Sunday, September 17, 2006

WIN XP Pro Settings & optimization

Regularly I get into discussions on how to maintain a Win XP home PC in good condition optimize for performance and secure it from malware.

Being in the the IT infrastructure services industry i am surrounded by PC freaks and have learnt a few tools and trick while doing projects together with my freaky friends...

here are some interesting tips that make a PC a strong PC >> for windows only.

Birth of the PC begins with the installation of the Operating system a few pointers while installing an OS for the first time

1. Do proper disk partitions > the root partition (c: normally) will maintain all the application files and operational files like the paging file, tmep files etc... Maintain a separate partition(s) for data this comes handy when you have to reformat and reinstall your OS. you can go straight ahead with too many worries of data loss.

2. Once the OS is installed, it comes with a lot of excess baggage in terms of features which can be switched off The first thing that comes to mind are hidden back ground services that can be shut down / disabled for faster performance.
here is a link that could be a good referenec of services optimization
this is also a nifty link of services guide.

3. One can enhance performance of windows through tweaks some of them that i regularly follow are listed below
a. go to mycomputer > right click & properties > advanced > settings (under performance) > select adjust for best performance
b. Registry tweaks that improve performace straight out (registry tweaks can be managed through registry editor (run > regedit)
The following links are useful

Improving memory management of core processes
Navigate to [HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\Session Manager\Memory Management]
DIsable paging of executable files through this DWord setting (0 >> 1)

Avoid last access update on windows file system

Navigate to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINES\System\CurrentControlSet\Control\FileSystem.

Create a new DWORD value called 'NtfsDisableLastAccessUpdate' and set the value to '1'

Avoid old ntfs 8.3 naming convention

Navigate to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\System\CurrentControlSet\Control\FileSystem

Change the value of the NtfsDisable8dot3NameCreation key to '1'

Increase mouse over response on desktop an start menu
Navigate to HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Control Panel\Desktop
reduce the value in the DWORD MenuShowdelay to a small comfortable number (the number is in miliseconds

TO reduce shut down time
Navigate to HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Control Panel\Desktop
and change DWORD value of Waittokillapptimeout to less than 1000
you could also reduce hungapptimeout to a smaller number

4. Some tools that are very useful in managing and maintaining your PC
Useful sites >> site full of windows tools each better than the other >> site whihc provides 3 useful tools diagnose , freshui (tweaker) freshdownload (download manager)

Some interesting tools for windows management are

a. hijackthis.exe helps identify and roots out a lot of malware / unnecesary hooks / remove auto start up programs
b. msconfig msconfig > The startup tab in this tool is a nice place to check or uncheck apps that you dont want ot run at startup
c. services.msc services.msc > useful when used in conjunction of the service reference provided above

d. process explorer this is an alternate task manager app which provide much more info than the regular task manager

e. Autoruns helps you identify and weed out auto start up applications

f. Other tools from include registry monitor ; file monitor and netwokr monitor

g. whats running alternate task manager that also provides running and installed drivers and modules in a different format. very infomrative and useful as it allows you to take a snap shot and compare with another snapshot (with different in time or from a different machine)

5. Security tools useful for windows

the main categories of security tools are firewalls / antivirus software and finally anti-spyware

a. Firewalls > in my experience i have kerio from sunbelt the most user friendly also provides network usage stats whihc is very useful in diagnosing whihc applications are choking bandwidth / while Zonealarm is an excellent firewall, progressive versions of zone alarm are providing fewer features in the free version one needs to procure. Windows default firewall is a black box and one may not have too features to play around with

b. Antivirus > Clam win is the opensource AV app for windows that works decently otherwise the normal suspects is Norton or Mc Afee

c. anti spyware adaware is a good program but the free version does not come with real time protection and so is defender

6. Free and opensource software for windows OS
This link is the best place for Opensource for windwos

here is my list

1. IM > Skype / yahoo / g talk / msn (all are good but i have found yahoo to be very useful in making international calls @ 1c / min)
2. browsing > firefox with its extensions like DTA ; Flashgot + multiple tabs + short cuts bar etc..
3. email - Thunderbird
4. Office = Open Office
5. downloading > winhttrack (website scraper) / freshdownload manager / flashgot
6. Google desktop is king for searching and indexing. i have found yahoo desktop search also very good and unique that it even indexes exe and dll files
7. google products like > sketch up for 3d drawing / earth
8. multimedia > quintessential / VLC / winamp / musicmatch / audacity

7. Data management

The gist of data management for me is to make sure all data are in a separate drive

a. re configure "my documents" to point to a folder in d: rather than the default c:\documents and settnigs .... for that you can explore > right click my documents > change target folder location to convenient location in d: drive

b. Firefozx maintains a profiles folder inside in C:\Documents and Settings\USER\Application Data\Mozilla\Firefox\Profiles like "1rrwyjk9.default"
you copy the profiles folder to a location in d: and edit the C:\Documents and Settings\USER\Application Data\Mozilla\Firefox\profiles.ini file as follows
set the field isrelative=0 (from default 1)
set the path="" to point to the folder where the "1rrwyjk9.default" folder has been moved.

c. do the same for thunderbird

do the above for every account you maintain in your PC

then when you reformat c: while re-installign OS for for any other reason you willn ot lose your email content or settings.

d. Outlook also maintains content in a foler under C:\Documents and Settings\USER whihc needs to be moved to d: and the connection to the folder made from inside Outlook.

8. while most folks have forgotten windows shell and CLI after DOS went windows the shell still provides a lot of utilites that come in handy for the lay user some of these for your reference

to seek help for all of the following commands, type the command followed by " /?"
a. ping > helps check whether netowkr connection is available to the specified ip / location

b. ipconfig > provides information on the networkdetails and configurations of the PC

c. Netstat > provides information on all current connections made by the PC to remote machines

d. tracert > provides a trace of the route that packets take while reaching a specfied target.

8. Inbuilt Windows tools

a. windows image capture > scanning utility

b. remote desktop > to access remote PCs / servers

c. run > compmgmt.msc > complete computer management including hardware + policies + event logs + disk tools etc...

d. msconfig >> explained above usfule is configuing startup

e. bootvis > boot speed up utility not available default needs to be downloaded separately

This does not form the complete set, there are obviously much more but these make a good starting point for novices like me.


Blogger atlas245 said...

Nice post on web scrapers, simple and too the point :), For simple stuff i use python to get or simplify data, data extraction can be a time consuming process but for larger projects like files, the web, or documents i tried "website scraper" which worked great, they build quick custom screen scrapers, web scrapers, and data parsing programs

8:39 PM  

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