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BASICS of PC OPTIMIZATION

Introduction to these computer speed tweaks and tips.

PC not fast enough? Downloading too slow? Need an upgrade?

You may find the answer here with:

Better performance. Faster downloading. Faster gaming.

Top 24 Speed Tweaks (1) >>
Top 24 Speed Tweaks (2) >>
If your computer has suddenly started to underperform, you should go to Cure Sudden or Progressive Computer Slowing >>


THPC SITE

All visitors are urged to read the TOP 24 section which contains
a summary of the main PC System and Windows Me / 98 / 95 speed tweaks.


The other sections contain more detailed explanations of the Top 24, plus many more Tweaks and Tips. These additional Tweaks are intended both for specific needs and for those who like to try for even greater performance.

Most Tweaks apply to WinMe, 98, 98SE, & Win95

Where there is a difference, then:
95 = Applies specifically to Windows 95.
98 = Applies specifically to Windows 98, SE, and Me.
Otherwise the Tweak applies to ALL versions.


Many of these Tweaks also apply to the office computer.
Differences, and there are some, will be obvious from the text.

The Tweaks DO NOT apply to Windows XP, 2000 or NT

OPTIMUM PERFORMANCE

Many Home users, unknowingly, run their PCs below optimum performance and may, often incorrectly, feel they need to upgrade the system. Other users are anxious to squeeze the last ounce of performance from their present system. Both groups will benefit from this Site.

Most manufacturers churn out thousands of identical PCs and are not concerned about tweaking each machine so it runs optimally. In addition, they cannot know how you personally use your machine.

TweakHomePC contains loads of system improvements, and many Windows 95/98 corrections, tweaks, other tips, plus bug fixes & updates, which should substantially improve performance.

However let's be pragmatic. You won't turn a 486 into a Pentium III. You will, on average, bring your system to a few levels higher (more for some users), and will have an improved computer experience. In addition there is the option of Overclocking (advanced users only).

It is factual that Windows 95 (and 98) has problems, especially for the Home user. Aside from inherent faults, Windows 95/98 is pre-tweaked for Office usage to the detriment of the Home user.

We can improve what we already have.

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SPEED OF A PC

Main factors that control the speed of your computer system:

CPU, speed     Clock, multiplier setting     CPU Cache, quantity (and quality)
Memory, quantity, free (and quality)
Motherboard BUS, speed of the printed circuit, and its chipsets
Video, chipset (and screen resolution)
Operating System (OS), such as Windows98 (and installed components)
Software, number of programs running, and their (memory) requirements
Hard Disk, speed (and setup / fragmentation / partition cluster size)
Peripherals, (e.g. a modem), mostly their Chipset (make / model) and Setup

The order of importance of the above will depend on your own system components and configuration. It is vital that you know exactly what you have and how it is being used.

Remember that the PC is a system of components, each dependent on the operational speed of the other components. The CPU is normally given such prominence because it is the fastest system component. However if the other components are not functioning optimally then the CPU's 'power' is wasted as it has to wait while other components complete tasks.
Example: a CPU upgrade will be of little benefit to a system with a shortage of (free) memory, or with a slow motherboard BUS speed, or with an inadequate Graphics card, or with .... !

The fastest, and also the most cost-effective, computers are balanced systems which are then tweaked for optimal performance.

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THPC TWEAKS

These tweaks vary from noticeable overall improvements to quite minor gains in specific areas. Some improvements may, or may not, be immediately evident. Cumulatively these will make a difference.

Remember that speed Tweaks are of two main varieties:

1. General overall system boosts, such as tweaking memory use - the tweaked item is always in use, so it optimizes the entire computer system.

2. Specific boosts, such as optimizing the Hard Disk - the gain will be present only when that item is called into use.

Each individual alteration will have been personally experienced over a long period, will have multiple reliable sources, and will have been verified for effectiveness and safety by many other users.

A reliable free utility that makes the change will be suggested where a suitable one is available.

These Tweaks have been accumulated over a long period from a large variety of sources - far too many and too widespread to permit individual accreditation - all the suggestions are now in the public domain. They are all brought together at TweakHomePC.

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BASIC [1]

To get some users started, the following are a few very general pointers for PC users who are concerned about poor performance of their current computer systems.

Your overall system is not fast enough

First check that all devices are operating correctly - use Device Manager to view them. And, if the tardiness is of recent or sudden origin, make sure all connections are good. If necessary, you should open your computer and make firm all connections including device cards - be positive but gentle so, and don't forget to earth the box first!

Apply the TweakHomePC major Boosts that are applicable to your PC and Windows 98/95.

In the short-term, concentrate on the tune-up and optimization speed boosts in the TOP 24 section. Refer to the relevant main sections for more detailed explanations as the need arises.

If the sluggishness still persists, then you likely need a new system that can cope with the needs of your current Operating System and software. Alteratively you could try reducing the 'load' on the computer by using smaller, usually older, software. But read on ...

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BASIC [2]

Your system is too slow AND your hard drive is always spinning

You have a shortage of usable main RAM (main system memory).

You may feel you have sufficient main memory installed. However, what really counts is the amount of free memory you have available for the program(s) you wish to use. Windows, and others, may be claiming most, if not all, of your memory for its own use. This can leave you with little/no memory for your own software forcing you to rely heavily on Virtual Memory on the Hard Disk (very slow in comparison to memory).

Reduce the memory load and achieve an immediate surge in overall performance. Read the MEMORY pages for cost-free fixes. The tips are likely to alleviate the need for upgrading this item.

32MB is considered the minimum for a Windows 95 system using recent software, and 48MB+ for Windows 98. Your PC system would improve noticeably with the addition of more RAM.

Adding more to a system containing sufficient memory will not produce a cost-effective gain.

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BASIC [3]

Your system is too slow but you have PLENTY of RAM

Your CPU and/or motherboard is too slow.

Reduce the CPU load by running ONLY what you need at any one time.

Also disable all background operations, automated and startup programs.

You may need a more powerful CPU but first try OVERCLOCK (advanced users ONLY).

It is just possible that all your RAM is being used by Startup programs and/or background operations. Read MEMORY / Startup.

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BASIC [4]

Your GAME PERFORMANCE is poor

You almost certainly have a video-related problem!

Re-install the driver and/or get the latest video driver upgrade.
Use the lowest acceptable screen resolution and color depth if possible (read MONITOR).
Releasing more free main memory (RAM) sometimes helps (read MEMORY / Startup).
Reboot prior to gaming.

HOWEVER you probably need a newer graphics card but try OVERCLOCK / VIDEO first.

Modern 3D games performance relies heavily on the graphics card and not on CPU power. If your card is short on video RAM and/or runs a 2D-only processor, you are likely to need an upgrade.

Upgrading the graphic card's own memory will not improve speed, unless moving from a mere 1Mb(16-bit only) to 2MB (32-bit), though it could improve picture quality - Video speed is a function of the card's onboard chipset.

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BASIC [5]

Your Internet connection / downloading is too slow

To achieve faster Internet usage and faster downloading you urgently need to read all of the MODEMS & INTERNET section.

That section is quite comprehensive so initially concentrate on the:
MAXMTU FIX for the TCP/IP settings fix, and the
PORT & MAXIMUM speeds to optimize the Port speed and modem Maximun speed.

It you do not notice an immediate improvement then check your
PHONE LINE quality and your
DUN and NETWORK settings.

If disconnections are a frequent occurrence then read DISCONNECTIONS.

Remember, factors that can adversely affect downloading performance include:
Computer (OS, CPU, Video, Hard Disk, Memory, Serial I/O device),
Software (Web browser, Dial-up, Network),
Modem (line connect rate, compression, error checking)
Phone line & Phone Service Provider,
ISP, the Internet Traffic, the Target Server, the Net Routers

Yes! It can be a minefield. However you have control over much of it!

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BASIC [6]

You feel you MUST UPGRADE A COMPONENT

If at all possible delay the day you dish out your precious money. Every PC system is dependent on ALL its component parts. You may not get full value for your money, so exercise a degree of caution.

A faster CPU (often plus new motherboard), or more RAM, or the latest graphics card, or all three!, is unlikely to prove cost effective for most users. Systems are still doubling in performance every 18 months, and new software is staying ahead of this improvement. Its a game of 'catch-up'.

New systems are more affordable at the moment so, when the time does come, buy the best NEW system you can afford at that time, but not with the very newest CPU (too expensive). Select one with a surplus of main RAM and a great graphics card (plus video RAM). You will gain by the reliability afforded by a NEW MONITOR and new, large and fast, HARD DISK both of which can be quite expensive when purchased separately.

Piece-by-piece upgrading can more expensive in the long term and you would never have the benefits of a balanced up-to-date system. A new LARGE and FAST Hard Disk is a possible exception as you can retain it, and its data, as the smaller disk(!) in your next new system.

Top 24 Speed Tweaks (1) >>

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Speed Tweaks Centre >>

• Basics of PC Optimization

• Top 24 Speedup Tweaks #1

• Top 24 Speedup Tweaks #2

= or =

• Cure Sudden or Progressive Computer Slowing

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Please remember that you alone are responsible for the consequences of any changes you make to your computer hardware or software.

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