:Improve Windows Performance

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Monitor system performance

Task Manager is not the only utility in Windows XP that displays information about system performance. A great deal of information is also avialable within Performance Monitor, located in the Administrative Tools folder. When you open the Performance Monitor console, select the System monitor node. You'll see the following three predifined counters that are monitored by default:

  • Pages/sec: This counter displays the number of times second the OS had to read or write to the paging file. If this number is constantly higher-- over 150, depending on the system-- you most likely don't have enough RAM.
  • Avg. Disk Queue Length: This counter monitors the length of queue with disk requests waiting to be serviced. If this number is frequently over two, it indicates a slow hard drive or high paging activity, which is a consequence of lacking RAM.
  • % Processor Time: This counter displays the prcentage of time that the processor spends executing a snippet of code. In other words, it shows you how busy the PCU is at that particular moment.

These three counters provide you with basic performance information. To monitor the network or more detailed information, click the Add [+] button. This will allow you to sselect from several hundered different performance counters.

Optimize the paging file

Windows XP includes an option that allows you to run the OS without the paging file. However, selecting this option may cause memory errors, so it isn't recommended. In fact, the system will perform much better if you configure the paging file for optimal performance. Here are some paging file optimization tips:

  • If you have more than one hard drive--not partition-- you can split the paging file between these two drives. Alternatively, you can put the paging file on the ahrd drive that doesn't hold the OS, especially if that disk is faster.
  • Don't put paging files on different partitions that belong to the same physical hard drive. This will severly hinder your performance.
  • If you know the optimial paging file size for the system, set the initial and maximimum size to the same value. This will prevent the paging file from gowing and fragmenting.
  • Use Task Manager and Performance Mintor to monitor the paging file an RAM usage. Tince the memory prices have dropped, you should always have plenty of RAM. In fact, this is the best thing you can do to opimize yoru pagin file.
  • Before you create a new paging file, defragment your hard drive.

Follow these steps to change your paging file settings:

  1. Right-click My Computer and select Properties.
  2. Go to the Advanced tab.
  3. Select Performance and click Settings.
  4. In the Performance Options dialog box, go to the Advanced tab.
  5. Click Change within the Virtual Memory section.
  6. The Virtual Memory dialog box displays all paging file settings. Make your changes, click Set, and reboot.

Configure performance otpions to fit the computer

Windows XP includes several features to increase performance. However, some features actually cause yoru computer to run much slower, especially if your computer is older and doesn't have state-of-the-art components. There are two places where you can display various performance-realated settings. Right-click the desktop and select Properties. On the Apprearance tab, click Effect. If you have an older computer with a slower graphics card, you'll probably want to disable these options:

  • Use the fFollowing Transition effect For Menus And Tooltops
  • Show Shadows Under Menus
  • Show Window Contents While Dragging

Another set of performance-related settings is located in the System Properties dialog box. Right-click the My Computer icon and select Properties. On the Advanced tab, click Settings under the Performance option.
For Visual Effects, you can select from three predefined options--automatic, best apprearance, and best performance-- or manually enable/disable each individual setting. It's a good idea to leave the default settings on new computers, but you should alter the settings on older, slower computers.