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Windows XP Definitive Performance Tweaking guide

1. Stop the 'last access update' stamp

Every time a directory on an NTFS drive is accessed by Windows XP, it updates that directory and every subdirectory with a time stamp to indicate the date of access. In folders with a lot of subdirectories, this can add considerable overhead to whatever your PC happens to be doing.
This process can be disabled through the registry:
Open REGEDIT and Navigate to

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINES\\System\\CurrentControlSet\\Co ntrol\\FileSystem.

Create a new DWORD value called 'NtfsDisableLastAccessUpdate' and set the value to '1'

2. Disable the 8.3 naming convention

Windows XP uses two different names for each and every file on your system. One is the name that you see in explorer and in the command prompt, and the other is an MSDOS compatible 8.3 (8 character title followed by a '.' Then three more characters to indicate the type of file) name. If you are intending to run DOS only software, or connect to pre-Windows 95 computers, you will need this second set of names. If not, you are simply wasting resources.
To disable the 8.3 naming convention:
Navigate to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\\System\\CurrentControlSet\\Con trol\\FileSystem
Change the value of the NtfsDisable8dot3NameCreation key to '1'
Note that some popular programs, including Norton Antivirus, use the 8.3 naming convention.

3. Keep Windows operating data in main memory

Windows XP contains several tweakable memory settings in the registry, one of which is the DisablePagingExecutive registry key. This controls whether the operating system will transfer its essential driver and kernel files to the 'virtual memory' (the page file on the hard disk). It defaults to allowing this.
Obviously, transferring portions of the system to hard drive memory can considerably slow things down, and it appears that Windows XP does this periodically, whether or not the system is actually low on physical memory (RAM). If you have 256MB of system memory or more, try this registry tweak to force Windows to keep its operating data in main memory:
Open Regedit.
Navigate to: HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\\SYSTEM\\ControlSet001\\Control \\SessionManager\\MemoryManagement.
Select the DisablePagingExecutive value to '1'

4. Obtain the newest drivers for your hardware

This may seem a bit obvious, but keeping your system's drivers up to date can give both your performance and stability a boost. Video card manufacturers release updates especially often, and these can often give "significant boosts" to gaming performance as video card in question is "optimized."

Don't neglect the other components of your system either. Your motherboard manufacturer may have released newer versions of its Input/output drivers for your board, and sound cards and other peripherals can also benefit from newer software.

5. Move the page file from system drive

The page file is the area of a hard drive which Windows reserves for use as virtual memory when there is more data than can be stored in the actual physical memory of the system.

Page file access is extremely slow as compared to standard memory, since the hard disk, as a mechanical device, is slower to read and write information than the purely electronic memory. There are still some ways to optimize your page file use so it is a bit less of a burden on your system, however.
One of the best of these methods, provided you have two physical hard drives, is to move the page file off the disk which hosts the Windows system files. This ensures that Windows is not constantly accessing the disk for the system files as well as the page file.
To do this in Windows XP:
Right click on 'my computer' and select 'properties.'
Select the 'advanced' tab.
Under 'performance' choose the 'settings' button.
Select the 'advanced' tab again and under 'virtual memory' select 'change.'
The virtual memory window allows you to select and change the allocation of hard disk space to be used as virtual memory for your system. For best performance; if you have two physical hard disks of roughly equivalent speed, remove the page file from your system disk and place it on the other drive.

6. Create a 'permanent' page file

Make the minimum size of the page file the same as the maximum size. This saves the operating system from needing to resize the page file, and does not lose you any extra space, since the 'maximum' size the page file can reach is the amount of hard disk space that is reserved by the OS.
Right click on 'my computer' and select 'properties.'
Select the 'advanced' tab.
Under 'performance' choose the 'settings' button.
Select the 'advanced' tab again and under 'virtual memory' select 'change.'
Highlight the drive containing your page file and make the 'initial size' of the file the same as the 'maximum size' of the file.

7. Optimize your page file size

Windows XP sizes the page file to about 1.5X the amount of actual physical memory by default. While this is good for systems with smaller amounts of memory (under 512MB) it is unlikely that a typical XP desktop system will ever need 1.5 X 512MB or more of virtual memory. As a simplified guideline. If you have less than 512MB of memory, leave the page file at its default size. If you have 512MB or more, change the ratio to 1:1 page file size to physical memory size.

8. Enable UDMA/66 mode on IDE Channels

Even if DMA is enabled on IDE channels, by default UDMA/66 mode is disabled. You can improved disc performance by enabling it.
Open registry by going to START-RUN and entering REGEDIT and Navigating to:
[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\\System\\CurrentControlSet\\Con trol\\Class\\ {4D36E96A-E325-11CE-BFC1-08002BE10318}\\0000].

In right pane look for a key by the name "EnableUDMA66". If it is there, set its value to 1 if it is not already set to 1. If not, add a dword entry by the name "EnableUDMA66" and set its value to 1.

10 How to improve on shutdown time ? Close apps automatically & quickly at shutdown

Open Registry by going to START-RUN and typing REGEDIT. Navigate to:

and look for AutoEndTasks. On my computer default value is 0. Change it to 1. Thats all. Further more you can reduce the time it takes for Windows to issue kill directive to all active/hung applications. In doing this only constraint that you should make sure exists is that HungAppTimeout is greater than WaitToKillAppTimeout. Change the values of WaitToKillAppTimeout to say 3500 (since default value for HungAppTimeout 5000 and for WaitToKillAppTimeout is 20000)

11. Speedup boot up sequence by defragmenting all key boot files

Open Registry by going to START-RUN and typing REGEDIT. Navigate to
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\\SOFTWARE\\Microsoft\\Dfrg\\Boo tOptimizeFunction

In right hand panel look for Enable. Right click on it and set it 'Y' for enable. This is the way I have it set on my computer. This will help speedup boot time.

12. Create your own customized legal notice at Windows Startup
This tip won't make your computer any faster but may help personalize your computer experience. Open Registry by going to START-RUN and typing REGEDIT. Navigate to:
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\\SOFTWARE\\Microsoft NT\\CurrentVersion\\Winlogon.

In right hand panel look for two fields by the name legalnoticecaption and legalnoticetext. Modify legalnoticecaption to what you want popup window caption should read and change legalnoticetext to customize whatever message you want.

13. Disable Remote Registry

This service allows your registry to be edited from a remote computer. It is most likely the case that this service is not needed, not to mention a possible security risk for people concerned about their system security.
To turn it off, go to Start > Run and type services.msc.
Set the startup type tManual or Disabled for XP Remote Registry 2000 Remote Registry Service.

14. Visual Effects

Both Windows 2000 and XP have all sorts of fade and other fancy effects turned on as default. All right, so they look pretty, however, they can really bog down systems.
Under XP, in the Control Panel, go to System->Advanced tab and under Performance, click Settings. The two I suggest to uncheck here are Fade or slide menus into view and Fade menu items after clicking. You can turn off and on any effects you want in order to find a good balance between visual effects and performance Hit Apply and OK after you're done.
In 2000, Right click on the desktop, click Properties and go to the Effects tab.

15. Turn Off Terminal Services

If you are experiencing slow shutdowns, one tweak you can try is turning off Ternimal Services. If you do not use remote desktop, fast user switching, remote assistance or the terminal server, then proceed with this tweak.
Go to Start > Run and type services.msc /s.

Find "Terminal Services" on the list and double click on it (If its not there, it isnt installed). Change startup type to disabled or manual and click OK.

16.Winodws Sharing

It’’s fairly common nowadays to have more than one computer in the house on LAN so they can each connect to the Internet. It’s also common to share and transfer files between the computers. When you try to access one computer from another, there is often a significant delay while trying to connect. This is because your computer will check the remote computer you are accessing for any scheduled tasks. The more there are on the remote PC, the longer it takes to connect.

To avoid this delay, go into regedit, and go to

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\\Software\\Microsoft\\Windows\\ CurrentVersion\\Explorer
Delete the {D6277990-4C6A-8D87-00AA0060F5BF} key and reboot.

The next time you try to access the shared files on a remote computer, you will probably notice your computer gets there faster.

17. Disable Windows Messenger

To stop Windows Messenger from loading, there is a registry tweak you can try out. If you use MSN Messenger, it can be run without Windows Messenger. If you install MSN Messenger after applying this tweak, the tweak will be reset by the installation and it will need to be done again.
First, if you have it open, close MSN Messenger and make sure it is not open in the system tray. Open up regedit and go to

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\\SOFTWARE\\Policies\\Microsoft\ \Messenger\\Client.

Create/modify these to DWORD values: “PreventRun set to the value of 1; and “PreventAutoRun also set to the value of 1.

If you are experiencing a slow down opening OE as a result of the above tweak, try this:
Open regedit and go to
Find the key {FB7199AB-79BF-11d2-8D94-0000F875C541}
and under it select the folder IniProcServer32.
In the right panel of regedit double-click on the (Default) entry at the top and completely delete the value data it contains. Now do the same for the LocalServer32 folder as well.

18. Delay When Opening My Computer

It is a sure thing that you have sat in front of your monitor more than a few times and waited for My Computer to load. There is a simple fix to eliminate the wait time.

Open up My Computer, go to Tools > Folder Options and select the View tab. Uncheck Automatically search for network folders and printers and hit OK. Now try opening up My Computer. Notice a difference?

19 Disable anonymous NetBIOS connections

Some computers are vulnerable to a NetBIOS attack, where a hacker uses a rather simple method to connect to somebody's computer. From there, the hacker can essentially do more to that person's computer than that person can do. It is a good idea to do this tweak if you are not behind a firewall. Must be familiar with the Windows registry.
Open Regedit (go to start > run and type in regedit and press enter)

Navigate to the following folder:


Right-click a white area in the left pane.

Select New > DWORD Value.

For the name of the value, type "RestrictAnonymous".

Double-click the name of the value.

For the "Value Data" field, type 1.

Press OK.

Close regedit.

Note: The settings will change when your computer is restarted.

20. Disable the boot screen

This is a nice way to speed up your boot time.
Click on Start and right-click "My Computer".
Click "Properties".
Click on the "Advanced" tab.
In the "Startup and Recovery" box, click "Settings".
In the "System Startup" box, click "Edit".
On the end of the line with Windows XP in it, add "/sos".
Your line should like similar to the following (although it may not be quite the same):
multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(0)partition(1)WINDOWS="Micros oft Windows XP Home Edition" /fastdetect /sos
Go to File > Save (Click on Save).
Go to File > Exit (Click on Exit).
Click OK.
Click OK.

21. Check your hard drives with scandisk

With time and heavy use, a myriad of data problems and physical problems can develop and mar the performance of your hard drive, not to mention cost you precious space. While defragmenting the drive can help restore much of the performance you might have lost, there are other issues such as lost clusters and bad sectors which the defragmentation utility cannot touch.
Because of this, it is a good idea to run XP's built in error checking utility on your drives once in a while. This utility will scan your disks for errors and optionally attempt to correct them.
Open 'my computer.'
Right click the hard disk you wish to check and select 'properties.'
Choose the 'tools' tab and under 'error checking' select the 'check now' button.
Check both options. You will need to restart the computer to do the full disk check.
Your disk will be fully checked for errors upon reboot, but be aware that this can take quite a while.

22. Force XP to unload DLL files after closing a program

Dynamic Link Libraries, or DLLs, are files containing data or functions that Windows programs can call when needed by linking to them. Every piece of windows software will include instructions to the operating system as to which DLLs it will need to access, and XP will cache these particular files in memory for faster access.
The trouble is, Windows XP keeps these DLLs cached after the relevant program has closed, wasting memory space. While DLLs are generally tiny, enough of them can make a dent, so it's worthwhile to implement this registry tweak, which will force Windows XP to unload DLLs used by a specific program when that program halts.
To do this, first run REGEDIT. Navigate to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\\SOFTWARE\\Microsoft\\Windows\\ CurrentVersion\\Explorer

Create a new key named 'AlwaysUnloadDLL' and set the default value to equal '1.'

23. Disable the themes service

If you are not a fan of the appearance of Windows XP, there is an easy way to turn it off and go back to the more traditional Windows style. Simply disable the 'themes' service to restore a classic windows desktop appearance.

To do this, right click on 'my computer' and select 'manage.'

In the computer management windows, expand 'services and applications' and select 'services.'
In the right hand window, highlight the 'themes' service. Right click it and select 'properties.'
In the 'startup type' dropdown box, select 'disabled.'

24. Remove the desktop picture

Your desktop background consumes a fair amount of memory and can slow the loading time of your system. If you are more concerned with performance than looks, remove your picture and go with a blank, colored background.
Right click on an open area of the desktop and select 'properties.'
Select the 'desktop' tab and in the 'background' window, highlight 'none.' Press 'ok.'

25. Reduce recycling bin reserved space

By default, Windows XP reserves 10 percent of each hard drive to store deleted files in the recycling bin. This is a bit excessive. Actually it's a lot excessive, unless you habitually delete files a gigabyte in size or more. Fortunately, there is an easy way to reduce the amount of hard disk space that is reserved for the recycling bins on each drive.
Right click on the recycling bin and select 'properties.'
Choose the 'global' tab.
The slider shows the percentage of each drive that is reserved by the recycling bin. Reduce this to a more appropriate amount, like 2-3% or more depending on the size of your drives. The larger the drives, the smaller the number you should use. If you wish to configure each drive independently, check the 'configure drives independently' button and adjust the slider to the desired amount in each of your hard disk's tabs. The advantage to doing things this way instead of using the 'global' setting is that you can see the actual amount of space on each drive that is being reserved.
Note that files larger than the recycling bin's capacity on a given drive are deleted for good. Windows XP will warn you when this condition occurs.

26. Enable write caching on hard disks

If it is not already selected, enabling the hard drive write-back cache setting on each of your hard drives can improve their performance by making the transferring of data between the drive and the memory more efficient. The only reasons not to enable this setting would be if the drive in question is in a hot-swappable drive rack, or if you expect your PC to be shut down incorrectly (I.E. not through the windows shutdown procedure) often.
To enable write caching right click on my computer and select 'properties.'
Select the hardware tab, then 'device manager.' From the device manager window, expand 'disk drives' and highlight your hard disk. Select 'properties' then the 'policies' tab.
Check the 'enable write caching on the disk' box.
Repeat the above steps for all hard drives in your system.

27. Defragment your hard disk(s)

When an operating system writes data onto a hard drive, it will generally attempt to place the data on the drive as sequentially as possible, in order to facilitate faster retrieval of the information. Over the operational life of the drive, various factors can cause data to become scattered, or fragmented, over the surface of the drive.
This does not mean it cannot be read, since the file system retains a table which links each cluster (the smallest unit of storage available on a hard drive) of data with the other clusters on the disk that contain data for a particular file.
Fragmentation does slow down drive access considerably though, since the drive has to constantly seek for a new disk location to piece a file it is reading together from the fragmented clusters, rather than just being able to grab it off the disk in one continuous stream of data. Factors that can cause fragmentation include incomplete uninstalls of software, system crashes while the disk is in use, improper shutdown of the operating system, etc.
Defragmentation is the process of reassembling the data on the disk into coherent and sequential order, making disk access easier and faster. If your drive has gone a long while without being defragmented, you may find that this process restores a lot of zip to your Windows install. All recent versions of Windows include a built-in defragmentation utility.
To access this utility in Windows XP, go to 'start\\programs\\accessories\\system tools\\disk defragmenter.'
To begin with, you need to analyze your hard disk(s) to see if defragmentation is needed. Select a drive and hit the 'analyze' button. This could take a little while depending on the amount of data on the drive.
Once the analysis is finished, you will have a graphical representation of your disk's level of fragmentation. See the pic below for an example of a highly fragmented drive (red indicates fragmented files).
Windows will also inform you if it recommends defragmenting the drive. You must have 15% of the drive free in order to fully defragment it. Anything less will result in only a partial re-ordering of the files. You may need to delete a few things to obtain this free space.
To defragment the drive, select it and hit the 'defragment' button. Note that depending on the size of the drive and the level of fragmentation, this can take a long time. It's a good thing to leave overnight, since you should not run anything else while doing the defrag.

28- Turn off the indexing service

Windows XP includes a new feature called 'indexing' which constantly creates and updates an index of files in your PC. This index is mainly used for speeding up file searches. The indexing feature is largely useless unless you find yourself using file search a lot, and it sucks up system resources, so it is recommended that you disable it for performance purposes.
To turn off file indexing go to Control Panel\\Add/Remove Programs\\Windows Components. and uncheck 'Indexing Service.'

29- Increasing Options In Add/Remove Menu

by default none of Windows XP's 'built in' programs are visible. it's fairly easy to change, though... just open the file X:\\Windows\\inf\\sysoc.inf (where X: is the drive letter where Windows XP is installed) in Notepad. You should see a section of the file something like this:

IndexSrv_System = setupqry.dll,IndexSrv,setupqry.inf,,7
TerminalServer=TsOc.dll, HydraOc, TsOc.inf,hide,2
fp_extensions=fp40ext.dll,FrontPage4Extensions,fp4 0ext.inf,,7

This is a list of all components installed at the moment. I've taken the example of MSN Messenger - the program entry called 'msmsgs', third-last line. You can see the word 'hide' highlighted - this is the string which tells Windows not to display the component in the Add/Remove Programs list. Fix this up by simply deleting the word 'hide' like so:


To this:


Now, after restarting, you should be able to see MSN Messenger in the Add/Remove Programs list. If you want to be able to quickly view and remove all components, simply open the sysoc.inf file and do a global find and replace for the word ",hide" and replace it with a single comma ",".

30 - Accelerate Your WinXP by Speeding Diskcache

Diskcache plays a very important role in WinXP. However, the default I/O pagefile setting of XP is conservative, which limits the performance. Some better values for different RAM are given below.

1. run "regedit";
2. goto [HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\\SYSTEM\\CurrentControlSet\\Con trol\\Session Manager\\Memory Management\\IoPageLockLimit];
3. modify the value in Hex depending on the size of your RAM:
RAM: modified value(Hex)
64M: 1000;
128M: 4000;
256M: 10000;
512M or more: 40000.
4. reboot.

Though some good tools (such as "Cacheman") can do this, it is an interesting experience for you to work it out by yourself and let your XP fly.

31 - Clean your prefetch to improve performance

This is an unique technique for WinXP. We know that it is necessary to wash registry and TEMP files for Win9X/ME/2000 periodly. Prefetch is a new and very useful technique in Windows XP. However, after using XP some time, the prefetch directory can get full of junk and obsolete links in the Prefetch catalog, which can slow down your computer notably. My suggestion is: open C(system drive):/windows/prefetch, delete those junk and obsolete files,reboot. It is recommended that you do this every month.

32 - Improve NTFS Performance

Reserve appropriate space for the master file table.

Add the "NtfsMftZoneReservation" entry to the registry as a REG_DWORD in HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\\SYSTEM\\CurrentControlSet\\Con trol\\FileSystem. When you add this entry to the registry, the system reserves space on the volume for the master file table. Reserving space in this manner allows the master file table to grow optimally. If your NTFS volumes generally contain relatively few files that are typically large, set value of this registry entry to 1 (the default). Typically you can use a value of 2 or 3 for moderate numbers of files, and 4 (the maximum) if your volumes tend to contain a relatively large number of files. However, be sure to test any settings greater than 2 because these higher values cause the system to reserve a much larger portion of the disk for the master file table.

Reboot after making changes.