Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Node-net guide to tuning your XP PC

This is a guide for those people who have a working PC with Windows XP
(Pro or Home) installed.
This guide will take you through the process of a node-net PC tuning session.
I will start by running quickly through the complete process and then
I will explain each step.

Can this machine run XP properly?
1. Check the "View system information" in the My Computer folder and check the spec of the machine you are working on. The minimum spec for XP is as shown below.

Windows XP Requirements (2004-2005)




Pentium III or Celeron 600MHz



256MB or more strongly recommended



7GB tolerated if security patches install correctly

While you check the size of the hard disc check what the percentage of free space is left.
Remember 20% left is not enough. (XP needs a minimum of 10% free space on the hard drive in order to defrag properly.). Think about adding another drive or replacing the one you have with a bigger one if this is the case.

Is XP updated with the latest patches?
2. Visit "Windows update" in "All Programs". Download and install the latest patches and drivers that are critical or recommended. Click here for Windows Update

Is the Antivirus program up to date?
3. Check the status of your antivirus program. Most antivirus programs have an update management module that when run will automatically download the latest virus list.
If the program needs updating then update and run a full scan. If your subscription has expired for the program you are using then either re-suscribe or uninstall the program. (If your Norton Anti-virus subscription has run out and you don't want to pay for a renewal then uninstall the program and install a different anti virus program.
At the moment AVG are offering an antivirus program free to home users that works well with the Windows Security Centre.
When you install a new AV program, immediately download the updates and run a full scan.

Is the Anti-Spyware program up to date?
4. Check the status of your spyware programs. (see our guide here)
Update or install if necessary.
Run a full scan with your Anti spyware program or programs.
As a general rule running two different antispyware programs will clean your machine 5% better then running just one.

Is all the Hardware correctly installed?
5. Check the status of the installed hardware in "View system information" in the My Computer folder, under the Hardware tab. Click Device Manager. Any hardware that is having problems will be highlighted with a bright yellow flag. Reinstall the drivers for the problem devices if the system allows it. Remember if you are online most drivers will be available as downloads from the hardware manufacturers site. is a good place to start your hunt for drivers.

Remove unneeded and temporary files.
6. Run "Disc Cleanup" from your System Tools.
Run "Disc Defrag" only if the drive needs defragging. Click Analyze first.

BIOS issues
7. Some computers (about 3%) running XP will encounter problems installing and running XP Service Pack 2. Check if there is a BIOS software update available for your motherboard to cope with this very situation. Download and patch. (NB a BIOS problem with service pack 2 might mean you have to do a system restore to remove SP2 before being able to run Windows normally)

Having done these six steps your machine should be in good shape for about a month, when I would recommend doing them again.

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