Thread: XP Help Part 1
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Old 01-28-2008
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Windows never seems to start fast:

Fix 1: Your computer could be loading device drivers for hardware you no longer use. To save on system resources, uninstall those drivers. Since a careless choice can cause your machine to lose an important function, however, create a restore point in System Restore before proceeding.

By default, Device Manager doesn't show devices that aren't currently connected to your system. To make them visible, press Windows-R to open the Run box, type cmd, and press Enter. At the command prompt, type set devmgr_show_nonpresent_devices=1 and press Enter. Leave the command-prompt window open.

Now press Windows-R again, type devmgmt.msc, and press Enter. In the Device Manager window, choose View, Show Hidden Devices. Click the plus sign (+) next to each of the branches to examine all of the drivers on your system. Devices that are not currently connected appear with a pale version of the icon. If you come across a device that you're sure you no longer use, right-click it and choose Uninstall. Then follow the prompts shown on screen to complete the process. When you're done, close the command-prompt window to re-hide your unconnected devices.

Fix 2: Once you have mapped a network drive to a letter on your computer, Windows will automatically restore that connection by default whenever you log on. Since resuming network connections takes time, you can speed your startups by dropping the connections you aren't using.

Press Windows-E to launch Windows Explorer, and type Alt-T, D to open the Disconnect Network Drives dialog box. Pick the drives to disconnect, and click OK.

In the future, if you connect a drive only for the current session, simply enter its UNC path (this appears in the address bar when you select the drive in Explorer, and in the Run box). Or, if you use the Tools, Map Network Drive command in Explorer, make sure Reconnect at logon is unchecked before you click Finish.

Fix 3: You'll free your system's memory and recover processor cycles by clearing out the clutter that starts each time you log in to Windows - and you may even discover some malware in the process. Check out the free Autoruns program from Microsoft-owned Sysinternals.
How do you distinguish the useful startup programs from the useless ones? You can consult Autoruns' built-in research tools, or you can visit Paul Collins's Startup Applications List. This searchable and downloadable list of common startup items provides a description and rating for each one, indicating how likely the item is to be required on a typical system.

I'm not certain how secure my system is:

Fix: Download the free Microsoft Baseline Security Analyzer (MBSA) and let the program perform a security check of your computer. The tool's reports include links to descriptions of the scan, details of the results, and ways to correct any problems it finds. MBSA works with any version of Windows from 2000 SP3 on, though Vista requires the 2.1 beta; MBSA also analyses the security of Office, Exchange, and other Microsoft products. Download either the current version 2.0.1 or the beta 2.1 release( After installing the program, launch it and follow the prompts to analyze your own system or multiple computers.

I know that backing up can save my hide

Fix: The backup tools built into many editions of Windows XP and Vista let you schedule and perform automatic backups. Unfortunately, only XP Pro and Vista Business, Enterprise, and Ultimate include these tools by default. XP Home users, however, will find a backup program on their Windows CD: navigate in Explorer to the valueadd\msft\ntbackup folder, right-click the Ntbackup file, and choose Install.

If you use Vista Home Premium, you'll have to find a backup program elsewhere; go to the 'Make Image Backups' section of 'Give Home Premium Vista Ultimate Features' for more on backing up Home Premium.
In XP, click Start, All Programs, Accessories, System Tools, Backup. If it's already set to start in Advanced mode, choose Tools, Switch to Wizard Mode. Step through the wizard, specifying what to back up and where. At the 'Completing the Backup or Restore Wizard' screen, click Advanced. Specify the type of backup (such as Incremental, which is good for regular, automated backups) and click Next. Set other options on the subsequent screens, and click Next for each.

At 'When to Back up,' check Later, type a name for the backup, and then click Set Schedule. Use the settings listed under the Schedule and Settings tabs in the Schedule Job dialog box to customise when and how often to back up, and click OK. Enter your log-in name and password twice, and then click OK again. Click Next, enter your password two more times, and click OK and Finish. If you need to modify the backup schedule, reopen Scheduled Tasks and double-click the icon for the backup job.

In Vista, choose Start, All Programs, Accessories, System Tools, Backup Status and Configuration. Click Set up automatic file backup and confirm at the User Account Control prompt. Follow the prompts to set what, where, and when to back up (see the image here). To make changes later on, return to this utility and click Change backup settings or Turn off to modify or disable your backup bot.

I always grab the latest Windows security patches, but I sometimes neglect the other programs that pose a security risk

Fix: To test the security of your applications, use the free online Secunia Software Inspector( You don't need to install anything; simply click Start and follow the instructions. The scan requires the Sun Java JRE version 1.5.0_12 or later. It works with Windows 2000 SP4 and later.
The analysis identifies applications that are outdated. Click the plus sign next to an entry for more details, and for links to the latest version.

To ensure backward-compatibility, many applications leave old versions on your disk when installing updates, so back up your PC before you begin deleting or uninstalling older versions of any applications.
Solve Sluggish Surfing

Web browsing is slow or sometimes stops

Fix 1: If surfing is less responsive or impossible, your PC may have caught an infection. Use an antivirus utility or a repair tool to check for problems. Or try Microsoft's free Malicious Software Removal Tool(; just download the applet and follow the instructions.

Fix 2: Install a new version of your browser, or patch your current one. To obtain the latest version of IE 7, choose Tools, Windows Update. In Mozilla Firefox, click Help, Check for Updates.

Fix 3: You may have an issue with browser plug-ins or add-ons. To test this, disable all add-ons. If the problem goes away, enable one add-on and test again. Repeat until you find the culprit.

To disable add-ons in Firefox, choose Tools, Add-ons, and click Disable by each item until all are off. Close the window and restart Firefox. If the problem is solved, reopen the Add-ons window, click Enable for one entry, close, and restart. Rinse and repeat as needed.

In IE 7, choose Start, All Programs, Accessories, System Tools, Internet Explorer (No Add-ons). If that solves the problem, restart IE normally and choose Tools, Manage Add-ons, Enable or Disable Add-ons. Pick an add-on and click Disable. Repeat this for all but one, and click OK twice. Restart IE. If everything is still fine, return to this dialog box, select another disabled add-on, and click Enable. Click OK twice and restart IE. Repeat until you find the misbehaving add-on.
Make Windows Defrag for You

While expert consensus says that defragmenting a hard drive improves its performance finding the time to defrag my disks is getting tougher.

Fix: Make Windows do the disk-defragmenting. In XP, follow the same steps as in Automate Your Disk Checking to create a Scheduled Task, but when editing the command line in Advanced Properties, change it to cmd.exe /c defrag c: -f -v > "c:\doc\report.txt" (your switches and the path to your report file may be different).

In Vista, follow the same steps as in 'Automate Your Disk Checking', but change the text in the 'Add arguments (optional)' box to /c defrag -c -f -v -w > "c:\doc\report.txt" (your switches and report path may differ).
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