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Guide to Windows XP
I did not write this, I am merely reposting.
A Installing/Reinstalling Windows XP (the "correct way")
A.1 Windows XP's System Requirements
Minimum required specifications
CPU: Intel Pentium 2 processor running at 450Mhz or equivalent
Video: Any VGA display that supports 16-bit color
HDD: A hard drive with at least 4GB of space
Others: CD drive with at least a 4X speed
CPU: Intel Pentium 3 processor running at 800Mhz or equivilent.
Video: 16MB RAM videocard that supports 32-bit color
1. Windows XP Serivce Pack 2, you can get it at http://www.fileplanet.com/144129/140000/fileinfo/Windows-XP-Service-Pack-2 (free registration required). Unless your XP CD comes with it, download XP SP2.
2. Find the necassary drivers for your PC. If you have CD's that came with hardware, use those and update later. If you don't, search the web for drivers (more on where to find them later).
3. Burn both Windows XP SP2 and the drivers onto a CD.
4. After you have everything, unplug the internet connection from your PC.
A.3 Installing Windows XP:
1. Turn on the PC and insert the Windows XP CD. Reset after the CD is inserted.
2. After the POST, it'll tell you to press any key to boot the CD.
3. If you need to install any RAID drivers, press F6. If you don't have any RAID drivers to install, don't press anything. If you don't know what a RAID is, don't press anything.
4. After it loads up, press Enter, and press F8 to agree to MS's licensing statement.
5. Select the drive you want to install Windows XP. This is the only time you can partition a harddrive. To partition a hard drive, follow the instructions on screen. Partitioning hard drives creates logical drives, which act as seperate hard drives. I would recommend this as it would be easier to keep track of specific files (such as the Windows OS on one partition, programs on another, games, etc). If you don't wish to partition, simply press "Enter".
6. Once Windows XP begins to install, it'll load some preliminary files and then reboot, it'll install afterwards.
7. Let it install until you are asked to install language settings. If you want to install support for foreign language programs or read foreign language text, it's a good time to do so now, but you can do this any time you want. Afterwards, you'll be asked to enter the CD Key.
8. After the CD Key is entered, wait until Windows XP boots up and you get into the interface, this can take anywhere from 20 to 40 minutes.
9. Install Windows XP SP2 unless the installation disk has installed SP2. If you burnt it onto a CD, load the CD. If you have to update it through Windows Updater, plug the internet back in and download it. Once it's downloaded, unplug the internet and then install it.
10. Install the following in order: Chipset drivers, Videocard Drivers, DirectX 9.0c, Network drivers, and anything else. Reboot everytime it tells you to.
11. After being insured you're behind a firewall, and if possible antivirus protection, you can plug in your internet.
12. Update Windows. Afterwards, install everything else you want.
13. Defragment your hard drive. To find the defragger, click on Start -> All Programs -> Accessories -> System Tools -> Disk Defragmentor. Select the drive where you installed Windows XP and click on the "Defrag" button.
Repairing Windows XP
The difference between installing and repairing is that when you repair, all of Windows XP's files will be restored to their original state, regardless of what has happened to them. This is what I dub the ultimate "System Restore", but it doesn't act like it because unlike System Restore or installing, none of your previous data will be deleted (this goes for any Spyware/Viruses that caused your system to crash, so repairing doesn't take care of them). The process is similar:
1. Insert the Windows XP CD and reboot.
2. After the POST, it'll tell you to press any key to boot the CD.
3. Once again, if you need to install any RAID drivers, you can do so.
4. After loading up, press Enter, and press F8.
5. The setup should display a directory where Windows XP is. Press "R" to repair it.
6. Windows XP will repair as if it was installing, but don't worry, nothing will happen to your files.
7. Follow the install process as mentioned above in "Installing Windows XP".
B. Taking care of Windows XP
Like most other things, it's much easier to take care of something than it is to repair it. But unlike most things, the joy of software is that if it screws up, and you have the installation files, you can always resort to resintalling it. With Windows XP however, reinstalling isn't really an option thanks to Microsoft's Antipiracy measures, but you can do it a few times. Not only that, reinstalling means your entire hard drive gets erased.
But as always, it's good to practice good habits when using Windows XP, so you don't have to resort to reinstalling.
B.1. Malware and internet security
Refer to this topic (http://www.serebiiforums.com/showthread.php?t=104542) for help with malware and internet security.
B.2 Boost Windows XP Performance
This is a collective of short-term performance boosting and long term performance boosting. Short-term performance boosting is more or less considered maintenance, long term performance boosting is tweaking with the options of Windows XP.
Short term boosters
1. Check for adware/spyware often
Normally if you're a safe internet user, this isn't a problem. But it's good to check for these two every so often in case you somehow catch these evils.
2. Run Disk Cleanup
To run "Disk Cleanup", open up "My Computer" and right click on any hard drive. Open up it's properties and click on the button labeled "Disk Cleanup". This will safely remove all unneeded files that have accumulated and stayed during whenever until the check.
3. Manually delete files
Clear out any files you don't need. Any files that are redundant. Whatever. Just make sure you know what you're deleting before deleting it. Also delete everything in C:\Documents and Settings\(Username)\Local Settings\Temp. Don't delete the folder, delete the contents. You may have to enable "Show hidden files and folders" to see it. To do so, go to Tools -> Options in the explorer.
4. Clean your registry once in a while
Get RegCleaner (http://www.worldstart.com/weekly-download/archives/reg-cleaner4.3.htm). It's an excellent registry cleaning tool. Not only will it clear out obselete registries, but it will also let you remove those already there, remove items from the Add/Remove Programs list, and control what gets started up when Windows Boots up.
5. Close unnecassary programs
A no-brainer, but if you're not using a program, close it.
6. Defrag the harddrive
Click on Start -> All Programs -> Accessories -> System -> Disk Defragmentor. Defrag the C:/. While defragging, don't do anything else on the PC or it'll restart defragging again. Defragging time is directly based upon drive size, so expect about hours worth of defragging on 100GB drives.
7. Reboot the PC
If your PC has been on for a week straight and it's slowing down no matter what you do, it means you need to reboot.
Long term boosters
1. Disable all Windows XP visual effects
To do so, right click on "My Computer" and then go to Properties. Go the "Advanced" tab and click on the "Settings" button on the "Performance" box. On the first tab, "Visual Effects", select the option "Adjust for best performance" and click on Apply then OK.
2. Disable the sound theme on Windows
In the Control Panel, go to Sound and Audio Devices Properties and on the Sounds tab, change the sound scheme to "No sound".
3. Remove your wallpaper and icons from the desktop
Right click on any empty desktop space and click on Properties. On the Desktop tab, background should be on "none" and to get rid of the system icons, click on "Customize Desktop..." and uncheck all of them. This will leave you with the Recycle Bin and any other shortcuts. Delete the shortcuts and move files to their right spots.
4. Do not install unecessary programs
Only install what you know you'll use often now and in the future. If you're not going to use it for a while, uninstall it. CD and DVD's last a while as long as you keep them in good storage. Ask yourself when installing applications "Is it necessary?"
5. Keep ample amounts of space on your system hard drive (C
The more space your system drive has, the less your hard drive has to seek around in it.
6. Disable all automatic loads when Windows starts.
Many IM programs have this option on by default. Whenever Windows boots up, it loads these programs first. Also whatever is in the "Startup" folder in the "All Programs" menu will start up automatically as well. Disable this option. However, don't disable your anti-virus software from starting up automatically. Also, disable automatic updates, or at least tell it to notify you when there are updates.
7. Minimize your hardware profile
In the properties of "My Computer", click on the Hardware tab and "Device Manager". Disable (NOT uninstall) any hardware you're not using, the first two you should go for is the COM and LPT ports. The more that's disabled, the less Windows has to detect any hardware while it's loading.
8. Tweak with MSConfig
In the Start menu, click on "Run Program" and type "msconfig" (without quotes), then hit OK. If you want to shave off some seconds while booting, click on the "BOOT.INI" tab and click on box next to /NOGUIBOOT. Also go to the "Startup" tab and uncheck any programs you don't want starting up automatically. You'll be prompted to restart, so do so. When Windows is back, click on the box of the pop-up notice (don't worry, that's normal) and click OK.
9. BIOS tweaks
When you boot up your PC and it's doing the hardware tests, press Delete, F2 or F6. When the BIOS is open, disable any hardware channels (IDE or SATA) that you're not using. The POST (Power On Self-Test) will skip these channels. Also find the option "Floppy Drive Seek" and set it to "Disabled". Concerning boot order, the hard drive (or hard disk) should be first.
10. Disable Windows Services
This is an execellent guide to tell you which services for Windows XP are essential, which are not but might be needed, and which you can disable altogether. Regarding third party services, make sure you know what they do.
11. Uninstall and install drivers properly
Download Driver Cleaner (http://www.drivercleaner.net/).
Normally only videocard drivers need to be updated, if so then don't update them as soon as you get the updater. First go to Start -> Control Panel -> Add/Remove Programs and then uninstall the driver (for instance, nVidia's is nVidia Display Driver). After uninstalling and rebooting, run Driver Cleaner, read the instructions, and clean the drivers based on the company. After cleanup, update and reboot.
C. Troubleshooting Windows XP
Sometimes Windows XP can go wrong. What to do when it happens.
C.1 Hardware Issues
If you get a blue screen of death (BSOD) on Windows XP, it means a hardware failure most of the time. You'll get a blue screen with an error message and some code. Code you can decipher with this site (http://aumha.org/win5/kbestop.htm). What causes hardware issues? The most likely case is that the improper driver is installed. In this case, reboot and hit F8 until you get to a menu. Start Windows XP in Safe Mode and either uninstall the driver or do a system restore. You're given the option when you enter Safe Mode to do system restore by clicking "No" on the popup notice. If you want to do it manually, go to Start -> All Programs -> Accessories -> System -> System Restore. All you have to do is click Next and some time earlier than before you installed the driver.
C.2 Windows XP issues
The best site in the world to get Windows XP help (http://support.microsoft.com/winxp). I don't need to say more. Of course this only deals with Windows XP issues and things that revolve around XP, not third-party programs. If you have an issue with a third party program, you might want to check their site for support.
C.3 Repair or Reinstall?
When all else fails, you might have to just reinstall Windows. However, with your Windows XP disk, first you should use it to repair Windows XP (as in a repair install). This will fix any system files affected by the problem. You should only reinstall when the problem is persistant.
C.4 What does System Restore do?
System Restore is one of Microsoft's better tools to deal with Windows related errors. Basically this saves the exact settings of your programs and backs up any critical files as a restore point. When things get dicey and screwy, you can tell System Restore to reload everything from this restore point. The process takes about 5-20 minutes depending on the difference of dates between the restore point and when you use System Restore. DO NOT DO ANYTHING WHILE THE PC IS RESTORING.
Any documents or images that you have produced after the restore point will not be affected. Any games or programs you installed after the restore point will be erased. Note that restoring only recovers system files and configurations that changed, and in a case for malware, will not delete it.
C.5 Performance issues
Is your PC running slower than it should? It could be a number of problems.
1. Accumulation of spyware/adware. These programs suck up RAM like no tomorrow. Having enough RAM is key for efficient performance. But this doesn't simply mean having more RAM (as in having 1024MB instead of 512MB), it means having enough free RAM.
2. Multitasking way too much. At most I would recommend at most 10 different windows at any given time. I don't like to multitask, even though I could probably litterally have 30 different programs up and not have the computer break a sweat. It's just not a good habit.
3. Low system resources. Windows has a specific amount of system resources that programs use. When these programs close, supposedly it gives those resources back. But not all of it. Extended PC use may lead to low system resources, or if you just have too many programs up.
4. Heating. The hotter the hardware gets, the less efficient it becomes. Make sure your hardware is cooled sufficiently.
5. One program being intensive. If you're encoding a video or playing a very high end game, chances are it'll take most of the CPU and RAM power.