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Checklist for making Windows XP boot and run faster

Summary: The following is my checklist of things to try to make Windows XP boot and run faster without doing a complete re-install. It can take a while to complete everything on the list, but it's ideal if you can't remember where you put all those installation discs and license codes.

About: I'm often asked to take a look at PCs that have been in use for some time and have gradually gotten slower and slower to a point where it is painful waiting for it to boot and to do anything. Over the years I have developed the following checklist to help me speed up slow XP installs:

  1. Open Add or Remove Programs and remove any programs no longer used, including Windows programs
  2. Check there are no programs in the Startup folder
  3. Run msconfig and check startup tab and disable any programs that do not need to run at startup
  4. Look in system tray and set any programs not needed at startup to not run at startup
  5. Browse hard drive and delete any files that you no longer need to free up disk space
  6. Run CleanUp!
  7. Run Spybot and AVG full-system scans (or whatever anti-virus software you have, which is hopefully not Norton)
  8. Defrag the hard drive (all partitions)
  9. Reboot and enter BIOS (aka setup) and enable quick boot and disable POST, save and exit
  10. Run regedit and make sure HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Dfrg\BootOptimizeFunction Enable equals Y
  11. Run msconfig again and on Services tab tick box at bottom to hide Windows services and check none of these are running: link. Untick them if they are.
  12. Run services.msc and disable services that dont need to run based on recommendations (I disabled: IPSEC Services, Protected Storage, Secondary Logon, Wireless Zero Configuration because I don't need them)
  13. Run Windows update and check for new driver updates as well
  14. Run a decent hard drive health check tool such as SpinRite

Note: Some programs mentioned above link to external web sites.

If you have any feedback regarding this article, or you have a suggestion for a new article, or just want to say thanks for the info then feel free to drop me an email at

Article date: 4th March 2010

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