Jimmy's Blog Jimmy Ruska's Blog
Make Windows Run Faster Posted on Friday, February 22 2008
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Here's how to safely tweak your system to run faster and more efficiently. All the programs I recommend are free. I personally made the video tutorials included in the page, which are completely optional to watch.

Make your Computer Run Faster

Performance Mode

Windows by default has you in "best appearance mode" rather than best performance mode. It's much better to have more memory and processing power go to the applications you run rather than wasting energy upgrading a crappy looking interface to the ranks of mediocre.

Steps To Fix
Right click on My Computer on the desktop and click properties.
Click on the advanced tab
Click on settings, next to where it says performance
Adjust to best performance

Clean your Startup Programs and Services

The more programs you have on startup the slower your computer will get. Many programs set themselves to open on startup without even asking you first. It's pretty easy to remove the ones you don't want.

Steps To Fix
Click the start button
Click Run
Type msconfig
Click on the startup tab
Uncheck any programs you don't want.
If you're unsure, google the program name.
Click on the services tab
Click Manufacturer twice
Unselect unneeded non windows services.

Video Tutorial

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Uninstall Unwanted Software

Many manufacturers stuff your computer full of disgusting shareware programs. Most notable is Norton Antivirus. It takes loads of system resources and tries to scare users into buying their product by saying they're in serious DANGER because their trial time has expired. RevoUninstaller is a freeware that can help do a total uninstall of programs. Many programs like yahoo messenger tend to leave behind a mess in the registry they don't remove.

Cleanup Disk Space

It can be a big hassle to try to find the files eating up the most hard drive space especially when they aren't program installations. There's several freeware software that can help. windirstat lets you visualize which files are taking up the most room. The folder size service is a little known tool that makes windows display the total size of what's contained in any folder (go to view - details in any folder).

There are several free programs that clean out your temporary internet files and files in temporary folders. Overtime it can really eat away the gigabytes left unchecked. The most popular are ccleaner and windows cleanup.

Free Antivirus and AntiSpyware Software

Viruses tend to be classified as either malicious programs that destroy data or trojans that capture keystrokes. There's also a group that is used to attack sites by flooding packets when called on. Spyware, malware, or 'badware' is software that spams you, collects search history or other personal information for marketing, or otherwise does really annoying things without the users permission. People usually get viruses and spyware from downloading infected software or emails. Getting hacked is very rare.

Free Antiviruses
It's not good to install multiple AVs at once. It's fine if you disable active scan though and scan when you want.
AntiSpyware Programs
Free Online Virus Scanners
Scan with Multiple AVs
Same as above
Kaspersky online scan
Trend Micro
Windows onecare checks for a lot of stuff

Free Firewalls

Trojans are usually the ones causing the most financial damage by capturing keystrokes and getting people's creditcard and banking information. Firewalls easily prevent such programs by prompting whenever programs try to access the internet.

Defragment Your Hard Drive

When you save a file, it saves it saves it in pieces, or fragments across the drive. The more you save things and delete things off the disk, the more fragmented the files become. If a file is scattered across the disk in too many fragments, it takes way longer for the contents of the file to be returned, in what's called the "seek time". Defragmenting helps place the files to avoid fragmenting and often has optimizations to place the most used files on the outer part of the disk, resulting in faster seeks. Contrary to popular believe, disk usage does not effect the hard drive's lifespan according to a google study analyzing 100,000 disks.

Defrag using Windows Defragmenter
Click my computer
Right click any drive
Click properties
Click the tools tab
Click Defragment

Make your Screensaver a Defragmenter

Embed: Link: Watch Full Screen | Download

Here's some free defragmenters.


Clean the Registry

Many programs choose to use the windows registry to store settings and registration information rather than save things to a file. The only problem is that many don't remove the mess they left when trying to uninstall the program. eusing registry cleaner and ccleaner mentioned above are very good registry cleaners. Don't be fooled by programs that say they compress the registry to make it faster. The performance effects are extremely minimal.

Increasing your Torrent Speed

According to torrent freak and a bunch of other sources, increasing your half open connections from 50 to 100 can increase your downloading speed. Windows XP sp1 has unlimited connections but with the SP2 update came a limit of 10, intended to stop the speed at which viruses spread along a network. You can download a patch that lets you manually set the half open connections. Personally, if you're not firewalled I don't see it making much of a difference.

SpeedGuide.net also made a free TCP optimizer.

Free Alternative Light Weight Programs

Replace Windows Media Player

VLCplayer is an extremely efficient mediaplayer which can, not only play almost every media format both video and audio, it can rip dvds and access shoutcast TV. If it looks too plain, don't worry, it has many skins. Media player classic is also great, but no longer developed. I still use it because I can use ffdshow filters to make videos look great, though arguably you could use avisynth with vlcplayer.

If you're looking for something with better playlist functionality like winamp, try foobar2000, which was made by some of the same people. It's fully featured but at the same time very efficient, not taking much ram or disk space.

Media Players Meet Social Networking / Web2.0


Replace Microsoft Office

Open office can replace not just microsoft word, but the whole deal. Excel, powerpoint, the whole office suite. Since most people just use microsoft word, I recommend abiword as a free alternative. Open office uses java, which tends to be slow, but it's still nothing compared to the bloat of microsoft office. Microsoft Office 2008 stoops to a new low surpassing the system requirements of Age of Mythology, a popular video game they made. My text editor should be the last thing eating my processor!

Replace Outlook Express

Most viruses come from people opening email attachment they didn't scan. Most internet fraud, the biggest losses of money, comes from people being tricked into entering personal information via forged emails called phising. I use gmail and it filters out spam really well. If you MUST use something like outlook use thunderbird instead. It's a free alternative which is much safer, more efficient, and has more features.

All in one Instant Messengers

Instead of installing MSN messenger, Yahoo! Mess, aol mess, mIRC, jabber talk, ICQ and other programs just install pidgin or miranda. Both are free, very efficient, and handle mutliple clients. Trillian is also popular but costs money. You can login to all the services mentioned with just one program. Yahoo likes to attempt to stick you with other junk like their popup blocker toolbar.

All the Programs I put on Newly Installed XP

I've made a 1, 2, 3 part video on all the programs I put on a newly installed windows computer. You can see the full list as a text file here. Also see my top 12 windows freeware that save tons of time.

Block Ads and Popups

Having 500 million downloads, I don't have to add a section talking about firefox as a free browser alternative, but it is worth noting it can efficiently block ads with the adblock plus extension.

You can also use the windows hosts file to block ads without firefox.

Set quick keys to perform Tasks

I devoted an entire tutorial to windows macros and how they can save infinite amounts of time and frustration.

Virtual Cds

You can create disk cd images to replace real cds by learning about virtual cds. In other words, instead of swapping disks in and out of your cd drive and having it loudly read them, you can just have it read from your hard drive. You may have seen files with the following extensions: iso, nrg, bin/cue, ccd/img/sub, mds, daa (power iso). I've made a comprehensive video tutorial about virtual cds. The best freeware is alcohol 52% letting you mount up to 6 virtual cds. Magic Iso, which is commercial software, can make and read UIF files which are compressed disk images.

Windows Batch Files

.bat files can help automate tasks. I've made 1, 2, 3 video tutorials about them.

Creating DVDs

I use dvdflick and avi2dvd to make dvds from files. Gordianknot and handbrake are free all in one tool for such tasks. I use virtualdub to edit my videos. Watch my video on converting video files too.

Burning CDs and Music

imgburn and cdburnerxp are great cd burners. cdex and eac are popular audio rippers.

Photoshop Alternatives

Gimp is a free photoshop alternative. Many people complained about the interface, since by default it has 3 windows which aren't all brought into focus at once. gimpshop was created to make gimp similar to photoshop, adding a main window with menu items renamed and organized like photoshop. It's more buggy than gimp and it's not updated very quickly so I personally don't recommend gimpshop.

Paint.net is a more recent alternative in active development. It's not too bad. I wouldn't compare it with gimp or photoshop, but it sure beats the hell out of paint and neopaint.

Tags: make windows faster, make xp faster, vista faster, speed increaser, boost speed, ram, memory, performance

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