Speed Up Your Windows XP Computer in 30 Seconds!


posted by on Momelettes


While going to client’s offices to get them up to speed on the latest computer techniques, many of them would often ask me to see if there was anything I could do to get the PC to go just even a little bit faster. “Please”, they’d beg. “From the time it takes to click “Start” until the time it takes to get to my programs, I could have written one by now.”

After cleaning out their computer, I’d always end by asking if they minded if the computer didn’t look quite as nice, but ran faster. When they said no, I changed one setting on their computer and out went the fancy Windows XP look and feel, and in came the old Windows 98 look and feel, but with about ten times the speed.

Everything you do on your computer takes up memory, that is to say, the amount of tasks that Windows can handle at once. The more memory your computer has, the more tasks it can accomplish at once with greater speed. If you are holding a conversation with someone, and someone else comes up to you and starts talking, you’d start struggling with trying to keep up with both conversations. Now if you gave yourself a memory upgrade, you’d be able to have multiple simultaneous conversations as well as watch TV, while writing your thesis at the same time! This is why people consider a memory upgrade on a computer a pretty powerful thing. You’ve heard people say that they added more ‘gigs of RAM’ to their computer, right? They’ve just done a memory upgrade.

On a quick aside, this is not to be confused with hard drive storage space, even though both are declared in terms such as “gigs of RAM”. Hard drive space is permanent storage on your computer, such as the digital photos. If we stick to YOU as an analogy, the clothes in your closet would take up permanent space in your house. I see enough confusion between the two terms that I thought it was worth mentioning.

Now, I digress. (I think *I* need a memory upgrade!)

That nice, fancy Windows XP desktop does not come without a price. That pretty green Start button in the lower left-hand corner actually takes up valuable memory to look that nice that could be used elsewhere. The picture of your dog on your desktop wallpaper also takes up memory. If Windows XP no longer needs to use that memory to keep itself looking nice, it can use it instead to help programs open and close faster.

Would you be willing to give those nice looking screens up for a significant overall speed increase to your computer?

Click on Start, then RIGHT-click on My Computer, and select Properties.

My Computer Properties

From there, go to the Advanced tab and under Performance, choose Settings.

The default for Windows XP visual performance is “Let Windows choose what’s best for my computer.”

Changing it to “Adjust for best performance” will take away all the nice Windows XP-styled screens, and will make your system look like a Windows 98 computer (remember the grey Start button?). However, the speed increase will be noticed instantly by you.

Now, if you really, really, REALLY would like that picture of your dog to stay as your desktop wallpaper, you can just click the Custom button to pick and choose what options you are willing to give up for more speed. Every little bit helps.

Adjust for best performance

It takes such little time to speed up my client’s computers, many times we move on to other things once that’s been done. I’ll never forget the time I walked my client through it on the phone, and then we moved on to a printer problem.

Client: “I’ll pick a random document and print it out. Here, I’ll choose Ted’s resume, he just sent it to me so it’s on my desktop. It’s printing now… well, the first page is completely blank.”


“But I guess if you know Ted, that sort of makes sense.”

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