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Get Rid of Virtual Memory Errors, Configure Processor Scheduling & Memory Settings to Enhance PC Performance

written by: Joli Ballew•edited by: Christian Cawley•updated: 6/13/2009

Change settings for Processor Scheduling, Virtual Memory, and Memory Usage to improve the performance of an older Windows XP computer, or get better performance from a new Vista machine.

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    Advanced System Settings

    To enhance performance by configuring settings for Virtual Memory, Memory Usage, and Processor Scheduling, you first need to locate the Advanced System Settings dialog box.

    In Windows XP: Locate the icon for My Computer, right-click it, and choose Properties. Click the Advanced tab. Performance options are available by clicking the Settings button in the Performance section.

    In Windows Vista: Locate the icon for Computer, right-click it, and choose Properties. In the System window, click Advanced System Settings. In System Properties, under Performance, click Settings. [See Image 1]

    Notice that in the Performance Options dialog box, you can choose Let Windows Choose What’s Best For My Computer. That’s the default, but it can be changed. For instance, if you’re interested in getting the best appearance from your computer, select Adjust For Best Appearance; if you want best performance, choose Adjust For Best Performance. You can also select Custom and check or uncheck anything you desire.

    Although adjusting the PC for best performance may seem like the best answer to getting the best performance, and it probably is, the problem with this setting is lack of appearance features. No fading or sliding of menus, no smooth screen fonts, no visual styles on windows and buttons. Your best bet for enhancing performance is to choose Custom and uncheck as many boxes as you’re comfortable with.

    The Advanced tab from the Performance Options dialog box also offers some other performance tweaks:

    • Processor Scheduling can be configured to use a greater share of process time for either programs or for background services. By default, the computer uses a greater share of its resources on running programs, but if you’d rather have XP focus its attention on running background services, you can change the default. Generally, the default is fine.
    • Memory Usage can be configured to use a greater share of memory either to run programs or for system cache. By default, the computer uses a greater share of available memory on running programs, but if you’d rather have XP focus its attention on system cache, you can change the default. Generally, the default is fine.
    • Virtual Memory Settings can be configured for the paging file. The computer uses a specific area of the hard disk as if it were RAM, and XP sets a default paging file size. If you need to, you can click Change and set this manually. Chapter 12 introduces virtual memory and gives suggestions for configuring this option.
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    Images