Been flooded recently with people who have old messed up WindowsXP machines and to a lesser degree Windows7 machines… Most of these people are tired of how slow their computer runs and ask me if I can do anything to help them before they toss their computer and get a new one.
Note: If you’re using Win98, Win2000, WinME, or WinVista there is no hope for you and you need to upgrade.
The secret to a really fast running WindowsXP computer is to turn off unnecessary Windows servics, clear out all the bad software, especially outdated Norton and Symantec virus protection software, which acts more like a resource robbing virus than the viruses they claim to protect you from.
Once every possible piece of unnecessary software is removed and virus cleaning and scanning is accomplished and the registry is cleared and compressed, Windows updates are essential. When a security hole is found in Windows software that hole is patched via Windows update. So if your Windows update isn’t working or you haven’t bothered with updating Windows no amount of over-priced virus protection software is going to protect you.
Warning: Searching for support online for how to fix old Windows machines will most likely lead you to posts that are many years old and are no longer relevant due to Windows Service Pack 3 updates. Remember: the newer the post, the more likely the info is still valid.
In this post I’ll list tools, tips and tricks I’ve found useful in recent weeks… But first a word about your hardware. How old is your WindowsXP machine?
For basic web surfing, movies and multi-tasking you’ll need at least one to two gigabytes of memory and a processor that is at least 2-3 gigahertz in speed, or better yet a dual core processor. If you have this or can cheaply upgrade to this, you’re gonna have a fast machine after you follow the following steps:
1) Backup your personal data manually onto another system and turn off your computer’s ability to make backups. Also right click my computer and click properties and click performance tab and click advanced and then click the box for “best performance.”
2) Virus scanning: Having an always on virus scanner slows an older computer down an extreme amount. Most older computers barely even function if they’ve not been cleaned and have been trapped in Norton or Symantec’s pay us monthly or your computer won’t work routine for too long. So the first step is to rid your system of their foolery / remove all OEM virus protection software
Note: A clean older computer running at full speed will almost always show signs of decreased performance once an infection occurs. That’s why myself and many others don’t run virus scan all the time and instead prefer routine virus scans when doing regular cleaning and maintenance whenever system performance is lagging.
Companies like Norton, Symantec, TrendMicro, Ad-Aware, AVG and many others have past their prime and simply don’t find the latest viruses anymore. These days the ones I found most effective are Malewarebytes, Windows Malicious Software Removal Tool and for really deeply rooted infections: Microsoft Safety Scanner, aka: Microsoft Support Emergency Response Tool
3) Next install Revo Uninstaller and start using the advanced function to uninstall all the software you’ve never used, but DON’T uninstall software that runs your hardware, especially your chipset, your sound card, video card, etc. Also don’t remove Windows updates, Windows media player, internet explorer (it won’t really let you fully remove those last two anyways). Finally huge bloated OEM software programs designed to ‘help’ the user, HP being the worst offender, need to be removed. Remove all of them! They’re not only worthless, but they waste your system resources in pervasive ways, especially when it comes to backup tools, help and other ‘support’ tools, which are more intent on making money off you than actually solving slow running computer problems for you.
One Winxp machine I was working on recently I was able to remove all but 17 programs, which is a personal best.
4) Cleaning junk files and bad registry entries is a job best done with Ccleaner and JV16 Power tools These programs also have great tweaks to speed up your system. You’ll need to run these on the most aggressive settings multiple times to really get your computer cleaned and almost never have these programs damaged a computer I was working on. When that does happen it’s an easy fix because they make backups for you to restore from. Make sure you learn how to use every function these programs offer because they will for sure be your most ideal long term system maintenance tools for your machine.
5) Windows updates as mentioned before is the best security hole fixer available. And I’ve run into a problem with many machines recently that are not running Windows updates anymore, usually after Service Pack 3 is installed or if a virus has disabled this function. To solve that problem it’s important to make sure your internet explorer browser is up to date / manually install that program, as well as security fixes related to that program. Also sometimes Windows updates will inexplicably start working after a few days of use of your now clean machine. If all else fails the most up to date way to fix Windows update is written by Peter Bowey
In conclusion there are many performance boosting details that have been left out of this post, but hopefully this will get you started! Key to the whole process is getting good at using search engines to solve your current problems. Also key is eliminating anything and everything on your computer that is out of date or of no use to you. If you don’t know if you’re using a program, then do some research using multiple search terms to figure it out.
On a really messed up computer this process takes about six hours. Fastest I’ve done it in is three hours…