Saturday, June 05, 2010

Stuck with XP for now? Speed it up!

There are many things you can do to speed up outdated but still perfectly functional operating systems like Windows XP. A hardware refresh is one option, including the most obvious thing - simply add more RAM (the 'random access memory' or short-term memory that a computer uses to load and run a program, as distinct from the non-volatile memory that you store your data on). Of course you may already have enough RAM or just don't want to spend a lot of money, so what else can you do?

There are all-in-one utilities like TuneUp that will do this for you, and there are also inbuilt utilities in the operating system that address each function. It's your choice.

  1. First up, remove software you no longer use - These may accumulate over time and soak up space. If you aren't ever going to use it again (and have a copy of the installation disk or files somewhere, just in case) simply remove it. Go to Control Panel --> Add/Remove Software
  2. Clean your system and make some space - Delete unwanted files and old emails you no longer need via Control Panel --> Internet Options -> Delete Files (always look carefully at what's being deleted just in case but most downloads and old cached files can go)  
  3. Get rid of old cookies. These are hidden Internet browser files that may contain helpful setup information for individual web sites, so be careful - zap only the ones you are sure about. Control Panel --> Internet Options --> Settings --> View Files --> Check and delete the cookies you don't need
  4. Cleanup all other temporary files and empty the recycle bin: go 'start\programs\accessories\system tools\disk cleanup'. That will make some space. Temp files are meant to be, umm, temporary! (Just don't zap things you need.)!
  5. Defragment your hard drive (the non-volatile data storage) Hard drives do a good job of writing and rewriting your data but over time things that should be close together and quicker to get to get stored apart. This restores logic to the filing system. Use the XP tool: 'start\programs\accessories\system tools\disk defragmenter' 
  6. Clean your registry. Not such an easy one and best left for a professional, the experienced or the brave. You can also download a utility to do this. Errors accumulate over time and the registry gets cluttered
  7. Backup unused fonts. These collect over time and can become quite massive if you have loaded many programs. Whatever you do keep the ones you need, especially the "XP Fonts". Back unwanted fonts onto a CD or DVD and store them somewhere.
  8. Get rid of any big desktop background graphics files, consider even unchecking the Windows XP theme (ie go back to the 'old style' or classic Windows - it runs faster). Right-click on a blank part of your desktop and click on 'properties'.
  9. Uncheck all of the system-hogging effects that look cool but slow you down. Look in Control Panel --> System --> Advanced tab --> Performance tab, click Settings --> Uncheck everything
Of course there are loads more options but above are some of the simplest things to do in order to make things faster and delay a hardware upgrade.

No comments: