For those of you die-hard users still clinging to Windows XP, be fair warned; the rest of the computer world is moving on. Yes, it was a tried and true love affair but as the natural course of technical evolution takes hold, we must adapt. Very soon, Microsoft will officially drop consumer support for Windows XP completely, that means vendor support as well. In fact, it has been circulating that Microsoft will not provide an XP version of Internet Explorer 9 when it arrives. This is bad news considering Windows OS security is heavily dependent on Internet Explorer security updates and patches. Where there are no patches, security, compatibility and stability issues begin to develop with software, usability and functionality. Consider this your final warning J
In any case, some of you won’t give up XP until they pry it from your cold dead hands. Good for you! Way to fight the man, technological progress or just plain old change. Whatever your cause (and however misguided), when vendor support for XP disappears, you’ll know that Microsoft’s most popular OS is dead for good. When this happens, your PC will be on its own in the cyber-wilderness. As it’s guardian, you will need to know how to help your PC survive when threatened by the bits that go bump in the night.
Below are a handful of useful Post-XP survival-tips tips and tweaks for Windows XP that can help increase system performance and usability.
Use A Current, Mainstream Anti-Virus Software and Keep It Up-To-Date!
You must run anti-virus software and keep it up to date or else your PC will get infected, you’ll lose all your data, and you’ll incur the wrath of every e-mail buddy you unknowingly infect because of your carelessness. Beleive me, we see it all the time.
For one reason or another, you may not be running and anti-virus software or the one you are using is severely out of date. Maybe you turned off your virus scanner because it conflicted with another program. Maybe you got tired of upgrading after you bought Symantec Anti-virus 2008, 2009 and 2010. Or maybe your annual subscription of virus definitions recently expired, and you’ve put off renewing. These things happen, but chances are, either you’re infected right now, as we speak, or you will be very soon.
In a Post-XP world, this is tantamount to putting a “death-wish” on your computer, seriously. If any of these tips keep you safe, this one is numero-uno! It doesn’t take a lot of money these days to protect a computer from virus’s, malware, trojans and the like. In fact, many are free. Check out our other blog posts and Free Tools section for a few examples, links and details to some freely available anti-virus software.
Cut Down on Start-up Items
An exceptionally common computer problem occurs when Windows automatically loads a number of programs at start-up. This causes the computer to set aside RAM and virtual memory for programs which you may never use. The effect – especially on systems with minimal RAM – is a significant slowdown at start-up, and during use.
Only a few of these programs need to be started with the system – such as anti-virus or firewall – almost all others can be started and stopped as needed. For more information on specific start-up items look here, and here.
A tool included in Windows used to control these programs is the System Configuration Utility or Msconfig.
If you are comfortable editing the Windows Registry, simply delete the entree from the place specified in Msconfig under Location. Otherwise, read on.
- To use this tool go to Start > Run type msconfig > click OK > Navigate to the Startup tab and uncheck any programs you wish to disable > click OK.
- After you reboot you may receive a message saying “you have used the System Configuration Utility to make changes to your system….”. When you get this message check the box Do not show me this message again > click OK.
Reduce the Number of Running Services
There are a number of unused Services that can be disabled to free-up system resources.
Use the Services Management Tool for this purpose. The Services Management Tool (Control Panel, Administrative Tools, Services or SERVICES.MSC if you would like to make a shortcut) shows all the available active and inactive services, including details about the purpose of each service listed:
Cut Back on Visual Effects
If you are comfortable with the plain “pre-XP” interface, you can disable the XP style interface and in doing so free-up some system resources and increase system speed.
- To do this, go to Start > Control Panel > System. go to the Advanced tab and under Performance click Settings > select Adjust For Best Performance and click Apply > then recheck only the ones that you want.
TIP: for a quick way to bring up the System Properties dialog use the keyboard shortcut WinKey+Pause/Break.
Disable the Indexing Service
Indexing Service constantly scans and catalogs every file on the hard drive allowing you to search them quickly. For most users, however, this is completely unnecessary and uses large amounts of RAM.
- To disable Indexing Service right click your main drive (usually C:) click Properties > un-check “Allow Indexing Service to Index This Disk for Fast File Searching.”
- Then go to Start > Control Panel > Add and Remove Programs > Add or remove Windows Components > uncheck Indexing Service > click Next.
Reduce the Amount of Disk Space that System Restore Uses
If you are low on disk space you can free-up some space while maintaining the ability to use System Restore. If you have plenty of disk space though, just leave it high.
- To lower the amount of disk space System restore uses press WinKey+Pause/Break > click the System Restore tab > drag the slider down to around 5% > click OK.
This is just a partial list f many tips, tricks and techniques for users who dare to tread where current technologies go to die. Stay tuned and check back often as we continue this series of posts, “Survival Tips For Life In The Post-XP World“.