1. Defrag Your Hard Drive Regularly – Never, Ever Defrag Your SSD
Whenever you use your computer, the files on your hard drive will get increasingly fragmented. To put it simply fragmentation means that data will be scattered in different places on the hard drive’s rotating platter, and it will take an increasing amount of time for the spindle to retrieve data from it. Some computers go for months or years without defragmenting, and eventually they slow to a crawl. Prevent this from happening by defragging once a week or so. Access Windows’ built-in defragmenter by right-clicking the drive in Explorer, choosing Properties and then the Tools tab. Important: If you have a netbook with an SSD
(Solid State Drive), don’t defrag, ever. Defragging serves no purpose on SSDs and will just shorten its lifespan.
2. Use CCleaner
CCleaner is a very useful free app. It removes temporary files from the system (including several third-party apps and browsers), cleans up the registry and leaves you with an overall healthier and slightly faster computer.
3. Swap the Hard Drive for a Faster One or SSD
A really fast, premium SSD
comes with a price tag that defeats the whole purpose with a netbook – at least the being cheap part. But there are also good, custom-made SSDs specifically designed for netbooks. These are not as fast, but still faster than most hard drives and considerably cheaper. If you need more storage space, you could also consider a hard drive with the faster 7,200rpm rotational speed. Larger varieties of 5,400rpm drives are also quite fast. And of course roomier.
4. Add RAM
Upgrading the amount of memory in your netbook is a simple way of boosting performance. It’s unfortunately not free, but more RAM is still a comparatively cheap way of making your computer faster. Mainstream laptops usually ship with 4GB nowadays, so the one lonely gig included with netbooks isn’t much to write home about. A decent amount of RAM is especially helpful when multitasking, i.e., running several apps at once.
5. Disable Startup Bloat
There’s a good chance that your brand new netbook came with lots of preinstalled apps that you never use. Moreover, some of those apps may be starting themselves in the background every time you switch it on. The usual suspects include iTunes and Adobe Acrobat, but there are plenty of others. When these programs run in the background they consume small amounts of both memory and processing power and with enough of these parasites in your system it will slow down. Thankfully it’s easy to prevent them from starting:
Select the Run command from the start menu
Type “msconfig” and press enter (no quotes)
Select the Startup tab to browse all of the items that run at launch
There are probably lots of apps here that you never even knew existed on your system, and much less started every time you turned on your computer! The rule of thumb here is to use common sense and remove everything that doesn’t feel necessary to keep active at all times. If you accidentally turn off something useful, just go back and undo.
6. Disable Useless Windows Services
A service is a system process that runs in the background or activates when needed. Some services are critical to keep Windows stable and secure and should not be disabled. However, many other services are activated by default whether you need them or not. Some of these services can be safely disabled or set to manual. Assessing which ones you don’t need depends a lot on how you use your computer. There are much more detailed guides on disabling Windows services elsewhere on the web, and it’s definitely worth the effort to spend a little quality time with one.
Access Administrative Tools–>Services through the start menu, or Run the services.msc command to see and modify services.
7. Disable Search Indexing
This particular service is so detrimental to your computers performance that it gets its own bullet point. If you absolutely need instant search results when searching your hard drive, then by all means keep this major resource hog and battery eater enabled. Personally I’ll gladly wait a few seconds for my results and disable it altogether. See above how to do it.
8. Turn Off NTFS Last Access Time Stamp
NTFS is the default Windows file system, and by default it updates one “Last Access Time Stamp” when it accesses a directory on the hard drive. With many directories this may have a negative effect on performance – besides you only need it if you make remote backups. Disable the feature using the command prompt (in the Start Menu –> Accessories –> Command Prompt). Enter “fsutil behavior set disablelastaccess 1″ (again, no quotes) and restart your computer.
9. Disable Some Eye Candy
Not that there’s lots of eye candies in XP anyway, but if you want to give it a slight speed bump at the cost of some moderately good-looking desktop effects, this is how you do it:
Open the Control Panel and click System followed by the advanced tab.
Go to Performance –> Settings, and on the Visual Effects tab choose Custom.
Here you can disable or enable the effects to your liking. You will likely notice that some of the options have little to no effect whatsoever, so you can save some performance by disabling them.