Performance tips for Windows XP

Everybody and their dog will tell you they know some great performance tips for Windows XP. The internet is overcrowded with them. How to tell which ones work and which are to be avoided ?

And why on earth is this yet another Windows XP tips and tricks page about performance tips for Windows XP ?

It's because there are some simple techniques that really work without compromising your system stability. And they are simple to implement, so let's get started.

1. Optimize your paging file

Windows XP uses a paging file on your hard disk to store information when the amount of available RAM memory isn't sufficient to hold all the data that is being processed. For instance, when you are working on a very large Word document that is too big to fit in your computer's RAM, Windows XP starts swapping part of it's data in and out the paging file on your hard disk.

Hard disk access is typically a lot slower than RAM access, that's why you should optimize your paging file.

Windows will then show the available hard drives in your computer and the paging file settings for each drive. If you have more than one hard disk, you should place your paging file on another disk than the system disk (where Windows is installed).

That is to avoid contention on the disk controller when Windows is working with system files and the paging file simultaneously.

Usually the system disk is C:, so select any other disk if you have one and then check the "Custom size" radio button. Type in the same value for "Initial size" and "Maximum size", so that Windows doesn't need time to resize the paging file while you are working with your computer. Microsoft recommends about 1.5 times the amount of RAM in your computer. Click the "Set" button to commit the changes you have made.

It is possible to have multiple paging files on multiple disks, but try to avoid having a paging file on your system disk. Just select that disk and select the "No paging file" radio button.

2. Optimize display settings

A lot of performance tips for Windows XP talk about the overall sexy-ness of Windows XP and the performance price you have to pay for it. If you are working on an older computer and you care more about speed than graphical coolness of the Windows XP interface, you might want to consider toning down the graphics a bit.

If this change is too radical for you, you can try experimenting with the different individual settings as well.

3. Indexing service

The indexing service is a program that indexes files on your computer to speed up search results when you perform a search. It usually wakes up and starts doing it's job when your computer is idle. That's the reason why some pc's hard disks often start making a lot of noise when nobody's working on them.

The indexing service is also mentioned in a lot of performance tips for Windows XP, because it can interfere with your work. If you don't perform a lot of file searches on your pc, you might want to disable the indexing service.

4. Use the NTFS file system

Performance tips for Windows XP often mention the use of the NTFS file system because it works slightly faster than the FAT32 file system. Besides the performance benefit, you will also enjoy improved stability and security in comparison with the FAT32 file system.

You can convert an existing FAT32 file system to NTFS without data loss, but always remember that older operating systems like Windows 98 cannot work with NTFS.

Proceed with care if you have more than one operating system on your pc.

To convert a drive's file system :

Windows will start the conversion to NTFS and notifies you when it is finished.

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