Chapter 11. System Speedups

Okay, maybe Tom Cruise wasn’t talking about his computer in Top Gun when he uttered his famous line—“I feel the need, the need for speed”—but he might as well have been. The truth is, no matter how fast your system is, it never seems fast enough. Between the time you spend waiting for programs to launch and the processor-slowing effects of that spam and virus-fighting arsenal you’re running in the background, you can feel more like a computing pioneer than a 21st-century trailblazer. The good news is that Windows XP can help speed things up.

This chapter explains various ways to customize Windows XP to help prevent your PC from slowing you down. By managing your PC’s memory better, using the Task Manager to find bottlenecks, and mastering a few keyboard shortcuts—to name just a few of the hints you’ll find below—you can really boost your computer’s performance.


Speeding up your computer is one way to happiness; speeding up yourself is another. The Appendix offers charts with three different kinds of useful keyboard shortcuts that can help you improve your own performance.

Managing Your Memory

This section gives you some tips to optimize your system’s memory and a little-known trick that can help you decide when it’s time to fork over some money to add more juice.


To find out how much memory, also known as Random Access Memory (or RAM), your computer has, right-click My Computer and choose Properties General. A Windows XP system needs at least 256 ...

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