How to improve PC performance/speed

The most basic of questions, I know, but how can I get my pc to run faster?

For my business, I run MS XP on a Toshiba laptop with a 1 Gig ram.  I've opened msconfig and considered, not running anything at start up except my firewall/virius filters.  A lot of things update on their own and/or maybe they should run at start up, I don't know.  So many things run at start up.

This seems to be a common suggestion but is it a reasonable one?  Do application developers make things launch at start up because they REALLY need to or "just because"?  

Are there other ways a user can keep the pc tuned up beside the things I'm already doing like running cashe cleaner, disc defrag and disc cleanup?

I'm primarily on Lotus Notes.

Are things like these possible issues or helpful?
cabling directly to the router faster than wireless LAN?  External monitor faster/slower than the laptop monitor?  msconfig changes?  Re-installing the OS (after proper data/application back up)?

All help is welcomed?
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Have a look at:
It has many good tips on how to improve performance.
Brian PiercePhotographerCommented:
What is running at startup please post a list.
Generally only stuff like AV and firewall MUST run on startup - lots of companies seem to think that their software should - but there really is no need in most cases - Adobe are a real pain in this regard.
David Scott, MCSENetwork AdministratorCommented:
>uninstall any unecessary software.  

>run a spyware scan

>run an AV scan

>keep windows up to date, keep AV up to date (preventive)

I have found that adding RAM to a machine is a good investment.  Another gig of ram would be noticeably faster.

If you've done all this and its still clunky, i'd do clean install of windows, then reinstall only programs you use.  This is especially helpful if the pc came preloaded with a lot of trialware,etc.

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First you need to define, isolate, identify what you mean by "faster".  Which really means letting us know what exactly seems to be slow and then define why you feel it is slow.


  It take 30 minutes to open up a 30GB word doc.

  It takes 3 months to download a 1 TB file over the Internet

  It took 1 year to calculate PI to the 1 million'th position.

Once you identify what is "slow", then you can take steps to improve performance.
first, i would delete all documents and programs that you do not need, to free up space (btw what is your free space now ?)
then run a disk check for errors, then a defrag
it can also be you disk is running in PIO instead of DMA; check in device manager>ide/atapi controllers>primary channel>properties>advanced tab
rmbarthAuthor Commented:
What does DMA do, how does DMA work, differently for PIO?
before answering that - check how it is set
rmbarthAuthor Commented:
Thanks for the support, everyone.  I'll try a comprehensive reply.
I hesitant of all the tweeks in the Optimize XP recommendation only in that with that much customization, I may not know what I'm sacrificing and how to respond to other issues.  I'm just a user, not a technician.   What do I risk doing everything you recommend in Optimize XP?
Here is what is running at startup

point 32
Smooth View
Trueimage Monitor
googletoolbar modifier
adobe Reader Speed launch
Data Viz INC messenger
HP Digital Imaging Monitor
HP Image Zone Fast Start
Quickbooks update agent
Winzip quickpick
Hotsync Manager

Opie 6373
I'm with you on keeping things clean, I added RAM to go from 516 to 1 G.


By faster, I mean it takes 3-5 minute for the pc to start up, 30-45 second for some web pages to load, several minutes for some LNotes DB's to load/update (i'm trying to eliminate the pc processor as a limiting factor, knowing chock points on the web and issues with the actual DB it self can be issues)

I have 28 out of 60 G free

Does anyone have comments of the monitor and wireless model on performance?

All continued replies very much apprciated.

rmbarthAuthor Commented:

In device manger I have:

Device 0
      Device type  (this dropdown box is dimmed, can't select it)
      Transfer Mode:  DMA if available
      Current Transfer mode: Ultra DMA Mode 5

Device 1
      Device type (auto detection)
      Transfer Mode:  DMA if available
      Current Transfer mode:  not applicable.

Also, another question;   How do I know I'm getting full usage from the memory I added last year?  The pc came with 516, I purchased a chip from Toshiba and installed it in the second memory slot to go up to 1 G.  
ok - then it is set to DMA (fastest mode) - more info :
when you right click my computer >properties, it shows the ram in the first tab page
>>>>    (btw what is your free space now ?)
rmbarthAuthor Commented:
.99 GB of ram,  seems it is all there.

28 out of 60 GB free.  
the free space seems sufficient, but keep in mind you best keep 15% free.
Did you run a disk check for errors yet?
O.K, 3-5 minutes for most PCs to boot is normal.  The only way to get it faster is to remove all unnecessary programs from running at boot/logon time or get a faster (rpm's, say go from 5400 RPM to 10K, or 15K) hard drive.  However:

  faster hard-drive will only help a little bit, maybe remove a few seconds
  removing unnecessary programs at boot time, may increase response time later on

Example, you can have adobe reader pre-load at boot time, this will cause your boot time to increase, but when you go to open a PDF document it will open much quicker.  If you remove the pre-load, your boot time will decrease (by a few seconds), but when you go to open a PDF file it will take longer.

As for 30-40 seconds to load a web page.  Well, first thing you need to do is figure out why it takes that long.  That requires analyzing the web page to see what it is doing and possibly doing a packet capture.  The time it takes to load a web page in based on:

   how busy the web server(s) the page is loading from are
   how busy the each network hop between you and the servers are
   the speed of the slowest network hop between you and the severs are
   how the web page is designed
   what the web page is loading
   how much data the web page is loading.
   what web browser you are using
   how busy your system is

As for lotus notes, well that all depends on the same thing as loading web pages.

The only thing you can hopefully do, based on what you have described, is to shave a few seconds off of boot time.  Everything else would take a lot of analysis to determine where the problem(s) actually are.

Try to free some resources by switching you windows XP to fully classical style.
Right click on My Computer -> Properties -> Advanced (TAB) -> Settings button (Under Performance section) -> and choose Adjust for best performance.

Also try:
1.  to have a checkdisk repairing any bad sectors etc. (chkdsk /r in command prompt. You will need to restart the PC)

2. Disk Cleanup
3. Disk Defragmenter
Forced accept.

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