things usually being optimized are 1)
registry, 2) temp files, 3)
unnecessary files, 4) empty folders,
5) browser history, 6) defragmenting
registry, 7) updating drivers, 8)
defragmenting hard drive, etc …
‘optimizing’ the registry is at least debatable, ‘temp files’ i’d rather delete than optimize 🙂
In case you’re using XP, Bootvis is a great utility to monitor the startup process, CPU benchmarking is rather moot as the measures you’re talking about hardly affect the computing power of your processor (unless you tweak the services and/or disable unnecessary/unwanted background programs). You might see an improvement of your HDD performance after defragmenting the drive.
I use AMD CodeAnalyst. If you provide the source code it will provide time and event based profiling with respect to the entire system. You can analyze the program and inspect bottle necks within the program and compare it to current running process on your system. I have an Intel processor so I am only able to do time based profiling (you’ll require a AMD processor to get event profiling), however, I am satisfied with the profiling provided.
PCMark Vantage is a way.