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WinXP Overhaul Guide: How to make it look like Vista, run like lightning, and stay productive, fast & smooth

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This guide (but not the filepack) has been updated as of 11/19/08. I plan to upload a refreshed filepack later this week which will include the updated information and newer version files. If you looked this over when it was first released, you may want to check it out again. Here's how to give your Windows XP installation a complete overhaul. It covers updating the interface, customizing, free software, speed tweaks, maintenance and troubleshooting. All the essential files you need are included in the downloadable 158.56MB Conversion Package. This guide is also located within, in case you want a quick reference; however, updates are done to this online version regularly, so there are some differences. It should be viewable in Wordpad.

The package includes Vista themes, screensavers, games, cursors, applications, Wallpaper, user account images, screenshots, tweaking tools, and more. It is a single archive, split into two pieces due to 100MB file hosting size restrictions; Part1 and Part2 are two halves of the same file. You need both to extract, and it will use both parts automatically. My apologies to those not familiar with RAR files or multi-part archives.

Part1 (100431 KB) Mirrors: Rapidshare, Mediafire, MyFreeFileHosting, Filecrunch, Uploaded.to, Filehosting

Part2 (65828 KB) Mirrors: Rapidshare, Mediafire, MyFreeFileHosting, Filecrunch, Uploaded.to, Filehosting

Use Winrar or 7zip to extract.

Guide Contents:

- Preface (pg.1)

- Part One (pg.2) Installing the Conversion Package. Very useful for those 'downgrading' Vista machines to XP but still wanting to keep the new look and features.

- Part Two (pg.3) More Vista-izing with applications. Free software, both to further enhance the GUI, and just to spread the word on productive or enjoyable programs.

- Part Three (pg.4) Tweaking and speed tricks. Walk-through on the steps I personally take for each old computer I refurbish. Gives new life to old hardware. Makes an eight-year-old Pentium III 700MHz with 256MB RAM very usable with XP, even 'fast!'

- Part Four (pg.6) Keeping your newly prettified machine in top shape. A message from a techie to consumers, tips on the future, and a few warnings on what NOT to do.

- Part Five (pg.8) Final words. About the author.
 
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file not found error message,please reupload the file

When I try to download the files it says Error not found on the website.
Chad Baxter2 years ago
Why not use dropbox for your file downloads you can have a download link for any file size (I had one that was 2.7GB). It is just silly to use multiple download links, stick to one simple link.
salrox73 years ago
CharredPC id like to first start out saying thanks for the great instructable, i've use it myself many times in the past on other systems and it always works out perfectly. That's why this time around when i followed your step by step instruction again, i was surprised to find that when i go over to change the theme i receive this error message. Any thoughts would be most appreciated, Thanks.
Error.jpeg
ddavel5447 years ago
This is without a doubt a very well done instructable, and fine for one whom wants their PC to look flashy. But, I have heard that all that 'flashiness' in both XP and Vista uses up memory. Myself, I prefer function over how pretty it looks, so had reverted my Win XP back to the classic Win 98 look; some time ago. I think it had to do with msconfig or some other function, I forget. I have an old Dell Dimension 2300 (last 5 yrs or so) that was lagging with my new XP OS. So I simply set it to look like Win 98, (very plain) and it works great. Also, I have set the power mode (in display) as: 'when I push power button' - PC hibernates. Then when I push power button back on, it shows my desk top screen--light speed! Of course, I have to wait for task bar to load, maybe about 2 min. No sweat.
If you wish to go further, you can utilize nLite and get XP to be unbelievably fast without loss of functionality--unless you prefer that is.

I took it down to about 160MB on CD and it runs in less than half the normally required memory. It installs in nine minutes and I have slipstreamed everything I need so it's a silent install.

Everything is online about this. I know your post is three years old but this works so well and still, fewer than I though would be, are actually aware of this. So perhaps it may not assist you, but others might like to know.

I even move all the system directories out to separate volumes so I can replace the kernel (if infected or scrambled) without reloading the programs. This takes about four minutes, so it almost makes viruses inconsequential.
Well thanks for the info, cojonc....Haven't been on this site in a long while. But since then I have upgraded to a Dell Optiplex GX280 --- And installed the following:

a Dell Silencer 500watt Power Supply:

http://www.amazon.com/Cooling-PPCS500D-Silencer-Certified-Supply/dp/B0017XEGCM

a decent graphics card : EVGA GeForce GT 220 1024 MB GDDR3 DVI/HDMI/VGA PCI Express Graphics Card, 01G-P3-1226-LR

http://www.amazon.com/EVGA-GeForce-Express-Graphics-01G-P3-1226-LR/dp/B002SG7LUQ/ref=pd_3

A great sound card: Creative Sound Blaster X-Fi SB0460 7.1-Channel PCI Sound Card

http://www.amazon.com/Creative-Sound-Blaster-SB0460-7-1-
Channel/dp/B003POKYWM/ref=sr_1_24?s=pc&ie=UTF8&qi
d=1322500272&sr=1-24

Also has 4GB's of RAM,... a 80GB Western Digital Raptor hard drive ....(10,000 RPM)....and I keep most games, videos, pics , movies on an external WD 1TB HDD....Pretty DARN fast ....and a much more efficient PC system these days :)
I wish the AMIGA was still Alive like the MAC. That was the Best OS (Very Small amount of Files to get it booted up) Witch I knew what Every file was used for. Almost every file was in TXT format other than the dll's and exe's One of the 1st Multitasking (Defintly the best at the Time ) I think Commodore started screwing up when they wasted there money with the SUPERBOWL ADDS (They prob could have advertised a whole year on what they spent for the SeperBowl Add)
Add on Correction: It takes less than 20 seconds for me to connect to Firefox internet from the time I press the power button!
CharredPC (author)  ddavel5447 years ago
Turn get back the "Windows 2000" or Windows Classic look, you just go to Display Properties -> Theme -> Windows Classic-> OK. It's a definite speed helper on an old Pentium II... your Pentium IV should have no trouble, however. You may want to look into cleaning up your system, updating drivers, or adding RAM if you have only 256MB. But functionally speaking, turning off themes altogether is a great tweak if you don't need any eye candy! :)
taria3 years ago
I'm a bit scared to do it because my windows went by by for 5 months and had to be re-installed (to xp) cause it wouldn't load for anything and I lost everything when it happened.

I'm a bit scared to do this for fear I'll loose everything again...but I do love the windows vista format since it was on my little computer that I had to use while this one was 'being fixed'(5 months of waiting was a long time to be without my big boy) cause the guy didn't know what he was doing and put the windows program on here that kept asking me for a serial number...don't ask I didn't get it either. But I would love to have the vista look back and not the XP look that's here now.
eluna14 years ago
Hey CharredPC Thanks for everything! I followed your instruction but I came into a problem! I was woundering if you could help me? first I moved the contents of the theme to the resources theme folder but the only thing that changed was the background It didn't change the start menu or the task bar to black?
 I know this has probably been asked before, but how would I go about changing my logon screen?
download tune up utilities trail then iff you dont like take it out before the trail ends
I don't know dude.
screenguy4 years ago
how do you do the search on the start menu
a nice thing to add would be TrueTransparency ;-^)
ViperSniper5 years ago
hey charred pc this is a FANTASTIC instructable im 14 and it was very easy thanx
bobtannica5 years ago
Thanks for all the work you have done! Amazing! Does anyone know how to add the wonderful Chess game that is included in Vista? I like it better than any I have played but have reverted to XP and now miss it. Thanks again CharredPC.
bjh_105 years ago
Awesome guide, bought a used laptop for my bro for christmas with xp on it. Started slowing down and seemed it was gonna continue, but now its as good as new, Thx!

Can't wait to try this on my ancient Dell Latitude CPx and see if it speeds up any, also wanna try to update two towers 5 or more yrs old. Thanks for helpin those of us stuck with windows for the time being, lol.
CharredPC (author)  bjh_105 years ago
Glad this guide is still helpful! I've since moved on to Windows 7 and Mac OSX, but XP is going to stick around for a long time on older machines like yours :) These tweaks can make all the difference between a pc that runs okay, or one that's slow enough to drive you nuts.
bjh_105 years ago
I personally like the AVG Free option and use it on my family's many desktops and laptops. It may not look "pretty", lol, but it doesn't cost a penny, stays updated thanks to Grisoft's commitment to offering an anti-virus solution everyone can access and doesn't slow things down in between scans. Just set the autoscan feature to run during a time when you won't be on your comp and you'll never have a virus or know it's there! :)
 Also, and I'm not calling you out on this, but just letting you know that one of the downloads has Acebot attached to it. I found this out when I tried to set the screensaver. The properties box froze, and then the "Would you like to send an error report to Microsoft" came up. I clicked no, because I always do. But after that, it said that Dr Watson Post Mortem Debugger has become unresponsive. The Dr Watson PMD is basically a copy of the Windows error handler, except that it creates the crashes itself, and when you hit yes, or possibly even no, it opens up a backdoor on the system the let a hacker directly control the computer. I solved this problem by finding the Dr Watson PMD in my registry, deleting it, then going into sys32 and deleting any and all files/executable files that had anything to do with it. Fortunately, it only affects XP SP2. Just thought I should let you know.
CharredPC (author)  god_gave_knex_to_you5 years ago
The files I have uploaded and linked to here contain no virus. Feel free to scan them before running anything.
erikboi5 years ago
Thank you very much with this instructable!!! It's really nice and helpful!
I haven't done this yet but can you switch back to the original xx theme and delete the conversion pack safely? Thanks Jordan
you just right click on the desktop go to properties and change your theme.
You can get other themes here (requires the uxtheme patch in this instructable)
http://browse.deviantart.com/customization/skins/windows/winstyles/#catpath=customization/skins/windows/visualstyle&order=9
i made xp to look like os x, and i have an 80 gig drive, and for the ram thing i put 2000 to 2500mb. is that ok?
that's fine what processor do you have
oh man THat wayy to high You should not go to far above 512
Fashim ReCreate6 years ago
512? I Winxp Comp is on 1G and its so slow but i guess thats because its begging for new life. Like seriously 4G Ram 1TB hdd Better Gcard and Network Card
how do you figure? XP can run ram at up to 2GB, so i guess that going to 2500GB is just a little too much, and if you dont have a 64 Bit edition, its not going to do any good, or bad for that matter!
No,XP Han handle Up to 8GB,IVe seen it before
The Jamalam6 years ago
Purble palace :P
RANT i dont like stupid lazy people like if your stuck in a slight nuge like a slow pc they make it seem like a punch spending rediculus amounts on fixing drivers and all that bull when they can fix it by deleting two registry keys thats exactly how people always get scammed they dont look into things. by the way brilliant ible my most favorite and the best on the website
i have a 13.9 gig drive it gets the job done
ReCreate6 years ago
I'm a bit tired of the same old vista, Is there any way to make XP look like 7?
It may be a problem...With the extra thick taskbar...and completely redesigned taskbar...
When you have xp you make it look like Vista When you have vista you make it look like Mac When you have a Mac you make it have XP half Mac And the cycle continues
I agree with the first 2, but how does one make OS X half XP? I Haven't done that, nor will I ever do that.
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