How to improve PC performance/speed

Posted on 2007-10-19
Last Modified: 2013-11-17
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?
Question by:rmbarth
    LVL 22

    Accepted Solution

    Have a look at:
    It has many good tips on how to improve performance.
    LVL 70

    Assisted Solution

    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.
    LVL 12

    Assisted Solution

    >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.

    LVL 57

    Expert Comment

    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.
    LVL 91

    Assisted Solution

    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

    Author Comment

    What does DMA do, how does DMA work, differently for PIO?
    LVL 91

    Expert Comment

    before answering that - check how it is set

    Author Comment

    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.


    Author Comment


    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.  
    LVL 91

    Expert Comment

    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 ?)

    Author Comment

    .99 GB of ram,  seems it is all there.

    28 out of 60 GB free.  
    LVL 91

    Expert Comment

    the free space seems sufficient, but keep in mind you best keep 15% free.
    Did you run a disk check for errors yet?
    LVL 57

    Assisted Solution

    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.

    LVL 1

    Assisted Solution

    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
    LVL 1

    Expert Comment

    Forced accept.

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