Performance optimization, what is it? Should I
do it? How would I do it?
Good questions and very few answers on the internet. There is a lot of advice
out there on how to maximize your computer's Operating System (OS) by uninstalling
unused programs to running anti-virus software, and maybe running a
Question: "What do computer repair shops do to speed
There are four ways to 'Speed Up My PC' :
Invest in a new computer
Invest in a new motherboard and processor
Invest in more memory
Operational maximize the Operating System (OS)
The list is from most expensive to free, the cheapest hardware upgrade is the
memory, it is the most bang for your buck upgrade. However 32 bit OS can only
utilize 3.25 GB of memory and once you have that much memory in the computer
with out upgrading the motherboard/processor or buying a new one is this:
Maximize the OS!
Performance optimization ("Speed up My PC!") begins with realizing your
computer isn't as fast as it was when you turned it on the first time. This is
Different things will slow your computer down, too many
files on the hard drive, too many 'utilities' running when you start, not enough
memory for the programs to run properly (too many open programs for the physical
Your computer should be able to run five of the top software programs
simultaneously. I am not joking!
You should be able to have these types of
programs running while you do something else: email, browser, word processor,
spread sheet, and a graphics program.
Right now while I am building this web
page (typing it up and formatting it) I have these programs running on the
desktop: 2 separate Internet Explorer 8's, a RSS reader, email, notepad, and Front Page. My
system is responding like it should, not dragging or hesitating. ( I also have
four separate versions of explorer open for different folders). My screen
resolution is set for 1920 x 1280.
How do I do this with a P4 2.5 GHz -M processor and 2 gig of ram (note the
processor speed, it is 1/2 the speed of the latest and greatest!)?
Ok, so how do I performance optimization my system? By keeping it clean and making the OS do
what I want it to do not what the programmers think it should do.
Temporary files, temp files are files
that your word processor, IE, Firefox, and other programs created for their
purpose. They should delete them when you close them but they don't. So
first we tell the OS where we want the temp files to be then we delete those
others. (Note: After restart you can delete the temp files
but not until then. You will need to do a search for folders named Temp to find
them all )
We need to build a new place for all those
temporary files. If you have two volumes then I
would suggest you put them on the second drive not the OS or system drive.
Second we need to tell the
OS where we want to put temp files, this is done through the system properties
Right click on My Computer and click on the properties or go to the control
panel and open System. Go to the Advanced tab, on the Advanced tab we will use
these sections: Performance, Startup and Recovery, and
When the page opens you will see two windows. The top window is for the
current user, the bottom window is for the System.
Once you have created your new temp folder (I use
the D: drive) then click each line and change it to where your new Temp folder
is located. (Note: Current user temp folder will have to be modified for each
user of the system if others use your computer).
In the System variables window we need to change three lines:
Path: double click on the value, go to the end of the line and add to
the path to your new temp folder like this: ;D:\Temp Note the
; before the D:\ (putting the temp in the
path line will force all programs to use the temp folder, such as an install
Next scroll down to TEMP and double click the value and put in your
new path to the temp folder, do the same for the TMP value.
These changes do not take effect until after you
restart, complete your optimization before restarting.
First: Visual Effects, I adjust for best performance, if you want to use custom
and select a few will not impact performance but the 'Let windows choose....'
will definitely cause performance to degrade.
Second: Click on Advanced, go to Virtual Memory, click on the 'Change' button.
(First let me explain something about the 'Virtual Memory or Swap File', this
is a file where any time you open or use more memory than the physical memory
installed in the system is put temporarily. That is to say you have 512 meg of
physical ram installed. Once you open enough programs that the memory usage goes
past the 512 Meg of ram then the OS will start to move unused programs from
physical memory to the swap file. Now there is no hard rule on how much space
you give this swap file, from my experience it is around 1.5 times the physical
memory. Once you go past 2 gig then it takes to long to read and write the swap
file every time something is swapped from ram to the file or from the file to
ram regardless of the processor speed. If you have more than 2 gig of physical
memory in your system you will need to
spread the swap file across more drives, you can only have one swap file per
drive. The only systems I have worked on that this was not valid were servers
with more than four processors.)
To set your 'Virtual Memory' select the drive, then put in the 'Initial size'
(the size of your physical memory, then in the 'Maximum size' put in 1.5 times
that. Set the second drive (D:) file sizes, then modify the fist drive (C:)
(normally I remove the swap file from the C: drive)
then close the page, if you get the, 'System needs to be restarted' message click
ok, it will not restart yet.
Startup and Recovery:
This one is a personal type tweak. What I mean is you do not
need to do
anything here unless you remove the swap
file from the C: drive. If you remove the swap file from the C: drive you will
get a warning that the system can not write a Dump file for zero bytes.
Under the System failure heading I remove all check
boxes, I also select (none) for Write debugging information. The reason is that
suspect that you have an unstable system it only creates more overhead for the
system to read at startup.
The idea of optimizing your memory usage is to
keep the system memory at it's lowest point and keep all programs in the
physical ram vs. swapping them out to the hard drive.
This is the last performance optimization tweak before restart. On the
desktop icon for Internet Explorer right click and go to properties, on the
'Browsing history' heading click on Settings.
You can control how much disk space is used on
this page, I set mine to 10 meg. At the bottom of the page you can change how
many days the history will keep, select what you feel is appropriate for your
use. Then click on the button 'Move folder...' browse to your temp folder. Once
you close the properties pages you will automatically be logged off, once you
log back on you still need to restart your computer to complete the other
settings you have changed.
Note: This performance optimization process was written in early 2008, since then Vista and Windows
Seven/Eight have been released however the popularity of Windows Seven isn't what MS
thought it would be by now, there are approximately 2.5 Billon
legal installations of XP and only 300 Million legal installations of Vista and
Windows Seven combined. Something to consider. If you have Vista/Windows Seven/Eight
see the Windows 7 section for optimization techniques.
Want to know more? There are more ways to use
performance optimization on your system to regain some
of that memory that is wasted by non essential programs, visual effects, and
services here: More Performance optimization.
Note: This article was written in 2007. Since that time I have upgraded my
computer four times and have used this performance optimization process each time to optimize the OS for
maximum performance. With a Core 2 Quad processor I have more open files than
with the P4 and the same results: A fast and responsive computer with out any
problems. This does work and it is Free! :)
08/19/14- After three years (that is about how long the "on line" remote
control "fix my PC for me!" scams have been running) I have fixed dozens
of computers the owners thought they were getting a bargain when using these
services. Consider this: Is it a bargain when you have to pay someone twice what
the advertised cost to fix what they did? Is $49.95 worth a trip to the repair
shop where the cost per hour is over $85 per hour?
Something to think about before you hit that buy now button or chat button...