Over time, Microsoft Windows XP machines, laptops and tower style computers, can become slow or sluggish and unresponsive. This can happen for lots of different reasons, but most can be easily fixed by following the steps below. These items are the most common issues we find on Windows XP machines today and how to fix them. This guide will also improve your Windows XP PC’s performance and best optimise and setup your PC for future use.
- Antivirus Software: One very common problem we see is really labour intensive antivirus software taking up tons of system resources and slowing the XP machine down. We see people paying good money for these tools when actually; there are plenty of good free anti virus software out there that do the same job just as well. Obviously everyone will have their own personal preference but we benchmark tested the majority of free antivirus software out there to find out which software was the least resource intensive. Our top 2 contenders and the software we recommend to all our customers running Windows XP are:
Can be downloaded here:
Can be downloaded here:
So let’s go ahead and download one of the above, but do not install it yet, we have a bit more cleaning to do first.
We also need some more free Anti Malware and Anti Spyware software to run as a one off job to make sure the machine is clean. Download but do not yet install Malwarebytes Anti malware from this link:
- Removing Viruses, Spyware & Anti Malware: Disconnect from the internet, go to control panel, add/remove programs and uninstall your existing antivirus software if you are not already using one of the above (we will it replace later). Now Let’s make sure there are no malicious software on the machine slowing it down. Install and run the Malwarebytes Anti Malware software downloaded in the previous step., if there is anything on your machine, this tool will find and kill it. Run a quick scan first, if it finds anything run a full scan.
- Start Up Programs: Click the start button, select run , type msconfig and press enter, click on the boot tab change the timeout on the bottom right to 3 seconds. Now click on the Startup tab and click disable all. By default this section is completely blank in windows XP when first installed, this is everything that starts up automatically when you login to your PC and slows down your PC when you turn it on. Now click apply, it will ask you to restart, don’t restart yet.
- Check Hard Disk For Errors: Click the start button again and select run, this time type cmd and press enter a command box will open. Type chkdsk /r /f and press enter, it will tell you the drive is in use and ask you to schedule next restart, type y press enter and now restart the machine. This will check the hard disk for any bad sectors that are causing the machine to operate slowly and attempt to fix and repair them.
NOTE: After the disk check finishes and the machine starts up you will see a message about you changing the startup sequence, click do not show this message again. You should already notice your PC has speeded up.
- Increase Max Paging File Size: After the PC has restarted, click the start button and go to the control panel and open the system icon. On the advanced tab, under performance , click settings. On the advanced tab, under virtual memory, click Change. Under Paging file size for selected drive click custom size. Double the maximum size and click set. When your PC is busy, this allows your machine to use more of your hard drive as temporary virtual memory, instead of waiting for the RAM to free up.
- Change Visual Appearance: Next go back to the system icon option in the control panel and in the performance window options, select Adjust for best performance. This will change the visual appearance to more plain looking, it’s faster but if you don’t like it, just tick/turn on only these options and click Apply/OK:
- Show shadows under menus;
- Show shadows under mouse pointer;
- Show translucent selection rectangle;
- Use drop shadows for icons labels on the desktop;
- Use visual styles on windows and buttons.
- Remove Unused Programs: Next go to control panel and add/remove programs. Now go through the list of programs and uninstall absolutely everything you don’t use or rarely use, you can always install again if you really need it.
- Speed Up Windows Explorer: Now let’s speed up windows explorer. Right click the start button and select explore, click the tools menu, then folder options, click on the view tab, find the automatically search for network folders and printers and untick it. Click apply then OK, then reboot your machine.
- Disable RAM Intensive Indexing: Now let’s disable RAM intensive indexing. Go to Start >settings >Control Panel, click add/remove programs, click add/remove windows components, untick indexing services, click next then finish.
- Open My Computer.
- Right-click the local disk volume that you want to defragment, and then click Properties.
- On the Tools tab, click Defragment Now.
- Click Defragment and wait to complete
- Reinstall Antivirus Software: For the next steps following this we need to connect back up to the internet, but first we need to install some antivirus software as described in the first step of this guide. After that connect back up to the internet
- Optimise Windows XP Registry: Over time the Windows XP registry can become quite bloated and this can slow your machine down. This great free tool works by recreating each registry hive “from scratch”, thus removing any slack space that may be left from previously modified or deleted keys. Download it from here (right of the page, second box down):
Run the tool, then delete/ uninstall it.
- Clean Up Temp Files: This cool free tool, cleans up all those temp files that decrease system performance and waste space. Download the tool from the link below and run it.
After all those steps your PC will be in much better shape. You could also consider installing additional RAM in the machine which can only improve things further.