Since I’ve been asked, here are a few of the registry adjustments I make soon after kickstarting an XP system. By no means is this an exhaustive list. No, it’s just the stuff that I consider a minimal start for all systems.
WARNING – Don’t come crying to me if you hose your system beyond belief, because for the uninitiated messing with the Windows registry directly is somewhat akin to performing open-brain surgery. In fact, I’m not going to tell you how to perform edits on the thing, back it up in whole or part or anything like that. You should already know how to do those things. If you don’t, well, please move along, nothing to see here.
With that out of the way, I’ll state what should be obvious. The registry keys mentioned below are each one line. Sometimes embedded spaces will cause wrapping that shouldn’t actually be.
The default responsiveness of the Start menu is designed for effect, not utility. Adjust it to your liking by adjusting the value here:
This has a default decimal value of 400. 100 usually does it for me. The ever-so-popular TeweakUI utility adjusts this, too, but it’s easy to just do it this way.
If you’ve got enough memory in your system you can pull the Windows kernel into RAM. Absolutely don’t do this if you’ve got less than, oh, 256 MB. But who doesn’t have 2 GB or more these days?
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\Session Manager\Memory Management\DisablePagingExecutive
Choose one of these values:
1 = disable paging and run kernel from RAM
0 = normal, paged operation
It should be obvious that you want to set it to 1. You’ll need to reboot to make it take effect.
Did you know that NTFS maintains standard 8.3 file names that are compatible with DOS conventions? Those are the ugly looking all-caps things with the tildas and such that you may have seen in a file list every now and again. Creating and maintaining them is an overhead you can live without if you never have a need for this compatibility. Nice that you can easily disable it and keep your MFT a little less cluttered at the same time.
0 = enabled
1 = disabled
Set to 1 to gain some file system performance, at the expense of compatibility with that older file system you probably forgot about long ago. You’ll need to reboot to make it take effect.
Oh, and before you ask: no, I’m not sure whether it cleans up existing 8.3 junk or not. I never bothered to check, but I’d suspect not.
Windows XP helps speed its bootup with a prefetch cache, located by default at
C:\Windows\Prefetch. Some folks say that every now and again you should delete the contents of that directory, and the system will rebuild it cleanly. I personally wouldn’t bother with that, just let Windows deal with it. But you can control what gets prefetched with this adjustment.
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\Session Manager\Memory Management\PrefetchParameters\EnablePrefetcher
0 = disable prefetching
1 = prefetch application launch files
2 = prefetch boot files
3 = prefetch as much as possible
Setting this to 3, of course, is a good idea.
The Disk Cleanup utility doesn’t actually clean up all of your temp files as you might be led to believe. Instead, it checks the last access of these files and if it’s 7 days or less it keeps ’em around. Fortunately you can fix this.
# = number of days of retention
Personally I like 0 days. One good reason is that it’s nice to have the slate as clean as possible when defragmenting. (But if you’ve got an SSD you might want to leave this one be, as small writes exact a serious performance hit.)
Add a Copy To command to Explorer’s context-sensitive menu, where it’s always ready for use.
Just add the following key:
with a default value of
And, while you’re at it, add a Move To command as well. Add this key:
with a default value of
Of course, neither of these do anything for system performance but may help your performance.