Improving Speed and Performance of my computer


W

WilliamHenry

I am a total neophyte about tinkering to improve computer performance, so
hopefully the reposnses will include step-by-step solutions.

I am trying to improve speed and performance on my 5 yr. old Dell Inspiron
8200 laptop. I'm running Windows XP Professional (2002 ver w/ Svc Pack 2)
with a Pentium 4 processor, 40 GB hard drive and 512 RAM, plus Office XP ver.
2002 as my primary programs. Don't do gaming or heavy video.

I have way too many extraneous programs and drivers apparently overloading
my C drive so that slows it down to a crawl. I want to move many of these off
my C Drive and onto an external 80 GB hard drive (my F drive). I'm not sure
how to do this or how to tell my systems where to go to look for drivers,
etc. once they've been moved to another hard drive. I want to free up my C
dive so that it's storing only those programs and drivers absolutely
necessary for maximum computer performance given the age of my equipment and
operating system.

Can anyone provide me with extremely basic instructions on how to speed the
computer up to gain greater performance, keeping in mind that I am totally
new to this and do not know much about basic computer diagnostics.

The computer was originally purchased from Dell in 2002 and came preloaded
with Windows Me which was for me a disaster. My system has been upgraded
several times, physically by adding RAM memory chips and by upgrading the OS
to Windows XP Prof. (2002 ver), Office XP Small Business(2002 ver) , etc..

If I move all my data to the external drive and then reinstall from the
disks provided by the manufacturer I'll end up with an inferior performing OS
(Windows Me).. Is there a way to unload my system of extraneous programs,
registry entries, .dll files, etc. that can speed up its performance without
reverting to an ancient and uniformly regarded unsuccessful OS?

I recently reinstalled Windows XP and that seemed to have mild improvement
results, but the problem of too many discarded or unwanted programs trying to
start in the background seems to remain.

I've gone through the START >Control Panel>Add/Remove Programs and
uninstalled anything I knew for sure I didn't want, but that populated list
doesn't begin to show everything on my computer.

When I do a Windows Explorer search and look at my C:\ drive under Programs
I see a whole mess of programs I could probably live without but I'm
concerned that going in and just deleting them won't totally remove them and
will leave commands on my registry that continue to slow everything down.
Many of the programs installed that show up in my C:\Programs list don't show
up on the Add/Remove Programs utility in Control Panel.

Is there a way to improve things without going back to Windows Me?
Many thanks in advance for any help whatsoever.
 
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K

Ken Blake, MVP

I have way too many extraneous programs and drivers apparently overloading
my C drive so that slows it down to a crawl.


No, whatever is causing your performance problems, this isn't it. What
you have loaded on the drive doesn't affect performance, what you have
*running* does.

I want to move many of these off
my C Drive and onto an external 80 GB hard drive (my F drive).


That will have *no* effect on performance.

I'm not sure
how to do this or how to tell my systems where to go to look for drivers,
etc. once they've been moved to another hard drive. I want to free up my C
dive so that it's storing only those programs and drivers absolutely
necessary for maximum computer performance given the age of my equipment and
operating system.

Can anyone provide me with extremely basic instructions on how to speed the
computer up to gain greater performance, keeping in mind that I am totally
new to this and do not know much about basic computer diagnostics.

The computer was originally purchased from Dell in 2002 and came preloaded
with Windows Me which was for me a disaster. My system has been upgraded
several times, physically by adding RAM memory chips and by upgrading the OS
to Windows XP Prof. (2002 ver), Office XP Small Business(2002 ver) , etc..


One of the most common performance problems that people have with
performance these days is malware infestation. What anti-virus,
anti-spyware, and firewall programs do you run, and are they all kept
up to date?

Also, describe the symptoms of your problems as best you can. When do
you have performance problems? At startup? All the time? When running
certain programs? Which ones? How slow is the computer?
 
D

Daave

WilliamHenry said:
I have way too many extraneous programs and drivers apparently
overloading my C drive so that slows it down to a crawl. I want to
move many of these off my C Drive and onto an external 80 GB hard
drive (my F drive). I'm not sure how to do this or how to tell my
systems where to go to look for drivers, etc. once they've been moved
to another hard drive. I want to free up my C dive so that it's
storing only those programs and drivers absolutely necessary for
maximum computer performance given the age of my equipment and
operating system.

Moving programs doesn't make sense. Do you perhaps mean moving
installation files for your programs? (Some people like to keep these.
If so, moving *them* to an external hard drive would make sense.) Moving
drivers doesn't make sense, either. If you have hardware (like a printer
or CD burner), then you need the drivers. Perhaps you mean you would
like to move data (like Word documents, MP3s, etc.) to another drive.
What I would do is move data you hardly ever access but would like to
save nonetheless to the external hard drive. Data that you access more
regularly should be kept on an internal hard drive. Perhaps you should
just look into getting a larger internal hard drive; they're fairly
cheap right now.
Can anyone provide me with extremely basic instructions on how to
speed the computer up to gain greater performance, keeping in mind
that I am totally new to this and do not know much about basic
computer diagnostics.

Yes. See "Slow Computer" at:

http://www3.telus.net/dandemar/slowcom.htm

As Ken stated, one big cause of sluggishness is malware (malicious
software, such as viruses, worms, trojans, spyware, adware, etc.). You
need to rule out the possibility that you are infested with malware.
Once this is done, it's important to make sure you aren't running any
memory-hungry programs. And sometimes, turning off the eye candy in
older machines can be helpful. Deleting temp files -- especially
temporary Internet files (also known as Web browser cache) can be very
beneficial. And defragging the hard drive (after deleting temp files,
not before) periodically is beneficial.
The computer was originally purchased from Dell in 2002 and came
preloaded with Windows Me which was for me a disaster. My system has
been upgraded several times, physically by adding RAM memory chips
and by upgrading the OS to Windows XP Prof. (2002 ver), Office XP
Small Business(2002 ver) , etc..

Do you still have the XP installation disk? If so, what kind is it --
Full or Upgrade? At this point (since your machine is fairly old), you
*may* want to consider performing a clean install of XP. Usually this is
done as a last resort. I'm not necessarily recommending it, but the
option should always be there for you. Nine times out of ten, better
performance can be realized by the maintenance outlined above, so that's
what I would try first.
If I move all my data to the external drive and then reinstall from
the disks provided by the manufacturer I'll end up with an inferior
performing OS (Windows Me).

If you have your XP disk, you should be able to perform a clean install
of XP. Even if it is an Upgrade disk, it shouldn't matter.

What is your method of reinstalling ME by the way? Standard methods are
by using an installation disk (best method), restoring from a "Restore"
or "Recovery" disk (a not-so-great method that returns your PC to its
original factory state, often with annoying software trials and other
junk), and restoring from an image on a hidden partition on your hard
drive to its original factory state (the worst option because if your
hard drive is gone, so is this method!).

Hopefully you have an ME installation disk. If so, all you need to do is
pop in the XP Upgrade disk and then start your clean install. At a
certain point, it will ask for qualifying OS media. This is where you
would pop in the ME disk. If this option isn't available, you can always
load your "fresh" version of ME and immediately use the XP disk to
upgrade. Of course, you would then need to uninstall all the crap you
don't want/need!
Is there a way to unload my system of
extraneous programs, registry entries, .dll files, etc. that can
speed up its performance without reverting to an ancient and
uniformly regarded unsuccessful OS?

Don't worry about leftover registry entries. Ninety-nine percent of the
time they don't have any negative effect on performance. Therefore, stay
away from registry cleaners as there is no benefit and potential
trouble. Again, see http://www3.telus.net/dandemar/slowcom.htm for
instructions on improving performance.
I recently reinstalled Windows XP and that seemed to have mild
improvement results, but the problem of too many discarded or
unwanted programs trying to start in the background seems to remain.

Some background programs use very few resources. The trick is to find
the ones that use significant resources and then configure these
programs not to run at startup. The Web site already mentioned has this
link in Step 10:

http://www.pacs-portal.co.uk/startup_content.php#THE_PROGRAMS

Using XP's MSCONFIG is good to see what is running each time you boot
up. Task Manager (Control + Alt + Delete) will give you information as
to what is processes are currently running. In addition to the above
site, also have a look at:

http://www.sysinfo.org/startupinfo.html and
http://www.answersthatwork.com (and click on the Task List button).
When I do a Windows Explorer search and look at my C:\ drive under
Programs I see a whole mess of programs I could probably live without
but I'm concerned that going in and just deleting them won't totally
remove them and will leave commands on my registry that continue to
slow everything down.

Usually, uninstalling via Add/Remove Programs is perfectly fine. It is
very rare that orphaned registry entries will slow anything down. If
there is a conflict or other problem due to a messy uninstall, just post
back here. But, really, it's rather rare. :)

So, once again, have a look at
http://www3.telus.net/dandemar/slowcom.htm

The most important steps are 1, 3, 5, 7, and 10. Other ideas:

Turn off indexing:

Double-click My Computer
Right-click on your hard drive icon, select Properties
Uncheck "Allow indexing service...."
Click Apply button for C and subfolders
Click OK button.

Either turn off the eye candy or keep it and tweak it. See:

http://www.terryscomputertips.com/computers/speeding-up-windows-xp-fine-tuning-visual-effects.php
 
G

Gerry

William

I am afraid some of your thoughts are misconceived as others have
pointed out.
I am a total neophyte about tinkering to improve computer
performance, so hopefully the reposnses will include step-by-step
solutions.

I am trying to improve speed and performance on my 5 yr. old Dell
Inspiron 8200 laptop. I'm running Windows XP Professional (2002 ver
w/ Svc Pack 2) with a Pentium 4 processor, 40 GB hard drive and 512
RAM, plus Office XP ver. 2002 as my primary programs. Don't do gaming
or heavy video.

Problem 1 is your 40 gb hard drive. It's too small and possibly has slow
read / write speeds. What is the make and model? Have you considered
replacing? Given your operating system history you would need to
overcome some problems. May not be a cost efficient route.

How much free disk space do you have? Is the hard drive formatted as
NTFS or FAT32? You realistically need 20% or 8 gb free disk space.
I have way too many extraneous programs and drivers apparently
overloading my C drive so that slows it down to a crawl. I want to
move many of these off my C Drive and onto an external 80 GB hard
drive (my F drive). I'm not sure how to do this or how to tell my
systems where to go to look for drivers, etc. once they've been moved
to another hard drive. I want to free up my C dive so that it's
storing only those programs and drivers absolutely necessary for
maximum computer performance given the age of my equipment and
operating system.

Moving drivers is not something you should consider doing. Moving
programmes by uninstalling through Add / Remove Programmes and
reinstalling will not improve performance but it can be done to increase
free disk space but there are other measures which should be tried
first.
Can anyone provide me with extremely basic instructions on how to
speed the computer up to gain greater performance, keeping in mind
that I am totally new to this and do not know much about basic
computer diagnostics.

You have 512 mb RAM. If the Total and Peak Commit Charge in Task Manager
exceeds 512,000 then your system will be using the pagefile, Using the
pagefile is slower than RAM so you need to minimise pagefile usage to
maintain best performance.

Try Ctrl+Alt+Delete to select Task Manager and click the Performance
Tab. Under Commit Charge what is the Total, the Limit and the Peak?

You should be able to gather more information from Task Manager. With
the Processes tab open select View, Select, Columns and check the boxes
before Peak Memory Usage and Virtual Memory size. What are the figures
for the 6 processes using the largest amounts?

Performance is affected by what loads on StartUp so another trick is see
whether any programmes might be better loaded later on demand. Autoruns
is a good tool to check what loads on StartUp.

http://www.microsoft.com/technet/sysinternals/ProcessesAndThreads/Autoruns.mspx

With Autoruns you can uncheck an item, which disables it from starting,
or you can can right click an item and then delete it. If you uncheck
you can recheck to re-enable the item. It is a much safer approach than
editing the Registry. Another useful feature of the programme is that
you can right click an item and select Search Online to get information
about the item selected.
The computer was originally purchased from Dell in 2002 and came
preloaded with Windows Me which was for me a disaster. My system has
been upgraded several times, physically by adding RAM memory chips
and by upgrading the OS to Windows XP Prof. (2002 ver), Office XP
Small Business(2002 ver) , etc..

If I move all my data to the external drive and then reinstall from
the disks provided by the manufacturer I'll end up with an inferior
performing OS (Windows Me).. Is there a way to unload my system of
extraneous programs, registry entries, .dll files, etc. that can
speed up its performance without reverting to an ancient and
uniformly regarded unsuccessful OS?

I would not try it given your limited computer skills and the need to go
through the upgrade process and countless Windows update. I would also
leave Office XP in place for the same reason.
I recently reinstalled Windows XP and that seemed to have mild
improvement results, but the problem of too many discarded or
unwanted programs trying to start in the background seems to remain.
I've gone through the START >Control Panel>Add/Remove Programs and
uninstalled anything I knew for sure I didn't want, but that
populated list doesn't begin to show everything on my computer.

When I do a Windows Explorer search and look at my C:\ drive under
Programs I see a whole mess of programs I could probably live without
but I'm concerned that going in and just deleting them won't totally
remove them and will leave commands on my registry that continue to
slow everything down. Many of the programs installed that show up in
my C:\Programs list don't show up on the Add/Remove Programs utility
in Control Panel.

In terms of performance you only need to worry about programmes that
load on StartUp and appear as a process in Task Manager.
Is there a way to improve things without going back to Windows Me?

Forget about that idea.
Many thanks in advance for any help whatsoever.

Some suggestions to increase free disk space on C.

It is likely that an allocation of 12% has been made to System Restore
on your C partition which is over generous. I would reduce it to 700
mb. Right click your My Computer icon on the Desktop and select System
Restore. Place the cursor on your C drive select Settings but this
time find the slider and drag it to the left until it reads 700 mb and
exit. When you get to the Settings screen click on Apply and OK and
exit.

Another default setting on a large drive which could be wasteful is
that for temporary internet files especially if you do not store
offline copies on disk. The default allocation is 3% of drive.
Depending on your attitude to offline copies you could reduce this to
1% or 2%. In Internet Explorer select Tools, Internet Options,
General, Temporary Internet Files, Settings to make the change. At the
same time look at the number of days history is held.

The default allocation for the Recycle Bin is 10 % of drive. Change to
5%, which should be sufficient. In Windows Explorer place the cursor
on your Recycle Bin, right click and select Properties, Global and
move the slider from 10% to 5%. However, try to avoid letting it get
too full as if it is full and you delete a file by mistake it will
bypass the Recycle Bin and be gone for ever.

Select Start, All Programs, Accessories, System Tools, Disk CleanUp to
Empty your Recycle Bin and Remove Temporary Internet Files. Also
select Start, All Programs, accessories, System Tools, Disk CleanUp,
More Options, System Restore and remove all but the latest System
Restore point. Run Disk Defragmenter.


--



Hope this helps.

Gerry
~~~~
FCA
Stourport, England
Enquire, plan and execute
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
 
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D

Daave

Gerry said:
Some suggestions to increase free disk space on C.

It is likely that an allocation of 12% has been made to System Restore
on your C partition which is over generous. I would reduce it to 700
mb. Right click your My Computer icon on the Desktop and select System
Restore. Place the cursor on your C drive select Settings but this
time find the slider and drag it to the left until it reads 700 mb and
exit. When you get to the Settings screen click on Apply and OK and
exit.

Another default setting on a large drive which could be wasteful is
that for temporary internet files especially if you do not store
offline copies on disk. The default allocation is 3% of drive.
Depending on your attitude to offline copies you could reduce this to
1% or 2%. In Internet Explorer select Tools, Internet Options,
General, Temporary Internet Files, Settings to make the change. At the
same time look at the number of days history is held.

The default allocation for the Recycle Bin is 10 % of drive. Change to
5%, which should be sufficient. In Windows Explorer place the cursor
on your Recycle Bin, right click and select Properties, Global and
move the slider from 10% to 5%. However, try to avoid letting it get
too full as if it is full and you delete a file by mistake it will
bypass the Recycle Bin and be gone for ever.

Select Start, All Programs, Accessories, System Tools, Disk CleanUp to
Empty your Recycle Bin and Remove Temporary Internet Files. Also
select Start, All Programs, accessories, System Tools, Disk CleanUp,
More Options, System Restore and remove all but the latest System
Restore point. Run Disk Defragmenter.

In addition to these fine suggestions, turning off the hibernation
feature (if enabled) can free up lots of space:

1. Right-click on the desktop and click "Properties"
2. Hit the "Screen Saver" tab
3. Click the "Power" button under "Monitor Power"
4. Click the "Hibernation" tab, then uncheck the box next to "Enable
Hibernation"
5. Press "OK."
 

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