How to free up some system resources or system memory in XP
If your computer seems slower than it used to be, it probably is. Over time, computers get slower for a variety of reasons: files become disorganized, unnecessary software consumes resources, or too many programs automatically run at startup.
Back up your computer before you run any system tools or do any troubleshooting. This is not just an over-cautious warning. Some of the steps I recommend in this guide can cause pre-existing but hidden problems to surface, which may keep your computer from starting. Windows XP includes Backup, a tool that helps you protect your data.
To open the Backup or Restore Wizard
• Click Start, point to All Programs, point to Accessories, point to System Tools, and then click Backup.
Before I make any changes, I'm going to time my computer to see how long it takes to restart. That way I know which of the changes helps the most. My computer took about three minutes to shut down, restart, and then open my e-mail client and browser. Of course, I hope to improve the computer's overall performance, but the time it takes to restart is easiest to measure.
The next step in restoring your computer's performance is to identify any unnecessary programs that start automatically. Often, programs configure themselves to run in the background so that they appear to start quickly when needed. Some of these programs show an icon on your task bar to let you know that they're running, while others are completely hidden. These autostart programs probably won't noticeably slow down your computer as it starts up, but they will steal away trace amounts of memory and processing time as your computer runs.
Windows XP comes with the System Configuration tool (Msconfig.exe), an excellent way to manage the startup process. To start it:
Click Start, click Run, type Msconfig, and then press Enter.
On the Startup tab, you'll see a list of all the programs and processes that are set to run when Windows XP loads.
Alot of peoples "msconfig" window will look similar to this. (Basically a bunch of programs with a check mark in the box) (Screen Shot Below)
Speed up your overall start time by clearing the check box next to any item you think you don't need.
If you aren't sure a program is unneeded—leave it!
Click Apply, and then restart your computer for the changes to take effect.
After clicking the "OK" button, this screen should pop up.
Just click the "Restart" button.
When Windows restarts, this window should pop up. Its just saying you made some changes to the start up folder. You can safely put a check mark in the box at the bottom that says "Don't show this message or launch the System Configuration Utility when Windows starts".
Its also a good idea to remove any unnecessary programs. I install new programs all the time. Sometimes I'm thrilled with the new program and I continue to use it. Other times, it doesn't do what I hoped, and the program sits on my computer consuming resources and hurting performance.
Follow these steps to remove unneeded programs:
Click Start, and then click Control Panel.
Click Add or Remove Programs.
Scroll through the list and examine each program. Windows XP lists how often you use a program and what day you last started it.
Click each program you no longer need, click the Remove button, and then follow the prompts to uninstall it.
You may have to restart your computer after removing a program. After your computer restarts, repeat the steps above to remove more programs.