Useful Vista Tweaks

I have a love / hate relationship with Windows Vista. It has some really cool advanced features, but in other areas it just seems dog-slow. It may be too late to go back to Windows XP, but there are some things you can do that will definitely speed up Vista. Here is a short list of the ones I've found most useful.

If you want to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first create the universe.
-- Carl Sagan

Add More RAM

They say that 2 GB of RAM is fine for Vista. I say, forget that. You need FOUR GIGS of RAM. Spend the money, you'll thank me later.


Turn off Windows Search Service

Windows Vista Search is constantly reviewing files on your system to make their contents available for quick searching.

Frankly, I keep my "stuff" pretty organized, so I don't need this extra overhead -- and Search in Windows Explorer still works fine if I need it, it is just slower. Windows Search can really impact system performance.

To disable this:

  • Click Start, then Computer
  • Right Click the C: Drive
  • On General Tab, Uncheck Index this drive for faster searching
  • On the next dialog box, Select Include subfolders and files
  • You can also Stop and set to Disabled the Windows Search Service.

Turn off Remote Differential Compression

Remote Differential Compression measures the changes in files over a network to transfer deltas with minimal bandwidth rather than transferring an entire file that has previously been moved. Because it constantly checks for file changes, this service can hinder system performance.

To disable this service:

  • Open Control Panel
  • Switch to Classic View
  • Select Program Features
  • Choose Turn Windows features on and off
  • Scroll down and uncheck Remote Differential Compression

Turn off Automatic Windows Defender Operation

Windows Defender real-time protection against malware continues to run despite having Automatic operation disabled.

To disable this feature:

  • Open Control Panel
  • Select Windows Defender
  • Choose Tools from the top menu
  • Select Options
  • Uncheck Auto Start at the bottom of the window

If you have a good antivirus program (I recommend F-Secure Internet Security 2008 - it is the only product that can detect rootkits such as the "bagle" variants) it will have it's own malware protection, so there should be no need for Defender to run. You can disable the Windows Defender Service in this case. If you want to find out why traditional antivirus software is COMPLETELY USELESS against these new rootkit variants, read here and weep.

Turn off Automatic Disk Defrag

Windows Vista has an always-on defragment feature that isn't really that necessary and can cause system slow down. Just remember to run a defrag manually every week.

To disable this:

  • Press Start (Windows key) and E,  then select Computer
  • Right Click the C: Drive
  • Choose "Properties"
  • Select the Tools Tab
  • Click "Defragment Now"
  • Uncheck "Run on a schedule"

Add a 2GB or higher USB Flash drive to use Ready Boost

Ready Boost uses a USB thumb/flash drive to provide some quick access memory the operating system can use as extra RAM. The Ready Boost system can improve system performance.

To set this up:

  • Insert a USB Flash Drive (preferably 2GB or more)
  • Click Start then Computer
  • Right Click the USB Drive in My Computer
  • Select the Ready Boost Tab
  • Choose Use this device
  • Select as much space as you can free up for RAM usage vs. Storage

Turn off  Hibernation

Windows hibernation background services can use a large amount of system resources. If you don't use the Hibernate feature regularly you can to disable it to give Vista a performance boost.

To disable Hibernation:

  • Select the Control Panel then Power Options
  • Click Change Plan Settings
  • Click on Change Advanced Power Settings
  • Expand the Sleep selection
  • Expand the Hibernate After selection
  • Bring the selector down to zero
  • Click Apply

Turn off System Restore

Analysis and restore point creation by Windows Vista can eat up system resources. Disabling this service will mean the system restore feature in Vista will not be available in the event of a system crash. However, you can use free tools like ERUNT which backs up the Registry automatically on boot, and that will cover the vast majority of "restore" type issues. It doesn't use any resources at all while Windows is running. In addition, restoring from an ERUNT backup is faster than System Restore. Lars Hederer, the author, also has a nice registry optimizer that I recommend. This will improve Registry access.

  • Control Panel>System
  • Click System Protection on the left panel
  • Uncheck the main system drive
  • Agree to the confirmation

Disable User Access Control (UAC)

This annoying Vista feature attempts to protect your system from malware by making you manually confirm a whole host of normal everyday user operations. It doesn't directly impact performance, but it can be annoying and might be more hassle than good. Your "security purists" will probably say you shouldn't do this, but frankly, I'm the only one who uses my PC so I say "fie" to them.

To disable User Access Control:

  • Click Start then Control Panel
  • Select User Accounts
  • Select Turn User Account Control on or off
  • Uncheck User Account Control Box
  • Restart

Disable excess Windows Services that Auto-Start at Startup

Just like Windows XP, Vista ships with all kinds of services enabled that load at startup and may never be used by most users.

To see what loads at startup and disable the ones you probably won't need:

  • Click Start then Control Panel
  • Select Administrative Tools
  • Choose System Configuration
  • Click the Services Tab

You can safely deselect:

  • Offline Files (unless you're using Offline File Sync)
  • Tablet PC Input Service (unless you have a tablet PC)
  • Terminal Services
  • Windows Search (If you already disabled indexing)
  • Fax (unless you're using a fax modem)

Black Viper has a chart of Windows Vista Services and various configurations you can use. I've made this into a nice Excel Workbook you can dowload here.

Disable Excess Windows Features

Windows ships with other features that are listed separately in the Vista operating system from the startup services.

You can view and disable these features:

  • Click Start, then Control Panel
  • Select Program Features
  • On the left panel, select Turn Windows Features on or off

You can safely deselect:

  • Indexing Service
  • Remote Differential Compression
  • Tablet PC Optional Components
    Windows DFS Replication Service
  • Windows Fax & Scan (unless you use a modem for faxing)
  • Windows Meeting Space (unless you use the Live Meeting Service)

Set a fixed size Page File

In Control Panel the System applet has different tabs where you can manage these settings. The recommended size for a fixed Page file is shown at the bottom of the Virtual Memory tab. Choose this size as both the minimum and maximum under "Custom size".

In Networking, Turn off Qos Packet Scheduler

On many machines, this will speed up networking. You can also Uncheck "IPV6" since you probably don't need this just yet.

Turn off the "chrome"

Turning off the fancy Aero interface, turning off the sidebar, and otherwise disabling the features that make Vista look and feel unique will help speed up performance. Free programs like CCleaner ("Crap Cleaner")  have features that let you manage the startup programs and clean up unneeded files off your hard drive.

What not to do

Be very wary of people's "custom made" tweaks, such as variants of the TCPIP.sys patch that's supposed to open up the maximum number of TCP connections on Vista. This one will Blue Screen many installations and unless you've got a Windows Vista PE disk or your  original media CD/ DVD handy to boot off and do a "Repair", you'll be sunk. Remember, we want to "tweak" Vista, not prevent it from even being able to run!

That's the "short list". Hope it helps.  I gotta tell ya, progress is great -- but I still miss my little Commodore 64!

By Peter Bromberg   Popularity  (6350 Views)