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Beginners Guides: 101 Tech Tips and Tweaks for Windows XP

Beginners Guides: 101 Tech Tips and Tweaks for Windows XP - PCSTATS
Abstract: PCSTATS has a massive Tech Tip guide for Windows XP covering 101 useful and sometimes spicy Tweaks and Tech Tips that will make your clunkly PC run better!
Filed under: Beginners Guides Published:  Author: 
External Mfg. Website: PCSTATS May 01 2011   Mike Dowler  
Home > Reviews > Beginners Guides > PCSTATS

Performance Tips 6 to 7

6. Defrag your hard drive

Defragmentation of a hard drive is the act of re-ordering the data on the drive so that each file can be read continuously from the disk. By default, Windows XP will attempt to store any files it needs to write to the hard drive in consecutive clusters (a cluster is the smallest unit of storage space available on a hard drive) on the drive, so that the file can then be read continuously.

A hard drive which has been frequently used over a long period of time will have developed many fragmented files, files which are scattered over different clusters on the surface of the disk. This can occur because of many factors, for example uninstall programs that leave files behind, system crashes while in the act of writing to the hard drive, regular deletion of files, etc.

A file becomes fragmented when the portion of consecutive clusters on the disk that Windows begins to write into is not large enough to hold the whole file. The remainder of the file then needs to be written to a different physical area of the disk. This does not have any effect on the operating system's ability to access the files themselves, but it does slow down disk access times (and by extension, any application that depends on disk access) due to the extra time needed to reposition the read heads of the hard drive to access the rest of the fragmented file.

Windows XP includes a disk defragmentation utility which you can use to re-arrange the files on the drive and eliminate fragmentation. This can have a significant affect on the speed of your computer. To access this utility, go to 'start\programs\accessories\system tools\disk defragmenter.'

To begin with, you need to analyze your hard disk(s) to see if defragmentation is needed. Select a drive and hit the 'analyze' button. This could take a little while depending on the amount of data on the drive. Whille the system is analyzing, it is best to leave your computer alone or the process may need to restart.

Once the analysis is finished, you will have a graphical representation of your disk's level of fragmentation. See the pic below for an example of a highly fragmented drive.

Windows will also inform you if it recommends defragmenting the drive. You must have 15% of the drive free in order to fully defragment it. Anything less will result in only a partial re-ordering of the files. You may need to delete a few things to obtain this free space.

To defragment the drive, select it and hit the 'defragment' button. Note that depending on the size of the drive and the level of fragmentation, this can take a long time. It's a good thing to leave overnight, since you should not run anything else while doing the defrag either.

7. Disable unnecessary services

Windows XP runs many, many services in the background. A lot of these are not actually necessary to the day-to-day operation of your PC, depending of course, on what you use it for. Creating a guide for which services are useful in which situation would unfortunately take up the entire remainder of this article just for itself, so we're not going to go in depth. The simple fact is different people will need different services enabled.

To judge for yourself which are necessary, right click on 'My computer' and select 'manage.' From the computer management window, expand 'services and applications' then click 'services' to open up the window listing all available services. The ones labeled 'started' are currently running, and the startup type 'automatic' denotes a service which is started by windows each time the operating system loads.

By highlighting each service, you can see a description of its properties, and make an informed decision on whether you need it or not. To stop a service from running, right click on it and select 'properties,' then stop it and make the startup type 'disabled.' If the description indicates that services which depend on the service you are currently examining will fail if it is disabled, you can go to the 'dependencies' tab to see which services will be affected.

Good luck, and use common sense. If you don't understand what it does, leave it and move on to the next tip.

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Contents of Article: PCSTATS
 Pg 1.  Beginners Guides: 101 Tech Tips and Tweaks for Windows XP
 Pg 2.  PCSTATS Performance Tech Tips
 Pg 3.  Performance Tips 3 to 5
 Pg 4.  — Performance Tips 6 to 7
 Pg 5.  Performance Tips 8 to 12
 Pg 6.  Useful tips for XP (13 to 16)
 Pg 7.  Useful Tips for XP: tips 17 to 18
 Pg 8.  Useful Tips for XP: tip 19
 Pg 9.  Useful Tips for XP: tips 20 to 22
 Pg 10.  Useful Tips for XP: tips 23 to 26
 Pg 11.  Useful Tips for XP: tips 27 to 30
 Pg 12.  Security, privacy and recovery tips (31 to 33)
 Pg 13.  Security, privacy and recovery: tips 34 to 36
 Pg 14.  Security, privacy and recovery: tips 37 to 39
 Pg 15.  Security, privacy and recovery: tips 40 to 42
 Pg 16.  Security, privacy and recovery: tips 43 to 45
 Pg 17.  Customizing WinsdowsXP: tips 46 to 49
 Pg 18.  Customizing WinsdowsXP: tips 50 to 52
 Pg 19.  Customizing WinsdowsXP: tips 53 to 54
 Pg 20.  Customizing WinsdowsXP: tips 55 to 56
 Pg 21.  Customizing WinsdowsXP: tips 57 to 59
 Pg 22.  Essential Advice for Beginners: Tips 60 to 61
 Pg 23.  Essential Advice for Beginners: Tips 62 to 64
 Pg 24.  Essential Advice for Beginners: Tips 65 to 68
 Pg 25.  Essential Advice for Beginners: Tips 69 to 71
 Pg 26.  Essential Advice for Beginners: Tips 72 to 76
 Pg 27.  Essential Advice for Beginners: Tips 77
 Pg 28.  Essential Advice for Beginners: Tips 78 to 80
 Pg 29.  Next Section: Registry tweaks (81)
 Pg 30.  Registry Tweaks: Tip 82
 Pg 31.  Registry Tweaks For performance (83 to 85)
 Pg 32.  Registry Tweaks for Performance: Tips 86 to 88
 Pg 33.  Registry Tweaks for Performance: Tips 89 to 92
 Pg 34.  Miscellaneous registry tweaks (93 to 95)
 Pg 35.  Miscellaneous Registry Tweaks: Tips 96 to 99
 Pg 36.  Miscellaneous Registry Tweaks: Tips 100 to 101

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