Windows Vista Help

Windows Vista Performance

1. How do I improve performance of my computer?

There are many tweaks and tricks you can use to improve the performance of your computer besides upgrading the hardware:
a) Run Disk Cleanup utility to remove old files.
b) Run Defrag on your hard disk to reduce file fragmentation.
c) Disable unwanted programs and services that automatically start when you boot your computer.
d) Remove spyware and any viruses that may slow down your computer.
e) Uninstall unwanted or unused software
f) Do a fresh installation of Windows. You will have no junk left over from multiple installs/uninstalls and registry will be smaller.
g) Do Registry cleanup of outdated or unused information using various Registry cleanup tools.
h) Upgrade hardware: faster hard disk, faster CPU or faster graphics card.

2. How do I regularly run Disk Cleanup or Defrag programs?

You can run these on a weekly on monthly basis depending on how heacy used your computer is. Open Start, All Programs, Accessories, System Tools and run Disk Defragmenter. Select Modify Schedule and change how often and which day and time to run the defragmenter. To manually, run a defrag, open Explorer, click once on the drive, select Properties, Tools and click on Defragment Now.

To schedule Disk Cleanup, open Start, All Programs, Administrative Tools, Task Scheduler. Then select Create Basic Task from the Action menu and use the wizard to schedule to run a program (C:\Windows\System32\Cleanmgr.exe).

3. Which programs can I disable from running on Startup?

There are two places where programs auto run when you login: the Startup folder in your Programs menu, and the Run section in the registry. You can remove items from the Startup folder by right clicking the start button and select either Explore or Explorer all Users to look at your own Startup folder or the Startup folder for All Users of the computer, you may have to browse down a few levels to find it and then you can delete the program shortcuts you do not require.
For programs in the registry, you can use either Regedit or preferably MSConfig and look in the Startup section, unticking options here will prevent the program from starting later on. For permenant removal, I suggest Regedit (see HKLM\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Run).

4. Which services can I stop running on Startup?

There are many services that auto run on bootup. Many services are required and you should only disable those that you definately do not require, disabling the wrong ones may stop your computer from working or booting up! See some services below:
a) Windows Search - used to index documents on your Hard disk. Disabling this can free up CPU and HD time!
b) iPod Service - Disable this, if you do not use Apple's iPod Mpeg player.
c) Smart Card - Disable this, if you do not use Smart card removable devices.
d) Smart Card Removal Service - Disable this, if you do not use Smart card removable devices.
e) TCP/IP Netbios Helper - Disable this if not using Netbios or other WINS type services
f) Wireless Zero Configuration - Disable this if not using any Wireless type network cards
g) DFS Replication - Disable this if not syncing files between computers
h) Peer Networking - Disable this if not using peer to peer networking
i) Ready Boost - Disable this if not using USB stick to boost memory
j) Remote Registry - Disable this if you do not wont external users from modifying the registry
k) Tablet PC Input Service - Disable this if not using Tablet style input peripherals
l) Windows Error Reporting Service - Disable this if you do not want to send error reports to MS

5. How do I uninstall unwanted software?

Most software installed is in Control Panel, Programs. It will even try to tell how how often you use that software, although its a bit hit and miss. Removing old demos and games can free up a lot of valuable hard disk space that can be used for new programs or documents. Some times an uninstall leaves some files behind, so look in C:\Program files and look for partially empty folders and delete them if you can after an uninstall. Some uninstallers leave behind stuff in the registry, a good place to look is in HKLM\Software area with Regedit.

6. How do I remove adware, spyware or malware?

To remove these unwanted programs, use Windows Defender from the Start menu. Make sure you schedule it to run and it is up to date.

7. How do I speed up desktop performace?

By default, windows will turn on all the fancy graphical functionality such as fades, transparency, shadows, previews, thumbnails and other visual effects. To change it, open Control Panel, System and Maintenance, System, Advanced system settings then click on Advanced tab, and select Performance settings and select it to Adjust for best performance to turn off the visual effects. This will also turn off the Aqua interface (see Enable transparent glass effect).

8. How do I speed up network performance?

If using wireless network, then a good strong signal strength is needed to ensure data is sent or received at maximum. This all depends on where you place your router relative to your computer. Having thick walls or some other type of electrical devices can reduce the signal strength. The type of card and router can also affect performance, 802.11g is fast but the new 802.11n cards are much faster still!
If you are using wired connections, then make sure your switch or router matches the speed of your network card, having a 1GB network card attached to a 100 or even a 10MBPs swtich will severely affect performance, therefore replace the switch/router to a faster version. Also, you can improve speed, by setting the Speed & Duplex settings of your network card to match the network speed via Control Panel, Network and Internet, Network and Sharing Center, Manage network connections. Open the Properties of your Local Area Connection and click on Configure for the network card, click on the Advanced tab and change the Speed & Duplex to a specific value e.g. 100Mbps Full Duplex.

9. How do I speed up system responsiveness?

If your computer is spending more time on background tasks than the programs you wish to run then you need to look at what background tasks you have installed. Some Internet Security Tools are known to be resource hogs, such as those by Norton or McAfee. Try switching to more light weight tools such as AVG for Anti-Virues, Defender for Anti-spyware and ZoneAlarm (or use Windows's Firewall) for Firewall functions. Also, close down any unwanted programs that are located in the System (or Notification) tray at the bottom right of the screen. Use the MSConfig.exe tool and examine the Startup tab to see which programs are not required to start every time. They can be permanently removed by deleting entries from the Programs, Startup folder or the Registry (HKLM or HKCU, Software, Microsoft, Windows, CurrentVersion, Run).

10. How do I speed up actions when using Explorer?

a) Ever deleted a shortcut and wondered why it took so long? Windows tracks back a shortcuts target when removing shortcuts, you can stop this behaivour with Group Policy Editor:
User Configuration\Administrative Templates\Windows Components\Windows Explorer and enable the option Do not track Shell shortcuts while roaming.

11. How do I do a manual defrag?

Windows Vista includes an automatic defrag feature which is configured in the Disk Defragmenter in the Accessories, System Tools. It is also accessible via the properties of the drive,
click on Tools, then click on Defragment Now. You can also defragment the drive via the command Shell. Open a command shell using Administrator priviledges:
a) Defrag c: -a can analyze a disk and produce a report.
b) Defrag c: -r can do a partial defragmentation of files <64MB.
c) Defrag c: -w can do a full defragmentation of the drive.

12. How do I cleanup the registry?

The registry can build up with old or unwanted entries over the months or years of a computers life. There are a number of registry cleaners out there that can automatically remove old
entries from the registry for you. Programs include Registry Mechanic, Registry Booster and Advanced Registry Optimizer and many others. See