Reinstalling and setting up Windows is something which I get to do often, and over time I developed this process. I make no claims as to whether this process works for you, so you are on your own if you try any of the following procedures. In my experience WindowsXP requires at least 384MB of memory to run. This allows for reasonable performance while running one application, such as a browser.

Run Windows Update

The first step is to have Windows installed or setup so that it is working correctly. You should then run Windows Update and download all Critical updates and get those installed. Once you do that install any Optional and Hardware updates that you want from Windows Update. If you have any doubt, just download and install everything. Many hours and several reboots later, your system will be ready to optimize. What I mean by this, is that you are going to tuneup WindowsXP so you can get the best performance out of your computer.

Disable Services

By default Windows sets up many different services upon installation. Not all of these services are needed by home computer users. To disable a service go to the Start Menu and type in the Run... box: services.msc and enter. This will bring up the Services Console. You can then Right-click and choose Properties. Next change the Startup Type to Manual and click Stop.

Before disabling any service read the description for what it does; if you have any doubts Google the name of the service to see if you can find out more information on what it does. Some services to disable are:

  • Automatic Updates
  • Error Reporting Service
  • Indexing Service
  • NetMeeting Remote Desktop Sharing
  • Performance Logs and Alerts
  • Remote Registry
  • Routing and Remote Access
  • Secondary Logon
  • Task Scheduler

You will then have to restart the computer and test out the system to make sure it is still stable. If you disable Automatic Updates, you must undo the changes before running Windows Update manually or else Windows Update will not work.

Registry Changes

You can customize Windows further by editing the registry. To edit the registry go to the Start Menu and type in the Run... box: regedit and enter. You then can navigate to the following keys and make the changes. Note that some keys will have to be created.

Disable Paging Of Core Files

You can improve system performance by forcing the core Windows system files to be kept in memory. This change is recommended only if your system has a large amount of RAM.

Edit the following registry key:

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\Session Manager\
Memory Management\DisablePagingExecutive

(Data Type: REG_DWORD) Set to 1 to enable.

Improve NTFS Performance

Improve NTFS performance by not generating timestamps every time directories are accessed.


(Data Type: REG_DWORD) Set to 1 to enable.

Unload DLLs for Closed Applications

Windows sometimes keeps DLLs in memory, long after the programs that used them are closed. You can force Windows to unload DLLs and conserve available memory further


(Data Type: REG_DWORD) Set to 1 to enable.

Improve LAN Browsing

You can improve network performance if your local network is not using Netware. Simply delete the following registry key:

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Microsoft\Windows\Current Version\Explorer\

Delete only if your not connecting to a Novell Netware server.

Disable User Tracking

For home users, user tracking is not necessary or of any benefit. You can increase performance by disabling the feature.


(Data Type: REG_DWORD) Set to 1 to enable.

Anti-Virus and Spyware Tools

Running a Windows computer with any type of Internet connection nowadays requires that you run have both anti-virus and spyware utilities loaded. Scanning of any type slows down Windows performance so you need to be particular about what scanners you implement.

There are a variety of Anti-Virus programs available. The trend seems to be to combine firewalls, spam blockers, spyware scanning, and even parental controls into suites. For slower hardware, I recommend using separate apps like AVG Anti-Virus Free Edition and Spybot - S&D. eTrust EZ Antivirus is a commercial scanner that seems to be affordable and not as processor intensive.

Third Party Applications

At this point, you can install whatever third party applications you use regularly, along with any updates that are available.

Recommended Utilities

Mozilla Firefox

For a great browsing experience on Windows, Firefox is the preferred choice over IE6. Firefox's best features are its extension capabilities and uncluttered interface.


CCleaner is a small utility that takes care of safely removing old files from your system, without you worrying about it. And it is free and easy to use, so you can recommend it to everyone regardless of their Windows skills.