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Speeding up your computer... :: Archived
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Joined: Jan 21, 2005
Posts: 6989
Location: Central Illinois, USA
PostPosted: Thu Mar 30, 2006 11:58 am
Post subject: Speeding up your computer...

Pretty good article from Meryl Evans. This is a combination of his readers opinions as they explain or offer their tech tips for keeping your 'puter on the lean side of things... Wink

Keeping a computer clean and protecting it with the usual applications ensures it operates at maximum speed and stays free of the “bad� guys. Readers responded with several ways to do this. Remember these are suggestions and don’t guarantee successful results or that crashes will be avoided. Unless you’re a tech doctor, consult with yours before beginning a speed regimen.

* Disable unneeded services and startup programs
* Clean up and defrag the HD
* Get help from tools
* Reinstall Windows
* Backup to another partition or drive
* Check the registry… carefully!
* Edit the Hosts file
* Verify amount of space and virtual memory

When installing a new application, some ask if you want to add it to the system tray or the quick launch bar and others just add it to one of them without asking. Often this means the application runs at startup and takes up valuable memory. Just say “No� when asked.

Howard Owens gives examples of system resource hoggers.

"Many software installations ask to place icons onto the Windows task bar or system tray. Please resist this temptation! Many of these task bar icons conceal memory, are processor cycle wasters, and they should be employed with discretion. A well-known example is the Microsoft Office task bar, which in earlier versions of the product employed more than 10Mb of RAM. Another is the Lotus Notes message reminder. These task bar applications really slow down Citrix and Terminal Server desktop sessions, and they are just as damaging to the performance of stand-alone sessions."

Mike Fetherston provides examples of what to disable from startup and tasks that make a difference.

"Things like computer browsers, SSDP discovery service, terminal services, Messenger and Remote Registry are often unnecessary and consume system resources. There are more, just take a look in your Services applet. You can also:

* Remove file and printer sharing, if the computer isn't sharing data on a network.
* For home computers, remove Client for Microsoft networks; you could even strip it down to simple TCP/IP.
* Minimize the amount of plug-ins installed in Internet Explorer (IE) by using HiJackThis.
* Install a corporate spyware management solution, update the definitions and immunize IE.
* Reduce temporary Internet files to 1MB maximum and configure IE to empty them on exit.
* Minimize the amount of startup programs using MSConfig. Monitor this. Reinstalling an application more than likely re-enables it to startup.
* Use an antivirus program that isn't memory intensive (AVG is good for personal use).
* If you don't need to use IE, don't! Firefox and Opera are excellent alternatives.
* Disabling System Restore, or at least minimizing the space it consumes, saves hard drive space and helps minimize fragmentation levels.
* If you have access to a disk defragmenter that will allow you to place specific file types either at the end or beginning of the hard drive, do so. System files such as .exe, .dll, .vxd, .com and .sys should go at the beginning for fast access.
* Configure "Enable" under HKLM\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Dfrg\BootOptimizeFunction to "Y."
* Speed up the shutdown by searching through the registry for AutoEndTasks and setting to 1. Alternatively, use hibernate as it significantly increases the speed at which your computer comes back from a "power-down."
* Disable Window XP's eye-candy of XP by setting Visual Effects to Adjust for best performance under the Advanced tab in the System Control Panel applet.
* Disable fancy backgrounds and use a flat color instead.
* Reducing your display bit depth to 16 from 32 can help on lower-end hardware.

Brian Lausen suggests those using Win2K or XP to check the services that are running by going in to the administrative console.

"You can also remove programs from the startup sequence by going in to MSConfig (Microsoft Configuration Utility). This is accomplished by clicking Start > Run. Here you would type in 'msconfig' to access the utility. Once it opens, find the "Startup" tab and click it. Go through the list and uncheck any programs to prevent them from running at startup (this doesn't remove them).

"Several programs should keep running including antivirus, antispyware, firewall and so on. Once you finish and click 'OK,' the PC will ask you to reboot the computer. Reboot and see if this speeds up the computer. If not, there may other items starting when Windows starts.

"Another place to check is the startup folder in the Start menu. If there are any programs listed, right-click on them and then delete them as you wish (once again this will not delete the programs just the executable that starts the program with Windows)."

Try a couple of things at a time rather than all at once to ensure the system continues to operate smoothly.

Clean up and defrag the HD

There are packrats, and there are "filerats" who keep everything including every email sent and received. If they want speed, they'll have to give up a little. Start by cleaning out the temp files and directories including the temp Internet files. Also, many folks suggest running a defragmenter like Disk Defragmenter that comes with Windows (typically found in Start > All programs > Accessories > System > Disk Defragmenter) on a monthly basis or more often.

Windows also comes with Disk Cleanup, which looks for files that may not be needed and deletes them. Not only does it free up space, but also it improves performance. To access the application in Windows XP (use the Help file to find it on your operating system), click Start > Programs > Accessories > System Tools > Disk Cleanup. You can schedule Disk Defragmenter and Disk Cleanup to occur on a regular basis with Task Scheduler.

Get help from tools

Numerous tools and utilities are available for maintaining computers � more choices than we can handle. Readers share favorite proven applications. As always, test the tools before adding them to your PC maintenance toolbox.

Michael Relfe, director at Goldman Wolfe, recommends a using a virus scanner, Trojan scanner, malware/spyware scanner, software firewall and an Internet files cleaner.

More apps come from George.

"Free staples that should be on everyone's Windows computer are Microsoft OneCare and Ad-Aware. Although not a real-time scanner, ClamWin A.V. is updated almost daily, but requires manually scanning any folder as well as fetching updates. OneCare takes care of the real-time scanning and doesn't seem to interfere with ClamWin, though few support two antivirus programs on one computer. Although not free, Diskeeper's 'set & forget' defrags the hard drive at the set time.

"OneCare activates even in safe mode, so if you have an always-on Internet connection, you still have protection. And all spyware scanning should be done with as many programs turned off as possible, hence safe mode."

Marcus Gill, network consultant with Systech Consulting, advises running spyware and antivirus software on a regular basis. He also says, "Wipe your machine out every six to eight months (if you have a static install, which many businesses often have)."

Yan Fortin offers preventative measures.

"Prevent users from installing software on their PCs. What slows down computers in general are antivirus applications, so try to find one that doesn't eat too much of your resources. In my opinion, Eset NOD32 is the best one. Run Shavlik NetChk Protect to keep systems free of spyware."

Shavlik NetChk Protect is the first integrated solution that automates the management of critical security patches and spyware from one easy-to-use console. By viewing these issues together, spyware and patch management, IT professionals stand a better chance of maximizing network security against such threats.

Marie Kennedy of Kennedy Consultants works with some older systems that have 128MB on a Pentium 2 running at 300 MHz.

"I typically speed up these older systems running WinXP by changing the following settings: turn off the Indexing Service (hard drive properties on the General tab, uncheck Allow Indexing Service). This setting also works in Win2k. Then, in System Properties on the Advanced tab, change the performance settings. You can play around with which ones you want to keep, but on a really slow system, I turn them all off. This is just a quick and dirty way to speed up an aging machine."

Reinstall Windows (Did he say reinstall? GULP!)

Since business PCs typically have a standard setup, reinstalling Windows on occasion isn't a scary task, as it might sound. Andy Maslin says to check disk errors because bad sectors slow down the system. Just run a "chkdsk /f" (with a space) and the f switch tells it to fix the errors.

"Doing a fresh install of the operating system is a good bet, particularly if the computer gets a lot of software installed, uninstalled or both. I've also been surprised when looking in Program Files -> Startup folder, as unexpected shortcuts appear there."

Readers recommend backing up the files to a second partition or disk before reinstalling the operating system.

Check the registry... carefully!

A reader said that using a good registry cleaner was the best thing to do. As you know, use caution when messing with the registry. Make a backup before starting any registry work. A registry cleaner helps get rid of old entries left behind due to badly run uninstall applications. "Defrag registry, pagefile and Windows event logs using Sysinternals (www.sysinternals.com) free 'PageDefrag' utility," says a reader.

Brian Lausen says the last and most drastic step is to hack the registry and of course, backup before you start � as one misstep in the registry can mean the death of a computer. He says, "Open up the Registry by opening the run command line and typing 'regedit.' Once open, go to the following key to view and edit programs out of the startup sequence of the Windows."


Max Riseman of weathermaine.com says that after running "chkdsk" and rebooting, compact mail stores and ISAM databases and then run a file system defrag.

Edit the Hosts file

A few folks recommend editing the Hosts file. Several people refer to a useful resource for information on the Hosts file. Michael Elze says, "It's not fully automated, but you can sign up for their notification service to know when it is time to update your Hosts file. Your Web surfing experience will be faster as well. Also, most adware/spyware programs simply clean up malware. They do not do much in regards to keeping it from getting on to your computer."

George Eakin shares more information about the Hosts file.

"This is helpful in blocking adware and unwanted cookies. Block a host by associating its domain name with your localhost in your Hosts file. A public list of identified adware and spyware offenders (and other nefarious types) is maintained. This can only be done through a community effort, which is what's happening at the aforementioned mvps.org resource. It speeds surfing because calls for ads are redirected locally, and the worst I get is a ‘page not found’ message, which is okay because I'm not looking for it anyway.

"Also on this Web site is information that provides a utility to set a *long* list of 'Untrusted Sites' in Internet Explorer (see 'Tips' on site). If you use IE, the method they've devised (and again maintained by community cooperation) disallows a long list of sites from even setting cookies on your system. You can review the sites they include in their list. I don't get any cookies from any of these places, but if you want a cookie, you can easily remove the site from the list. If you have any hesitations about the mvps.org site, there's a ton of information there that explains how everything works, including the criteria used for including sites in the lists."

Verify amount of space and virtual memory

Another popular recommendation is to ensure there is at least 10 percent of disk space available. One reader recommends making it 20 percent.

John Fryman, IT consultant with Global ITU, says that after doing a disk cleanup and defrag, adjust the virtual memory settings, performance options in Control Panel > System > Advanced tab. Make a note of what the settings were before, in case the results don't pay off.

Mohammad Zubair Farooq explains what to do with Page File and provides a couple of more tips that don't require third-party utilities.

"Relocate Page File to another partition (or another hard drive) with fixed memory size, which is suggested to be 1.5 times the amount of RAM in the PC. Some people even create a small partition of around 2 GB (assuming 1 GB RAM is available) as the first partition C: and install the operating system on D:, reserving C: for the virtual Memory or Page File because the tracks and sectors are closer to the spindle and the head doesn't move as much to read/write the data, thereby speeding up the read and write process. Reserve a fixed size of C: around 1.5 GB as the Page File and leave around 400 MB as free to avoid the ‘disk full’ error.

"After a disk cleanup, run ‘SFC /SCANNOW’ to restore any corrupted/damaged windows files and then defrag. This doesn't speed things, but gives an impression of being fast � find MENUSHOWDELAY in the registry and change the default 400 to 30. A faster hard drive at 7200 rpm or 10,000 rpm helps. The new SATA hard drives tend to have better performance than IDE drives. On a network domain, you can try deleting the current user profile and creating a new one."

Michael Relfe suggests hardware upgrades. Motherboard to 64-bit dual channel, CPU to AMD 64-bit, CPU to AMD dual core and upgrade memory to at least two GB, � dual channel.

Robert Schneider, engineer with Unisys, sums up all of the advice in one nice package:

"Monitor your startup programs and eliminate any obsolete programs that are being launched. Defrag. Turn off indexing for hard drives. Monitor running services and disable any not needed. Relocate your swap file to your fastest hard drive. Set your swap file to a static minimum and maximum file size. Disable caching your kernel to disk, if you have enough memory. Clear the Windows Prefetch folder. Enable UDMA/66 on hard drives. Use a registry tool to clean out invalid entries, such as Regvac."

Many of the products mentioned are free applications and aren't automated. For corporate solutions, the process needs to be automated and centralized to be time and cost-effective for organizations. Also of importance is that the end users � no matter their computer expertise � should leave the computer defense to the IT team unless it's their own personal home computers.

There you have it. Overall, some good tips IMO. I don't use IE any longer as I've given up on that browser a long time ago and use FireFox, so the monthly security updates from M$ for IE aren't as important as someone that still uses that "buggy browser"... Wink

Also, in a couple other posts on this forum are FREE tools (:D My favorite price!) to help you keep your computer running better...
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Joined: Feb 04, 2005
Posts: 239
Location: Ontario, Canada
PostPosted: Thu Mar 30, 2006 2:39 pm
Post subject: Re: Speeding up your computer...

Re: Defrag

One of the things I do, which is an extension to the recommendations, is to temporarily remove the page file, reboot the system, and defrag in safe mode. This will defrag the area on the disk where the page file was located and defrag many of the files which normally would not be defragged because they are in system use. Then reboot and re-install the page file. I notice a marked improvement even with 10,000 rpm drives. Mr. Green
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Joined: Jan 21, 2005
Posts: 6989
Location: Central Illinois, USA
PostPosted: Thu Mar 30, 2006 4:06 pm
Post subject: Re: Speeding up your computer...

Great tip Biz!!! Thanks!
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Joined: Aug 27, 2005
Posts: 767
Location: Meeechigan
PostPosted: Thu Nov 16, 2006 9:59 pm
Post subject: Re: Speeding up your computer...

for a reg cleaner, check out free program ccleaner (crap cleaner), never had a problem...


I deny everything
I lie about everything
And everything I deny
Is a lie!
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Posts: 239
Location: Ontario, Canada
PostPosted: Thu Nov 16, 2006 11:05 pm
Post subject: Re: Speeding up your computer...

Great cleaner!

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