Improving PC Performance

The Task Manager is your stethoscope for diagnosing the cause of your computer's poor performance. Close all of the programs that are running on your computer and open the Task Manager by pressing "CTRL" + "ALT" + "DELETE". Go through each tab step-by-step to identify the cause of your slow computer.

Speeding up your PC by analyzing the Task Manager

The Applications tab identifies all applications currently running on your computer. Applications are different from services or processes in that they are programs that the computer understands you will be interacting with directly. Note all of the applications running here. Sometimes, if an application crashes, it won't appear in the Applications tab and will instead show up in the Processes tab. This means it is hogging system resources and slowing down your computer. If you can find an application that is doing this, you should uninstall and reinstall it.

Often, the Applications tab does not give you enough information about what is actually running on your computer. Visiting the Processes tab will show you the names of all of the programs that are running on your computer, as well as the amount of system resources they are currently taking. Click on the "CPU" header to organize the Processes list by the amount of CPU each process is taking. If there's a process other than System Idle Process that is consistently taking up more than 10% of your CPU, try terminating it by selecting it and pressing "End Process". Next, click on the header called "Mem Usage" to sort the processes by the amount of RAM they are taking. If you can find any process that's taking more than 100MB of RAM, you should terminate it and note the results.

The Performance tab shows a graphical representation of your CPU and Page File usage against time. If your CPU Usage History shows consistent highs approaching 100%, the cause of your slow PC is most likely an errant or a crashing process.

Although the Performance tab is useful, it doesn't tell the whole story about your computer's performance. Visit the Networking tab for a graph of your network connection usage. If this graph shows anything more than 0 with all of your applications shut down, you may be infected with spyware or adware, which will greatly slow down your PC. You should download a free spyware scan to make sure your computer is safe and clean.

Disabling unnecessary services to speed up your computer

Windows computers rely on programs running in the background of your machine. These programs are called "services", and run constantly in order to always be available for other programs that might need them. However, these services can crash just like any other program and slow down your PC. To view the services currently running on your computer, take the following steps:

Carefully review the list of services. If you see anything suspicious, you can analyze the type of service by double-clicking on it. The "General" tab displays the name and description of the service. The "path to executable" shows where the service's executable file is located. Most importantly, the "Service Status" field shows whether the service is currently running or not. Non-critical services that are currently running can sap your system's resources and slow down your computer. If you can be sure that the service you're looking at is non-critical, you should set the "Startup Type" to "Manual". This will prevent the service from starting up with your computer and save precious system resources, thereby speeding up your computer.

Modifying your Windows XP performance settings to make your PC faster

By changing your Windows XP system's performance settings, you can significantly increase the performance of your PC and stop it from being slow. To access the system performance settings, you must first open your System Properties panel. Do this by right-clicking on "My Computer" and choosing "Properties". Choose the "Advanced" tab, and press "Settings" in the "Performance" field.

For optimum performance, you should set your Visual Effects to "Adjust for best performance". Although this will strip your computer of certain visual effects and make the interface less attractive, it will substantially increase the speed of your PC.

Under the "Advanced" tab, you can modify a setting called "Virtual Memory". Virtual Memory is an area of your hard drive that Windows sets aside to use as if it were RAM. Although Virtual Memory is substantially slower than RAM, it can be useful for users who have slower computers with small amounts of memory. Press "Change" to modify the size of the page file and dedicate more hard drive space to virtual memory.

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