How to Easily Optimize a Notebook Computer and Make it Faster

by Reads (69,181)

by Jack O’Neill

This article serves as a quick and easy guide to get your laptop computer to boot up and run faster simply by changing some basic Windows settings or installing some helpful applications.

Clear Out Memory Resident Programs That are not Needed

Nearly every program you install thinks that it needs to be running in the background so that it will start faster. Stop them from running in the background, they only use up memory and slow the rest of the system down all the time for a very minimal increase in that particular program loading.  Go to Start > Run and type “msconfigâ€? and go to the startup tab.

You can get an idea of what these programs are by going to this site:

By going to this site and entering the task program name in the search field, you can determine if you really want it running in the background. In msconfig you can just uncheck the task and then on the next boot it won’t run. If you find you need the task, just run msconfig again and recheck the task, it will begin running again on the next boot.

Startup items that you will really want to disable are “qttaskâ€? (Quick Time), anything that begins with the 3 letters “atiâ€? (these are ATI video card background tasks that are not needed and just waste memory and bandwidth), anything related to “officeâ€? or “fastfindâ€?, or anything related to a program you installed such as a media player or utility. You should keep startup tasks that are running your touchpad, firewall or anti-virus software.

Clear Out Background Services That are not Needed

Next stop unneeded services that are also running in the background.  Go to Start > Run and type “services.mscâ€?, stretch the window so you can see what’s going on.

To find out what these services do and if you need them or not, visit this website:

It will show which services you can disable based on your OS and whether you are on a corporate network or just a home PC.

If there is ever a task or service running and you don’t understand what it does, then do a search on for it and figure out if it really is needed, you will be surprised at how much faster your system will be by just cleaning this stuff up.

While you are at Snakefoot’s site take a look at the tips/tweaks page as well, it has some good registry tips to speed things up.

Tweak XP Registry for Speed Using TuneXP

A more simple way for anyone to apply most of these registry tweaks that really help increase your speed without running regedit is to download  DriverHeaven’s “tuneXPâ€? , then enable these tweaks and any others you like.

There are lots of tweaks that can be applied to the registry to speed things up and at the end of the article I’ll post links to my favorite sites to find these, but by just using TuneXP you get easy access to the big hitters that gain you the most.

Disable System Restore

Right click on “My Computer” and select properties.  Next, go to the system restore tab and disable system restore, I would estimate this “featureâ€? alone can slowdown your computer by 15-20%. This is because the OS has to backup everything that happens to the registry at all times on the fly, and there are easily dozens if not hundreds of modifications happening to the registry every second. This just bogs the whole PC down and eats hard drive space like you would not believe.

System restore is not needed if you do backups of your drive once in awhile and you should be backing up if you don’t want to lose everything. System restore is fine if you don’t mind giving up all that horsepower and drive space just to backup the registry every time it changes.

While you are over at the system properties page, go over to the “windows updates� page and turn off automatic updates. It’s a waste of CPU power for this to be running in the background all the time when Microsoft only posts their updates once a month. Just be sure to keep an eye on the windows update page and download the critical updates as they’re posted.

Next go over to the “Advanced� tab and click on the performance settings button and look over the visual effects panel. You can just set them with the radio buttons for a fast easy change or go custom to suit yourself. These visual effect can slow things down a bit, in fact some of them like the “slide or fade� options make your PC seem slower by making these functions slowdown for a visual eye-candy kind of thing. The ones I like to keep enabled are.

  • Smooth edges of screen fonts
  • Show windows contents when dragging
  • Show shadows under menus/mouse pointers
  • Use drop shadows for icons on the desktop

Then go from the visual effects tab over to the advanced tab and select virtual memory. Then change it from system managed size to custom. Most sites say to set your page size to 2x your installed memory size, you can do this but I don’t. I don’t think if you have 1GB of memory installed, that you need 2GB of pagefile. With my system I have 1GB of memory and 256-512MB of pagefile. I made the top range 512MB just in case, but even with large photoshop files with many layers, I’ve never gone above the 256MB of pagefile.

A word of warning, if you have upgraded to Windows Service Pack 2 (SP2) many of these settings were reset to factory defaults, so check them even if you’ve set them in the past.

Disable Disk Indexing

Open windows explorer and right-click on icon for each hard drive and select properties, then uncheck “allow indexing service to index this disk for fast file searching�

Sure it speeds up file searches somewhat, but how often do you do these searchs? The trade off is that it slows everything down all the time so that  when you do do a search once in awhile it does it a little faster…what a ripoff!  Turn it off and get the speed increase instead.

Defrag That Hard Drive

The best defragger is Diskeeper pro, the current version is 8.0. This software runs about $30 for the Home Edition and $50 for the Professional edition.  The program simply does a wonderful job of keeping things organized. It even defrags the MFT files (Master File Table files) which the Microsoft Defrag does not do and these files can get very, very large! Defrag after your done installing everything and then once a week or two afterwards depending on how much software you’ve added or removed.

Clean up the Registry

Download a registry cleaning utility, there are many freeware/shareware ones out there. I like “RegscrubXP� it does a really nice job of cleaning the registry and will make backups just in case something gets deleted that shouldn’t have. The program is straight forward and easy to use. I usually get the latest version from the majorgeeks website, here’s the link.

Optimize the Boot Sequence

Microsoft has a program called “Bootvisâ€?, Microsoft has a disclaimer that it is not meant to speed up the boot process, but it does and by a fair amount I would say  Here’s a link to download the Bootvis program:

When using Bootvis you can do a trace > next boot, and then on the next boot it will make a graphical representation of all the process and drivers that are loaded and how long each one takes. From this you can see how long it took to boot into windows. Then run it again, this time do a trace > optimize system; it will then rearrange the location of boot files on the hard drive and the order in which they are loaded to speed up the entire boot process.


Your mileage may vary, but on my ThinkPad T42 my boot time went from 45 seconds before the optimizations to 29 seconds afterwards, that’s more than a 35% decrease in boot time, well worth the effort!

Resource Links

Here is a set of resource links used in this article and for further research you might like to do.  Check back to for updates to this article and other types of resource articles in the future.

Tip Jar and Note on the Author

Jack O’Neill is an independent writer and technology consultant that resides in Colorado USA.  He hopes you find this article helpful and you learn things that enable you to be happier and more productive with your computer.  If you do indeed benefit from information Jack has provided and want to encourage him to write more, then drop a $1.00 in the tip jar via PayPal as a thank you and an encouragement for more!

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