Helping people with computers... one answer at a time.
The most effective way to speed up a system is to clean it up, have it run fewer programs, and give it more resources like RAM.
Please tell me how I can make my PC run faster. I'm using Windows XP Service Pack 2 on Pentium 4 2.40ghz, 40 GB hard Disk, 120 MB of RAM and I have also installed McAfee Virus Scan but still it is getting slower and slower.
There are a number of steps that you can take to attempt to speed up your system. Most require simply tweaking the software you already have, not adding more.
However, if the information you've provided is accurate, the problem with your system is much more fundamental.
I just checked a Window XP with SP2 box, and Microsoft calls out a minimum RAM requirement of 128Meg. Not only are you below that, but I consider Microsoft's requirement totally impractical if you actually want to do anything with your machine. I would recommend a minimum of 256Meg of RAM, and ideally more. In machines that I've recently purchased, I've configured them with 1 or 2 Gigabytes of RAM.
Windows XP loves RAM. If you have 256Meg of RAM or less, that would be the first place I'd turn to in order to increase your system's effective speed.
The next place I'd look is at all the software that loads and runs automatically when you start your machine. If you've never adjusted it, and you've simply accepted default installations for software you've installed, it's likely there's a lot of software actually running that doesn't need to be. Unfortunately identifying what is, and is not, required can be a difficult process, since it depends on how you specifically use your computer.
My previous article What's all this stuff running after I boot Windows? will help you at least identify what gets launched automatically when you log in. The article What's this program running on my machine? includes some of the steps I go through when I try to understand exactly what a program is, or what it's trying to do. (In short ... Google is your friend.)
Windows Services is another area to examine, but unfortunately things get even more obscure. There are lists of services that you can review and determine for yourself if they are appropriate for your machine.
Other things you could also try to increase your system's performance include:
There are, naturally, many, many other tweaks of various and dubious value out on the internet, but these are the ones that I focus on as getting the most bang for the effort. I expect readers will add some of their favorite tweaks to the comments on this article, so be sure and read any of those that are present.
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