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Windows 2k/XP Tweaks

General Windows 2000/2003 Server/XP Tweaks and tips.
2004-04-27 (updated: 2009-11-06) by
Tags: , ,

This article provides some general tweaking information relevant to Windows XP, Windows 2000 and Windows 2003 Server. If you're looking for broadband-specific information, please visit the broadband section of the site.


Turn off Indexing Service

Indexing Service creates indexes of the contents and properties of all files on local and network drives in order to increase file searching speed. It's quite similar to "Find Fast" that ships with Microsoft Office. Indexing Service runs continuously and can slow down your PC's general performance because it has to index files continuously. If you don't need slightly faster file searches, the feature can be safely turned off. Note: Indexing Service is turned on by default for all NTFS partitions.

Turning this service off to increase overall performance: Open My Computer -> right-click on a Drive icon -> Select Properties -> Remove the checkmark from "Allow Indexing Service to index this disk for fast file searching" -> Click Apply. Make sure to select "Apply changes to :\, subfolders and files."  before clicking OK in the new window.

Alternatively, you can navigate to: Control Panel -> Administrative Tools -> Services -> Disable Indexing Services.


Disable Paging Of Core Files

You can improve Core System Performance in Windows NT/2k/2k3 on systems with large amount of RAM, by forcing the core Windows system files to be kept in memory and not paged to disk.

To appply this tweak, open the Registry and edit the value in the key below.

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\Session Manager\Memory Management

To enable: DisablePagingExecutive=dword:00000001   (Data Type: REG_DWORD, set to 1 to enable tweak and stop core processes from being paged to disk)
To disable: DisablePagingExecutive=dword:00000000   (Data Type: REG_DWORD, set to 0 to disable tweak, this is the Windows default setting)

Note: In Windows 2000, there is a bug with enabling this tweak, you might need to update to the latest Service Pack, or install the hotfix described by MS here: MS KB Article 32605


Disable unnecessary Services

Services are programs that start with Windows and continuously run in the background, helping the OS with different functionality. Not all services that load by default are needed, you can disable some to free some resources and speed up your system in general. You should go through the list and read the descriptions to decide which services you need depending on what you use your computer for...  You can always turn the service back on if and when you find need for it. Here is the procedure to turn off a service:

1.  Navigate to: Start -> Programs -> Administrative Tools -> Services.
Alternatively, you can do START -> Run ->  and type services.msc

2. Left-click on a service and read its' description carefully. Turning off services disables some particular functionality of the OS, so make sure you want to turn the particular service off.

3. To disable, Right-click -> Properties -> Change the "Startup Type" to "Manual" and Stop the service. Next time you reboot that particular service won't start.

Some Sample Services that can safely be turned off in most Home PCs:

Automatic Updates
Computer Browser
Error Reporting Service
Help and Support
Indexing Service
Messenger (pop-up spam vulnerability)
NetMeeting Remote Desktop Sharing
Performance Logs and Alerts
Protected storage (stores passwords and enables ato-complete)
Remote Registry (remote access to your registry)
Routing and Remote Access (enables dial-in routing to your computer)
Secondary Logon
Task Scheduler

To disable services, just stop them, and set them to "Manual". Check the Event Log for errors after rebooting.
For additional information on all services, and what they do, check:


Temporary Administrative Permissions

Many programs require administrative rights to be able to install. Here is an easy way to temporarily assign yourself Administrative permissions while you remain logged in as a normal user:

1. Hold down the Shift key (might not be necessary on Win2k3) and right-click on the program, or the setup file.
2. Click "Run as"
3. Type in a username and password that have Administrative permissions.

Note: This will also work for applications in the Start menu.


Optimize the Pagefile

If you have more than one hard drive, it is a good idea to put your pagefile on the non-windows drives. Also, it is not a bad idea to set the pagefile to a constant size (1 to 2 times the available RAM), so it wont get fragmented.

Right-click on My Computer -> select Properties -> the Advanced tab -> Performance, Settings button ->  Advanced tab, Virtual memory, Change button -> choose the drives and size available for pagefile(s).

I usually use a non-windows drive, and same Initial/Maximum size to avoid fragmentation of the pagefile. Another method to avoid fragmentation is to clear the pagefile on shutdown, by changing the following Registry setting:

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\Session Manager\Memory Management\
  (1 clears the pagefile at shutdown, 0 is the Windows default).

Related Resources:
MSKB 314834 (Windows XP)
MSKB 182086 (Windows 2000)


Fix Windows Explorer Slowdowns

Sometimes Windows Explorer can slow down to a crawl, here are a couple of tips to reclaim your resources:

1. Possible WIA and USB device issues, here is the solution:;en-us;819017

2. Media files causing slowdowns, such as large number, and/or corrupt AVI files. Any Explorer operaion can lead to very high CPU usage and a seeming lockup of your computer. To resolve the issue:
Start > Run > type: Regedit
Navigate to:
And delete this key:
Then unload the dynamic library with the following:
Start > Run > type: regsvr32 /u shmedia.dll

If you're running XP, you might also want to check this:;en-us;822430

3. Reduce Shell Overhead:;en-us;819101

4. Apply the LAN browsing tweak if you're on a network (and not using Netware):
Start > Run > type: Regedit
Navigate to:
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Microsoft\Windows\Current Version\Explorer\RemoteComputer\NameSpace
Delete this key:


Improve NTFS Performance

You can improve NTFS performance by stopping it from generating timestamps every time directories are accessed, and if you're feeling a bit more adventurous, by preventing NTFS from generating MS-DOS compatible filenames for all files with long filenames. Here are the two registry keys that you can modify:


Note: Applying the second line above (disabling truncated filename creation) might cause problems with some 16-bit applications. To resolve this, simply set the number back to "0"


Unload DLLs of Closed Applications

Windows does not always unload DLLS (Dynamic Link Libraries) used by programs from memory, even after the applications are closed. This default behavior causes more memory to be reserved for unused DLLs over time.  This tweak sets Windows to automatically unload DLLs for closed applications from RAM, which speeds up GUI operation by freeing unused memory and returning it to the system.

To fix this and unload unnecessary DLLs, navigate to:
and set the "Default" string to "1"

If the "AlwaysUnloadDLL" subkey does not exist, create it. To reverse the change, simply delete "AllwaysUnloadDLL". Alternatively, you can use the following registry files to apply/undo this tweak:

Note: This tweak also works with Windows 9x. It is possible that unloading DLLs might cause some issues with some old 16-bit applications.



  User Reviews/Comments:
by LASERCHAKRABORT - 2005-12-31 01:14
I have applied the unload dll tweak to my Windows XP system. Let us see how much useful is it going to be.
Thanks for your valuable and useful tweaks and I am looking forward for such tweaks in future too.

Wishing team a very very Happy New Year 2006.
Enjoy and Have a gr8 time ahead.

Cheers Cheers Cheers
by Philip - 2006-01-04 18:14
Thanks for the good words, Happy New Year to you as well.

by anonymous - 2006-02-14 07:47
I have followed the instructions lets see whether it makes a difference.

by anonymous - 2006-02-22 06:50
Maybe you can actually post the results, wouldn't that be something ..
by Terminator_484 - 2006-04-19 20:08
Excuse my programming illiteracy, but on the last one, it says the following:

If the "AlwaysUnloadDLL" subkey does not exist, create it.

How? I do not even know what a subkey is, so please explain it in plain and simple english.

by Philip - 2006-04-22 10:50
Terminator_484... If you're not sure how to create subkeys or deal with the registry, note you can simply click and run the "sg_unload_dll.reg" file to apply the tweak... And to undo it, you can click and run the "undo_sg_unload_dll.reg".
by anonymous - 2006-05-04 07:43
Re: Media file slowdowns
Can this tweak be applied to windows 2k as well? Cant locate the reg key in 2k.
by anonymous - 2006-07-19 08:07
Tip. Your browser may have plugins that open the reg file as a text document. If tjhat's the case, just right click and download the file to your desktop and run it from there, or preferrably in your reg backup folder.
by Larry Miller - 2008-05-13 01:08
The article "Unload DLLs of Closed Applications" is incorrect.

Windows normal behavior of not immediately unloading DLL's is not a mistake but a carefully designed feature. And it is not only DLL's that are cached but program code as well. Caching has had a long and distinguished history in computer systems and it is highly developed in XP. Windows will always attempt to find some use for as much memory as possible. Free memory is the absolute ultimate in wasted memory.

Windows has a complex and efficient system for reclaiming the memory used by caching when it is needed. Until that time comes there is no need to do so. Reloading unloaded DLL's will impair performance.

Windows designers know more about memory management than you do. Let Windows function as intended.

The setting in question was provided for the use of software developers, not as a means of improving performance.

Larry Miller
Microsoft MCSA
CompTIA Network+, A+
by Ollieno - 2008-06-02 07:40
Hi larry,

I totally disagree.
Tweaking Windows is not only for devs.

Windows was made to work on any computer, with any material, BUT that doesnt mean you cant improve performance as anyone does on 'Nux.

Tweaking Windows doesnt impair performance (only 2 3 known tweaks that dont work well with BDD)

All my computers , all the ones that I administer (3000 +) have many of those tweaks and some more.

all that works fine


Olivier Nolin
by anonymous - 2009-01-24 07:08
Yes. I see your point, larry. But, If I don't open the program again, it's .dll will be sitting in my memory for no reason or occupying swap file space. This is yet another reason why windows steadily eats more ram as it runs.
by anonymous - 2009-03-03 15:01
Good tip - freeing DLLs.

I also disagree with Larry Miller - for another reason. What right does he have to say "Windows designers know more about memory management than you do."? First of all, does he really know you? If not, how can he determine this.

I have seen MANY errors made by Microsoft people that were eventually resolved by non-Microsoft people. Microsoft people are not gods. Otherwise, there would be no need for Linux.
by lluthor - 2009-11-09 18:28
Re:Media file slowdowns

The tweak in the above article only works on XP.

But here's my Window 2000 Tweak for Media file slowdowns:

In Windows Explorer select Tools -> Folder Options.
Under the "General" Tab, in "Web View" category, select to "Use Windows Classic folders".
Next, select "View" Tab, and uncheck/disable "Show pop-up description for folder and desktop items"

Of course with this disabled you don't see pop-up descriptions on desktop items or any other folder items (such as pdf, rar, zip, chm, txt files or any other types of file)

When the pop-up description is enabled, I guess Windows is trying to read the file for some info to display in the pop-up description. For large avi files (700+ mb) it must be reading the large avi file for some info that seems to consume 100% cpu for a short time.

In short, just disable the pop-up descriptions.
by anonymous - 2010-01-16 09:47
Slow problem is a common event for Windows user.

"No matter how fast or shiny computers might be when they're new, they all seem to get slower over time." Microsoft claimed that on their technical forum(Windows 7 forum).

In fact, Windows built-in a lot of services and startup item start with system. So if you want a faster computer, you need to disable some of them first.
by godlev - 2010-03-03 15:18
i dont know about you guys but now my windows reacts way much FASTER!!!!

i suggest you make all the steps if you want my computer to show immediatly...
by Hedi Regaya - 2010-09-04 23:58
As a Mac OS X user, I often got scared when I launch my Winbox so much I'm used to the reliability of the Finder.
Too many services are starting with Win and the more programs you install, the heavier it gets.
Thanks for these valuable tricks, especially the "unnecessary services" part.
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