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12 Tips to speed up Windows

Windows Vista - Windows 7


There are some great tips below on improving your systems performance. Start at the tops and see if you can improve your system

June 2010


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1. Uninstall Bloatware

Uninstall bloatware that came with your laptop or PC. You might be surprised just how many applications are installed on your new machine that you will probably never use or need

Also uninstall applications you installed but no longer want.

Head to Control Panel | Programs | Uninstall a program and take the hatchet to anything, such as unwanted games, that you’ll never need. Many programs will load processes at boot time and take up valuable RAM and CPU cycles. While you're in here, you can also click "Turn Windows Features On or Off" and scan the list to see if there's anything you do not use. You might also try software like PCDecrapifier and Revo Uninstaller, both utilities that are featured in many good software reviews.

2. Limit Startup Processes

Limit startup processes. Now this might seem quite obvious although most people do not really notice just how much of a difference it makes until they remove some of the startup items. It is amazing just how many software developers think their program must be in the startup.

In the Start button's search box, type MSCONFIG, then head to the Startup tab.

You'll likely see a slew of apps, mostly for system support, but you'll be able to identify some that clearly aren't necessary. There's absolutely no need to have GoogleUpdate or even QuickTime running all the time, for example. Don't delete those that support your hardware or security, but anything blatantly nonproductive can go. You may have to check the program names online with a google search will generally let you know what a particular application does or more importantly does not.

3. Add More RAM

Add more RAM. Even in windows XP the minimum these days has to be around 2Gb. For windows Vista or Windows 7 have at least 4Gb or more if you can afford to. While you may not need it today you most likely will in the next 12 months when you purchase some new applications.

Windows 7 isn't has much of a hog as Vista, but if you're moving from XP, the memory requirements are greater.

4. Turn Off Search Indexing

Turn off search indexing. Most of us are not searching our computers 4-5 times per hour which might be where you notice the difference after turning off this feature.

In Vista I, would only do this if I saw the search indexing icon in the system tray and noticed a performance lag, but that notification isn't present in Windows 7.

Of course, if you do a lot of searching, this won't appeal to you, as some searches will be slower.

To turn off indexing, open the Indexing Options Control Panel window (if you just type "index" in the Start button search box, you'll see that choice at the top of the start menu), click "Modify" and remove locations being indexed and file types, too. If you want to leave search indexing on, but find that it occasionally slows you down, you can stop its process when you need extra speed.

Right-click on Computer either in the Start menu or on the desktop, choose Manage. Then double-click Services and Applications, then Services. Find Windows Search, and double click on that. From this properties dialog, you can choose a Startup type of Manual or Disabled to have the process silent by default.

5. Defrag

Defragment your hard drive. This is one of those don’t forget utilities especially with the sizes of newer hard drives.

Your disk stores data in chunks wherever there's space on disk, regardless of whether the space is contiguous for one file. Defragging tidies everything up and blocks a program's bits together so that the reader heads don't have to shuttle back and forth to read a whole executable or data file.

While this is less of a problem with today's huge hard drives and copius RAM, a slow system can still benefit from defragmenting the disk. Windows 7 comes with a built-in defragger that runs automatically at scheduled intervals. Mine was set by default to run Wednesdays at 1:00 AM, when my PC is usually turned off; so it never got defragged.

If you're in a similar boat, you can either change the scheduled defrag, or defrag on demand. Just type "defrag" in the Windows Start Menu search bar, and click on "Disk Defragmenter." The version of the utility is improved in Windows 7, and shows more information about what's happening on your disk than Vista did.

6. Change Power Settings

Change power settings to maximum performance.

Of course, this isn't a good choice if you want to save electricity, but it could boost your computing. Head to Control Panel / System and Security / Power Options. From here, click on the left-panel choice "Create a power option" and choose "High Performance."

7. Clean Up Your Disk

Clean up Your Disk.

From the Start menu, choose All Programs, Accessories, System Tools, and Disk Cleanup.

This finds unwanted junk and files such as temporary, offline Web pages, and installer files on your PC and offers to delete them all at once. You may even find that your Recycle Bin is bulging at the seams: Mine had 1.47GB I didn't know was there! This will generally only have a noticeable affect on speed if your machine is getting close to full, however.

8. Check for Viruses & Spyware

Check for Viruses and Spyware. It is surprising how many machines have this problem cause them to not only run slow but cause other problem of applications crashing and causing other time wasting problems.

You can run the built in Windows Defender or a third-party app. There are many good products out there although I like Avast and do not like Nortons.

9. Performance Troubleshooter

Use the Performance Troubleshooter.

In Control Panel's search box, type "troubleshooting" and under System and Security, you'll see the choice "Check for performance issues." Run the troubleshooter and it may find the root cause of your slowdown.

10. Turn Off Desktop Gadgets

Turn off Desktop Gadgets.

Now we come to the tips that require shutting down some of the operating system's bling.

Windows 7 ditched the actual visual sidebar of Vista, but there's still a sidebar process running. Turn it off by typing "gadgets" in the start menu search bar, choosing "View list of running gadgets" and select each in turn and click Remove to shut any gadgets you can live without.

11. Don't Use a Beautiful Desktop Background

Don't use a beautiful desktop background.

This will free up extra RAM and therefore boost speed slightly. Right-click on the desktop and choose Personalise, then Desktop Background at the bottom of the resulting dialog window. Set it to a solid colour.

12. Turn Off Aero Eeffects

Turn off Aero effects.

Head to the Control Panel's Performance Information and Tools section, and choose Adjust Visual Effects.

Here you'll find a long list of effects, but simply choosing "Adjust for best performance" will turn everything off. You'll feel like you stepped back into a decade ago.

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