Revitalize your computer

It’s been a while that you have been using your PC, but things aren’t the way they were before. It takes ages for your PC to boot and applications take a hell lot of time to start. Your games are running slow and applications often get hung up. Often at this stage people take up the painful task of reinstalling windows, but how often can we tolerate the process and be patient enough to get format and then get windows in the way you like it? Isn’t there a way out of this vicious circle?


Wise men would rather get windows revitalized than reinstalled. To begin with, what is choking your windows?

Applications starting at startup- Usually when an application is installed, it makes an entry in registry to start itself at windows startup. Though most of the applications ask us a confirmation to make a startup entry, we rather ignore it in our quest to finish the installation, pressing next again and again! Such programs increases the boot time of windows, and while running in back ground, make your current applications run slow.

The usual cure people adopt is looking for a file in startup tab and deleting it, but not all applications work in that procedure. Some applications make entries in registry and need to be tackled in another way.

The windows utility MSCONFIG provides convenience of managing startup programs. Just go to RUN and type MSCONFIG and strike enter. Click on startup tab, a list of applications that start at windows boot up are listed. They include antivirus, messengers, maintenance utilities and many more applications most of which are those you never realised are running under back ground. Taking care, letting important applications like firewall, antivirus etc enabled to start at startup, un-tick those which you seldom use. This eases pressure on processor and competition for memory.

Unwanted services: Apart from applications starting at startup, some applications run their child services in background. They too, if not desired, tend to eat up the pace of your computer. Open the services tab in MSCONFIG. Upon clicking hide Microsoft services; a list of third party services is displayed. Leaving antivirus, unclick the rest of unwanted services. These include those of MS office, media players, blue tooth services etc. Though MSCONFIG can be used to manage services, it doesn’t explain what job the service does, creating dilemma regarding what to do with the service.

For a more detailed review, the tool SERVICES.MSC can be used. Run it using the RUN command. It provides an explanation regarding what a service does, so that we can take a proper decision to mess around safely.

Eye candy and performance settings: Though not as gorgeous as Vista, XP still tries to please you with sliding or fading menus, shadows under pointers, showing windows contents while dragging, animating windows when minimizing and other stuff like that. But this eye candy costs you in terms of system performance. Sheer performance can be obtained if we switch to the 98 kind of view, but let’s not fall to that extent for performance. I have observed a few settings and noticed that upon implementing, there isn’t much difference in terms of eye candy, though performance increases dramatically.

Go to My computer icon, right click on it and enter in its properties. Go to advanced tab and click on performance settings. A window pops up showing visual effects settings. Choose custom settings and scroll down till the last of list. Tick on the last three options and un-tick the rest of them. Apply and press ok. You will observe that there isn’t much noticeable change done to visual effects, though your performance will increase.

Go under the advanced tab in the pop up window and click on change virtual memory. Virtual memory is that space allocated on hard drive that is used as RAM when there is a shortage of physical memory. Though hard drive doesn’t have data transfer speeds comparable to RAM, but while using RAM hogging applications like 3D modeling and games, it does benefit performance when you smartly use virtual memory.

Points to be kept in mind while allocating space for virtual memory are-

  • Once allocated, the space for virtual memory on the hard drive is reserved exclusively for the purpose and can’t be used in data storing purposes.
  • As a rule of thumb, set minimum size to 1.5 times your RAM size and maximum size to 3 times the RAM size.
  • Don’t keep page file on the partition where windows is installed. Allocate it on one which isn’t used frequently and is free from faults. It better be an NTFS formatted partition.
  • Don’t allocate page file on two-three partitions on a same hard drive. Use a single partition.

It is to be noted that when system usage of page file exceeds the size of RAM, system experiences an performance degrade. The way to achieve good performance is to add more RAM to your system. It is also to be noted that keeping virtual memory zero will also spoil performance by loading the RAM too much.

Clean the clutter: Though using a registry and temp cleaner like CCleaner will remove the temporary files and the invalid entries in registry, it can’t remove the .thumb, .dmp etc files that are created by applications when they run. Usually they are deleted shortly after termination, but sometimes they are left behind if application hangs up or was terminated abruptly. Though small in size, hundreds of such files spread across your PC will certainly sum to a couple of hundred MBs. It’s really a waste of ever precious hard disk space. Adding to the woe are the applications hooked up with your PC which didn’t come with an uninstaller or have left entries in your PC that doesn’t allow you to install applications of same sort. Like often after uninstall of Nero, a newer version doesn’t get installed sighting presence of an older version as reason. Similarly, after uninstalling AVG, few entries are left behind on your PC that doesn’t allow installing any other antivirus, warning that another antivirus is still present on your PC. You are left with just two miserable options, either to opt for an alternate software (Though it’s adventurous to experiment), or format your system (boo boo!!). Of course you can charge on your registry and delete those notorious entries, but for a normal guy this saga isn’t going to be easier than finding cradle of life!

There is this third option that hits two balls with a single kick, checking those notorious entries in your registry and deleting junk as well. And the name is Revo uninstaller. This little freeware can be used to delete those notorious useless files on your hard disk and uninstall your applications the smart way by removing all related entries in registry, cleaning all the files created by that application and removing those applications as well which didn’t come with an inbuilt uninstaller. For a PC gone bad, it’s a must do to scan it for temporary files and check for struck up applications.

Note: Using any decent registry cleaner like CCleaner is recommended to remove invalid references in registry. Utilities like PC Booster also do a good job by checking performance and improving it on a single click.

Defragment the hard disk: Every time data is added to your PC, system doesn’t always keep a file as a unit at one place. Instead it keeps chunks of file at first place available on hard drive. The same thing applies when OS is being installed. Hence right from the time you install your OS, your hard disk keep on fragmenting with every application you install and every file you add. If you use these fragmented files, like playing a game whose files are fragmented or watching a movie which is fragmented, result is greatly degraded system performance. This problem is more severe for people who are switching applications frequently, do a lot of gaming or are adding and removing a lot of movies (or large files) on their hard drive.

The solution is simple and has always been on your PC, defragment your hard drive. The windows in built defragmenter will do a good job, though better tools are available. Go to start-programs-accessories-system tools-disk defragmenter. Analyse the partitions and check for level of defragmentation. Though it may say it’s not necessary to defragment, do it. Keep in mind to do NOTHING while you defragment, else you may end up slowing the process. Let other things make you busy since it may take its own time to defragment.

When compared to windows defragmenter, many other defragmenters do a better job. One such tool is piriform defragmenter, which is also a freeware. If money isn’t the issue, O&O defragmenter is a better solution. Defragmenting your PC every now or then after a heavy file transaction makes sure you seldom see bad days.

>> Also read this newer post on page file and MFT de-fragmentation. <<

Digging in hardware: Though many people have this notion that performance is a software issue, hardware does play an important role in performance degrade. Give this a thought- you use CPU exhaustive applications like file compressors, games and audio/video converters that heat up your computer (precisely your processor), due to which the CPU thermal control reduces the clock speed of your processor to cool it down, leading to reduction in performance. Processor overheating is also responsible for fan blowing noise in CPU. The culprit can be any of these two- dry heat sink compound paste or dust accumulation in processor fan. Open up your cabinet and clean the interiors, use finer brushes to clean dust from processor heat sink and fan. Also remove RAM and blow off dust from slots. Even then the sound persists, remove heat sink from top of processor and replace the heat sink paste. Use a standard heat sink compound for best performance.