3 Windows Speed Tips from a Linux User

Most of my regular readers know that I do most of my work in Linux. After all, my development platform is LAMP(L being Linux). But it was not always so – I used to be on Windows(in a period now referred to as the dark ages). Being a power user, I found a lot of tweaks on Windows. But I never managed to share them on any of my blogs – because I started almost all of them after I moved to Linux. So here is three tips on how to make Windows a bit better(or at least less painful).

I started on Windows 95 – my first computer(400 MHz, 32 MB RAM, 4 GB HDD) had it pre-installed. That was my introduction to computers. But soon I migrated to Windows 98. I have very fond memories of that OS – Windows 98 is my favorite OS in the windows family. As a matter of fact, even now, my systems have that green background of Windows 98. I moved to Linux(Fedora Core 1) after that. So most of the tips shared here was tested on Windows 98 – but I am sure it still applies to the later versions as well. I don’t use these tricks anymore(I don’t use Windows that much now) – so I wanted document them before I forget them.

Being a speed junkie – and having a 32 MB RAM – made me optimize my system a lot. I found most of the tips below with a lot of trial and error(we did not have the internet back then – why do you think I call it the dark ages?). Anyway, here are my top 3 tips to make your windows a little better…

Speed Up Explorer.exe

You can speed up the time taken to show a folder contents using this trick…

  • Open a folder in Explorer
  • Choose Tools > Folder Options
  • Select the ‘Use Windows classic folders’ in the Tasks section
  • Press OK.

This will get rid of the ‘Common Tasks’ to the left of the explorer. Now try browsing for files – you will notice a considerable difference in speed.

Startup Optimization

You might already know this tip if you are a ‘Power User’ – msconfig. To make your system more responsive and consume less memory, you can remove unwanted tasks from startup…

  • Go to Start > Run.
  • Type in ‘msconfig’ without the quotes
  • Go to the Startup tab
  • Unselect the application that you know you don’t need.
  • Press OK – you don’t have to restart.

The deactivated apps will not start from the next boot. In some cases, this will really speed up your system.

Replace Default File Viewers

Notepad should be replaced with Metapad Lite. Not Notepad++ or other ‘Advanced Editors’ – they take half a second to load. Metapad Lite is much faster – as fast as notepad – but with more features.

Use Irfan View as your default Image viewer. I am sure most of you guys are doing this already.

Replace Internet Explorer with Firefox. You will not see a immediate speed improvement. But in the long run, Firefox will prevent many virus from getting access to your system – giving you a stabler, faster system.

Foobar2000 is a better and faster audio player than default audio player provided by Windows. But then again, do anyone use Windows Media Player?

If you are a programmer I would recommend Notepad++ – as an editor – not as a Notepad replacement.

Other Tweaks

There are many other tweaks as well – but most of them are obsolete due to faster machines and newer OSes. Some of them include…

  • Disabling Wallpaper/Screensaver
  • Use XSetup to optimize hidden settings
  • Using a better terminal than Command Prompt
  • Disabling the ‘Effects’ – Fade effects, Menu Shadow, etc.
  • Disabling File Indexing
  • Disabling HDD Paging(Virtual Memory)
  • And more…

In my next post, I will introduce you to my great Windows Hack – ‘The Escape’


  1. I always make sure they clear all unwanted programs in msconfig when people say their syste is slow.. I hate to see programs adding there too 😉 Thanks for the tips BTW


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