A factory fresh installation of Windows XP runs so fast you wouldn't be able to catch it if you tried but inevitably through use it 9 times out of 10 becomes sluggish and congested and in the worst of scenarios you might find yourself considering buying a new machine alltogether. After following these simple steps you will become your own computer doctor and will laugh at the simplicity of cleaning and restoring your Windows XP computer back to peak performance.
1. Tweak startup processes
2. Remove unnecessary/unused programs
3. Scrub your registry and clean your temporary internet files
4. Tweak your services
5. Repeat 1-3 once a month :-)
Tweak your startup processes via StartupCPL
StartupCPL is a freeware application that gives you the power over processes/applications start/run when your computer first boots up. Tweaking these processes will increase load time and increase performance by freeing up memory/RAM. Keep in mind that you are not actually removing anything from your computer you are simply telling them to not start automatically and that you would like to start them as needed.
Download here: http://www.mlin.net/files/StartupCPL.zip
Install and once completed go to your Control Panel by clicking on the Start Menu and clicking on Control Panel. If you cannot find it click on Start->Run (Or hold the Windows key while pushing R) and type control and hit enter. Now open StartupCPL. Most entries will fall under HKCU / Run and HKLM / Run. Through experience I have found 75% of what you see listed as not necessary and it is up to you on how dirty you want to get. You can always come back and re-enable anything you disable. Laptops commonly require an oddly named process which handles the hot key functionality and make sure to not disable your security software. Often times viruses make there way into this space and if you see a blank entry or very strangly worded processes run a full system scan for Malware via Malwarebytes (free). If you're wondering why one would use this over msconfig understand that not everything is always listed there.Removing unused/unnecessary Programs/applications
I recommend first Uninstalling/Removing any programs you do not use prior to the next step as it is very common for applications to leave behind crumbs in the registry that bog down your performance in addition to the improvement simply removing programs and applications provides you. If you haven't noticed already peak performance is reattained through layers of maintenance as is security.. though that's another guide entirely. :-)Cleaning your registryAbexo Registry Cleaner
, Eusing Registry Cleaner
all clean out your system registry which is one of the most common culprits of bogging your computer down. I have seen upwards of 1,000 bad entries where upon removing you notice a significant increase in performance. Norton is notorious for being bogging down systems due to its questionably necessary overhead.Tweaking Services
Windows comes with a lot of overhead some of which you do not need running. Note: Windows Vista/7 are much worse. To access your services click on Start->Run or Windows key+R and type services.msc. To disable double click on any service and click on the drop down menu and select disable. Note: you cannot brick your machine by toying with these, I have disabled about 60% of what's on there and had no problems with my needs ( no networking, no themes, etc ).
Safe to disable:
Error reporting service: Useless 'feature' that was supposed to help improve program compatibility.
Help and support: Have you ever actually used the built in Windows help? Bet you didn't know it was running 24/7!
Themes: disable this if you are starving for every inch of performance possible. themes take up memory and take more processing power but they look nice
Windows Firewall: If you are running a firewall from another company you can safely disable Window's Firewall to improve performance. Note: if you use filesharing, leave this alone.
Terminal Services, UPNP host and Telephony: Disable these as they 8/10 are not necessary unless you are on a network where you share files printers and such. Telephony is needed if you use a USB Cellular modem or if you use 56k.
Extensive analysis of each service can be found here: http://www.blackviper.com/WinXP/servicecfg.htm
Feel free to post anything you might wish to add and if you have any questions or need further help the pleasure is mine. :-)