XP Tweaks

Tweek from South Park      His name is Tweek, and he is a favorite character of mine from South Park. This coffee guzzling fourth grader has uncontrollable twitches, hallucinations of underwear gnomes, and spontaneous verbal exclamations like "Aaaack!" and "Oh no!". 

     Sometimes my two computers have uncontrollable twitches, and they also choke up odd exclamations.  It's not their fault, they are thirteen years old, and I use them heavily.   Instead of buying a new machine, I opted for tweaking them.  That way I can put off the big purchase for a while. 

     These tweaks are to the operating system.  That is to say, I've done no hardware upgrades, or over clocking of any sort.  I'm a firm believer that over clocking hastens the demise of your computer.

Weekly Tweaks

  1. Empty Internet Explorer of excess files.  Tools, Internet Options..., Delete Files
  2. Empty Recycle Bin
  3. Defragmenter your hard drive.  Start, Programs, Accessories, System Tools, Disk Defragmenter

Yearly Tweaks

     Format your hard drive and reinstall all your programs.   It may sound extreme, but the performance gained is well worth it.  Through out your computers life, you've installed programs, uninstalled programs, and quite possible installed upgrades.  Each time you did this, the Registry grew in size, and a plethora of dynamic link libraries were sprinkled about your system.  Even after uninstalling files, most of them stay behind.  What you have is the equivalent to barnacles on a ship.   The best way to fix it, is to put your machine in dry dock, and format.

     If you are like most people you don't use most of the programs installed.  By not reinstalling those programs you will save hard drive space.

System Tweaks

1.) Empty the Start Up folder - A big problem with system performance is there are usually a lot of programs that run at start up.  I detest these programs.  They are leeches, that sit around sucking the computer of precious memory and CPU time.  At most, only two programs should be loaded in memory.  The first would be a virus program, and the second is a firewall like ZoneAlarm.  I have neither, but that's a person choice of mine.  (I use a hardware firewall, and I never open e-mail attachments)  If you have a lot of icons in your system tray, that's the lower right hand corner next to the clock, you should disable those that you absolutely don't need.  You should be able to right click them, and set their properties to not launch them at start up.  Every program is different, so you'll have to examine the options provided.

2.) Lose the Themes - are the bloated, nasty things that slow XP down, and drain system of valuable resources.

a. Hit Start Button.
b. Select Settings.
d. Double click Administration Tools
e. Double click SERVICES.
f. Find the THEMES service (its in alphabetical order). Double click it.
h. Hit STOP button.
i. Hit OK

3.) Bloated Display Effects - XP has all sorts of fancy, slowing features like transparent menus, etc. These waste valuable CPU time and can be changed easily to allow for fastest operation.

a. Right click MY COMPUTER on your Desktop.
c. Select ADVANCED tab.
d. Under PERFORMANCE, click the SETTINGS button.
  (I keep Smooth Edges for Screen Fonts selected, as it makes reading easier for me)
f. Hit OK.

4.) Remote Assistance Security Hole - Remote Assistance is a tool that allows someone else to come in and remote control your computer over the Internet or network.  This is ENABLED BY DEFAULT. Unless you need this, disable it as your box is wide open.

a. Right click MY COMPUTER on your Desktop.
c. Select REMOTE tab.
d. Uncheck the bottom box. Your box is no longer accepting connections from others.

5.) Microsoft Firewall - Since I use a good hardware firewall to protect me, I don't need this.

a. Right click MY NETWORK PLACES on the Desktop.
c. Right click on your LAN adapter at the top of the window.
e. Select ADVANCED tab.
f. Uncheck the option under INTERNET CONNECTION FIREWALL.
g. Click OK.

6.) TweakXP - There are many little tweaks that your box can use to make it faster.

a. Download TweakXP.
b. Install TweakXP and run it.
c. Select CACHE OPTIMIZATION on the left.
d. If you have 512MB of RAM or more, select ENABLE CORE SYSTEM PERFORMANCE. This will make XP NOTICABLY faster, as your OS will no longer page to the HD anymore.
e. Select a Cache setting that matches your memory configuration.
f. Select HARDWARE TWEAKS from the list on the left.
g. Make selections and tweak your video card and your CPU based on what you have.
h. Close TweakXP - you're done! TweakXP doesn't need to remain on your system anymore to get the benefits. Uninstall if you like.

7.) Disable WebPopUps - Seems that people are using WebPopUp Messenger to send spam to unsuspecting Windows users.

a. Right click on MY COMPUTER.
b. Select MANAGE.
d. Double Click SERVICES.
e. Find MESSENGER service (alphabetical order)
f. Right Click MESSENGER and select PROPERTIES.
g. Hit STOP.
h. Select DISABLED from START TYPE menu.
i. Hit OK.

8.) Ad Blocking  - Instead of using ad blocking programs I prefer to use make changes to the HOST file on my machine, which will block many ad severs.  If you want to reverse the process later, be sure to first rename the HOST file before overwriting it with this new one.  This will probably block non ad images, as many sites are now placing all their images on these ad servers to get you to view the ads.  Currently, if I go to the MSNBC news site, I'm unable to see any of the graphics, even their navigational buttons.  For me it's a price I'm willing to pay, you may not want this.

a. Download the zip file -> HOSTS
b. Save it to C:\WINDOWS\system32\drivers\etc\ (this will overwrite what is there)
c. Load your browser - almost all the ads will be GONE from your pages. If you find another ad server you want blocked, load C:\WINDOWS\system32\drivers\etc\hosts into Notepad or other PURE text editor and add it in the same manner the others are.


Luke Spence