Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Speeding up your PC (Windows XP based)

Everybody complains about how the PC slows down over time. Here are some steps I recently discovered on how to speed it up (thanks to all the people that posted this info previously on the web, I just compiled it...). Basically, the idea is:
  1. Clean stupid stuff that is running in your computer without any need (eating away useful bandwidth from your processor)
  2. Clean up and sort the hard disk, so, that when Windows needs to access the drive, it can do it as fast as possible.
 #1 Remove programs that the processor is running unnecessarily

Press Windows key + R and type "msconfig"
You can see the list of Services and when they start (automatic/manual/disabled...). Also the list of programs to be loaded or not at Startup. Go through both a disable those not needed. After reboot, do CTRL+ALT+SUP and check that all those unwanted process are really dead.

Note1: A lot of these processes stay there for periodic actions (windows update, backup, iPassDirectory update...). It would not be bad to have a macro or something that runs them when I want, so, I have the updates but it is not running continuously. The same macro could run a lot of the stuff on this list (like defrag, disk cleaner, etc...)

Note2: Check out this tool: http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/sysinternals/bb896653.aspx to analyze the processes on your machine...

#2 Clean up and sort your hard drive (make it easier to access)

Start by cleaning old programs that are not used.
Use CCleaner (see note 3 below) or simply (without having to download anything) Start >> Programs >> Accessories >> System Tools >> Disk Cleanup
There you can clean all temp files and also reduce the amount of old restore files. Remember to check both tabs (including the system restore on the second tab). This can be a huge saver of space.

Then Start >> Programs >> Accessories >> System Tools >> Disk Defragmenter
This will not do almost anything to the Outlook ost and pst files. For that, the best is to Press Windows key+R and type CMD. On the window, move to the directory where the pst files are and run "contig"
See more details at http://searchexchange.techtarget.com/tip/0,289483,sid43_gci1245588_mem1,00.html

And example of command would be: contig outlook.ost

After this, if you run defrag, you should see on the log that everything has been defrag. Only one file is left (the indexer file, created by the indexer process (I need to check this further):
 \Program Files\Connected\HASHES.DB
 \System Volume Information\catalog.wci\00010006.ci

The first I think has to do with the backup. The second with the last restore point (or more than one if you have allowed for it). From what I read, you shouldn't mess with them, at least not directly, through command prompt kind of interface. Maybe with the right utilities. In my case, I left them there but please let me know if there are better ways...

Note 3: CCleaner helps clean up temp. files, registry stuff left behind, etc... but not sure it is really necessary to be run/downloaded.

Extra Notes:

Note 4: A good thing is to create an image of the HDD when it is clean and running and save it, to do a restore eventually purging all messed up things...

Note 5: A lot of this can be accessed also through right click on the PC icon >> Manage and through Properties >> Advanced tab. Notice that these windows have a lot of the info of the PC, like environment variables, etc... Stuff that can be adjusted there: on Advanced one can click on performance, Visual effects set to "adjust for best performance").

Note 6: In the Advanced/advanced tab one can find the Virtual memory allocation, set to 2GB.
I have DEP on.

Note 7: On System Restore, one may want also to reduce the amount of disk space available for restore (how many system restore points you have... or how back you can go in time...). I put 1G (it was 10G!).

Note 8: Removed also the automatic updates (which will have process running in the background). Just remember to run that every now and then...

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