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Updated: 01.12.2016

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Everybody likes a good Windows XP hint/tip, e.g. something that eliminates an annoyance, streamlines a task (possibly a long-running one), or offers a useful customization of a particular feature, while, this page deals mainly with my favorite configuration and performance hints (in the past it was also titled "tips"); well, it is that I just can't resist from posting them as soon as possible. In general, it's all mostly about the customizations that I always perform after a "fresh" OS installation. So below are therefore listed some of the most crucial computer settings/configuration changes affecting the computer's performance (of course, in my opinion), that one can make. And note that most of them are somehow "low-level" ones, so be careful when following the steps described here. Because in few of the paragraphs below, we are talking about drivers etc., right? I mean, how can it be more "low-level" than that? The bottom-line is that I hate all those additional/extra features, meaning that I prefer to run just the "pure" core. Well, there is nothing wrong with programs in case if there are optional (if you can disable them through application's interface), or if they are available as extensions, plugins, addons (or whatever), so if you DON'T WANT to install/use them, you simply do not download them. But in many cases these features are sadly deeply integrated into application or system (operating system, graphic card's driver-software etc.), so it's quite annoying to do this (but I do it), so I usually DISABLE EVERYTHING, THAT IS NOT NEEDED AND REQUIRED FOR A SYSTEM OR AN APPLICATION TO RUN (although in order to do this you really need to have a lot of knowledge on what's necessary for the system to function and what not), and I have pretty tight rules. This means that I disable all not necessary GUI enhancements, for both Windows versions I am using and user applications in general, including things "down" to devices (down-to in meaning of being "low-level", hehe), device-drivers, other drivers, fonts-used, software, services, and other "parts" of an OS. This is the most important for performance, so be welcomed to read about all this stuff on the current page below. Finally, one crucial not performance-related but otherwise important hint. Does your computer restart on its own without any obvious reason? If this is the case, you'll first need to check if it is "just" a BSOD (i.e. Blue Screen Of Death), which can be caused by anything really. Anyway, in this case consider doing the following: you need to check you current setting for "Automatically restart" under the "System failure" section, i.e. if the check-box IS CHECKED, then UN-CHECK it): Control Panel -- System -- Advanced -- Performance -- Settings. This way you will be sure that the reason for these restarts is in fact a BSOD, and not something else, like for instance a too high temperature. But in any case, if it's really a BSOD, you will at least get some clue on what is causing it by the "stop error-code" returned by the BSOD, and if you are lucky, you'll get the info on what's causing it (under the "Technical Information"), and additionally, you can even get a file-name of the driver that's causing it.

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The first thing on fresh Windows installation and after installing the required drivers for my nVidia GeForce4 MX 440 graphic-card (with 64MB DDR, GPU 270 MHz, RAMDAC 350 MHz and built on ASUS V8170) is that I disable all the graphic card's not required enhancements, including stuff from its software package that usually comes bundled with drivers on the installation CD-ROM. I mean all that additional stuff, ASUS/nVidia's additional features (nView thing and its additional options - "virtual" desktops and "Alternative monitor", called "multi-display and multi desktop functionality"), and many other extra (but useless) enhancements, including QuickTweak process (related to nView "Desktop Manager"), all this running with up-to two additional processes, one service, bunch of additional dlls/drivers used etc. Another thing for both Windows versions is an option to speed restarts with modifying OS's system files. And heh, btw., they both "look" for boot.ini file on boot-ups.

Windows 98: You can speed up Windows 98 system restarts with adding few lines into the MSDOS.SYS file (or Msdos.sys) under the [Options] section. The file is located in the C:\ root. Same as above, open your text-editor, and do the folowing:

- open the Msdos.sys file and add the BootDelay=0 parameter under the [Options] section/header. I got used also to add BootGUI=0, which if I recall correctly, disables that screen with troubleshooting boot options.

Windows XP: On Windows XP, this means to disable the "XP Boot Logo" - Windows XP's "GUI startup". Of course, the actual syntax should be with intendations (i.e. spaces) and without characters for quoting. But rather see Sysinternals for other boot.ini switches here: http://www.sysinternals.com/ntw2k/info/bootini.shtml. It is pretty simple, just open any text-editor programs (Microsoft's Notepad for example), and do the folowing:

- open the boot.ini file and add the word "/noguiboot" right after the "/fastdetect" word (if it is already there); otherwise place the word at end of the line ending with the "Microsoft Windows XP Professional" or "Microsoft Windows XP"; optionally also add the "fastdetect" word too.

- additionally, if you want to completely skip the GUI on startup and set your own bitmap, then open the same boot.ini file (as mentioned above) and add the new "/bootlogo" switch/parameter right after the already existing "/noguiboot" one. While regarding the bitmap image to use, create a 640 x 480 picture that must be named "Boot.bmp", and place it into the \Windows\ folder. However, note that in this case you won't see the "chkdsk.exe" output-text in case if the disk-checking was scheduled for the respective boot.

Then on both Windows OSs I use, I always disable all the useless and resources-consuming Windows GUI related features, like tooltips, ballon-tips, labels on buttons, all the not-needed stuff in general, most commonly right after the fresh OS-installation. The common way to disable all these things is through various Windows settings dialogs. But for Windows XP in particular, I disable various fancy effects, like fading, sliding, smoothing (edges, scrolling), shadowing, then I disable the mouse driver's pointer shadow and pointer trails features under the Motion and Pointer tabs of the Mouse Properties Control Panel's applet. Anyway, these settings can be viewed or changed under:

Control Panel -- Display -- Appearance -- Effects

or in even more advanced mode, in Visual Effects, and also under Advanced (pagfile-size and process-quanta settings):

Control Panel -- System -- Advanced -- Performance -- Settings

Then I also disable Logon/Logoff and Startup/Exit in-built Windows sounds that supposedly makes booting and shutdown faster, but certainly less stress on the computer during boot, since one device (i.e. audio card) less is used. And personally I also got used to set sounds for programs execution and closing, to have a good view on what's going on in the background, all these can be set under:

Control Panel -- Sounds and Audio Devices -- Sounds

And all the mentioned eye-candy only seems to slow-down your system (see below why I wrote "seems to"), so I disable it all, i.e. I was used to leave checked only the radio-button for "Show windows content while dragging" (the default state), but lately I also uncheck this one. However note that these changes do not make a change in the actual speed of hardware/software performance, but they do change the perception of computer's speed, i.e. the Windows will "feel" faster and more responsive.

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