Recently my fiancee gave me an HP mini 1030NR netbook for my birthday. Though its a great portable personal device, it does not really have the performance I’ve come to enjoy from my other computers. This is really not the netbook’s fault as its focus is portability, not performance.

So, I set about the task of optimizing the performance of the netbook.

The netbook really doesn’t come with much software, so this article deals with Windows XP. The items discussed here are in addition to the normal maintenace one would do for Windows (e.g. defragmenting your hard drive). This article also doesn’t cover the concepts of “disabling unneeded services” or “disabling unneeded startup items”, as those differ from user to user.

For normal Windows XP maintenace, check out Microsoft’s web site at

Removing the screen fluff

Go into Control Panel -> System
Click on the Advanced Tab
In the Performance Area, click the “Settings” Button
Click on the “Visual Affects” Tab
Choose the “Adjust for best performance” radio buton

In addition to other things, this will alter the display of your desktop to something analogous to the windows widgets used in Windows 2000 and prior, which doesn’t look as sleek, but that sleekness requires additional processing power and memory that you may not have in reserve.

Make your desktop background any single color you want

Photos (in JPG or JPEG format) in the background require more memory in order to display them. Go with a simple single color. It’s easier on Windows.

Fix the filesystem so that its not performing unnecessary tasks

For backwards compatibility with DOS, Windows XP creates an additional entry in the file listing in the MS-DOS “8.3” format. This heralds back to the days when filenames could only consist of 8 characters with a 3 character extension. The last time this was really used was Windows 98. My netbook really doesn’t need to maintain this, so I opened up a command prompt and typed the following:

fsutil behavior set disable8dot3 1

Then rebooted to reload the NTFS driver without this setting.

Thanks O’Reilly:

Indexing: Save yourself time now or later

Windows XP can index your files so that searches take less time. I’m using my netbook with Google Apps, so some my files are in the cloud. I also store what files I have locally in folders under My Documents. I don’t anticipate needing to search the hard drive, so I turn the Indexing service off.

Go to Control Panel -> Administrative Tools -> Services and double click the Indexing Service. If it is running, stop it. If its Startup Type is set to Enabled or Manual, change it to Disabled so that applications will not launch it on you.

Other improvements to Windows XP

As noted before, removing uncessary startup programs and services will improve your performance more than these simple steps, but with the above you should experience a noticeable improvement in your netbook desktop experience.