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Topic Title: Tuning Up a Windows 2000/XP PC
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Created On: 03/24/2004 01:12 PM
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 03/24/2004 01:12 PM
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This guide was recently re-written for more detail and organization. You may find the new version here:' "> The information is basically the same but with a bit more detail. I also consolidated my other guide about system cooling into that thread. I am leaving this guide as it is so that those who wish to read the original may do so.

In my efforts to squeeze every last bit of operating power out of my old about to be sold on ebay laptop, I have come across quite a few interesting Windows 2000 system tweaks that have actually done quite well on this old piece of junk. Some specs:

The laptop:
Fujitsu C Series 4235
450MHz AMD K6-2
Battery that only holds 1/2 hour charge
Onboard Trident Video

Anyhow, Win2K lags like crazy on this thing on boot. It's also laggy when multi tasking. Anyhow, after formatting, the first thing I did was install the OS and only the OS. No service packs, no apps, nothing. Then I began applying the tweaks and began disabling all non essential system services.

-I cut down my system services resource consumption in HALF.
-Initial boot was about 2min from system turn on to windows desktop with the system done loading and sitting @ idle to about 1min 10sec. After installing all my apps, it is almost 2min. Originally, it would be much much longer. So in the least, I broke even in terms of boot time and responsiveness. (as of 10.27.2003, completing a review of system boot time, it takes about 2min 30 for a full boot from cold start to idle in Windows. Though I do admit, when @ idle, everything from there runs so much more smoothly than it used to. I can actually use alt+tab without too much trouble!
-The system is overall, much more responsive when multitasking.

Anyhow, in my search, I thought you folks might find these interesting to play with if you have an old system or a system that doesn't hold anything close to mission critical, that you may want to screw around with:

Memory Management Tweaks
(I’ll make mention of stuff that I found particularly useful. Other things that I did not totally understand, I will not make mention of, though you will find it in the tutorial. The following tweaks are from' "> though on occasion, I will include stuff from my own experience or from other sites. So yeah, just click on the link for a full brief.):' ">
This covers the proper calculations for a page file. However, please do note that on clean formats and installs of Win2K, this setting is automatic. You should only change it if you end up adding more memory. However, you should cap your page file size eventually because having 1.5 page file for total RAM just is not practical when you have over 512MB of RAM.' ">
Often times, people like to dual boot. In this case, you can conserve drive space by forcing your Win9x system to share the page file with Win2K. This tutorial shows you how.' ">
The following tutorial covers these topics (the full registry key path is included in the reading):
ClearPageFileAtShutDown – This forces a page file dump at each shutdown. In some cases, this might actually slow down shutting down if you have a huge page file but for others, it is a great security feature.
DisablePagingExecutive – This forces Windows 2K to place page-able system drivers and system code to RAM instead of to disk, which increases performance in that the RAM just can be accessed much faster than the page file. Because of this, you may actually reduce your page file size. However, do not cut it down by too much, because Windows will still use it for other things.
IoPageLockLimit – Details of this are in the tutorial.
LargeSystemCache – This option is kind of fun in that it turns your Windows 2000 Pro install into a virtual Windows 2000 Server install… sort of. In any case, what it does is that it creates a virtual 4MB cache for use disk caching for faster application launches. By default, this is enabled in Windows 2000 Server but disabled in Windows 2000 Pro.
SecondLevelDataCache – For some people, upgrading a CPU means having a bigger L2 cache. Windows 2000 will usually pull this value from the Hardware Abstraction Layer (HAL), but sometimes this may fail and you might need to set the value in manually.
POSIX, OS/2 disabling – This is a very marginal gain tweak. By disabling these subsystems, you can boost system performance just a bit.

Tweaks to increase NIC Throughput and TCP/IP performance' "> - Sometimes, a separate PCI card NIC has an onboard CPU to process data. However, by default, most of the processing load is unloaded onto the system CPU. This registry tweak forces the NIC processor to get the load, which frees up your resources and gives improved network performance.' ">
That tutorial goes over the major ways to modify your system registry to give you better TCP/IP performance.' "> - This zip file contains a registry file that removes the 2-file cap limit on simultaneous downloads per server. As a bandwidth constraint issue, Windows is defaulted to prevent more than 2 objects to be downloaded @ a time from any given server. This is sort of like keeping a child from taking down a whole pizza at a time instead of taking it bite by bite. This tweak will enable broad band connections to be used a bit more efficiently in that you can download up to 10 objects at a time from any single server. Take for example, if you are on broadband viewing a page with 10 pictures, Windows will force a maximum of 2 image downloads at a time, and only when those are done, will the rest of the pictures load, but 2 at a time. This lets IE download all 10 at one shot.

Miscellaneous Tweaks
NTFS generally tries to maintain compatibility with older 16bit apps that use the old file name standards. However, you may squeeze just a bit more performance by disabling this compatibility by going to regedit and editing this key (I do not remember where I found this tweak):

HKLM\System\CurrentControlSet\Control\FileSystem\NtfsDisable8dot3NameCreation and change the value to 1. Default is 0, which enabled compatibility.

This is an interesting registry modification provided by It reduces the wait states used between the CPU, AGP, and PCI channels to increase overall system performance.

Registry Settings
System Key: [HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\System\CurrentControlSet\Services\VxD\BIOS]
Value Name: PCIConcur, FastDRAM, AGPConcur
Data Type: REG_DWORD (DWORD Value)
Value Data: 1 = reduce wait states
Returning the value to 0 brings it to default.

Another major improvement tweak is to enable UDMA66. Most people with chipsets that have it often find that by default, Windows Disables it. To gain the functionality of that, it can be enabled. Details of that modification may be found here:' ">

And for just a bulk load of miscellaneous tips and tricks, this is a crazy site for that: <-- their root site. <---- their giant reference of stuff ... it's INCREDIBLY LARGE! So yeah, get a sandwhich and juice ready before you sit down and try this stuff out.

The remainder of the tweaks I found were from' ">, an excellent place for such guides. Please note that this place even has a lot of tweaks for Win9x as well as XP in their 2K stuff.' "> - Winguide tweaks for file system modifications.' "> - Modification of startup and shutdown options.' "> - Specific system modifications.' "> - Windows Explorer modifications (lots of fun stuff here)

Oh, and as another user had mentioned, I left out' "> I originally had that site listed in my list but forgot to pop it back in when I was consolidating all the scattered links and descriptions into a single post. They have just as many tips as the rest and overlaps quite a bit but does have a few unique ones so do check it out! :thumbsup:

<--- added information as of 11/12/2003 --->

I've also found a variety of other miscellaneous registry tweaks just for kicks that people might find use of. The primary resource as usual, I just went through to find the most relevant or interesting highlights and compiled them here:' ">

Of these include a few security enhancements as well as cosmetic.

<--- added 11.16.2003 --->' ">
This particular site is interested in that it covers NTFS cluster size and how it affects network performance. It's pretty interesting considering I do partition a lot but never understood the meaning of cluster size in terms of system performance. Have fun. :cool:

These days, there still are new motherboards being sold with all sorts of old IO ports such as parallel, serial, and so forth. From my experience, most of those have been replaced by USB devices. So to save system resources, I would recommend disabling those in the BIOS. A lot of people I know do not even use floppies anymore. Disable it too if you so wish. I would replace the floppy bay with a nice media reader if that is the case.

BIOS Optimization
BIOS optimization can really do a whole lot for your system performance after you've finished tuning your OS. The most comprehensive guide I have ever seen on this topic may be found here:' "> <--- this particular version comes in two flavors, paid and free. The paid one, which I haven't looked @ yet, is supposed to be the most comprehensive yet with SUPER detail. However, I don't have any money or need for more detail than the free one.' "> <---- this is the free one and is known as the "simplified one." Dang, that's really detailed already for something "simplified." It's a definite A+ resource for BIOS tweakers.

In Windows, disk fragmentation can become a very difficult issue when dealing with slow hard drives. With that in mind, it helps to know that fragmentation most often occurs in stuff where data is written and changed the most including the temporary folder and the page file. If that is the case, it would be good to see if you can get your hands on a small separate hard drive for the page file as well as temporary files. This will reduce the amount of reading and writing Windows will perform to the boot drive, thus prolonging stable performance. To change the page file location, simply right mouse click “my computer” > properties > advanced > performance options > Virtual Memory > Change. From here, set the initial and final page file size @ 0 and then set the original values of C onto your separate drive with its respective drive letter and so forth. Please note that the separate drive you use must be as fast or faster than your boot drive or you will notice a severe performance hit after changing the page file. However, if you do not have a second drive, partitioning is a good way of performing the same task:

C: OS Only (I actually left the page file on C with partitioned drives because I performance seems to take a bit hit when I switch it to D. Performance stays normal or better only if the page file is moved to a separate physical drive that is as fast or faster than the boot drive. It would be nice if the second drive were also on a separate channel and not shared, though that only produces marginal performance gains.)
D: Temp files and internet history
E: Applications
F: File storage and scratch disks (scratch disks are nice to have if they are also on their own drive. However, Photoshop in particular will not particularly like it if the scratch disk is on the same drive as the page file)

For your temporary files, right mouse click “my computer” > properties > performance options > environment variables and change all instances of TMP and TEMP to reflect the location where you wish to have your temporary files stored.

For temporary Internet files for IE, right mouse click IE > properties > Temporary Internet Files > Settings > Change folder: change this to reflect the drive where you have the page file. I would also recommend setting the folder size to the smallest value, 1MB. Most web pages I visit often change all the time so it sort of makes no sense to cache it when it is going to be different each time I check it out. However, this is a per user setting. Set it to what you need it to be.

With Regards to the Pagefile and fragmentation
Please note that that the page file is the thing that fragments the most in Windows. Having it on a separate drive really helps! The fact that it fragments so much provides incentive to have the page file placed on a separate drive. In another partition works too I suppose, but I personally noticed a severe performance hit after doing that. It only worked better when I had it on a separate physical drive that was as fast or faster than the boot drive. However, in terms of laptop performance, I had switched the pagefile over to my junk file and temp file partition and performance stayed the same. The gain was that partition on C dropped to almost nothing. So now, the only high fragmented drives are my partition I use for temporary files of all sorts, and my partition to store my files and junk.

Other hardware modifications you might want to look into include getting an ATA controller card (non-RAID). These can be found on eBay for real cheap. I recently upgraded my Dell GX110 I use @ work … I actually rebuilt the entire thing practically. The biggest improvement came in sticking that new ATA controller in there. The speed improvement was radically huge and noticeable.

Original Dell GX110 Specs:
Intel P3 Socket 370 667MHz
64MB PC100 RAM
Onboard everything else

After Dell GX110 Rebuild Specs:
Intel P3 Socket 370 1GHz CPU
512MB PC100 RAM
ATA133 Controller
40GB boot HD, ATA100 (might be 133, I do not recall) (on ATA card)
6GB original drive (on onboard IDE)
5 port USB 2.0
16MB TNT2 Video w/ s-video
Short, shielded single channel IDE cables (one per device, no more sharing. Boot drive by itself on the primary ATA channel, storage drive on the primary IDE, CD ROM on the secondary IDE. No shared devices.)
Turbine style PCI slot fan

(I now own the most powerful GX110 on campus :thumbsup: )

It was helpful to have each drive on a single channel IDE cable instead of it being shared.

And of course it is important to note that most if not all new motherboards all should support ATA133 or SATA so getting an ATA card won't help much. For those of us still using older chipsets with ATA66, the ATA card will be a big help or SATA card would be great if one is willing to spend the $$ for it. The recommendations here are based on eBay purchases for cost effective performances for non power usage. If you are into CG, I would recommend looking @ some of the other threads about super power performance modifications.

ah yeah, a few tips on disk space:

I'm on a 6GB drive so space conservation is mandatory.

Stupid Adobe Acrobat Reader creates a cache folder w/ all the install files in the Winnt folder. U can erase that, which clears a good 16MB... (or was it 6?)

Windows update creates a large folder in the Winnt folder w/ all downloaded update setup files. That's safe to kill too unless you want to keep the IE setup files.

I usually kill the entire media folder in windows.... those sounds are a waste of resources.

I also kill off the web folder, which has all those sample wallpaper.

Then I kill off anything that is *.tmp, *.bak, *.log. There are a few system .log that are required so those automatically say they don't go. Some of these logs were huge so I cleared a good 15MB of text files.

And lastly, who needs the Windows help folder when I have so many other systems in the house that I can use to reference? Kill that too. =) Actually, a lot of those help files are locked but I was able to delete a good 10MB of the stuff.

Lastly, if you edit the sysoc.inf file in c:\winnt\inf\ and erase all instances of "HIDE," being sure to preserve the commas around it, you will be able to uninstall windows base components by going to add remove programs > add/remove windows components. I was able to clear quite a bit there. By default, Win2K doesn't let you remove windows components easily like Win9x.

Aighty, off to work I go. *vvaves* :beer:

<--- added 11/11/2003--->

After trying out several freeware and shareware stuff from, I was able to tune down my registry as well as Windows install.

XPLite from is a freaking cool piece of software. I was able to kill off about 300MB of my Windows 2K install by using it by removing all redundant Windows components I would never use including server components, and other stuff. I also removed the DLL cache as well as the windows update cache. I don't install hardware that often if at all, so I have no need for this mass load of drivers taking up space. Moving the pagefile to my spare temp file partition also cleared up 200MB, so I freed up about 500MB on my Win2K partition, which gives me a "whopping" 1.5GB of spare space... hahhahaa. :thumbsup:

I also used RegFixer from Microsoft to erase some 200 some redundant registry entries, and I ran Registry Mechanic as well as Registry Medic, both doing about the same job as Microsoft's app. Registry size wasn't dented by much if at all.

While browsing through my old bookmarks, I found a pretty good clean and easy to reference System Services guide:' ">

Some of the other ones were really long and a bit difficult to flip and reference through. This one is pretty concise.

This one btw, is another one w/ a bit more detail for yah:' ">

Best Regards,
Chuck - Freelancer
Join my LifeSaverXP UD Cancer Research Team' "> and make a difference, not just another donation.
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