedup Folder Browsing

You may have noticed that every-time you open my computer to browse folders that there is a slight delay. This is because Windows XP automatically searches for network files and printers every-time you open Windows Explorer. To fix this and to increase browsing significantly:

  • Open My Computer
  • Click on Tools menu
  • Click on Folder Options
  • Click on the View tab
  • Uncheck the Automatically search for network folders and printers check box
  • Click Apply
  • Click Ok
  • Reboot your computer

Disable Performance Counters

Windows XP has a performance monitor utility which monitors several areas of your PC’s performance. These utilities take up system resources so disabling is a good idea. To disable:

  • Download and install the Extensible Performance Counter List
  • Then select each counter in turn in the ‘Extensible performance counters’ window and clear the ‘performance counters enabled’ checkbox at the bottom.button below

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15 Responses to The Complete Guide To Optimising Windows XP

  1. Profile photo of Everton
    Everton February 6, 2007 at 9:25 am #

    THanks for these great tips! They are wonderful

  2. Profile photo of Everton
    Everton February 6, 2007 at 12:14 pm #

    The link for pagedefrag is dead…

  3. Profile photo of Everton
    Everton February 6, 2007 at 9:51 pm #

    Thanks kethdredd – I’ve updated the link in the article. here it is if you need it.

  4. CodeDude February 6, 2007 at 10:25 pm #

    Check your spelling, optimise should be spelled with a “Z”.. OPTIMIZE

  5. Profile photo of Everton
    Everton February 6, 2007 at 11:06 pm #

    errr, not if you’re speaking English rather than some strange dialect called American English!

  6. rob February 8, 2007 at 2:09 pm #

    How do you run the Extensible Performance Counter GUI?

  7. Profile photo of Everton
    Everton February 8, 2007 at 2:41 pm #

    How do you run the Extensible Performance Counter GUI?

    once it’s installed you can find it in C:\Program Files\Resource Kit\

  8. C. Flowers February 8, 2007 at 3:50 pm #

    This is the most comprehensive list of XP tweaks I’ve ever seen. I’m definitely going to feature these on The Daily Hack!

    C. Flowers

  9. betty February 10, 2007 at 10:36 pm #

    help!!!! i have a dell inspiron 1000 and i want to clear it all like back to the new state i dont have the cd’s to reinstall but was told there is a way to do so withpout the disc…can anyone help???? thank you

  10. Prefetch1 February 18, 2007 at 2:50 pm #

    Debunking yet another bogus Windows tip:

  11. Ranter February 18, 2007 at 7:54 pm #

    February 6th, 2007 22:25 GMT

    Check your spelling, optimise should be spelled with a “Z”.. OPTIMIZE

    Only by stupid Americans who don’t realizzzze they have no language of their own!!

  12. Natalie February 19, 2007 at 6:06 am #

    Wow, this is really terrific. I have done a lot of these things and they work like a charm. I really love the menu timer hack.

  13. Amogh February 19, 2007 at 7:45 am #

    hi!this is amogh thanks for gr8 tipsss!
    act i used lots of from but som tips r awesome!

  14. Andrew February 19, 2007 at 5:29 pm #

    This is filled with all sorts of bad and misinformed advice. Get the facts:

    Prefetch 1 and conservativeswap file are two of the many bullshit tweaks listed here.

  15. Jeff February 21, 2007 at 4:46 pm #

    Turning off system restore is a great idea until you need it, then it’s too late.

    That’s one feature I’d never turn off, unless you have absolutely nothing on your box that’s critical.

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