Increase Your System Performance with a few Basic Windows XP Tweaks

by: Kristopher Mainieri

Increase Your System Performance with a few Basic Windows XP Tweaks

Windows XP is currently the most popular operating system for personal computers and comes in two broad categories--XP Home and XP Pro. XP home is designed for home users who do not need the more heavyweight corporate applications such as a web server but still require a scalable and reliable operating system. While Windows XP runs well out of the box, there are tricks that can be used to optimize your installation. There are great Windows XP tweaks that involve broadband settings, registry entries, and other under utilized components of WinXP.

While this first group of tips can not properly be considered Windows XP tweaks, they are so important that they should be included in any guide that discusses WinXP performance and efficiency. The single most important thing you can do to ensure to WinXP performance is to make sure that your computer is free from viruses, trojans, spyware, and other pieces of software that could serve to slow down or otherwise compromise the functioning of your WinXP computer. The first thing that you should do, particularly if you have an always on broadband connection, is to install a firewall. A firewall locks down the software entry points (called ports) that applications use interact with your computer. Ports are simply numbers that, when combined with your internet protocol (IP) address, specify a single channel of network communication. Some ports should usually be open, such as port 80 which allows web HTTP communication to occur, but others should be locked unless they are needed by a legitimate program. By default, the entire range of ports is open to the world on a WinXP machine. A firewall blocks all unused ports and lets the WinXP user decide which ports to open. WinXP service pack 2 contains a firewall that is on by default. Another member of this class of Windows XP tweaks is to install anti virus and anti spyware software. These programs can clear up the malicious pieces of software that siphon of your WinXP machine's performance.

Once you have implemented the above vital Windows XP tweaks, it is time to look at other performance based steps that you can use. The WinXP registry is a centralized data structure that WinXP programs, including WinXP itself, use to store configuration data. The registry can quickly become crowded and hence more slow to search. Particularly if you remove unused programs that do not uninstall properly, they may leave behind garbage in the registry that can cause registry searches to slow. Since registry searches can occur at any time during program execution (particularly during start up), a clogged WinXP registry can cause the entire system to slow. There are numerous free and share ware programs out there that can help you clean your WinXP registry. It is not advisable to muck around the registry yourself, and always be sure to back up your registry before making any changes.

Another important class of Windows XP tweaks is to keep your hard drive defragmented. Hard drives become fragmented when application programs save different parts of files in different places on your hard drive. For example, in order to maximize available space, WinXP may decide to save part of your file in different places on the hard drive. This means that access time for that file will become slow. Over time, your hard drive can accumulate many such fragmented files and generally become a mess. This can slow your computer down a great deal. Fortunately, it is easy to de-fragment your hard drive using built in WinXP utilities. The process can take a number of hours to complete, so many people choose to de-fragment their hard drive overnight.