How to tweak your XP performance

There are many hidden techniques that make XP run faster than usual. At Microsoft, the folks are more focused in giving us many features. They pay less attention in optimizing it for faster performance. This article gathers top notch tricks that boost XP speed dramatically. All these tricks are tested at TechnoPark office with 4 XP systems. Get… Set.. Go..

1. Overcome the ‘Indexing’ annoyance.

XP comes with an Indexing system to help us perform a faster search for files in the system. This is pretty useless. It consumes huge resources, but its usage is very little. Disable it without a second thought. Here is how you do it:

  1. Go to Start
  2. Click Settings
  3. Click Control Panel
  4. Double-click Add/Remove Programs
  5. Click the Add/Remove Window Components
  6. Uncheck the Indexing services
  7. Click Next.
Set page Size in Windows XP

Indexing Service in Windows XP

2. Optimize the PageFile

There is a reserved portion in the HardDisk called PageFile or SwapFile. This portion of HardDisk can be used as an Extension to the actual Physical Memory (RAM). In XP, the PageFile is, by default allocated 1.5X times of physical memory. We can optimize the PageFile based on the amount of Physical memory. Normally, if the Physical Memory is more than 512 MB, we need not have PageFile 1.5X times of Physical Memory. Rarely will we need that much PageFile. Best optimization for systems that have more than 512 MB memory would be to have 1:1 PageFile. For systems with less than 512 MB RAM, keep the default setting.

Here is the procedure to change PageFile Size:

  1. Right click on My Computer and select Properties
  2. Select the ‘Advanced’ tab
  3. Under ‘Performance’ choose the Settings button
  4. Select the ‘Advanced’ tab again and under ‘Virtual Memory’ select ‘Change’
  5. Highlight the drive containing your page file and make the initial Size of the file the same as the Maximum Size of the file.
Set Page Size in XP

Set Page Size in XP

3. Faster Menu Loading

This tweak removes the slight delay between clicking on a menu and XP displaying the menu.

  1. Go to Start then Run
  2. Type ‘Regedit’ then click ‘Ok’
  3. Find “HKEY_CURRENT_USERControl PanelDesktop”
  4. Select “MenuShowDelay”
  5. Right click and select “Modify’
  6. Reduce the number to around “100″

4. Make use of DMA Mode

XP enables DMA for Hard-Drives and CD-Roms by default on most ATA or ATAPI (IDE) devices. However, sometimes computers switch to PIO mode which is slower for data transfer – a typical reason is because of a virus. To ensure that your machine is using DMA:

  1. Right Click ‘My Computer’
  2. Click ‘Properties’
  3. Select ‘Hardware’ tab
  4. Open ‘Device Manager’
  5. Double-click ‘IDE ATA/ATAPI Controllers’
  6. Right-click ‘Primary Channel’ and select ‘Properties’ and then ‘Advanced Settings’
  7. In the ‘Current Transfer Mode’ drop-down box, select ‘DMA if Available’ if the current setting is ‘PIO Only’

5. Avoid Time wasting Display effects

XP’s Rich visual effects are much hyped but less used. Most of the effects eat resources. Here is the Optimization:

  1. Go to Start
  2. Click ‘Settings’
  3. Click ‘Control Panel’
  4. Click ‘System’
  5. Click ‘Advanced’ tab
  6. In the Performance tab click ‘Settings’
  7. Leave only the following ticked:
    1. Show shadows under menus
    2. Show shadows under mouse pointer
    3. Show translucent selection rectangle
    4. Use drop shadows for icons labels on the desktop
    5. Use visual styles on windows and buttons

6. Faster Folder Operations

Whenever you open folders in the system, you may notice a slight delay. The reason for this is that XP automatically searches for network files and printers whenever you open folders. Here is the optimization to overcome this:

  1. Open My Computer
  2. Click on ‘Tools’ menu
  3. Click on ‘Folder’ Options
  4. Click on the ‘View’ tab.
  5. Uncheck the ‘Automatically search for network folders and printers’ check box
  6. Click ‘Apply’
  7. Click ‘Ok’
  8. Reboot your computer

Other Important ‘do’s:

  1. Free Up Disk Space
  2. Speed Up Access to Data with Disk Defragmenter
  3. Detect and Repair Disk Errors
  4. Protect Your Computer against Spyware Spyware

Some Great Resources for your reference

This post is contributed by Ramanathan.He is from Chennai, India. He is a full time blogger. He was with an MNC for more than 3 years. Driven by the passion of blogging, he quit his day job. His blog, TechnoPark is reality now in the blogosphere and he has developed a substantial reader base. He is a serious tech geek. He writes about Softwares, Internet, Web 2.0, Security and many more.

About Ashish Mohta

A Professional Tech blogger, Editor and Writer who talks about solving day to day problems of people who use computer. His expertise are in Windows 7, Microsoft Office, Software, Mobile Apps and Video Posts.


  1. Great! Anytips for my iMac?

    I small advice, break this article into pages or create a series out of it

  2. @Thilak: I wish i could get some tip but i dont have one.Well lets see let me come back and see.

    I will try to ping u next time, Thought you had exams so didn’t wanted to ping u.

    @Knight: Xp might take some time to go away like 98 did.May be till then the tips will work for people.Keep up with the Guest Blogging there are lot more to come!!!

    Feel free to ask the post authors.They are keeping an eye on it

  3. Knight, Thanks for the comment. You are right. These tips are there for ages now. But the whole idea is to help newbies who are not aware of it. These tips dont expire. Timeless. Useful at anytime.

    Anyway, I may come up with new tips.

    Thilak, Thanks man. You are a die hard Mac Fan!!

  4. Nice tips , So when are you planning to shift to Windows Vista so that we can have some tips for that as well .

  5. Hey Thilak,

    No offense man. Just for fun. Ya, we all know it was a typo. Never mind. Your name and face are very popular in the blogosphere. Everybody knows you well.

  6. increasing the paging file size is a real good thing! thanks for the tips ashish

  7. where and how do you modify the swap file where is it located
    how do i get the data from it

  8. @Vuki: Hi, Your question has been answered in second point. If its not clear ask me again

  9. Hey Knight17, here are some fresh xp tweaks

    Some excellent tips all on one page to make your pc load faster, use fewer resources and improve efficiency. My fps in games has increased, overall boot time reduced and application performance increased. Contains some useful direct links to recommended software.

  10. @Jamie: Thanks for sharing. Will take a look

  11. thanks for sharing
    i aslo use dsl speed which is an online tool which helps to optimize ur pc performance

Leave a Reply