Windows XP performance settings (part I)

Windows XP high performance settings (part II)

Now Windows (including the updates) is installed, it's time to modify the Windows settings to get a more user friendly system. A description of the different settings and modifications is spread over two parts.

Advanced system settings

On the tab Advanced (Control Panel, System) you can change many settings to optimize your system.

First thing to do, is disabling the Error Reporting. Most times the Error Reporting doesn't solve anything, you will rarely receive positive and useful feedback! Use the button Error Reporting to disable this option and you are released from the error reporting messages.

At the Startup and Recovery area, button Settings you are able to disable the Automatically restart of Windows, in case of problems.

Changing the Windows XP settings.

By disabling many visual effects (the Settings button in the Performance area, tab Visual Effects), you are able to improve system performance. Select Adjust for best performance (all options are disabled) followed by enabling three options: Use common tasks in folders, Use drop shadows for icon labels on the desktop (transparancy of the desktop icon labels) and Use visual styles on windows and buttons, as shown below. All unnecessary visual effects are disabled now, which improves the system performances enormous (you only need to recover the Control Panel).

Disabling many visual effects

The next tab Advanced offers the possibility to change the Virtual memory with the Change button:

Changing the virtual memory

To prevent frequent changes to the size of the virtual memory, you probably better fix the custom size and the maximum at the same level. Mostly, there is no need to set the virtual memory higher then 1 GB. If you are already provided with a lot of RAM-memory, it can be more profitable to disable the virtual memory. You can change the virtual memory (or change it to another partition) with the button Change. Don't forget to press Set to make changes permanent. In this case, the location of the virtual memory is moved to the F:-partition.

Moving the pagefile (virtual memory)


If you prefer to clear the pagefile at shutdown because you are worried someone might try to read it, you can clear it at shutdown. Create a DWORD-value ClearPageFileAtShutdown with the value 1 (use the value 0 to disable this option). There is only one big disadvantage: shutting down Windows will be very slow! Only do this registry tweak in case of strong security issues. This tweak is done in the following register key:
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\ Session Manager\Memory Management

Other system settings

Lets go back to the system settings (Control Panel, System), to discuss the other tabs.

Tab System Restore:
I prefer to switch off system restore on all disks, this is done by enabling the option Turn off System Restore on all drives. The system restore function is useless (I prefer a system image) and consumes a lot of system resources (one of the biggest consumers.....). By disabling system restore, you are no longer able to turn back in time to a previous state. Be careful with the system restore function, I have seen cases where people lose data or have boot troubles afterwards. The system restore is responsible for creating the folders System Volume Information on each disk (those can be deleted after disabling system restore).


Wait with disabling the system restore, until you are finished installing your Windows. You might need if something goes wrong. If you are satisfied with the total result, turn off system restore and make sure you create an image of your Windows system. If something might go wrong in the future, you can always go back to your initial state (in a few minutes your Windows is recovered to it new much better then the Windows system restore function).

Tab Remote:
Windows XP offers the possibility of remote control. You can invite a (trustworthy...) friend to take control over your computer, even if he is on the other end of the world. Your friend is able to view your desktop, just like he is behind your monitor. With this option your friend is able to show you how to fix a certain problem (you see his mouse moving over your screen.....). For security reasons, I prefer to switch this option off.

Tab Computer Name:
With this option you are able to give your computer a name, which will be used to identify your computer in your network. Your computer name must be unique for your network. The name of the network must also be the same for all computers. There is more information about creating a (wireless) network elsewhere on this website.

Windows Messenger

By default Windows XP has been provided with the Windows Messenger. With the Windows Messenger you can see who of your friends are online, and if they are you can chat with them. Although Windows Messenger is very popular, most people would like to disable or remove it (if you don't need it or rather use the much better Live Messenger (download: With the following command you are able to remove it (Start, Run, paste the command):

RunDll32 advpack.dll,LaunchINFSection C:\Windows\inf\msmsgs.inf,BLC.Remove
(select the text with your mouse, copy it with Ctrl-C and paste it in Start, Run with Ctrl-V)

Besides that, you need a registry tweak to realize a quicker start of Outlook Express. In the registry editor change the DWORD-value Hide Messenger into 2. Navigate to the following key to make the suggested change.:
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Microsoft\Outlook Express

If removing the Windows Messenger a bit to much for you, you can also deactivate the Windows Messenger as well. Start the Messenger, Tools, Options, tab Preferences. Disable the options Start this program at Windows start and Run this program in background.

Burning: writing to a CD-ROM with the Windows Explorer

Not many people know this, but XP offers the possibility to write files to a CD-ROM within the Windows Explorer. Copy or drag files and/or folders to the CD or DVD writer (for example your personal data, to create a backup). You will see the following in the Windows Explorer if you navigate to your CD-writer:

Burning a CD-ROM in Windows Explorer

If you are ready composing your CD-ROM, select File, Write these files on the CD. You are asked to give the new CD a label and to place an empty (or used) CD-R/CD-RW and the writing will start. As you see: very easy to do yourself!

Compatibility problems with older software

If you would like to use very old software, you will probably get troubles running the software (compatibility problems). You can always try to change a setting, and make the old utility believe he is in an older Windows version. You can change the compatibility mode by right clicking the program file (or shortcut), tab Compatibility and change the compatibility mode, like below. Sometimes it works.

oude software in windows xp

TIP: If one of your older tools still doesn't function properly, you can decide to run it in a virtual computer within your current operating system. This can be done with the Microsoft's free tool Virtual PC (download:

Changing the search function

Windows XP has a search function, which is a bit annoying (even irritating...) if you are familiar with searching. You can change the preferences of the search function by opening the search function, select Change preferences. Select Without an animated screen character to remove the annoying dog. Select the op Don't show balloon tips as well to remove the annoying balloon tips. At the part Change files and folders search behavior select Advanced to enter the search function with one click.

Windows XP high performance settings (part II)

Windows 7
Windows Vista
Windows XP
AVG antivirus
Comodo Internet Security
Back-up/file Sync
Free software
Wireless network
Sharing files
Installing Windows in 10 steps
Backup data/drivers
Resizing partitions
Move personal files

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