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Updated: 5.6.2006

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This page deals mainly with my favorite configuration and performance hints (in the past it was also titled "tips"); well, it is that I just can't resist from posting them as soon as possible. In general, it's all mostly about the customizations that I always perform after a "fresh" OS installation. So below are therefore listed some of the most crucial computer settings/configuration changes affecting the computer's performance (of course, in my opinion), that one can make. And note that most of them are somehow "low-level" ones, so be careful when following the steps described here. Because in few of the paragraphs below, we are talking about drivers etc., right? I mean, how can it be more "low-level" than that??

The bottom-line is that I hate all those additional/extra features, meaning that I prefer to run just the "pure" core. Well, there is nothing wrong with programs in case if there are optional (if you can disable them through application's interface), or if they are available as extensions, plugins, addons (or whatever), so if you DON'T WANT to install/use them, you simply do not download them. But in many cases these features are sadly deeply integrated into application or system (operating system, graphic card's driver-software etc.), so it's quite annoying to do this (but I do it), so I usually DISABLE EVERYTHING, THAT IS NOT NEEDED AND REQUIRED FOR A SYSTEM OR AN APPLICATION TO RUN, and I have pretty tight rules. This means that I disable all not necessary GUI enhancements, for both Windows versions I am using and user applications in general, including things "down" to devices (down-to in meaning of being "low-level", hehe), device-drivers, other drivers, fonts-used, software, services, and other "parts" of an OS. This is the most important for performance, so be welcomed to read about all this stuff on the current page below.

Finally, one crucial not performance-related but otherwise important hint. Does your computer restart on its own without any obvious reason? If this is the case, you'll first need to check if it is "just" a BSOD (i.e. Blue Screen Of Death), which can be caused by anything really. Anyway, in this case consider doing the following: you need to check you current setting for "Automatically restart" under the "System failure" section, i.e. if the check-box IS CHECKED, then UN-CHECK it): Control Panel -- System -- Advanced -- Performance -- Settings. This way you will be sure that the reason for these restarts is in fact a BSOD, and not something else, like for instance a too high temperature. But in any case, if it's really a BSOD, you will at least get some clue on what is causing it by the "stop error-code" returned by the BSOD, and if you are lucky, you'll get the info on what's causing it (under the "Technical Information"), and additionally, you can even get a file-name of the driver that's causing it.

My various blogs: Here is a list of links to my various blogs; as first a link to my Voljatel Blog, both in Slovenian language, as second there are the links to the two "ad revenue sharing community" blogs Senserely Blog [feed.png add], writingUp Blog [feed.png add] in English language, then there are the three unsorted blogs Kuro5hin Blog, Spread Firefox Blog [feed.png add], and CastleCops Blog [feed.png add] also in English language, and finally the two futile blogs Slashdot Blog (this one doesn't get much attention), Techrepublic Blog (it's inaccessible to non-registered visitors), both in English language too.

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/NOTE: From the site's update on 5.6.2006 onwards, this particular site will not be updated anymore. To be honest, I made few additional modifications on 6.6., 7.6., 8.6., 9.6., and 16.6., further on 13.7., 23.7., 23.8., and 26.9. in 2006, and finally on 14.1. in 2007 (which was the absolutely last update), but that was all just fixing old errors and formatting, and no new content was added. Optionally see the last "events-entry" on page "events7.html" (it's a short related announcement), and the first entry on the "events8.html" page (it describes all this in great details), however, the second one is located only on "still-updated" site-variants. Anyway, this notice applies to: Bravenet, Freehost386, Geocities, and Greatnow free-hosts (and from 14.1.2007 this includes also Atspace free-host), so for the current variant with the fresh content, please head on to one of these two main sites: 50webs, Voljatel, which are, as mentioned, the only ones still being updated.


The first thing on fresh Windows installation and after installing the required drivers for my nVidia GeForce4 MX 440 graphic-card (with 64MB DDR, GPU 270 MHz, RAMDAC 350 MHz and built on ASUS V8170) is that I disable all the graphic card's not required enhancements, including stuff from its software package that usually comes bundled with drivers on the installation CD-ROM. I mean all that additional stuff, ASUS/nVidia's additional features (nView thing and its additional options - "virtual" desktops and "Alternative monitor", called "multi-display and multi desktop functionality"), and many other extra (but useless) enhancements, including QuickTweak process (related to nView "Desktop Manager"), all this running with up-to two additional processes, one service, bunch of additional dlls/drivers used etc. Another thing for both Windows versions is an option to speed restarts with modifying OS's system files. And heh, btw., they both "look" for boot.ini file on boot-ups.


HINTS FOR ALL WINDOWS VERSIONS



Windows 98: You can speed up Windows 98 system restarts with adding few lines into the MSDOS.SYS file (or Msdos.sys) under the [Options] section. The file is located in the C:\ root. Same as above, open your text-editor, and do the folowing:

- open the Msdos.sys file and add this line: BootDelay=0 under the [Options] header. I got used also to add BootGUI=0, which if I recall correctly, disables that screen with troubleshooting boot options.

Windows XP: On Windows XP, this means to disable the "XP Boot Logo" - Windows XP's "GUI startup". Of course, the actual syntax should be with intendations (i.e. spaces) and without characters for quoting. But rather see Sysinternals for other boot.ini switches here: http://www.sysinternals.com/ntw2k/info/bootini.shtml. It is pretty simple, just open any text-editor programs (Microsoft's Notepad for example), and do the folowing:

- open the boot.ini file and add the word "/noguiboot" right after the "/fastdetect" word (if it is already there); otherwise place the word at end of the line ending with the "Microsoft Windows XP Professional" or "Microsoft Windows XP"; optionally also add the "fastdetect" word too.

- additionally, if you want to completely skip the GUI on startup and set your own bitmap, then open the same boot.ini file (as mentioned above) and add the new "/bootlogo" switch/parameter right after the already existing "/noguiboot" one. While regarding the bitmap image to use, create a 640 x 480 picture that must be named "Boot.bmp", and place it into the \Windows\ folder. However, note that in this case you won't see the "chkdsk.exe" output-text in case if the disk-checking was scheduled for the respective boot.

Then on both Windows OSs I use, I always disable all the useless and resources-consuming Windows GUI related features, like tooltips, ballon-tips, labels on buttons, all the not-needed stuff in general, most commonly right after the fresh OS-installation. The common way to disable all these things is through various Windows settings dialogs. But for Windows XP in particular, I disable various fancy effects, like fading, sliding, smoothing (edges, scrolling), shadowing, then I disable the mouse driver's pointer shadow and pointer trails features under the the Motion and Pointer tabs of the Mouse Properties Control Panel's applet. And all the mentioned eye-candy only seems to slow-down your system (see below why I wrote "seems to"), so I disable it all, i.e. I was used to leave checked only the radio-button for "Show windows content while dragging" (the default state), but lately I also uncheck this one. However note that these changes do not make a change in the actual speed of hardware/software performance, but they do change the perception of computer's speed, i.e. the Windows will "feel" faster and more responsive. Anyway, these settings can be viewed or changed under:

Control Panel -- Display -- Appearance -- Effects

or in even more advanced mode, in Visual Effects, and also under Advanced (pagfile-size and process-quanta settings):

Control Panel -- System -- Advanced -- Performance -- Settings

Then I also disable Logon/Logoff and Startup/Exit in-built Windows sounds that supposedly makes booting and shutdown faster, but certainly less stress on the computer during boot, since one device (i.e. audio card) less is used. And personally I also got used to set sounds for programs execution and closing, to have good view on what's going on in background, all these can be set under:

Control Panel -- Sounds and Audio Devices -- Sounds






HINTS FOR WINDOWS XP VERSION



Then for Windows XP and its "visual style" in particular, I certainly set everything that's possible to set to "Classic" style. For instance, I to set to "Classic" the Windows Explorer's Start-Menu, then Windows Folders option under Windows Explorer's Tools menu-item, Folder Options..., the General tab, Tasks section is set to "Use classic folders" (as opposed to "Show common tasks in folders"); well it was set like this before using other programs as my default Windows shell and default file-manager. And well, I certainly do not use nor need themes, i.e. I disable the famous "Luna theme" right away after installing Windows, and further, I also disable the Themes service completely (beside many others NT-services, see below), while here below is a complete list of all the things I recommend to set to classic with Group Policy or gpedit.msc:

Local Computer Policy - Computer Configuration - Administrative Templates


System -- Logon -- Allways use classic logon (logon screen)

Local Computer Policy - User Configuration - Administrative Templates


Start Menu and Taskbar -- Force classic Start Menu

Control Panel -- Display -- Desktop Themes -- Load a specific visual style or force Windows Classic

Windows Components -- Windows Explorer -- Turn On Classic Shell (disables Active Desktop and Web view)

And here are also two important "tweaks", things that can be disabled from inside any Windows Explorer window's settings dialogs. Optionally, you can uncheck also many others radio-buttons. See what fits to your needs, and your machine. Open an instance of Windows Explorer, and then go to:

Menu -- Tools -- Folder Options -- General -- View


uncheck these features:

Automatically search for network directories and printers

Do not cache thumbnails

The benefit of doing this has been argued a lot on many forums, but anyway; on Windows XP setup, I always disable all the not-needed and useless NT-services (for my particular hardware specs, configuration and way of usage) with services.msc. However, the general "truth" is that if a service is not being used, it will use no CPU time. And regarding the memory used by a particular service; Windows will reclaim its memory as needed, so until then it effectively uses no memory either. But see below for more thorough explanation.

I set to MANUAL these services:

Computer Browser, DNS Client, Internet Connection Firewall/Internet Connection Sharing, NT LM security Support Provider, Performance Logs and Alerts, QoS RSVP, Remote Access Auto Connection Manager, Routing and Remote Access, Security Accounts Manager, Server service, SSDP Discovery Service, Telephony Service, Volume Shadow Copy

I set to DISABLED these services:

Alerter, Automatic Updates, ClipBook, Distributed Link Tracking Client, Distributed Transaction Coordinator, Error Reporting Service, Fast User Switching Compatibility, Fax Service, Human Interface Device Access, IMAPI CD-Burning COM Service, Indexing Service, IPSEC Services, Messenger, Netlogon service, NetMeeting Remote Desktop Sharing, Network DDE, Print Spooler, Remote Registry Service, Remote Desktop Help Session Manager, Secondary Logon, Smart Card, Smart Card Helper, System Restore Service, TCP/IP NetBIOS Helper, Telnet, Themes, Universal Plug and Play Device Host, Wireless Zero Configuration

Just a further opinion of mine on services that aren't actually used or needed. As it is generally agreed on the Ars Technica forum where I participate on a daily basis, it is totally unnecessary or even dangerous to some extent (since in situations if/when the service would be in fact needed, it would be very hard to troubleshoot why some program/component is not working properly or at all) to change the default "startup types" (i.e. to disable them for instance) of any of the default XP's services. You see, if the service is not used on a particular computer, then the data that it uses (RAM that it occupies) is paged-out to the pagefile anyways if the RAM is needed for some other program to run etc., while regarding the CPU cycles that not-used services consume, it's quite similar as in the memory-related example above, i.e. if the respective service is not actually used, then it simply doesn't consume any% of CPU whatsoever even if the service-process is running, while the great majority of them run (i.e. the service are "hosted" by this process) in a single dedicated "svchost.exe" process, which is up and running in any case.





HINTS FOR WINDOWS 98 VERSION



For users, who still use Windows 9x (though I am not sure for Windows ME), as the most impotant - I additionally make few performance modifications in the System.ini file itself, which means to change the values of entires like: DMABufferSize, MaxBPs, PerVMFiles and PageBuffers tweaks, ComBoostTime, KeyBoostTime etc. (this list could go on and on). Usually, the System.ini file resides in Windows\ directory, on your primary/bot/system partition, where Windows 9x OS is installed. For instance, it is generally recommended for better performance, to set Max and Min File Cache values, to be IDENTICAL, and for chunksize line, try to keep/set it to the number, which is MULTIPLE of integer 2 (1x2, 2x2, ...)

The list of the most useful multipliers of number 2, I made for myself for similar situatons:

2, 4, 8, 16, 32, 64, 128, 256, 512, 1024, 2048, 4096, 8192, 16384, 32768, 65536, 131072

For lines under the [386Enh] header, you should only modify the "universal" and relatively safe entries/lines (anyway, I post only these), and if you will - just specify some reasonable value. I mean to modify only the generic entires like LocalLoadHigh, WindowUpdateTime, ConservativeSwapfileUsage, MinPagingFileSize (which can be also set under Control Panel), and for other lines under the [vcache] header, which contains system's File Cache settings (and other memory management-related parameters), like the MaxFileCache, MinFileCache and chunksize entries. Here below are the crucial lines from my System.ini file, that you can add to your own System.ini file, to improve the operational speed of your 9x system. But please be warned: do it at your very own risk!!

Note that it is not the whole file (I didn't post the whole file), because System.ini files contain mostly OS's particular/specific lines (various paths, devices, driver's file-image-names, and similar stuff), and these lines are in general "unique" to each system. For example OS-specific lines under headers like - [keyboard], [mci], [drivers32], [Password Lists] and so on, so I put/paste here only lines under the two respective headers. If any line is already there, just replace if with the "optimized" one, meaning there shoudn't be two same lines inside file in the end.

So here below are those lines from System.ini file with values for optimized performance of Windows 9x systems (i.e., 95/98/98SE/ME), but you can optionally use any other values. For example under [vcache] header, you might put the same values for Min/Max FileCache, then you could put number 32768 instead of 65536 for MaxFileCache (if you don't have much RAM), and number 1024 instead of 2048 for chunksize etc.:

[386Enh]
LocalLoadHigh=1
32BitDiskAccess=on
32BitFileAccess=on
DMABufferSize=64
MinTimeSlice=40
MaxBPs=65530
PageBuffers=32
WindowUpdateTime=200
PerVMFiles=150
ComBoostTime=4
ConservativeSwapfileUsage=1
MinSPs=8
KeyBoostTime=.005
PagingDrive=C:
MinPagingFileSize=262144
MaxPagingFileSize=262144

[vcache]
MinFileCache=16384
MaxFileCache=32768
chunksize=1024


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