Podcomplex PC Guide | Resources

introduction Utilities and Links

There are many software tools and utilities out there that claim to improve performance under Windows XP - here are a few that are genuinely useful. These can be used to perform some of the tweaks outlined in the Performance and Usability Tweaks section. Particularly when it comes to editing the registry, it may be a better idea to let a good utility do this for you, rather than editing entries manually.

TweakUI 1. TweakUI

A very useful utility designed by Microsoft, this can be used to customize the Windows XP user interface. Once it has been installed, you can disable balloon tips, disable autoplay, change thumbnail quality settings and much more - all in a simple menu which can be accessed via Control Panel.

TweakUI is one of the Microsoft PowerToys - you should also check out the others to see if they might be of use to you.

Download TweakUI for free here.

Autoruns 2. Autoruns

This is a startup management utility - it controls what programs or processes are run automatically when Windows loads. However, it is extremely detailed, and you should only disable items which you are certain are unnecessary for your system.

For added safety, you should tick the 'Hide Microsoft Entries' box in the 'Options' menu.

Download Autoruns for free here.

CCleaner 3. CCleaner

CCleaner is a free tool for cleaning out unnecessary files from your machine, such as temporary files, Most Recently Used (MRU) lists, browser cache files, and log files. The tool can analyze your PC and return a list of candidates for deletion - you can customize the options to suit your own needs.

Again, make sure you have gone through all the settings to make sure you're not deleting anything that may be useful to you. Also, I recommend that you avoid altering or deleting your Windows prefetch files (with this or any other utility) as the default condition of this folder is usually optimal.

Download CCleaner for free here.

Ad-Aware SE 4. Ad-Aware SE

This program removes a variety of common spyware infections - just let it scan your system and delete any items it finds. Some particularly stubborn spyware may need to be removed in Safe Mode - just hit F8 when Windows is booting up and select 'Safe Mode' from the menu. In Windows Safe Mode, run Ad-Aware again and it may uncover a few more nasties.

Download Ad-Aware for free here.

Spybot Search and Destroy 5. Spybot Search and Destroy

Spybot is another tool for spyware removal - just scan and delete. It also features a useful 'Immunise' feature which blocks spyware from installing itself in the future.

Download Spybot for free here.

PC Inspector 6. PC Inspector File Recovery

This is a useful file recovery program that may be of use if you have accidentally deleted some data that you shouldn't have. It may also be able to recover some files from a corrupted hard drive - however, as with all data recovery operations, nothing is guaranteed. As soon as you discover you have lost data that needs to be recovered, do not open any other programs, or perform any other tasks - execute your recovery program immediately.

Download PC Inspector for free here.

RegCleaner 7. RegCleaner Registry Optimiser

RegCleaner can be used to remove any old or obsolete entries from your registry. This is a safer way of modifying your registry than using the built-in Windows editor (which can be accessed by typing 'regedit' in the 'Start>Run' box). It also creates a backup of your registry to which you can revert in the event of a problem.

Download RegCleaner for free here.

Bootvis 8. Bootvis Boot-Up Optimiser

Once you have your system set up as you like it, you can use this Microsoft utility to optimize your Windows boot sequence. This program is no longer supported by Microsoft, and requires SP2 to be installed for it to work properly on a hyper-threading Pentium 4 machine. However, it can be used to minimize boot-up time for Windows XP once you have all your other tweaks completed and all your programs installed.

Download Bootvis for free here.