Windows XP system optimization

The purpose of the following tweaks is to get rid of unnecessary memory eaters to improve the performance of Windows XP system.

Note: perform these tweaks only if you know what you are doing, and always backup. YOU’VE BEEN WARNED.

  • Remove Unnecessary Startup Programs
    Run regedit, locate




    and also check Windows Startup program folder, remove unnecessary startup programs installed by some programs or you don’t need them at all.

  • Disable Unnecessary Services
    Control Panel/Administrative Tools/Services or run services.msc to enter services configuration.
    Here’s a good resource for service information in Windows XP SP2 you can refer to before you decide which services to disable.
  • Defragment Pagefile
    A cool little application PageDefrag to accomplish this task.
  • Disable Last Access Update
    Run regedit, locate


    right click in a blank area of the window on the right and select DWORD Value, create a new DWORD Value called NtfsDisableLastAccessUpdate, then right click on the new value and select Modify, change the Value Data to 1.

  • Improve Boot Times
    Run regedit, locate


    select Enable from the list on the right, right on it and select Modify, change the value to Y to enable.

  • Improve Swapfile Performance
    Run msconfig.exe, click on the System.ini tab, expand the 386enh tab, click on new then in the blank box type ConservativeSwapfileUsage=1.
  • Make Menus Load Faster
    Run regedit, locate
    HKEY_CURRENT_USER/Control Panel/Desktop

    select MenuShowDelay, right click and select Modify, reduce the number to around 100.

  • Improve XP Shutdown Speed
    Run regedit, locate

    HKEY_CURRENT_USER/Control Panel/Desktop

    select WaitToKillAppTimeout, right click and select Modify, change the value to 1000, click OK. Now select HungAppTimeout, right click and select Modify, change the value to 1000, click OK.

    HKEY_USERS/.DEFAULT/Control Panel/Desktop

    select WaitToKillAppTimeout, right click and select Modify, change the value to 1000, click OK.


    select WaitToKillServiceTimeout, right click and select Modify, change the value to 1000, click OK.

  • Disable Unneeded Hardware Devices
    For example, disable modem and wired network card if only wireless network is used.
  • Removing Extra Fonts for Speed
    Control Panel/Fonts, create another folder then move unused fonts to that folder.

Windows Live beta

Windows Live beta.

I test drived it and feel it’s like Google personalized page, a portal like homepage, you can integrate your content such as email, flickr RSS feed and a lot of third-party gadgets into one convenient place. AJAX technique is used so very little page reload is needed and drag-and-drop is also usable. As a matter of fact, I am more interested in Windows Live Mail and Messenger. But up to date they are still in development and sign up is not available yet.

UPDATE: Today (3/7/06) I was invited to try the new Windows Live Mail beta, which is supposed to give to those “Hotmail VIPs” as in the invitation email (I feel a little bit flattered though I never use Hotmail to deal with any of my emails… :) ). I feel it’s more like a “web-based traditional email client”. The speed is good, but there are ad’s flashing on the page. It’s not firefox friendly definitely, because you will not be able to access some of the options if you are with firefox browser. Anyway, if you are interested in finding out how Hotmail is going to respond to Gmail‘s big popularity, you’d better try it out by yourself.

Virus attack

Though I use my computer very carefully and always keep in mind to beware of virus and spyware, I still got my computer attacked by a worm virus last week. I was noticed by our network administrator that my internet connection was cut off because they received complaint from a Denish network administrator that my computer kept scanning their computers in hacking manners. Our admin suggested me to reinstall my system and rebuild my computer but I think this is very troublesome because I have to reinstall all the applications on my computer. So I tried to resolve this security issue by digging into the system.

1. Since last Thursday, I found a popup error message for “remotetest1.3.exe” and asked me if I want to report this error to Microsoft or not. I got this message for the first time when I was using my computer via remote desktop from home. And after that I lost the network connection to my office computer, I believe they cut it down. Then I checked my registry and found a suspect key “Microsoft Update Service=cssrs.exe“, which appears in both HKLM/Software/Microsoft/Windows/CurrentVersion/Run/” and “HKLM/Software/Microsoft/Windows/CurrentVersion/RunServices/“. I searched the internet and found it’s a worm virus. The filename “cssrs.exe” is very like the “csrss.exe” from the system so can be easily ignored. These registries were deleted.

2. I scanned my computer with Norton AntiVirus and Webroot Spy Sweeper with latest virus definitions loaded, to make sure that my computer is now virus and spyware free. During this procedure, a “NetSky” worm virus was found and deleted. Besides that, I found some suspect files in my web server root directory, including an “explorer.exe” file, which is loaded into memory when Windows starts up. They were deleted as well.

3. I upgraded the system to Microsoft Windows XP SP2 for enhanced security features. And autoupdate for Windows is always on.

4. I installed a third-party firewall software, ZoneLabs Integrity Desktop, which can control both inbound and outbound network traffic. And every in/out-bound network traffic needs my authorization. This is much better than the firewall comes with XP SP2, which can only block incoming access.

After all these steps, my computer works very well so far.

Remote desktop connection solution

I used VPN of the University to access my office desktop because the default port 3389 for Remote Desktop is blocked by the University firewall for security consideration. I did try to modify the default port according to Microsoft’s instruction but had no luck. The drawback of this method is all my network traffic will go through the VPN server, and I have to start the VPN followed by the Remote Desktop every time. It’s annoying sometimes.

My solution to simplify the connection is 1) setup a socks proxy server running at a port can be accessed from off-campus at my office machine; and 2) run Remote Desktop in sockscap to connect office PC. In this way, only Remote Desktop goes through the socks proxy and all other network applications connect directly from my home PC. In case I need an on-campus IP address to access particular web sites, I can run them in the sockscap.