Fix Windows XP

Windows XP was such a great operating system that we were sad to part with it. We still have some computers in our office running XP and they are still some of the best performers we have. Windows XP responds well to some basic tweaks and you can get it really fast with a small amount of effort.

Total PC Health works really well with XP too. The scan and repair generally complete in under 3 minutes and we have seen some massive improvements. Click the following to learn about Fixing Windows XP with Total PC Health.

To manually tweak XP and get some great speed improvements, read on.

More Responsive Folder Browser

One thing annoying about XP is that it can take a while for folder operations (same in later versions of Windows). Generally the delay is caused by XP looking for printers and other network items. To turn off the auto discovery and speed up browsing of folders:

  1. From Windows Explorer or My Computer, click on Tools -> Folder Options
  2. Click on the "View" tab
  3. Uncheck the box - "Automatically search for network folders and printers". Click OK.

Disable Indexing for Extra Performance

Indexing is intended to make searches faster.By having everything indexed, your searches are definitely quicker, but how often do you search? If you only do a few searches now and then, you might consider switching the indexing off.

  1. Open Windows XP control panel. Click Start -> Control Panel
  2. Open "Add or Remove Programs"
  3. Click on "Add/Remove Windows Components" from the left menu
  4. Uncheck the "Indexing Service", then click "Next", then click "Finish"

Boost Windows XP Startup Speed

This is a very cool and simple tweak for improving Windows XP boot times. It involves altering the items that run at startup. There are many items that run during startup, but they really don't need to, because you probably never use them.

  1. There is a powerful tool that allows you to control items that load during startup. Click Start-> Run, then type in msconfig, click OK
  2. Click on the startup tab and then select the programs you don’t want to run on startup. Warning: don't turn off things you are not sure of. We recommend 1 or 2 at a time, and see how that improves your boot time.
  3. Click OK when done. After reboot you will get a message saying that startup items have changed. You can just ignore that.

windows xp startup config

Cleanup the Windows XP Startup Folder

There is a startup folder that contains a bunch of items to run when you login. These are only shortcuts, so you won’t be removing the actual program. If you want, you can always add the shortcut back in.


c:\Documents and Settings\username\Start Menu\Programs\Startup
note: username will be your Windows XP username.

Once you are in the correct location, remove shortcuts for any programs that you dont want to run on startup.

Improve Windows XP Shutdown Times

The tweaks to achieve this require Registry editing. Do not edit the Registry unless you know what you are doing. If you don't know what you are doing, just download Total PC Health.

1) Paging File Settings

Whenever Windows XP shuts down it clears the paging file. This is time consuming. To stop XP from doing this:

Start -> run, then type: regedit

Browse to the following location:

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\Session Manager\Memory Management

Double click on ClearPageFileAtShutdown, and set the value to 0. Close the registry editor and reboot.

2) Fast Kill Apps on Shutdown

Have you ever tried shutting down and some applications just take forever to close. Yeah, it is very annoying. Here is how you can force the apps to close much faster and hence faster shutdown.

In the registry editor, browse to: HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Control Panel\Desktop

Change the following values (set them to something much lower, eg: 1500):

Now also change those same values in:
HKEY_USERS\.DEFAULT\Control Panel\Desktop

3) Fast Kill Services on Shutdown

This is similar to above, except it will terminate services much faster. Sometimes on shutdown, the services just don't want to close.

In your registry editor, browse to:

Edit the value, WaitToKillServiceTimeout, and set it to something much lower, eg: 1500.

OK, done!

Display Settings Optimization

With Windows 7 and Vista, there are fancy display settings such as Aero and these consume quite a bit of resources. Not recommended for lower end hardware. Anyway, if you are running XP on old spec hardware, you can find some additional performance by tweaking the display settings. Just try out the following:

  1. Click Start -> Control Panel
  2. Click on "System"
  3. Click on the "Advanced" tab
  4. Click on the "Settings" button under the "Performance" heading
  5. In the "Visual Effects" tab you can mess around with various options. You can click the option "Adjust for best performance". Feel free to try your own custom settings, but you will find extra performance by switching down to the barebones..

I hope this helps boost your XP speed and reliability. If you are still getting errors or crashes, you might need to clean the Registry or update drivers.