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Speed up boot and shutdown times in Windows XP

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Here are some great ways to improve your PC's startup and shutdown times.

Perform a Boot Defragment

There’s a simple way to speed up XP startup: make your system do a boot defragment, which will put all the boot files next to one another on your hard disk. When boot files are in close proximity to one another, your system will start faster.

On most systems, boot defragment should be enabled by default, but it might not be on yours, or it might have been changed inadvertently. To make sure that boot defragment is enabled on your system, run the registry editor and go to: HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Dfrg\BootOptimizeFunction
Edit the Enable string value to Y if it is not already set to Y. Exit the Registry and reboot. The next time you reboot, you’ll do a boot defragment.

Hack Your BIOS for Faster Startups

When you turn on your PC, it goes through a set of startup procedures in its BIOS before it gets to starting XP. So, if you speed up those initial startup procedures, you’ll make your system start faster.

You can speed up your startup procedures by changing the BIOS with the built-in setup utility. How you run this utility varies from PC to PC, but you typically get to it by pressing the Delete, F1, F2, or F10 keys during startup. You’ll come to a menu with a variety of choices. Here are the choices to make for faster system startups:

  • Quick Power On Self Test (POST) When you choose this option, your system runs an abbreviated POST rather than the normal, lengthy one.
  • Boot Up Floppy Seek Disable this option. When it’s enabled, your system spends a few extra seconds looking for your floppy drive—a relatively pointless procedure, especially considering how infrequently you use your floppy drive.
  • Boot Delay Some systems let you delay booting after you turn on your PC so that your hard drive gets a chance to start spinning before bootup. Most likely, you don’t need to have this boot delay, so turn it off. If you run into problems, however, you can turn it back on.

Speed Up Shutdown Times

It’s not only startup times that you’d like to speed up; you can also make sure that your system shuts down faster. If shutting down XP takes what seems to be an inordinate amount of time, here are a couple of steps you can take to speed up the shutdown process:

  • Don’t have XP clear your paging file at shutdown. For security reasons, you can have XP clear your paging file (pagefile.sys) of its contents whenever you shut down. Your paging file is used to store temporary files and data, but when your system shuts down, information stays in the file. Some people prefer to have the paging file cleared at shutdown because sensitive information, such as unencrypted passwords, sometimes ends up in the file. However, clearing the paging file can slow shutdown times significantly, so if extreme security isn’t a high priority, you might not want to clear it. To shut down XP without clearing your paging file, run the Registry Editor and go to: HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\Session Manager\Memory Management
    Change the value of ClearPageFileAtShutdown to 0. Close the Registry and restart your computer. Whenever you turn off XP from now on, the paging file won’t be cleared, and you should be able to shut down more quickly.
  • Turn off unnecessary services. ervices take time to shut down, so the fewer you run, the faster you can shut down. See the “Unnecessary Windows XP Services” page.

This material has been adapted from Windows XP Hacks, 2nd Edition by Preston Gralla, published by O'Reilly Media, Inc. Copyright O'Reilly Media, Inc., 2005.


Protect your Wi-Fi network

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Many more households are using high speed internet connections and sharing that connection. One of the ways of easily sharing that connection is with a wireless router. By setting up a wireless network, other PC's in your house are able to share the internet connection as well as files and printers. Unfortunately, most consumer wireless routers come pre-set for easy set-up, not for security. Here are some tips to help secure your wireless network and keep prying eyes out of your files and internet connection. All routers are different, so you may need to refer to the documentation for your specific router.

  1. Many routers set the default name of the wireless network to something general such as "linksys" or "nethome". Change the name to something not easily guessed.
  2. Turn off "SSID Broadcast". This broadcasting sends out the name of your wireless network to any device within range. Its harder for someone to connect to your network if they can't see it.
  3. Enable a password on your wireless network. Depending on your router type, this could be called WEP, WPA, or other encryption type. Turning this on forces any device trying to connect to enter the password. This means you will have to enter it on each one of your PC's that connect to the wireless router. One side effect to this is that it may slow down your internet connection. For most, this trade-off is worth the extra security.
  4. Enable MAC filtering. Every Wired or Wireless Network adapter has a MAC address(similar to a serial number). You can input these MAC addresses into your router. This will allow only those devices with matching MAC addresses to connect to your network.

Worried about your hard drive crashing? Backup your files online FREE!

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I'm sure everyone reading this article has had their computer crash at least once. Maybe you were able to get your important files, maybe you weren't. There is no excuse for losing your files anymore. Now there are services available where you can automatically back your files up online. Your files will be safe and secure and ready for you to access at any time. Mozy is one such service. They offer a service with 2 GB of space for FREE. They also offer an unlimited storage space plan for only $4.95/month. The MozyHome program currently supports Windows 2000, XP (32 and 64 bit), and Vista (32 and 64 bit), as well as Mac OS X 10.4 and higher. For Windows or Mac Server OS's you will need to upgrade to MozyPro. You can find more information about MozyPro here.

Now I will step you through setting up a free online storage account using Mozy Home.


Laptop Review - Gateway MD2614U

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I was recently asked by a family member for a suggestion on a laptop. They were looking for a laptop for web browsing, email, and light gaming. After some searching, I found this laptop on one of the hardware sites I frequent (TigerDirect). It is the Gateway MD2614U Refurbished Notebook PC .

Here are its basic specs:

  • AMD Turion X2 RM-72 @2.1GHz (dual-core)
  • 3GB DDR2 RAM
  • 250GB Hard Drive
  • ATI Radeon HD 3200 Graphics (256mb dedicated RAM)
  • 15.6” LCD
  • Vista Home Premium 64-bit

Who needs a new monitor at a great price?

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Acer x223Wbd 22-Update- Tiger is running this special again over the weekend, so hurry and pick one up while supplies last!

I couldn't pass up a chance to recommend this monitor to everyone. This is a 22 inch wide screen beauty from Acer. I have this monitor as my second screen and it rocks. If you have been working with a smaller screen, you will be in awe the first time you hook it up. Twenty-two diagonal inches of real estate does not come at a better price than this. You can get it now for $139, I paid almost $50 more for it several months ago. The screen is bright and clear at 1680 x 1050 resolution. I actually had to turn the brightness down a little to match my primary LG monitor.

You can check out this monitor and it's several hundred positive reviews at TigerDirect here.


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