Tips to Speed Up Windows XP

Although Windows XP is not the newest operating system from Microsoft (Windows Vista is the new version), I find that there are still many people that prefer XP over Vista. I, for one, am one of those people that prefers XP instead of Vista. I find it a faster more reliable operating system.

I have been using XP for many years now, and have at times looked for ways to tweak the operating system to get the most performance out of my computer. There are many tweak tips on the Internet, many true and many false, but I have decided to put together a simple list that you can use to make you version of XP run faster.

Simple XP Speed Tips

There are a few simple changes that you can make to XP that will help speed up the system. Some of the tips provided here may also make your system more stable and secure.

  • Stop unneeded programs from starting when Windows XP starts. This is perhaps one of the quickest ways to speed at least the startup of XP. This may also increase the stability of your system as fewer programs are running in the background. To perform this tip, do the following:
    1. Click Start->Run to open the Run dialog.
    2. Type msconfig.exe in the dialog and click OK.
    3. Click the Startup tab at the top to display a list of programs that start when Windows starts.
    4. Uncheck any programs that you don’t want to start when Windows starts.
    5. Once you have unchecked the programs, click OK and then the Restart button to restart Windows XP.

    For more information, please read Stop Programs from Running When Windows Starts.

  • Modify the Windows XP performance settings. The are certain settings that XP has enabled by default to make your desktop and applications look better. These can be disabled to slightly increase the performance:
    1. Click Start->Settings->Control Panel->System to open the system dialog.
    2. At the top, click the Advanced tab.
    3. Under the Performance section, click the Settings button.
    4. In the Visual Effects tab, select Adjust for best performance and then click OK.
    5. Click OK again to close the System Properties window.
  • Change to the Windows Classic theme. Unless you have customized the look of your desktop, or enjoy the look of Windows XP, you can squeeze a bit more performance out of your system if you switch to the Windows Classic theme:
    1. Right-click an empty area of your desktop and then click Properties.
    2. Under the Themes tab, select Windows Class from the list.
    3. Click the OK button to change themes.
  • Defragment your hard drive. This task should be performed during regular maintenance of your computer. Windows XP comes with a built-in disk defragment utility:
    1. Open Windows Explorer by pressing Windows Key+E.
    2. Right-click a drive to defrag and select Properties.
    3. Click the Tools tab and then click Defragment Now.
    4. Select the drive in the list and click the Defragment button at the bottom of the screen.

    For more information about automating this maintenance task, please read Automating Computer Maintenance.

  • Run anti-virus and anti-spyware applications on your computer. Both viruses and spyware can reduce the performance of your computer, or even worse, prevent it from booting. Ensure that you have anti-virus and anti-spyware applications installed and updated. Run scans from both applications at least once a week to ensure that your computer is safe.

    For more information, please read Protecting Your Computer from Viruses and Spyware.

  • Disconnect unused USB devices. There are times when you don’t need to have your scanner or printer connected to your computer. If you don’t need those devices then either turn them off or unplug them from the USB port. Every time Windows loads it also loads the drivers for all USB devices it detects that are connected to the system. If the device isn’t connected than the drivers aren’t loaded. Only connect the device if you plan on using it.


This post provided a few XP speed tips that are easy and safe to implement. Some of the tips may provide a more performance gain than others, while others will also help you keep your computer secure. In the future I’ll write another post in speeding up XP that will include much more advanced tips.

4 Responses to “Tips to Speed Up Windows XP”

  1. Uditha says:

    Thanks for Advices.

  2. Paul says:

    On my desktop I have 6 programs that start with Windows. Sometimes applications will install programs that load at Windows startup, and they aren’t really needed. If you don’t recognize something look it up online and see if it is important.

    If you can’t find it, then you can uncheck it and restart. If you don’t notice any problems then you can leave it unchecked. If you have problems then you can always check it so it loads again.

  3. Susan Parr says:

    Yikes,I have a ton of things running on start-up. Bad news is I only recognized like 5 things on the list. On average how many things should be running on startup?

  4. Anonymous says:

    I’d consider myself another Xp over Vista person. Amongst the maintenance utilities, i like the freedom to check how badly fragmented my drive is and whats happenign when am running the tool. My drive tends to get cluttered like stuff and not seeing a graph would be like treating a disease without knowing what stage its at.

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