Windows XP extended

XP users take note: there is life in the old dog yet. You have heard about the next version of Windows – codenamed Longhorn – but there is no reason to wait for it before getting a faster, cleaner and more secure operating system.

Windows XP extended

The next ten pages bring you the most comprehensive guide to XP since the operating system was first released. We show you how to fix it, tune it and defend it. But this is more than just an annual service or selection of the best tips and tricks.

By following even some of the simple steps we have detailed, you will get an operating system that’s in better shape than when you first bought it.

And let’s face it, with the added pressure of spyware, viruses, and the numerous applications you have installed on your system, this is not simply a nice little project to keep your operating system ticking over – it is an absolute necessity.

About 250 million people use XP, and each have different needs. Business users are concerned about stability and security, but others are looking for raw performance or an interface that’s personalised for them. While XP Pro and XP Home separate the needs of multitasking power users and less demanding home users, they are still based on the same GUI and core components. Making Windows match your needs is an art.

The sheer size of this feature shows you the extent to which you can improve XP, as we bring together all the inside knowledge experts have learned since it was released in 2001.

You will find that the format allows you to dip in and out and pinpoint the key areas that are important to you. So, read on to find out how you can extend the life of your copy of Windows XP with the most up-to-date guide to achieving the ultimate operating system.

Important Notes

1. Most of the tweaks and tips we will describe work in XP Professional or XP Home, but where they are affected by differences between the two strains of XP, we will make this clear.

2. A lot of the cleaning and maintenance will also need administrator access. If you are using a system with multiple accounts, ensure you are logged in with an account that has administrator privileges before we go any further.

3. Lastly, a word of warning: tweaks and fixes can occasionally go wrong, so back up your system and set a System Restore point right now. Provided you have not switched System Restore off, Windows will do this itself on a regular basis, but to do it manually, go to Start | All Programs | Accessories | System Tools | System Restore and follow the onscreen prompts.

Fix it

Windows 95 and Windows 98 had several bad habits, but the worst was a tendency to spiral out of control. As applications were installed and uninstalled, hardware was changed and the PC was used intensively, the operating system slipped progressively into a degenerate state, getting slower and more prone to collapse with every passing day.

Luckily, Windows NT 4 and Windows 2000 were much more robust, and – being built on the same core technology – so is Windows XP.

However, it needs a helping hand. Many applications, including some of Microsoft’s own, can leave stray components on the system or add irrelevant applets and services to your boot sequence. Your system may seem slower than usual, simple tasks may take longer than they should, and your hard disk seems to be working overtime. Of course, there can be a less innocent explanation: even the most expert users can fall foul of malware.

See next page for stopping spyware

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