Windows XP configuration suggestions

General suggestions and recommendations

Note: these recommendations apply to Vista and Windows 7 as well, with the exception of some of the add-ons such as Tweak-UI and third party applications.
  1. SET TEMP Variables outside of "local settings". (see below)(recommend creating C:\TEMP and using it for TMP and TEMP)
  2. typically avoid default settings
  3. WEEKLY CLEAN Disk using Microsoft's built in tool.
  4. after running Disk Cleanup, go into your TEMP directories and try to delete any files there, delete all you can.
  5. WEEKLY Defrag hard drive using Microsoft's built in tool.
  6. do NOT save files to the desktop (shortcuts are ok, but even icons use memory).
  7. do NOT use default "My Documents", create a Directory on the hard drive and use it.
  8. keep "C:\Documents and Settings\__your_account_name_here\Local Settings" as small as possible. (win7 and up "Users\_your_account_name_here )
  9. do NOT use outlook express - recommend "Thunderbird" or other mail tools
  10. do NOT use internet explorer - recommend "Firefox" or other browsers.
  11. avoid using MSN, Yahoo, Hotmail or other tools and websites that have a long history of malware, hacks and viruses.
  12. do NOT automatically patch your system, check with your computer vendor.
  13. be very careful about downloading from sites - search (google) for info on the website looking for keywords like malware, virus, trojans, or complaints.
  14. USE the Microsoft firewall
             A FIREWALL is an absolute must.
  15. it's not a good idea to use registry cleaners - XP is no longer supported
  16. NEVER use web based system test/scan tools - never click on popups from websites. NEVER.
  17. periodically check your programs and remove unused or unnecessary programs
  18. every now and then set a RESTORE POINT for your system via Control Panel
  19. as an added precaution, open up regedit, go to the top of the tree and EXPORT the registry to a file and save it off your computer.
  20. suggest using "Tweak UI" (click and download from Microsoft now). (If it's still available...)
  21. check out Microsoft Power toys.
  22. virus s/w only works for existing viruses, not new ones... be vigilant. Avoid opening files or downloading files.
  23. be careful and aware of Social Engineering attacks from emails, attachments and websites.
  24. if you feel you clicked on something bad, or have lost control of your browser - PULL THE PLUG and the NETWORK CABLE now!
             At this point, you probably need professional help... (don't call me, find a 12 year old..... just kidding... )
             you can try safe mode... with the network cable disconnected, wireless off..
             are you comfortable with "regedit"? If not... get help. Making a mistake in regedit is serious.
             (export the registry before making any edits and also set a restore point prior to opening regedit).
             You'll look first in: * HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\
             you'll examine RUN, RUN ONCE and other entries - get familiar with what is in there now, make a screen shot and save it or print it.
             (It is likely you will not be able to access any files on the system if it is infected.)
             Make frequent backups of your documents, pictures and other files.
             see also:
  25. If all of this is overwhelming, consider Mac OSX or Linux.
  27. Microsoft never really supported any of their software, they haven't started now.
  28. If you like XP like I do, I recommend using a Mac or Linux and using Oracle's VirtualBox - Install XP there and don't network it.

suggestions for WINDOWS EXPLORER and the Start bar

use the following settings:

System Setting Recommendations

do not use default settings for temp (get the temp files out of "local settings")

in general keep your profile in "local settings" as small as possible for better performance

if you use automatic updates, only notify... check with PC maker for approved updates

do not enable remote access unless you know what you're doing

turn off the eye candy, it kills performance...

Services For UNIX

Suggest using "Services for UNIX", (if it's still) available from Microsoft(click)
  • you will have shell scripting capabilities.
  • you will have use of regular expressions.
  • you will be able to rename multiple files with scripts in Korn Shell.
  • you will have PERL at the command line.
  • you will be able to edit files easily using the vi Editor (I'm serious.).

Beware of Microsoft patches - DO NOT USE AUTOMATIC PATCH or UPDATES

now that microsoft no longer supports XP this isn't really an issue... October 2016

Microsoft patches are now affecting third party applications. In October 2009, Microsoft
released a patch that inserted an add-in to Mozilla Firefox leaving users vulnerable to
damaging infections from infected websites that normally impacted only IE lusers...
because of the .NET add-in even Firefox users were now open to the "browse and get owned" attack...
This caught Mozilla users off guard, they thought they were safe... I know of two users infected as a result of this bit of arrogance.

Therefore, RESEARCH each patch or update... does this affect applications you use? Is this necessary?
This add-on was NOT installed by this user,
but had caused an infection problem with an earlier version of FireFox...
Had to completely uninstall and purge the registry, then used the latest version, which did not work with this add-on...
I would NOT have installed something like this, would have risked using IE if this functionality was required.

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