|May the source be with you, but remember the KISS principle ;-)|
|Contents||Bulletin||Scripting in shell and Perl||Network troubleshooting||History||Humor|
|News||Recommended Books||Recommended Links||Recommended Tools||Unixification||Norton Ghost|
|Undeleting files||Drive Repartitioning and Partiti||Filesystems Recovery||Technology of Working with ISO Images||Disk Backup||RAR as an Incremental Backup Tool||Adobe Acrobat Bloatware|
|Spyware||Using disk images to fight spyware||Integrity Checkers||Perl-based Integrity Checkers||Windows Process Viewers|
|Keystroke Log Utilities and Macrorecoders||Keyboard remapping||Executable files compressors||Tips||Humor||Random Findings||Etc|
According to Microsoft, Windows XP was designed to boot up within about 30 seconds. Add several additional services and that can become a minute. You can probably slush it but not much. It depends on how much additional functionally you want to be included. If you need multiple services enabled (for example Services for Unix) you might need probably up to two minutes. time also depends of speed of your CPU and speed of hard drive. From 2GHz dual core CPU with 2G of RAM and 7200 RPM harddrive you can expect 30 sec boot in most cases. With solid state drive this time is usually around 15 sec.
Slow start and shutdown can be a symptom of Spyware infection or bloated configuration or both. As spyware those days is big business with multimillion profits the best way fighting it is using disk images as described in detail in Using disk images to fight spyware. Also Windows XP registry with time became a real mess. So periodic (say, once a year or two) complete reinstallation are important in keeping your Pc in top shape as for speed on Bootup and shutdown. As for shutdown, one really nasty effect is a setting to clean the content of paging file. It is not uncommon to have 15 min shutdown time with this setting. See How to Clear the Windows Paging File at Shutdown for the location of registry key involved. In case you use Microsoft networking, non-existant shares can dramatically slow down start-up and shutdown.
Amount of RAM also is important. Generally Windows XP is not running that good on 256M PC and Windows 2000 here has an edge. Windows XP is definitely more resource hungry and on 256K PC it feels slower then Windows 2000. 512K are usually OK and if you have 2G only small amount of this memory is used unless you run some very memory hungry applications. Probably 1G is a good compromise between cost and speed for modern desktops and laptops with XP. You generally do not need 2G for XP and can save money.
As for Spyware problems, they are addressed on the other set of pages. I will only restate that in no way you can rely on disinfection. You need to learn to restore the system from the image as described in Using disk images to fight spyware: Softpanorama strategy of fiighting skyware (don't expect to find references to this strategy on AV vendor sites ;-)
Ghost, Acronis or other tool can be used (Linux based analogs of Norton Ghost are free). Clean image from which to restore Windows ensure that no spyware can get you off the tack for more then one hour. Please remember that Google is a dangerous site that malware authors use to speed their creation by buying Adwords. It is prudent to put in the restricted sites list in IE. Generally browsing of "grey sites" should be done in VM environment as VM image can easily be disposable. Microsoft virtual machine is free. VMware player is also free if there is big selection of prepackaged images Linux images for it.
Here we will concentrate on the problem of bloat, not on the problem of spyware. Bloat is probably the second major cause of slowness of XP after spyware infections. To access the level of bloat on a particular PC you need to create the list of services running after booting (before you open any other program) as well as list of start-up programs. This list should be both printed and saved into a file (see for suitable command line tools to do this) and carefully analyzed. It constitutes the important baseline that can tell you what went wrong.
Analysis of you startup configuration is a very important step. Even if you do not find some rogue services installed, the results of analysis usually get you better understanding of what is used by the computer and several services Microsoft and third party services can usually be disabled. Actually many third party services are just a nuisance and should be disabled. Symantec, Adobe, Apple, and ATI are especially bad in this area. They also put unnecessary program into system tray (can be called recidivist system tray abusers ;-)
If you have such a blueprint and understands that meaning of entries, then you can trim unnecessary start-up programs using msconfig from the Run menu and unnecessary services from Control Panel/Administrative Tools/Services. Still if you install new programs on a regular basis Windows can became "dirty" and startup slow pretty quickly so periodic reinstallation from clean Ghost image is a must
If you have just 256M of RAM and run Windows XP large add-ons like Windows Defender are overkill: they slow down the system considerably. It might be beneficial to eliminated them. You also need more lightweight browser then IE.
Generally with 256M you need cut your services and resident programs to bones in order to cut swapping of pages from disk. Watch the activity of your swap file.
The list of running processes after boot-up are visible in any process viewer. Built-in Windows viewer is actually very primitive and you need to use a better substitute, for example, Process Explorer. But just viewing processes it is not enough. You need to write this snapshot into file and analyze and annotate it line by line (most non-standard free Windows Process Viewers has this capability). Many antispyware programs like Windows Defender also have such tools.
Turn off automatic updates. You can do them manually once a week
(you really need to be diligent with this as current generally or worms
is not a joke). Even notifications are pretty taxing and involve
scanning for automatic updates on startup with 3-5 minutes of almost
100% CPU usage when you PC or laptop became sluggish and almost impossible
to work with. If you do not mind drinking a cup of coffee before
starting work it might be a perfect opportunity.
Windows Protector is a resource hog and is slows down 256M and
512M PCs. Here you need to wait you need to spyware protection and you
need for quick and responsive PC. Windows Protector is a good security
tool from the point of view of catching spyware, the problem is that
it is designed for PCs with at least 512M of RAM and CPUs faster then
Periodically, once a week or once a month defragment your C drive
and other drives that you are using frequently. See
Maintaining Windows 2000 Through Defragmentation for details.
The best strategy that I have found is to start defragmentor each
day when you are going for lunch.
Sometimes very slow startup means that you have remote drives
for which server is currently unavailable mapped permanently for your
desktop. The simplest solution is to delete all such mappings.
is not a bad browser that might fit your needs (Firebox and
Netscape both are resource pigs too: not a big improvement over IE).
It has the initial memory footprint of approximately 16M. But you might
suffer from using non-mainstream browser.
- The quickest way to speed up boot times is to use the free Microsoft utility BootVis.exe. Although it's intended primarily for developers, anyone can use it to analyze their boot times and see where there are slowdowns. More important, the tool will also automatically make system changes to speed up your boot time, so you don't need to go into a lengthy analysis of where your slowdowns are and how to solve them
- Depending on your system and how it's set up, you may see only a moderately faster startup time, or you may speed up boot time dramatically. I've seen reports of improvements ranging from a little over 3 seconds to more than 35 seconds. The improvements I found on my systems were moderate-7 seconds faster on one, and 10 seconds faster on another. Think of all the things you could accomplish with another 10 seconds in the day!
- The BootVis utility traces boot time metrics and then displays the results in a variety of graphs showing total boot time, CPU usage, disk I/O, driver delays, and disk utilization.
- Download it from www.microsoft.com/whdc/hwdev/platform/performance/fastboot/default.mspx and extract it into its own folder.
- Go to the folder and double-click on BootVis.exe.
- To analyze how your system boots, choose Trace → Next Boot. (Choose Trace → Next Boot + Driver Delays if you want to trace delays caused by drivers as well as your normal boot sequences.)
- Tell the program how many times to reboot and run the test (the more times it runs, the more accurate the results, although the longer the test takes to run). Click OK, and your system will reboot.
Hack 6: Boot XP Faster
Is Windows XP booting too slowly? Here's how to speed up your boot-time with a quick Registry tweak.
1. Open the Registry Editor and go to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE > SYSTEM > CurrentControlSet > Control > ContentIndex.
2. In the right pane will be a value called "StartupDelay." Double-click on StartupDelay to open it. Change the "Base" from Hexadecimal to Decimal, and enter 40,000 (the default setting is 480,000).
3. Exit the Registry Editor and restart your computer. Your computer should boot up considerably faster--while this worked for me on my Windows XP laptop, values lower than 40,000 didn't produce a noticeable difference.
January 14th, 2007 | Samanathon.com
This only takes a couple of keystrokes. Type the code below and hit OK:
"shutdown" tells the computer what command we want to execute and the "-s" switch tells it what to do, which is to shutdown!
shutdown -s -t 60
Now we have added the "-t" switch and a variable, which in this case is "60″. This number is the number of seconds before the computer is shutdown. A dialog will open and display a count down timer!
Give Us Some Info!
shutdown -s -t 120 -c "You better finish, because I shut you down foo!"
The "-c" switch will allow you to give the user some information for the reason of the shutdown.
Shutdown A Remote Computer
shutdown -s -m \\desktop -t 45
I really like this one! The "-m" switch will allow you to shutdown a remote machine, in this case, a computer named "desktop". For this to work, you must have administrative access to the computer! To see of you do, hit Windows Key + R then type the computer's name, i.e.:
If you can connect to it, you will be asked to log into the machine with a user name and password. Once confirmed, a window will open displaying the directories available to you. Now you know you can shut it down remotely.
Let's say that you need to cancel a shutdown in progress. Go to the computer in question, hit Windows Key + R then type command below:
This will abort the shutdown, assuming there is a counter and it hasn't reached zero yet!
Is your PC tired and sluggish? Has its get up and go got up and went? If you want a faster system, you could certainly break the bank and buy a new machine. Or you could read this article instead.
We've found 50 downloads that will make your PC run more quickly and smoothly, help you use the Internet more effectively, and push Windows to work at optimum speed with the interface you want, not what Microsoft gave you.
Most of these downloads are free to use forever; some are free to try, but require that you pay for them after a trial period (we've labeled each download accordingly). You won't have to search high and low on the Internet to find them; they're all available from the PC World Downloads library.
What are you waiting for? Get downloading; you're minutes away from a spiffier, faster system.
General Tune-Up Tools
Sometimes the best way to optimize your PC is to use all-in-one tune-up tools that offer a slew of utilities, ranging from file cleanup to Registry cleaners and beyond. Here are some of our favorites.
Advanced WindowsCare V2 Personal
This great free all-in one tool straightens out your Registry, handles Windows startup programs, erases your surfing history, removes spyware and protects you from future infections, and gives your system an all-around optimization.
Be sure to tell the program to create a restore point before it goes to work. And examine, closely, what it will do in its overall system optimization. Apart from that, just direct the program to scan your system, see what it wants to do, and let it do its business.
Download Advanced WindowsCare V2 Personal | Price: Free
This all-around degunker and system cleaner will sweep away unneeded files, control which programs run on startup, undelete, and even completely destroy unwanted files to protect your privacy.
Download TuneUp Utilities | Price: US$50 (Trial)
This excellent no-cost tool promises one-click cleanup and optimization, and it delivers. It scans your system for problems with the Registry, shortcuts, startup programs, and spyware, and then gives you the option of which to clean up. It also deletes traces of your Internet surfing and erases temporary files. Optimization doesn't get simpler than this.
Download Glary Utilities | Price: Free
Application and Startup Optimization
System sluggishness is often the result of problems with the applications you run. Are they outdated and in need of patching? Do too many run in the background? Use the following utilities to solve those problems and others.
If you make sure that all of your applications are patched and up-to-date, they'll run faster and be more secure--and so will your PC on the whole. Unfortunately, visiting the Web site for each of your applications can be so time-consuming that you'll never get around to doing it. Grab this freebie instead. It scans your system, lists all of your applications, and then regularly checks for security patches. When it finds a new patch, it applies the fix.
Download Secunia PSI | Price: Free
One likely reason your system is sluggish is that it's bedeviled by "craplets"--software that your PC maker installed because it was paid to. Craplets slow down startup and general operation.
This free software removes dozens of unwanted items automatically. It zaps only a specific set of craplets and trialware programs: Those that are specifically put on new PCs, such as QuickBooks Trial, Wild Tangent Games, Dell URL Assistant, and others. (For a full list, go to the PC Decrapifier site.) Before you use this utility, create a restore point in case it kills something you wanted to keep.
Download PC Decrapifier | Price: Free
Unnecessary services and applications that run whenever you start your PC or log in to it are a big cause of system slowdowns. Unfortunately, it's tough to identify every item that starts up, because nothing in Windows gives you such information. That's why you need this free tool. It displays every program and service running and offers a great deal of detail about each, such as associated .dll files, the program or service name, and its location on your PC. With that knowledge, you can decide what you don't want to run on startup.
Download Autoruns | Price: Free
Security Task Manager
Similar to Autoruns, this excellent tool shows you every running program and process. The utility also indicates whether the program is likely malicious, its type, how it launched (for example, upon startup or from within Windows Explorer), and the file name. It lets you delete any program and process with a single click. It also rates files according to how harmless or dangerous they may be. To stop a program, highlight it, click Remove, and you're done.
Download Security Task Manager | Price: $29 (Trial)
This very good all-around system optimizer frees your PC of unnecessary programs that run on startup and keeps it clean of spyware and other malware. Whenever a program tries to start automatically, WinPatrol sends you an alert so you can block it. In addition, it shows details about the program, including the creator, when the program was added, the file name, and so on. The Delayed Start feature allows you to put off the launch of certain programs for up to an hour. That way, you'll still have access to the program when you need it.
Download WinPatrol | Price: Free
Strictly speaking, this isn't an optimization tool because it doesn't clean your system or tune it up. But it does eliminate a cause of system slowdowns and instability for many people: buggy, bloated Adobe Reader software for reading PDF files.
The free Foxit Reader is smaller, loads quickly, doesn't take up unnecessary memory, and has no instability issues. So if Adobe Reader slows your system down, this is a great alternative.
Download Foxit Reader | Price: Free
Norton Removal Tool
Some Norton products, especially the security suites, are notorious for taking up far too many system resources and too much RAM. Removing them completely can be tough, but this free tool from Norton does the trick. Copy down your product key before removing them in case you want to reinstall.
Download Norton Removal Tool | Price: Free
McAfee Consumer Products Removal Tool
Like Norton products, some McAfee utilities can consume serious amounts of system resources. To remove them from your system, use this free tool.
Download McAfee Consumer Products Removal Tool | Price: Free
Hard-Disk Cleaning and Backup
Your hard disk is clogged with files you no longer need. They occupy precious space and could possibly slow your system. Get rid of them with these optimization tools, which include a very good backup program.
This is probably the best tool you can find for cleaning your system and thereby optimizing your PC. It scrubs temporary Internet files, the history list, cookies, autocomplete entries, the thumbnail cache, unneeded file fragments, temporary files--the list goes on. It also includes a Registry optimizer and uninstall tools, and eliminates traces that applications leave behind
Download CCleaner | Price: Free
Duplicate Music Files
If you have a big MP3 or media files collection, you likely have many duplicates and don't realize it. The excess files hog hard-disk space and junk up your media library. Finding duplicates can be difficult, though, because the same piece of music or media may have different file names. This freebie searches for more than file names, as it compares file sizes, does error checks, and even examines ID3 tags to track down duplicates and delete them.
Download Duplicate Music Files | Price: Free
Easy Duplicate File Finder
Looking to clean all sorts of duplicate files? This tool does the job for you. It scans your system, gives you a full report, and lets you clean either in bulk or just selected files. It also allows you to protect system files so that you don't accidentally delete any important ones that your PC needs to run.
Download Easy Duplicate File Finder | Price: Free
Internet and Network Tune-Up
Want to get more out of the Internet and your network? These tools will speed up downloads, help you find fast Wi-Fi, peer into your home network, and more.
Spiceworks IT Desktop
If you're like many people and have more than one PC connected to a network, you may be looking for a tool to help get the most out of your network. This free software scans your network, identifies every device on it, and displays detailed information about each. In addition, it lists all applications and operating systems, and sends you a variety of warnings, such as when antivirus definitions are out-of-date or new software is installed. Though this software is free, it displays ads. To get rid of the promos, you'll have to pay $20 per month.
Download Spiceworks IT Desktop | Price: Free
Xirrus Wi-Fi Monitor
Want to optimize your use of Wi-Fi hotspots? Give this free Vista gadget a try. It runs in the sidebar and displays information about your current Wi-Fi connection, as well as nearby hotspots. You'll be able to see how strong or weak your connection is compared with others, and find information such as your IP address, MAC address, and signal strength.
Download Xirrus Wi-Fi Monitor | Price: Free
Expired Cookies Cleaner
Your PC has dozens and dozens of cookies that Web sites use for things such as automatically logging you in or remembering how you've customized the way they work. Cookies typically have time-out dates, after which they won't work, but even then they stay on your PC, clogging it up. This free little utility finds expired cookies and deletes them. No fuss, no muss--they're gone.
Download Expired Cookies Cleaner | Price: Free
This excellent freebie cleans many different types of Internet junk, including cookies, temporary files, and Browser Helper Objects. The program also includes a security feature that will block Browser Helper Objects from being installed on your PC.
Download HackCleaner | Price: Free
Download Accelerator Plus
People who live to download will want this free program, which optimizes every aspect of the downloading process. It splits individual downloads into pieces and downloads them all simultaneously from the fastest servers it can find. It's extremely easy to use and integrates with your browser, so when you initiate a file download, it automatically launches. You can also manually add downloads to the program.
The utility restarts interrupted downloads, and pauses and resumes downloads. Its history manager shows all the files you've ever downloaded, plus their size and where they downloaded on your hard disk. It has a lot more features, as well--and you can't beat the free price.
Download Download Accelerator Plus | Price: Free
Yet another excellent optimization tool for downloaders, FlashGet speeds up downloads and helps organize them while keeping you safe. The program searches for downloads via numerous protocols, including HTTP, FTP, and eMule. It's good for managing downloads, too, allowing you to delete files from within the program.
Download FlashGet | Price: Free
Want to make your browser run better and give it new capabilities, including optimizing the way you browse the Web? Check out these browser utilities.
Here's a great way to optimize your use of Internet Explorer. (Be aware that this tool works only with IE.) It blocks ads of all kinds, including banner, Flash-based, and embedded. You have plenty of configuration options, too, such as the ability to have it display ads only from specific domains or pages. If you turn on the Flash blocker, you won't be able to view YouTube videos, so you may want to instruct the program to display Flash only from specific domains.
Download Adblock Pro | Price: $20 (Shareware)
If you're a Firefox user looking to rid your browsing sessions of ads, this add-in is worth a whirl. It claims to block 99 percent of ads on the Web, and based on our experience with it, that may well be true. You can selectively block ads or choose a filter that blocks them all. With a bit of work, you can even allow certain ads through while blocking the rest.
Download Adblock Plus | Price: Free
Foxmarks Bookmark Synchronizer
Do you use Firefox on more than one PC? If so, you know how maddening it is to keep bookmarks in sync. This free tool automatically syncs all Firefox bookmarks on multiple PCs, and backs up your bookmarks to a server so they'll never be lost. And if you're on a PC that isn't yours, you can pull up your bookmarks from the server.
Download Foxmarks Bookmark Synchronizer | Price: Free
Download Greasemonkey | Price: Free
Optimize Internet Explorer with the help of this no-cost utility. It juices up the browser's tab handling, restores all tabs in the event of a crash, lets you use "mouse gestures" for controlling IE, blocks ads, checks spelling, and much more. It also has a scripting feature similar to Greasemonkey for Firefox.
Download IE7 Pro | Price: Free
The older your PC is, the more junked-up its Registry becomes. Badly written programs (and plenty of those are around) don't bother to clean the Registry when you uninstall them, and some applications add unnecessary junk. The messier the Registry is, the more likely it is to crash your PC or slow down its operations. Though the benefits of using a Registry cleaner are often debated, these utilities might be worth a try.
Wise Registry Cleaner
This freebie scans the Registry, flags orphaned or bad entries, and identifies entries that are either dangerous or safe to delete. Like most Registry cleaners, the utility will back up your Registry so that you can restore it if need be.
Download Wise Registry Cleaner | Price: Free
Glary Registry Repair
Here's another very good, free Registry cleaner. It lets you choose which changes to accept and to ignore, and creates an Undo file so that you can revert to the previous version of the Registry if problems occur.
Download Glary Registry Repair | Price: Free
Registry First Aid
If you're willing to pay for a Registry cleaner, this is a great choice. Longtime PC World contributor Steve Bass rates it as the best Registry cleaner, with good reason: It does an excellent, thorough job. It also searches the Internet for details about Registry keys, so you can have background information before deciding whether to delete or change them.
Download Registry First Aid | Price: $28 (Trial)
Auslogics Registry Defrag
Cleaning your Registry may help keep your system in tip-top shape, but you can do something else for it as well: Defragment it. This program shows how fragmented your Registry is, defragments it, and restarts your PC. The program also creates a restore point so you can restore the Registry if necessary.
Download Auslogics Registry Defrag | Price: Free
If your PC is infected with malware, it runs at less than its peak. So if you have a sluggish system that seems to go on the fritz regularly, an infection may be the cause. Use these programs to kill infections and stop them from attacking your machine in the first place.
Comodo Firewall Pro
This excellent free firewall has been rated as one of the top firewalls by the independent testing site Matousec, which found that it has the highest level of "anti-leak" protection (in essence, a measurement of a firewall's effectiveness). It offers two-way protection, and a great view into your system and your Internet connection as well.
Download Comodo Firewall Pro | Price: Free
A lightweight freebie, Avast won't weigh down your system by consuming too many resources or RAM--yet it does a great job of killing viruses and live-scanning for them. It also scans e-mail (including Web-based e-mail) for viruses, and offers protection against instant-messaging viruses, peer-to-peer dangers, and other threats.
Download Avast | Price: Free
AVG Anti-Virus Free Edition
AVG's excellent free antivirus software is similarly prudent with your system resources and RAM. It's simple to use and easily configurable, and it protects your machine. What else could you want?
Download AVG Anti-Virus Free Edition | Price: Free
Keep your system in top running form by stopping the installation of ActiveX-based malware and other types of spyware. A particularly useful feature is the System Snapshot, which will take a snapshot of your PC so that if it gets infected, you can revert to a clean version.
Download SpywareBlaster | Price: Free
Spybot Search & Destroy
A longtime favorite free program, Spybot offers live protection from spyware installation, and scans your system for preexisting spyware and kills it. The software has a restore function, as well.
Download Spybot Search & Destroy | Price: Free
Using more than one antispyware scanner is a good idea. So even if you have another, this free one, which has been around for years, is worth trying. It does a great job of scanning, and it lets you put potentially damaging software in a quarantine area, where you can later restore the item if it isn't dangerous.
Download Ad-Aware 2008 | Price: Free
Trend Micro HijackThis
If you think your PC is infected with spyware, but your spyware killer can't track it down, try this freebie. After HijackThis analyzes your Registry and file settings, it creates a log file, which you can upload to a HijackThis Web forum for the community to analyze. Unless you're an expert, you should not try to use this tool to fix problems.
Download Trend Micro HijackThis | Price: Free
Another effective way to optimize your PC is to tweak Windows' interface and behavior to your liking. All of these programs will get the job done.
If you run Vista, this utility is an excellent way to tweak the OS. Through its simple interface you can customize many Vista features. Turn off the dreaded User Account Control, customize the power button, disable or enable the Aero environment, change the behavior of Windows Updates, and more.
Download Vista4Experts | Price: Free
This program offers countless options for tweaking Windows. It can change the icons for various system features, create a custom desktop-shortcut arrow, change how Windows Explorer looks and works, tweak your network connection, hide menus, customize the Start menu, and adjust Windows security, just for starters.
Download MagicTweak | Price: $40 (Shareware)
Give your PC a Mac OS X-like dock, a customized bar of icons that puts frequently used programs at your fingertips. Place it at the top, bottom, or side of your screen, and you get instant access to your favorite programs and features.
Download RocketDock | Price: Free
Download Vista Manager | Price: $40 (Shareware)
Auslogics Visual Styler
Through this simple-to-use program, you can make Windows work the way you want and gain instant access to deeply hidden Windows customization features. For example, you can change icon resolution, size, spacing, and shortcut arrows. And a wallpaper changer rotates the scenery displayed every time your PC starts.
Download Auslogics Visual Styler | Price: $25 (Trial)
Miscellaneous Optimization Tools
You have plenty of other ways to optimize your PC. Following are some great all-around optimizers that give details on your system configuration, keep your drivers up-to-date, and manage your PC's power use.
Before you start optimizing your PC, you need to know your system's exact configuration. That's where the free Belarc Advisor comes in. It tells you everything you need to know--and far more. Of course, in this program you'll find the computer manufacturer, installed RAM, hard-disk size, processor type and speed, and so on, but that's only the beginning. You'll also see the motherboard maker, hard-disk manufacturer, chassis serial number, PC service tag, bus type and speed, multimedia devices, and plenty of other details. The program goes beyond a hardware inventory, too, giving information about your Windows installation, including user accounts, security hotfixes that are installed or missing, and a list of all the software on your machine.
Download Belarc Advisor | Price: Free
Keeping drivers up-to-date helps your system stay in top shape, but if you don't correctly remove old versions, you can experience system instability, slowdowns, and crashes. Driver Sweeper finds old drivers and deletes them. It also backs them up if you need to restore them.
Download Driver Sweeper | Price: Free
A monitoring tool--software that can show you overall system use--is essential for optimizing a PC. This nifty little freebie tracks RAM, CPU, Internet, and hard-disk use, and shows everything on your desktop in four small colored boxes. (Reading the information in the boxes is tough, so hover your mouse over them.) You'll see statistics such as the percentage of your CPU currently being used, and even the usage of individual cores on multicore PCs.
Download Performance Monitor | Price: Free
Consider this: If you don't use the power settings on your PC, you're spewing hundreds of pounds of unnecessary carbon dioxide into the atmosphere every year, a result of the electricity you waste.
But Windows' power-setting controls are as confusing to use as the tax code, you object. We agree--but we also have a solution for you. The free, simple-to-use Edison helps you change and manage your power settings. No need to fiddle around with Windows: Just move a slider or two, click a few buttons, and you're ready to go. You could just stay with the defaults, too.
How much might you save? When we used its default power settings on our laptop, Edison claimed we would save 359.63 kilowatt hours of electricity in a year (which adds up to $32) and 490.17 pounds of carbon dioxide.
Download Edison | Price: Free
This freebie, like Edison, helps you cut your PC's electricity use. You can easily edit settings such as when your PC automatically turns off or goes into hibernation, and when your hard disks spin down. The program also displays the amount of energy, trees, gallons of oil, or kilowatt hours you've saved.
Download LocalCooling | Price: Free
Windows Memory Diagnostic
If you find your PC crashing frequently, the culprit may be bad RAM. This free software from Microsoft performs a comprehensive test and tells you whether the RAM or the memory system on your motherboard is faulty. It's built into Vista, too: Click Start, type memory in the search field, and then click Memory Diagnostics Tool.
Download Windows Memory Diagnostic | Price: Free
OSSEC HIDS is a host-based intrusion detection system. It performs log analysis, integrity checking, rootkit detection, time-based alerting, and active response.
Release focus: Major feature enhancements
This version delivers the most comprehensive update to OSSEC in its history, with numerous new features including support for Microsoft Vista (and Server 2008), VMware ESX, active response on Windows, CIS benchmarks on Linux (through the policy auditing), VMWare Security hardening guidelines, McAfee Virus Scan Enterprise logs, VMware ESX hostd logs, Mac OS FTP server logs, and much more.
Too little, too much (Score:5, Insightful)by Monoman (8745) on Saturday March 01, @10:27AM (#22609882) Homepage The thread on this subject the other day had an good comment from a former MS employee. Vista works well if you do the following
1. Turn off Aero
2. Switch to Classic mode/view whatever it is called (makes it look like Windows 2000)
3. Go into System properties and set to optimize for best performance.
A friend tried it on two systems (one is a new quad-core) and is much happier now. So where does that get you? Basically, system that looks like Windows 2000, performs like XP, and has the underneath the cover features of Vista like "enhanced" security, searching, etc.
To disable the CD autoplay feature, use the following Windows XP registry hack:
Value: 181 hex 0x0b5
Disable CD autoplay in Windows XP ProIt is safest to disable CD autoplay in XP using either local group policy or, for an enterprise, an Active Directory group policy. The local group policy editor method:
The default is the Not configured . Set it to Enabled.
- Click Start
- Click Run
- Enter GPEDIT.MSC
Group Policy mmc will popup. On left panel:
- Double-click Computer Configuration to open submenu
- Double-click Administrative Templates to open submenu
- Double-click System to open submenu
- Double-click Turn autoplay off option which will be near the bottom of the list in the right panel.
How do I really disable auto-play in Windows XP - Ask Leo!TweakUI, one of what Microsoft calls "Power Toys for Windows XP". It's more than a toy. It allows you to adjust (or 'tweak') several settings that aren't exposed directly by the Windows tools.
Once you've installed TweakUI you'll find a lot of options in it. For our current problem, in TweakUI expand My Computer, and then AutoPlay. Click on Drives and uncheck the drive letter that you no longer want to AutoPlay. Click on Apply and that's it. No more "what would you like me to do" dialogs.
TweakUI has a number of other settings, I encourage you to install it and browse around in it. It's something I install on every computer I run. (The PowerToys page has a number of nifty tools as well, have a look while you're there).
Opera 9 is packaged with a torrent plugin, so BitTorrent downloads can be handled just like regular HTTP/FTP downloads.
It is notable in the face of criticisms of rendering accuracy, that Opera 9.0 passes the Acid2 rendering test by the Web Standards Project, which is designed to test compliance with the latest HTML, CSS and other web standards. Browsers such as Internet Explorer 7 and Firefox 2 do not pass this test.
Clean temp 1.5 software by Emil Simunovic Softes and others
Zappit System Cleaner - FREEWARE to Clean Up and Speed Up your Computer!
Safe easy way to clean Windows, Internet Tracks, free up hard-disk space and optimize your system. A clean computer runs better and faster and Zappit makes it easy to clean temporary and unused files in just a few seconds with no need to worry about deleting the "wrong" files. Includes a Start-Up Manager and a Favorites & Start Menu Manager. Safe Mode Option for new users and Advanced option for power users.
You have the Cloudeight Promise of NO Adware, Spyware, Badware or Adware!
Zappit Cleans all the following:
Windows Tracks: Recycle Bins, Clipboard Data, Temporary and log files, Recent Documents, Explorer Registry Streams, and Search, Run, and Wallpaper History, and more!
Program Files: Cleans files left over and no longer needed after using Media Player, Paint, Wordpad, Adobe Reader and others.
Internet Explorer: Temporary files, Address Bar and URL History, AutoComplete Form Data, Cookies, File and Folder Hisotry
Opera: History, Download History, Cookies and Temp files
Fire Fox and Mozilla/Netscape Navigator: History, Temp files, Cookies and Saved Passes and Log in Names
The latest version of CleanUp!, version 4.5.2 is a minor update over version 4.0.
Note that if you are going to run CleanUp! 4.5.2 without first making a backup of your system, then it is strongly recommended that you first run it in the new demo mode and verify the files that would be deleted before you first run it for real.
File size: 339,257 bytes (332K).
- Primary download site (setup program): CleanUp452.exe
It would be great to download drivers that sped up your hard-disk access by 10's of percent wouldn't it? Well perhaps you can, Intel has made their Application Accelerator (IAA) available since last September. It reduces storage sub-system bottlenecks apparently. If you have a compatible Intel chipset (810 to 860) and a Pentium Celeron, III , 4 or Xeon chip then get on down to :
Read through everything before you start downloading and installing. You may need to pre-install the Intel Chipset Software Installation Utility if you have XP running on a 830 or 845 chipset. Intel also provide a chipset identification utility if your unsure of what you have - it's linked from the same page.
Intel claim very significant increases in boot times and application speed. On a personal note, on my P4 2GHz, applications do start a lot faster. I suggest you do some benchmarking first (a stopwatch is an easy way to measure boot time). I would be interested in results people have had. This also works for 98SE,ME,NT4 and 2000.
NOTE: IAA works well for most, but not all. Judge for yourself. It's easy enough to uninstall if you don't like it.
Microsoft created the Shared Computer Toolkit to help make shared computers more reliable and less time-consuming to maintain. Unlike personal computers, shared computers are:
- Used by many different people who generally don't know or trust each other
- Used in public places where personal privacy and security are big concerns
- Subjected to greater wear and tear due to their frequent use and public availability
The Shared Computer Toolkit is ideal for computers in schools, public libraries, community technology centers, and Internet cafés. It allows those who manage shared computers in these environments to easily:
Constantly running in the background of XP are services--processes that help the operating system run or that provide support to applications. Many of these services launch automatically at start-up. While you need many of them, some are not required, and they can slow down your system when they run in the background.
You can disable services at start-up by using the system configuration utility, similar to the way that you halt programs from running at start-up, except that you use the Services tab instead of the Startup tab. But the system configuration utility doesn't necessarily list every service that launches on start-up. A bigger problem is that disabling services is more of shot in the dark than disabling programs. When you disable a program, you can get a sense of what the program does. But when you disable a service through the system configuration utility, there's often no way to know what it does.
Here is a list of some common services you might want to stop from running at start-up.
- A better way of disabling services at start-up is via the Services computer-management console. Run it by typing services.msc at the command prompt. The Services computer-management console includes a description of all services so that you can know ahead of time whether a particular service is one you want to turn off. It also lets you pause the service so that you can test your machine and see whether that service is needed.
- After you run the console, click the Extended tab. This view will show you a description of each service in the left pane when you highlight the service. The Startup Type column shows you which services launch on start-up--any with Automatic in that field. Click that column to sort together all the services that automatically launch on start-up. Then highlight each of those services and read the descriptions.
- When you find a service you want to disable, right-click it and choose Properties. In the Properties dialog box that appears, choose Manual from the Startup Type drop-down list. The service won't start automatically from now on, but you can start it manually via the console. If you want the service disabled so that it can't be run, choose Disabled. To test the results, turn off any services that you don't want to run by clicking Stop The Service in the left pane, or by right-clicking the service and choosing Stop.
Service What it does Portable Media Serial Number Retrieves the serial number of a portable music player attached to your PC. Task Scheduler Schedules unattended tasks to be run. If you don't schedule any unattended tasks, turn it off. Uninterruptible Power Supply Manages an Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS) connected to your PC. Automatic Updates Automatically checks for Windows updates. (You can check manually by going to http://windowsupdate.microsoft.com/.) Telnet (service available on XP Pro only) Allows a remote user to log in to your computer and run programs. (This will not be found on all versions of XP Pro.) Wireless Zero Configuration Service Automatically configures a Wi-Fi (802.11) network card. Disable this only if you're not using a Wi-Fi network card.
Try a clean-boot troubleshooting. Clean-boot troubleshooting is designed to isolate a performance problem. To perform clean-boot troubleshooting, you must take a number of actions, and then restart the computer after each action (to test whether the action resolved the problem). These two articles will help you isolate the problem.
- How to perform a clean boot in Windows XP
- How to perform advanced clean-boot troubleshooting in Windows XP
- How to manage Windows Startup?
Fig: Disabling the third-party Services using MSCONFIG
Check the Event Logs for any errors and track-down the software/driver causing the problem. View the error messages registered in Event Log
You may be having profile unload problems if you experience slow logoff (with Saving Settings for most of the time while logging off). UPHClean is a service that once and for all gets rid of problems with user profile not unloading. See User Profile Hive Cleanup tool's Readme.txt before installing it.
For more troubleshooting on shutdown issues, I recommend you visit MS-MVP James Eshelman's Shutdown troubleshooter page here: SHUTDOWN WORKS, BUT IT'S REAL SLOW.
One of the most common causes of Windows shut down problems is a bug in RoxioТs Easy CD Creator (particularly version 5).
Roxio does have a patch available at http://www.roxio.com/en/support/ecdc/software_updatesv5_2.jhtml Keep in mind though that the patch has been known to disable RoxioТs Take Two backup software that came with Easy CD Creator 5 Platinum. You should also keep in mind that version 5 is an old version that Roxio no longer supports. The current version is Easy Media Creator 7. If you suspect that Easy CD Creator may be causing your problem, then I recommend upgrading to a newer version rather than patching an old version.
... ... ...
The quickest way to speed up boot times is to use the free Microsoft utility BootVis.exe. Although it's intended primarily for developers, anyone can use it to analyze their boot times and see where there are slowdowns. More important, the tool will also automatically make system changes to speed up your boot time, so you don't need to go into a lengthy analysis of where your slowdowns are and how to solve them
Depending on your system and how it's set up, you may see only a moderately faster startup time, or you may speed up boot time dramatically. I've seen reports of improvements ranging from a little over 3 seconds to more than 35 seconds. The improvements I found on my systems were moderate-7 seconds faster on one, and 10 seconds faster on another. Think of all the things you could accomplish with another 10 seconds in the day!The BootVis utility traces boot time metrics and then displays the results in a variety of graphs showing total boot time, CPU usage, disk I/O, driver delays, and disk utilization. Download it from www.microsoft.com/whdc/hwdev/platform/performance/fastboot/default.mspx and extract it into its own folder. Go to the folder and double-click on BootVis.exe. To analyze how your system boots, choose Trace → Next Boot. (Choose Trace → Next Boot + Driver Delays if you want to trace delays caused by drivers as well as your normal boot sequences.) Tell the program how many times to reboot and run the test (the more times it runs, the more accurate the results, although the longer the test takes to run). Click OK, and your system will reboot.
Version: 1.6d Date Published: 2/13/2006 Language: English Download Size: 24 KB - 353 *Download size depends on selected download components.
Administering Windows platforms using scripts can be a big productivity booster or a headache. Mitch Tulloch, author of Windows Server Hacks, sits down with Don Jones, a Microsoft MVP and the creator of ScriptingAnswers.com, for a no-holds barred interview about the future of scripting.
Removed from client, but will survive on the server: "On the operating system side of things, Monad is then expected to be included in Windows Server Longhorn, expected in 2007"
Just one day after the first public reports of viruses being written for an upcoming feature of Microsoft Corp.'s Windows operating system (see "First Windows Vista viruses unleashed"), the company said it will not include the feature in the first generally available release of Microsoft Vista, due out in the second half of 2006.
The feature, called the Monad Shell, provides a way for users to access the operating system using text-based commands rather than the traditional Windows graphical user interface. In the past, Microsoft has said that Monad will be part of Longhorn, the code name for both the next client and server versions of Windows.
In an interview Friday, Microsoft director of product management Eric Berg said Monad will not be included in the first commercial version of Windows Vista when it is released.
But the product is expected to be included in Windows over the next "three to five years," he said. "Our intention is to synchronize it with both client and server operating systems."
Security experts had worried that if Monad were included in a widely used client, it might become an attractive target for hackers -- especially if the shell were enabled by default.
Whether it will be enabled by default is unclear. "There are multiple ways that we could introduce this technology to the client stream," Berg said.
The first Microsoft product to use Monad will be the next release of Microsoft's Exchange messaging server, code-named Exchange 12, which is also due in 2006, Berg said.
On the operating system side of things, Monad is then expected to be included in Windows Server Longhorn, expected in 2007, and could be available in a future Windows Vista release, said Rob Helm, director of research at Directions on Microsoft Inc. "Presumably, as time goes on, all of Microsoft's products will have Monad scripting interfaces," he said.
Black Viper (amongst others) runs a Windows tweaks page offers many changes and customizations that users can make to MS Windows in the name of greater performance. BV recommends that many active-by-default Windows services be set to manual activation or disabled altogether, to save on memory useage and CPU cycles.
I have taken three systems with clean installs of Windows XP and reviewed these tweaks. Well, the third isn't really a clean install, it has a bunch of software running which any typical user would run e.g. firewall, antivirus, speedfan, etc. The first two are lower-end systems that should theoretically benefit most from this treatment, neither has the prefix "giga" in either its CPU speed or RAM capacity. The last one is a modern system (at the time of writing, anyway).
Display a description of the computer in Network Neighborhood (Windows 2000)
This tweak allows you to add a description of the computer for display in Network Neighborhood.
This tweak can be easily applied using WinGuides Tweak Manager.
Download a free trial now! Open your registry and find or create the key below.
Create a new String value, or modify the existing value, called "srvcomment" and set it according to the value data below.
Exit your registry, you may need to restart or log out of Windows for the change to take effect.
UPX (the Ultimate Packer for eXecutables) is a free, portable, extendable, high-performance executable packer for several different executable formats. It achieves an excellent compression ratio and offers very fast decompression. Your executables suffer no memory overhead or other drawbacks because of in-place decompression.
Petite is a Win32 (Windows 95/98/2000/NT/XP) executable (EXE/DLL/etc...) compressor. The compressed executables decompress themselves at run time, and can be used just like the original uncompressed versions. Petite also adds virus detection to the compressed executables - they will check themselves for infection every time they are executed.
Changing Windows XP settings should be done very carefully. Tweaking windows is probably more about getting right set of application and scripts and avoiding overloading the system with too many "greedy" applications then about Registry changes. Run disk defragmenter, disk cleanup and registry cleanup. Do not install unnecessary of "bloated" software. Delete applications that you do not need.
OS & Software tweaking - TechSpot
Beginners Guides 101 Tips and Tweaks for Windows - PCStats.com
Doug's Windows 95-98-Me-XP Tweaks and Tips
Posted 9/1/2005 by Steve Sinchak
Windows Vista will include a new technology known as Freeze Dry designed to maintain application states and unsaved documents even when patches are automatically applied and PCs are rebooted.
Speaking at the Australian Tech Ed conference on the Gold Coast in Queensland this week, senior product manager Amy Stephan offered a preview of the Freeze Dry technology.
Many IT managers plan to automatically install patches and updates on machines during periods when they are inactive, such as overnight or on weekends. However, as some patches require machines to reboot, users who leave documents open and unsaved run the risk of losing that data if the machine is automatically updated.
Freeze Dry eliminates that problem by automatically saving application state and documents and then restoring them once the system restarts, Stephan said.Read Full Story at ZDNet
Defend shared computers from unauthorized changes to the hard diskUnauthorized changes to a hard disk can make shared computers less reliable. Windows Disk Protection helps to prevent users, viruses, spyware, or other programs from making permanent changes to the hard disk by clearing changes each time the computer restarts.
Because certain changes, such as critical updates and antivirus signatures, need to be permanently saved, Windows Disk Protection allows you to schedule such changes to occur automatically at whatever time you choose.
|•||Helps protect operating system files|
|•||Clears changes when the computer restarts|
|•||Automates critical and antivirus updates|
|•||Lets you choose to save changes to disk|
The toolkit also helps to protect user privacy by refreshing the desktop, user settings, and user data each time a new user logs on. Plus, it consolidates several accessibility features into one user interface, so users can more easily access the features they regularly use. For users who are new to computers, the toolkit also provides a variety of suitable online learning resources.
Click Here to download the beta toolkit.
TweakXP.com - New Powertoy SyncToy
Now there is an easier way. SyncToy is a free PowerToy for Microsoft Windows XP that provides an easy to use, highly customizable program to help copy, move, and synchronize different directories. Most common operations can be performed with just a few clicks of the mouse, and additional customization is available without adding complexity. SyncToy can manage multiple sets of directories at the same time; it can combine files from two folders in one case, and mimic renames and deletes in another. Unlike other applications, SyncToy keeps track of renames to files and will make sure those changes get carried over to the synchronized folder.
Click Here to DownloadOne-Day Password Enabler This ASP searches through an LDAP tree for accounts which match the account name of the client and return accounts named
This is designed to be used in order to allow logon access one a day-by-day basis.
OneDayPW.asp The main ASP that searches for the matches and handles the POST.
RemoveOneDayPW.vbs Disables the passwords of the One-Day Password accounts that had their passwords set that day. Runs as an automated process.
One-Day Password Enabler Administration Main page foir administrators to promote users to One-Day Password managers and to remove those rights.
AddManager Grants a user administrative permissions to One-Day Password accounts.
RemoveManager Removes a user from having administrative permissions.
tripwire.pl The Perl script that parses the Tripwire report. See the Tripwire suite above.
Dictionary Editor Adds and remove words to your local dictionary. For use with pine and spell. Set the following environment variable:
To add a word:
dict.pl -a word
To delete a word:
dict.pl -d word
Searches for an LDAP group and creates an LDIF file that lists the attributes for each uniquemember of the group.
CreateOldErrorsLogs.pl Parse through Netscape Proxy Server logs and create new daily access and errors log files.
RemoveCron.sh Removes a script to your crontab. I use this remove the job I added with AddCron when I logout. I execute this script from within my .profile.
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