Friday, June 29, 2007

Friday Freebie - Give That Old XP Box A Kick In The Pants And Get It Moving Again

How old is the rig that you're checking out this site on right now - 3 years old? Maybe 4? I bet it's not as fast as it used to be. Just like everything else, as computers get older, they tend to get slower. And that's especially true if you don't keep up on the maintenance. There are some things you can do right through Windows to improve performance, like defragment your hard drive, and occasionally running virus and spyware scans with third-party software. But what about tracking down driver problems or disk access issues? A lot of "system suite" software utilities over to help out in this department, in return for a little green from your wallet. Or you can let Bill Gates do the work for you:

Today's Freebie is a program called Bootvis. This program was developed by Microsoft, and is supposed to help cut the startup time of your PC. Yes, I said "supposed to". Officially, MS never endorsed this tool for that purpose, mostly because depending on your configuration, not everyone will see an improvement. That's just the nature of computers. But the fact is, on a decent system in otherwise good condition, running Bootvis optimization can cut your startup times in half.

Here's how it works. Bootvis automatically reboots your computer a number of times, and "traces" each of the boots. (Tracing means that it looks at how drivers and files load, how long each of those processes takes, and how much stress the boot process places on the system.) Multiple reboots are performed to make sure that the program receives accurate information. Then, once the traces are complete, Bootvis reorganizes the files and drivers that load during startup in order to optimize your PC's potential. It also gives you some fancy graphs, like those in the screen shot above, to show you how your system boots.

Another reason that MS never officially endorsed this program is because everything that it does is done by Windows automatically every now and then, assuming you haven't disabled any necessary services. The Bootvis program just forces the optimization to happen immediately, so you tend to notice the benefits. There's no harm in running the program frequently, but you won't see noticeable improvements if you're firing it up every two weeks.

One more thing - this program only works with Windows XP. Don't try to run it on Vista or 98, or anything else. You'll probably end up wrecking your system.

The program has always been unsupported by Microsoft (like Tweak UI), but now they're not evening offering the download anymore. But don't worry, the web comes to your rescue once again. You can grab the download right here, and if that ever goes dark, a quick Google search should easily find you another download. So breathe a little bit of new life into that old machine, but remember, don't expect miracles. Bootvis simply part of a well-balanced diet for your PC.

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