4 Windows XP Maintenance Tips

Computers are like pets – they need care. We all want our computer to be fast, efficient, and responsive, but when it starts slowing down, most people just get mad at it. Well, don’t. Just give it some good care.

The maintenance tips in this article will help you make your XP computer faster, safer, and more stable.

Reduce recycle bin size

Nowadays hard disks are pretty large, so the default 10% for the Recycle Bin is way too much. Most users would be OK with 5-10Gb, which will usually be from 2 to 5% of the hard drive space.

To reduce the size of your Recycle Bin do the following:

  1. Go to Desktop
  2. Right-click on the Recycle Bin icon
  3. Select Properties
  4. Use the slider to choose the required percentage
  5. Click Apply, then click OK

Turn off Remote Desktop and Remote Assistance

Windows XP has services that make it possible for other people to access your computer remotely. They are handy if a computer is part of a network, but there is always a danger that hackers may use them to access your computer. So, if your PC is not part of a network, it’s best to turn them off. Here’s how:

  1. Go to StartSettingsControl Panel
  2. Double-click the System icon
  3. Select the Remote tab
  4. Uncheck Allow Remote Assistance invitations to be sent from this computer
  5. In the same tab click Advanced
  6. Uncheck Allow users to connect remotely to this computer
  7. Click Apply, then click OK

Don’t worry – you will be able to access MSN, Skype and other similar programs. Turning off Remote Assistance and Remote Desktop doesn’t affect them in any way.

Run Windows XP chkdsk (Check Disk) from time to time

Windows XP chkdsk is a tool that should be run from time to time. It will scan the disk for errors, fix logical errors, detect and mark bad sectors so that Windows will no longer try to use them. This way it can prevent your computer from becoming unstable.

There is a slight disadvantage, though – Check Disk may require a lot of time to perform its task. It depends on many things, like overall PC speed, number of files and folders on the disk, amount of RAM, and disk size. So it’s best to run Check Disk only if you don’t need to use the computer for some time.

Also Windows XP chkdsk wants exclusive access to the computer. In most cases, it will ask for a reboot and will run right after the reboot, so you won’t have access to your PC. Of course, you can always interrupt the process, but it’s not a good idea.

To run Check Disk do this:

  1. Find the My Computer icon on your desktop and double-click it
  2. Find the disk you want to check, right-click it and go to Properties
  3. In the Properties dialog box go to Tools
  4. Click Check now
  5. A new dialog box will appear, check both options and click Start
  6. Most likely you will get a message that Check Disk wants exclusive access to the disk and wants to start right after your reboot. Click OK
  7. Restart your computer

Defrag regularly

Badly fragmented disks can cause a lot of problems, like general system slowdowns, slower startup and shutdowns, and even computer crashes. Basically, your hard drive is the slowest part of your computer and file fragmentation makes it even slower.

Windows has a built-in Disk Defragmenter. To use it go to Start – Programs – Accessories – System Tools – Disk Defragmenter. Like any other defrag utility it gathers file fragments that are scattered all over your disk and writes them into adjacent clusters.

But to be honest, I never use Windows Disk Defrag – it takes quite some time to do its job and skips too many files.

The good news is that there are good free defrag utilities available for download. The ones I like are Auslogics DiskDefrag and Piriform Defraggler. Both are trusted developers and do their job great. Personally, I like the Auslogics one better, because it doesn’t need time to analyze the disk, so it’s very fast.