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Apr 172002
 

Black Viper’s Top tweaks for a faster PC

The following is what I do directly after a clean install of Windows XP. This does not mean that everything I do will work
for you. Keeping that in mind and ensure you are fully aware of the risks of tweaking your system before doing so.

Point to note: Ensure that you are logged in as an “Administrator” or have Administrator rights before performing any of these
steps.

Even though I do these steps directly after a clean install, all of them can be done at any time.

Before posting your question in the comments below, see if your question has been addressed in the FAQ!

Number One: System Restore and Indexing Services

This is valid for Windows XP Home and Pro.

If you are experiencing “random” slowdowns and “high” CPU usage for no reason, these two services are the most likely cause of the problem. These services are also a major cause of “missing” disk space. System Restore Service could be taking up 3 GB of space, just on its own.

For an easy method of creating multiple Service Configurations, please check out my Windows XP Services Profile Guide.

System Restore Service creates system snap shots or restore points
for returning to at a later time. Every time you install a program or new driver, plus on a schedule, this service creates
a “restore point” to roll back to if a problem occurs. This service would have been nice in the Win95 days due to
plenty of problems occurring (new DirectX version every 15 minutes) but not required for the “much” more stable
WinXP. This is the first thing that I get rid of on a clean installation. If you use this and enjoy it, good for you. I never
will. I feel it is faster and less hassle to just install clean. A rather GOOD (and possibly the only) reason to use this “feature” is to roll back your OS after installing an unknown program or testing software. For example: BETA software
of any kind or before installing Service Pack 1 or 2. NOTE: If you disable this service,
your previous “restore points” will be deleted. If, for what ever reason, you do not want this to happen, do not
disable this service.

Get rid of System Restore Service and Indexing Service. I disable both, plus uncheck the box, just in case it may decide to fire back up. This is valid for Windows
XP Home and Pro. Where do you find it?

With the default Category Control Panel:

  1. Head to Start
  2. Select Control Panel
  3. Select Performance and Maintenance
  4. Select System
  5. Select System Restore Tab
  6. Check “Turn off System Restore
  7. Select the Ok button to apply the settings

With the Classic Control Panel:

  1. Head to Start
  2. Select Control Panel
  3. Select System
  4. Select System Restore Tab
  5. Check “Turn off System Restore
  6. Select the Ok button to apply the settings

Screen shots of the process are also available.

After that, Disable and Stop the System Restore Service:

With the default Category Control Panel:

  1. Head to Start
  2. Select Control Panel
  3. Select Performance and Maintenance
  4. Select Administrator Tools
  5. Select Services
  6. Select “System Restore Service
    (Double Click)
  7. Select General Tab
  8. In the Startup type: select “Disabled
  9. Select the Ok button to close the panel

With the Classic Control Panel:

  1. Head to Start
  2. Select Control Panel
  3. Select Administrator Tools
  4. Select Services
  5. Select “System Restore Service” (Double Click)
  6. Select General Tab
  7. In the Startup type: select “Disabled
  8. Select the Ok button to close the panel

Screen shots of the process are also available.

While you are there, you can disable and stop the Indexing Service:

With the default Category Control Panel:

  1. Head to Start
  2. Select Control Panel
  3. Select Performance and Maintenance
  4. Select Administrator Tools
  5. Select Services
  6. Select “Indexing Service” (Double Click)
  7. Select General Tab
  8. In the Startup type: select “Disabled
  9. Select the Ok button to close the panel

With the Classic Control Panel:

  1. Head to Start
  2. Select Control Panel
  3. Select Administrator Tools
  4. Select Services
  5. Select “Indexing Service” (Double Click)
  6. Select General Tab
  7. In the Startup type: select “Disabled
  8. Select the Ok button to close the panel

Screen shots of the process are also available.

Number Two: Remote Assistance and Remote Desktop Sharing

Remove Remote Assistance and Remote Desktop Sharing.

Take note: Remote Desktop Sharing is not available with Windows XP Home. You may request assistance from someone only using
Windows XP Pro.

Where do you find it?

With the default Category Control Panel:

  1. Head to Start
  2. Select Control Panel
  3. Select Performance and Maintenance
  4. Select System
  5. Select Remote Tab
  6. Uncheck both “Remote Assistance and Desktop Sharing” options
  7. Select the Ok button to apply the settings

With the Classic Control Panel:

  1. Head to Start
  2. Select Control Panel
  3. Select System
  4. Select Remote Tab
  5. Uncheck both “Remote Assistance and Desktop Sharing” options
  6. Select the Ok button to apply the settings

Screen shots of the process are also available.

Number Three: Page File

Adjust the paging file to a respectable level. This is valid for Windows XP Home and Pro.

Can you get rid of the paging file? Yes and no. If you have a boat load of memory (greater than 2GB) you may be able to
function just fine. Some games require a certain amount of swap space to be created to even run, no matter how much RAM is
available. Also, under certain conditions, my sound card goes crazy (or does not function) in some games with no paging file
(oddly enough, Age of Empires 2). If you decide to test your luck with no paging file, you are on your own. :)
Please do not E-Mail me with your war stories about no paging file. Every system is different and each persons requirement of how many applications are open at a time is different.. I usually do not have one “unless
something requires it that I am running that day.”

Where do you find it?

With the default Category Control Panel:

  1. Head to Start
  2. Select Control Panel
  3. Select Performance and Maintenance
  4. Select System
  5. Select Advanced Tab
  6. Under Performance, select the Settings button
  7. Select Advanced Tab
  8. Under Virtual Memory, select the Change button
  9. Adjust as needed, or select “No paging File,” then select the Set button
  10. Select the Ok button to apply the settings
  11. You must reboot for the changes to take effect

With the Classic Control Panel:

  1. Head to Start
  2. Select Control Panel
  3. Select System
  4. Select Advanced Tab
  5. Under Performance, select the Settings button
  6. Select Advanced Tab
  7. Under Virtual Memory, select the Change button
  8. Adjust as needed, or select “No paging File,” then select the Set button
  9. Select the Ok button to apply the settings
  10. You must reboot for the changes to take effect

Screen shots of the process are also available.

If anything, create (preferably on a separate partition), a paging of constant size. For example, select Custom Size
and place 1000 in “Initial” and 1000 in “Maximum” Size boxes, then click Set Button. This will reduce
the amount of work needed to dynamically resize the paging file, usually when you need it most.

Some definitions need to be explained:

Physical RAM ~ The amount of Memory (RAM) installed on a system. Physical RAM is “way” faster than a “paging file.”

Paging File ~ The file that is located on your hard drive that “acts” like Physical RAM but is way slower.

Virtual Memory ~ The name used for the sum of Physical RAM and the Paging File. In other words: Physical RAM + Paging File = Virtual Memory. You cannot “disable” Virtual Memory even if you disable the Paging File. Meaning, 2 GB RAM + 0 MB Paging File = 2 GB Virtual Memory.

If you have not already, reboot now.

Number Four: Themes

Reduce the overhead associated with WinXP’s new Themes. This is valid for Windows XP
Home and Pro. I have observed between 4 MB to 12 MB of RAM used for the new themes.

With the default Category Control Panel:

  1. Head to Start
  2. Select Control Panel
  3. Select Performance and Maintenance
  4. Select System
  5. Select Advanced Tab
  6. Under Performance, select the Settings button
  7. Select Visual Effects Tab
  8. Select “Adjust for best performance.”
  9. Select the Ok button

With the Classic Control Panel:

  1. Head to Start
  2. Select Control Panel
  3. Select System
  4. Select Advanced Tab
  5. Under Performance, select the Settings button
  6. Select Visual Effects Tab
  7. Select “Adjust for best performance.”
  8. Select the Ok button

Screen shots of the process are also available.

After that, Disable and Stop the Themes service.

With the default Category Control Panel:

  1. Head to Start
  2. Select Control Panel
  3. Select Performance and Maintenance
  4. Select Administrator Tools
  5. Select Services
  6. Select “Themes” service (Double Click)
  7. Select General Tab
  8. In the Startup type: select “Disabled
  9. Select the Ok button to close the panel

With the Classic Control Panel:

  1. Head to Start
  2. Select Control Panel
  3. Select Administrator Tools
  4. Select Services
  5. Select “Themes” service (Double Click)
  6. Select General Tab
  7. In the Startup type: select “Disabled
  8. Select the Ok button to close the panel

Screen shots of the process are also available.

Number Five: Services

Adjust for any additional unneeded services. This is valid for Windows XP Home and Pro. Windows XP Services.

For an easy method of creating multiple Service Configurations, please check out my Windows XP Services Profile Guide.

If you have not already, reboot now.
If you have rebooted, do it again.

Number Six: Add/Remove Programs

This is valid for Windows XP Home and Pro. Go to the “Add Remove Programs” and click the “Windows components.”
Here, take out all the crap you do not need. Such as “MSN EXPLORER” and such.

After Removing the unused Windows components, ensure that you check back up on the services that you disabled. Some like
to go back to Automatic after playing with the Windows components (namely COM+ and Help and Support).

You may also adjust a file to “allow” you to remove other Windows components, such as MSN Messenger. Here is
how:

TAKE NOTE: You will need to enable “hidden file” viewing to see the inf files.

IF YOU ARE SCARED, DO NOT MODIFY THE FILE… Also, you may experience a delay of around 30 seconds or more when loading
up Outlook before you can do anything. Putting Messenger back will allow Outlook to function properly again. If you use MSN
Explorer, Messenger will also be running in the background. It is how Bill is getting to the “.NET” stuff. “Software
as a service” is coming soon.

Go to your Windows\inf folder. The default is ~ c:\windows\inf

edit the file called “sysoc.inf”

Remove the reference of “hide” in this line:

msmsgs=msgrocm.dll,OcEntry,msmsgs.inf,hide,7

To make it look like this:

msmsgs=msgrocm.dll,OcEntry,msmsgs.inf,,7

You may also remove all references to “hide” in all of the other lines as long as you KEEP the commas. Some components
you cannot “uncheck” in the add/remove programs GUI. If you do get them to uninstall, I do NOT support it. You are
on your own.

Number Seven: Drivers!

This is valid for Windows XP Home and Pro. Download and install ALL updated drivers from the hardware manufacture sites.
I cannot tell you what site you need to go to, but do your computer a favor and get updated drivers for everything.

Reboot again.

Number Eight: System Tray

After updating all my drivers, I remove any excess icons (all of them, basically) from the system tray (lower right) and
recheck the services to ensure nothing else was installed (like NVIDIA’s “driver helper.” Contrary to popular belief, those little “quick access” icons take up a lot of room.

For example, MS messenger takes up about 3.6 MB just sitting there… not even logged in… Bring it up, select tools,
options, then uncheck “load at startup” and uncheck “allow to run in background.”

Also, Creatives “AudioHQ” running is REALLY not required.

ICQ’s little “Net Detect” sucks up way too much memory. Make it go away. Various Quick Tweak icons and even EZCD
creator’s icon annoys the hell out of me. Make them all go away. If you just gotta have that quick access to those programs,
place them in the “quick launch bar” (located in the lower left by default, where IE and “Show Desktop”
buttons are). The icons will not clutter your desktop and you can easily hit them from any normal windows application. To
top it all off, they do not take up memory or resources constantly running in the background. Another plus, this will reduce
your boot up time.

Number Nine: msconfig

I run msconfig and get rid of any annoying startup programs that may be hiding from me. If you are not familiar with the
operation and features of msconfig, I am not going to go into them here. Do not adjust your service
configurations
using msconfig, though.

To use msconfig:

  1. Head to Start
  2. Select Run
  3. Type “msconfig” without the quotes
  4. Select OK or hit Enter

Number Ten: Defrag

Defrag the hard drive. Even if XP tells you that it does not need to, do it anyway. It has much tolerance for what “needs”
to be done and what should be done. After all, if it was really efficient, there would be no need for you to read this page.

Defrag again after installing your applications and games. After that, there should be little need to do it again for awhile
unless you delete/uninstall/reinstall a lot of stuff.

This listing is by no means complete, but it does hit on the high points.