My Windows Tips

Hard Drive Maintenance and Hard Disk File Structure Repair:

Three tips for Hard drive health in Windows:

1) Scandisk
2) “Disk Cleanup”
3) Defragment
When you defragment a hard drive, you should have deleted all the files that you want to first, because every file that you delete creates a hole in the file structure, and Windows insists on filling that hole (no matter how small) with a piece of the very next file written to the hard disk.

Memory and Virtual Memory Management:


Virtual Memory

Windows uses your Hard Drive as swap memory but its default configuration can cause a major loss of performance with the memory swap file getting moved around.

Select System icon from the Control Panel – Performance and Maintenance, select Advanced Tab, select Performance areas, and click on Settings Under virtual Memory click Change. The Initial and Maximum size should be equal otherwise Windows will keep resizing the file. The optimal memory setting for users with 128 MB+ is approximately 1.5-2 times the RAM size, users with 64 MB should use a 2 times multiple. You should also locate Virtual Memory on your fastest drive or striped RAID volume, placing it on the non-boot drive, can help increase performance. Defragment after setting this to minimize fragmentation and force the swap file to get located on the fastest part of your disk. Third party defragmentaters can optimize the swap file.

Always make sure your system has enough RAM. 128MB is the absolute minimum, 512MB is preferred. You can bring up the Performance Tab of the Task Manager to ensure that Total Commit Charge is lower than your Total Physical Memory. If not, add ram.

Memory Tweaks

There are 2 tweaks you can make to change how XP uses memory.
Open Regedit and Find HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINESYSTEMCurrentControlSetControlSession ManagerMemory Management

Disable Paging Executive:

XP pages data from RAM memory to the hard drive. We can stop this happening and keep more data in RAM, resulting in better performance. Users with a large amount of RAM (256MB+) should use this setting. The setting we change to disable the ’Paging Executive’, is DisablePagingExecutive. Changing the value of this key from 0 to 1 will de-activate memory paging.
[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINESYSTEMCurrentControlSetControlSession ManagerMemory Management]

System Cache Boost:

Changing the value of the key LargeSystemCache from 0 to 1 will tell XP to allocate all but 4MB of system memory to the file system cache, allowing the XP Kernel to run in memory. The 4MB of memory left is used for disk caching, if more is needed, XP allocates more. Generally, this tweak improves performance by a fair bit but can, in some intensive applications, degrade performance. As with the previous tweak, you should have at least 256MB of RAM before attempting to enable LargeSystemCache.
[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINESYSTEMCurrentControlSetControlSession ManagerMemory Management]

How to use extra memory in Windows XP which doesn’t like more than 1 Gigabyte of Ram, in other words, a benchmark study indicated that XP actually slows down (slightly) when you run more than a Gig of installed memory. So here’s what to do with large amounts of RAM:


The answer to this question is so simple, it begs the question how so many intelligent people who all spout technical jargon like a second language, haven’t figured it out yet.

The performance benefits are pretty severe, and immediate. So lets see.. with the danger of sounding unintelligent by explaining this so anyone can understand, forgive the layman terminology.

1) Microsoft 32bit systems like XP have a limit on how much RAM they can utilize.
2) Get ( Ramdisk Plus for $34.95 (otherwise you’re throwing money out by not using your extra RAM anyway :P)
3) If like me, you have 8GB RAM, the BIOS should register around 8192MB.. 1MB allocated to BIOS, 2900MB for Windows.. that leaves 4-5GB available to set as a Ramdisk – eg. Z:
* In Ramdisk Plus you have to allocated ‘unmanaged’ RAM otherwise it will try to use the RAM Windows is using.
4) Open System Properties (right-click My Computer on Desktop) –> Advanced –> Performance [Settings] –> Advanced tab –> Virtual Memory [Change] –>Click your Hard Drives and check “No Paging File” then “set” .. Click Z: (Ram Disk) and choose Custom Size — Initial Size 5000, Maximum Size 5000 (can’t be bigger than your Ram Disk) or choose ‘System Managed Size’
* When you exit it may ask you to restart the computer. You can do this after step 5.
5) Start — Run — Regedit [open] goto HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE –> SYSTEM –> CurrentControlSet –> Control –> Session Manager –> Memory Management –> [doubleclick] ClearPageFileAtShutdown and change option to “1” and click OK. The reason being the RAM will be purged when you power off, and there’s no point with the system thinking the Pagefile will be available cached at boot.

You can set Z: to be used for temporary files, like Winrar, Firefox, Photoshop etc. It’s up to you to decide how big the Swap File should be, if at all you want to use it. I just did this the other day, and the performance increase is amazing. And I’m using my extra RAM that all the [i]experts/i said I ‘couldn’t’.

General Windows XP performance tweaks and tips:

I like this guy’s performance advice:

This one is good too:


Hard Drive Port

Make sure your hard drive is not connected to the same IDE port as your CD/DVD-ROM. Each IDE port is programmed to operate at the slower of the two devices on the port, so you could be slowing down access to your primary hard drive by leaving a CD-ROM on the same channel. Put your CD/DVD-ROM on the Secondary IDE port. Intel Application accelerator lets you independently set tranfer rates for devices on the same cable.


Windows does not automatically utilize faster DMA IDE data transfer modes on IDE slave drives. Programmed I/O mode is the default setting.

1)) Right click on “My Computer”, select the Hardware tab, and Select Device Manager.
2) Expand “IDE ATA/ATAPI Controller” and double-click on “Primary IDE Channel”
3) Under “Advanced Settings” tab, check the “Device 1” setting. Set it to “DMA if available”
4) Repeat the step for the “Secondary IDE Channel” if devices are present there.
Remember, we can only get so much performance out of old hardware. It might be time to upgrade to a your hard drive to a faster Serial ATA model. Check our hard drive page for the latest deals

SCSI Write Cache

Many SCSI drives do not have their write caches enabled. Use a Mode Page Editor such as the one built into EZ-SCSI to enable Write Caching on all your hard drives. Windows XP allows you to enable Write Caching in the Properties page of a SCSI Drive.

Minimize Background Applications and Services

Press CTRL-ALT-DEL while in Windows and bring up the Task Manager. Notice how many programs are running in the background. Each program steals memory and CPU cycles. Offenders include: Adobe Gamma Loader, Fast Find, msmsgs (Messenger), Office Startup, qttask (Quicktime), System Agent, Real Player, Norton. To stop programs from automatically starting, remove the file from the Programs – Startup folder, left click on the icons in the System tray and turn off automatic loading, or consult the help file of each program to turn it off. Run MSCONFIG to get a list of programs that run on startup and remove unnecessary ones.

Disable Alerter, File and Print, FTP Publishing, Indexing Service, World Wide Web Publisher, Messenger, Computer Browser, Routing and Remote Access, Smart Card, Smart Card Helper, Terminal services, Uninterruptible Power Supply if they are not being used. You can always turn them off and test your machine, before setting them to be disabled on startup. Run “services.msc” from the Run.. menu and Disable any services that are unncessary. BlackViper has additional information on services.

You can also Configure Virus scanning to only scan incoming files.

Removed Unused Programs, Protocols, and Fonts

Uninstall any Programs that you do not use. Also remove any Fonts that are not used. This will free up disk space and make the machine boot faster. You should also remove any temporary files located in the C:TEMP, c:windowsprefetch, or C:WINDOWSTEMP directories. Also remove any unused Network Protocols such as NetBEUI or IPX.

Unload DLLs

Windows does not unload dll files a program has used after it has been closed, to speed up a possible restart of the program.

Use Regedit to edit: HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINESoftwareMicrosoftWindowsCurrentVersionexplorer Add the DWORD value named: AlwaysUnloadDLL and set it to 1

Network Performance

Tweak XP has a nice tip on adjusting how much network bandwidth is reserved for different programs.

Offload processor tasks to network adapter’s with intelligent processors.
Open Regedit and Find HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINESYSTEMCurrentControlSetServicesTcpipParameters
Edit or Create the REG_DWORD key “DisableTaskOffload” and set it to 0 to Enable the Task Offload. By default, if this key is present, it’s set to 1 to disable the task offload.
Details from Microsoft.

Drive Performance

Some drives have configurable acoustic levels. They sacrifice performance for quiet. You can always turn off acoustic management for maximum performance.

Shortening Menu Delay:

You can shorten the delay when menus open up by using Regedit to edit: HKEY_CURRENT_USER / Control Panel / Desktop / MenuShowDelay By default, the value is 400, but changing it to a smaller value, such as 100, will speed it up. I shorten it to 0 and then assign a slight “tick” sound to “Menu Popup” in Control Panel->Sounds, then when you roll over a series of popout menus you’ll get a nice, fast “ttttt” sound.

Turn off Autoplay on Windows XP, disable autorun on all drives including CDs:

It is safest to disable CD autoplay in XP using either local group policy or, for an enterprise, an Active Directory group policy. The local group policy editor method:

* Click Start
* Click Run
Group Policy mmc will popup. On left panel:
* Double-click Computer Configuration to open submenu
* Double-click Administrative Templates to open submenu
* Double-click System to open submenu
* Double-click Turn autoplay off option which will be near the bottom of the list in the right panel.

The default is the Not configured . Set it to Enabled.

Windows Explorer hanging when trying to view files:

from: Microsoft TechNet Forum (a posting on the Windows 7 forum),

This issue may be related to Windows Explorer hanging, to troubleshoot this kind of issue, I would like to propose the following website:

1. Check for any errors in Event Viewer. They will be easy to spot as they are Red with a White Exclamation Mark. To view, go to: Start –>Control Panel –> System and Maintenance –> Administrative Tools –> View Event Logs. You can review the Summary Page for any errors.

2. Run Disk Cleanup to release more space.

3. Run sfc/scannow to see if there are any corrupt system files, the sfc /scannow command scans all protected system files and replaces incorrect versions with correct Microsoft versions. Please take the following steps.

a) Click the Start button, and click All programs, then click Accessories.

b) Right click Command Prompt, and click Run as administrator.

c) Type sfc /scannow, and press ‘Enter’.

4. I noticed that Windows Explorer takes a long time to display disks, in this situation, I may need to suggest that you rebuild Windows Search Index.

a) Open Indexing and Search Options by clicking the Start button, clicking Control Panel, clicking System and Maintenance, and then clicking Indexing Options.

b) Click Advanced, click the Index Settings tab, and then click Rebuild.

5. Open Task Manager to see if any abnormal process is running.

If it is the process of an application, please note the name of this application and reinstall it. If you can’t reinstall this application, you need to uninstall it and reboot the computer to see if the issue persists.

Otherwise, if the process is SVCHOST.EXE, it may be related to a service. In this case, you can use the following steps to find out what applications are using most of the CPU:

a) Right click the taskbar, and click Task Manager to open.

b) In Task Manager, click on the Processes tab, and look for the process that is using abnormal CPU and note its PID (Process ID).

Note: You may need to go to the “View” -> “Select Columns” menu and check PID (Process Identifier) first.

c)Once you have the PID, please run the following command line from a command prompt: tasklist /svc

d)Please check the output item of the related SVCHOST.EXE process (with the recorded PID), and uninstall these services to see if the problem can be taken care of.

My Windows Networking Tips:

If all of your network computers cannot see each other, including the ones connected through an ethernet wire:

Make sure you don’t have a Windows computer that is set to be your Master Browser and is wireless or offline. Look on any Windows computers that are connected to your network with wireless under Control Panel ->Administrative Tools->Services->Computer Browser should be set to “Disabled” and not currently running. This is a setting to make your computer a “Master Browser” on your network which keeps a list of available computers, only one computer is defined as a Master Browser and that is determined at the time your network goes up, there may be several computers that are set to be Master Browser and only one will win. It is best to set your one or two most reliably available ethernet connected computers to be the Master Browser, they can be Mac or Linux or Windows.

This is not my Windows tip, it’s the How-To Geek’s, from:

How to Delete a System File in Windows 7 or Vista

Warning: Do not delete system files. Bad things will probably ensue.

If you need to delete or overwrite a system file in Windows 7 or Vista, you’ll quickly notice that you cannot delete system files, even as administrator. This is because Windows system files are owned by the TrustedInstaller service by default, and Windows File Protection will keep them from being overwritten.

Thankfully, there’s a way that you can get around this. You need to take ownership of the files, and then assign yourself rights to delete or modify the file. For this, we’ll use the command line.

Open an administrator command prompt by typing cmd into the start menu search box, and hit the Ctrl+Shift+Enter key combination.

To take ownership of the file, you’ll need to use the takeown command. Here’s an example:

takeown /f C:WindowsSystem32en-USwinload.exe.mui

That will give you ownership of the file, but you still have no rights to delete it. Now you can run the cacls command to give yourself full control rights to the file:

cacls C:WindowsSystem32en-USwinload.exe.mui /G geek:F

Note that my username is geek, so you will substitute your username there.

At this point, you should be able to delete the file. If you still can’t do so, you may need to reboot into Safe Mode and try it again. For the filename in the example, I was able to overwrite it without safe mode, but your mileage may vary.

Remove Windows hibernation file hiberfil.sys:

In a Run window, type powercfg.exe -h off and press Enter. To turn it back on, type powercfg.exe -h on and press Enter.

The system will not hibernate when the file is missing, it still will go into suspend though.

1 Comment

  1. Tina Flores says:

    I’ve run everything from128 Megs of Ram in Windows XP to 2 Gigs and have this to say. 1 Gigabyte is the sweet spot for XP, any more is really not noticable, any less and Adobe Photoshop does a lot of swapping. If you do run more than One GB of RAM in XP, definitely do the memory optimizations that you listed above.

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