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Optimizing Your PC’s Performance

By: Walt Dimmock

Does your computer appear to take forever when loading its operating system and your favorite programs, even when you have taken the precaution to defrag your hard drive? But, then you say you are running adequate RAM. “Why is my computer so slow to load?” you ask. The culprit may be your system resources. The computer’s system resources should be running between 80-90% at start-up but ideally they should be running above 90%. (My computer runs at 98% at start-up.) Many users will find that their system resources are running well below optimum level, causing their new state of the art computer to operate like and old Pentium 66. And all the RAM you added will not make any difference!

Users of Windows 98 and Windows ME can easily remedy their low resources, but for Windows 95 you will need to have a working knowledge of DOS. In this article I will be only addressing Windows 98 and ME.

Look at the task bar in the lower right corner where the clock is located. Any visible icon signifies a running program, but there will be many program icons not shown even while they are running in the background.

When your computer is first booted, these programs will start running in the background without your knowledge. Many software programmers have built into their programs, switches that will start them running so that you can access them faster when you need them. These programs will then be “idling” until needed. But do you really need that extra millisecond at the cost of your computer’s efficiency? Would you let your automobile idle all night just so you can have it warmed up for the next day?

To check your resources, right click on the "my computer” icon, then left-click properties. In the system properties dialog box, left click the “performance” tab. Here you can see at what percentage your system resources are running at. If you have many windows open you can expect them to be low. But if you just turned your computer on and they are low you may want to improve on your system resources.

While in the “performance” tab, go to the bottom where it says “advance settings” and right click “file system”. In the “hard drive” tab be sure your computer is set to “network server”. Even though you may not be on a network, this setting fools the computer into thinking it is a network server and will use more of its buses from the processor for faster operations. Now right click “OK” and then right click the next “OK”.

Now go to the “start menu” and click “run” and in the space, type: “msconfig” and hit “OK”. This brings you to the “System Configuration Utility” shown in fig 1. (This example is from Windows ME. Windows 98 will not have the “Environment” and “International” tabs.) Click on the “startup” tab and you will see the many programs listed

Screen Shot Of System Configuration Utility 

screen shot of System Configuration Utility

FIG 1

And many of the boxes on the left will be checked signifying that these programs have been running in the background since the computer was started. You can start uncheck some of these boxes, but be sure to leave checked: system tray, Scanregistry, TaskMonitor, and the virus scan.  (See fig 2)

Screen Shot Of System Configuration Utility Startup

screen shot of System Configuration Utility startup

FIG 2

After you unchecked a few programs, click OK, close the window and you will be prompted to restart the computer. After which, go to “my computer” right click and left click properties and recheck your system resources. There should be an improvement. If you wish to better the system resources return to the “System Configuration Utilities” and uncheck some more boxes and you should see an improvement.

When you load a new program in your computer, you may want to check to see if it loaded its “idling switch “ in the System Configuration Utilities. You may then want to uncheck it.

The rule of thumb is if you have an icon on your desktop or in the start menu, you will not need it in the “System Configuration Utilities.


Walt Dimmock is President and Owner of WaltBren Computing, LLC

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This Page Last Updated:
 October 04, 2004