Speedup Windows XP workstation

by Wayne Maples [Published on 20 April 2004 / Last Updated on 20 April 2004]

Windows XP gives you the ability to twiddle with more performance issue that previous Microsoft OSs.
  • Open Performance panel in Control Panel
    • XP Control Panel view
      • Click Start
      • Open Control Panel
      • Select the Performance And Maintenance category
      • Click System icon to open the System Properties dialog box
      • Select the Advanced tab
      • Click the Settings button in the Performance panel
    • XP classical Control Panel view
      • Click Start
      • Open Control Panel
      • Click System icon to open the System Properties dialog box
      • Select the Advanced tab
      • Click the Settings button in the Performance panel
    There are two tabs, Visual Effects and Advanced. The Advanced tab covers Processor scheduling, Memory Usage, and Virtual memory. Windows NT and later supports these options. Its old hat if you have supported servers.
    • Under Processor scheduling, select Programs if your XP is a workstation and select Background services if you are using XP as a server.
    • Under Memory usage, select Programs unless you have 512 MB of RAM or more. If you have lots of memory, and more and more workstations do, select System cache and XP will keep the OS kernel in memory. A BIG plus for servers. Makes workstations zippier also.
    • Under Virtual memory, don't twiddle unless you have multiple hard drives. If you do, the best performance is had by moving the paging file from C: to another hard drive (not another drive letter, another physical drive). Eliminate the paging file on C: and set the minimum and maximum to the same size on another drive. This gets the paging file allocated completely at boot, avoiding delays as paging grows to maximum. How big should the page size be? Depends on memory but it usually works to go with XP defaults and, if you have time and ability to test, increase until performance doesn't change. Unless you have automated tools, this is not something you can do and know whether you have good settings.

    The Visual Effects tab covers XP's new visual effects and their impact on performance. For XP working as a server, select Adjust for best performance. For normal workstations, select Adjust for best appearance. If you have lots of time on your hand, or want to find out what features effect appearance and performance, select Custom and turn on/off features and work with the options. Lots of them are glitz but some have a real impact on how crisp or viewable the page is, in particular, smooth edges of screen fonts.

If you want to try specific settings, the following works:
  • Animated windows when….. : Enabled
  • Fade or slide menus into view : Enabled
  • Fade or slide ToolTips into view : Disabled
  • Fade out menu items after clicking : Disabled
    if enabled, can cause jumpy mouse when closing the start menu
  • Show shadows under menus : Disabled
  • Show shadows under mouse pointer : Enabled
  • Show translucent selection rectangle : Disable
    if enabled, causes problems with older graphics cards - enable if you have recent card
  • Show window contents while dragging : Enabled
  • Slide open combo boxes : Disabled
  • Slide taskbar buttons : Disabled
  • Smooth edges of screen fonts : Enabled
  • Smooth:scroll list boxes : Disabled
  • Use a background image for each folder type : Enabled
  • Use common tasks in folders : Enabled
  • Use drop shadows for icon labels on the desktop : Enabled

Featured Links