To access: Control Panel>User Accounts or Start>Run>"Control Userpasswords"
Unless you have several people using the computer and each need separate accounts, I recommend only one account (the Administrator) for fastest performance. However if security is your primary concern, create a separate account for day to day use with more limited access. Now select "Change the way users log on or off" and tick "Use the Welcome screen" for fastest startup/shutdown. Untick "Fast User Switching" if you have one account, or don't switch users often.
If you have only one User account and you leave your password field blank you shouldn't be prompted for a username and password each time you bootup XP. This is the fast way to bootup. However, if you need several user accounts, but want one to automatically log on to XP at bootup without being prompted, go to Start, select Run and type "Control Userpasswords2" (without quotes). Now go to the Users tab and untick "Users must enter a username and password to use this computer" and enter the username and password for the autologon user. You will now reach your desktop much faster each time you bootup.
Next go to the Advanced tab and select the Advanced button. Select the User folder, right-click on the "Help Assistant" account, select properties and make sure the "User cannot change password", "Password never expires" and "Account is disabled" boxes are ticked for security purposes. You should do the same for the Support and Guest accounts. You can enable them again if Microsoft Support ask you to.
Taskbar and Start Menu
To access: Control Panel>Taskbar and Start Menu or Right-click on Start Button>Properties
Choose settings to taste. I recommend you initially untick "Hide Inactive Icons" so that you can see all the programs which are loading in the background in your System Tray area. I recommend you disable most if not all of these - See MSConfig section for more information on startup programs.
I recommend the WinXP menu. Click on Customise. Under the General tab, choose settings to taste. Under the Advanced tab, under Start Menu Items tick the Run command as well as Administrative Tools - we need to use these. Tick "Open Submenus when I pause on them with my mouse" and untick "List My Most Recently Opened Items". See Services section on how to turn off this service altogether.
To access: Control Panel>Folder Options or Windows Explorer>Tools>Folder Options
Most settings can be adjusted to taste. Recommended options for maximum performance provided below.
Select "Use Windows classic folders" to get rid of the lumped-together "common tasks" icons. Also select "Open each folder in the same window" to reduce open windows.
"Display file size information in folder tips"
"Display simple folder view in Explorer's folder list"
"Display the contents of system folders"
"Show hidden files and folders"
"Remember each folder's view settings"
"Show encrypted or compressed NTFS files in color"
"Use Simplified File Sharing".
Highly recommended that the following are unticked:
"Automatically search for network folders and printers"
"Do not cache thumbnails" for quicker thumbnail display.
"Launch folder windows in a separate process" for improved performance.
"Show popup description for folder and desktop items"
Untick "Enable Offline Files". You'll still be able to view saved/cached web pages offline.
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