If you plan on sticking with Windows XP for as long as you can, there are a lot you can do to optimize it and better your XP experience. Even though a lot of us are guilty of not performing it, basic maintenance is essential. If you don’t already do so, you should run Disk Defragmenter (Start > Programs > Accessories > System Tools > Disk Defragmenter) or another defragmentation tool on a regular basis. Not only will this speed up hard drive access times, but it will reduce the chances for data and operating system corruption. If you add regular anti-virus and anti-spyware scans to your maintenance regiment, you will keep XP running for longer periods of time without error. Performing maintenance is not all you can do to keep XP running optimally. Microsoft has also released some free tools that will help you use Windows XP more efficiently.
Microsoft’s SyncToy allows you to synchronize data between folders. This utility is easy to use, and it will allow you to quickly set up synchronization rules, and ensure that your data integrity is maintained while synchronizing. This is especially useful when synchronizing files between a flash drive (or external hard drive) and your desktop or laptop. It is easy to use and freely downloadable from Microsoft.
ClearType Tuner allows you to control how fonts are displayed within Windows. It allows you to better control how dark, crisp, and smooth fonts will be displayed on your system. After installing this application and running the setup routine, fonts are displayed much more clearly, kern better on screen, and I have experienced less eye fatigue. This free tool has really changed font management and display in Windows XP for the better.
Microsoft’s Image Resizer allows you to resize images without opening an image editing application. Once it is installed, it places a Resize Image option on the context menu when you right-click on an image. You can choose from 640×480, 800×600, 1024×768, or 240×320, and once you choose your desired size, the application makes a copy of the image in the desired size without changing the original image.
These are just a few of the free applications that Microsoft offers to enhance the Windows XP experience. They will save you a lot of time and money while allowing you to get the most out of Windows XP.