Speed Up Windows Vista
From Wired How-To Wiki
Windows Vista's Aero interface -- pretty to look at, but one of the many things slowing it down
The flash and polish of Windows Vista seduced you, but so far the glamorous interface is just sucking the life out of your PC. Fear not, this guide has everything you need to turn Vista into the beautiful *and* speedy OS you were dreaming of.
Keep in mind though, that, while these tips can help you speed up Windows and recover hard drive space, you aren't going to see the sort of speed boost you'd get from upgrading your hardware. If you're unhappy, for instance, with the speed of Vista on a machine where Windows XP used to scream, these tips will help. But you might want to consider a new graphics card, more RAM and perhaps even a faster processor.
Part of what slows Vista down is the number of secondary applications running in the background and hogging RAM. An essential step to speeding up Vista is getting rid of the things you don't need.
Turn Off Unnecessary Services
Services are background processes that run silently without you ever knowing about them. Because Vista takes the everything-and-the-kitchen-sink approach to what it loads on boot, there are likely some unnecessary services running in the background.
To get rid of them go to Start > Run, type services.msc and hit Return. Double-click on the service you want to get rid of and change the startup type to Disable.
Some examples of services you may not need: Secondary Logon, Remote Registry, Computer Browser, KtmRm for Distributed Transaction Coordinator, Tablet PC Input Service and Distributed Link Tracking Client. There are dozens more. Sift through them and run a few rigorous web searches to see if you need all of them.
If you disable the Computer Browser service, for example, you might find that you can no longer connect to computers on your local network. Before you make any changes to services, see if you can find a source that quantifies the exact performance gain you'll see from making this change. Many will only reclaim a few megabytes of RAM.
Unclutter Your Hard Drive
Like most people, you probably have a number of third-party programs eating up hard drive space. When it comes to files it's your call, but for getting rid of programs we recommend the free application CCleaner
which is faster and much more thorough than Vista's default Add/Remove application.
Improve Startup Times
Whenever Windows starts it automatically loads a number of programs, many of which you may not need. The System Configuration Utility and Windows Defender can both be used to control what programs auto-start in Vista.
To disabling auto-start applications with the System Configuration Utility
- Open up msconfig (use the Vista Start Menu's Instant Search feature: just press the Windows key and type 'System' and the hit return).
- Select the Startup tab.
- Uncheck any items that you do not want to auto-load and click OK.
To disabling auto-start applications with Windows Defender
Defragment Your Hard Drive
- Open Windows Defender
- Click on the Tools in the top menu bar.
- Click on Software Explorer.
- Hit Show for All Users.
- Select an application and then click either Remove or Disable.
Fragmentation happens when the computer writes files to disk without keeping everything together in one spot. Thus if you just saved a large image you've been working on in Photoshop, part of it might be near the middle of the disk and part of it might be at the end, which means it takes longer for the disk to find it. Bringing those disparate parts together is what's known as defragmenting.
Defragmentation was once the go-to solution for all speed problems in Windows. But Vista actually defragments your drive automatically in the background. In fact, the system is configured to defrag your hard drive once a week by default.
The problem with Vista's defragmentation routine is that unless you frequently install and uninstall programs and constantly move files around, once a week is probably overkill, and when Vista is defragmenting you'll see a performance hit. We suggest turning off the scheduler and doing it by hand. Or, go into the defragmentation settings and change the scheduled time to a part of the day when you're typically not on your computer, like the middle of the night.
Note: By default, Windows schedules your weekly defrag the middle of the night - most often, 1am every Wednesday. If this time doesn't work for you, open up Windows Task Scheduler, find the Defrag task under Task Scheduler Library >> Microsoft >> Windows and change the time to one that works for you.
To manually defragment your boot drive, open My Computer and right-click the disk you want to defragment. Select Properties and then click the Tools tab where you'll see the Defragment Now option. Just click Defragment and wait for the process to finish.
You'll may notice that Vista did away with many of the nicer features in XP's defragmenting program. If you'd like more advanced feedback try out the free Disk Defrag
from Auslogics, which gives you a nice drive map and other advanced features.
A proper, intelligent automatic defragmenter that can run in the background utilizing only free system resources and quietly defragmenting when required is the best option, no matter which piece of software you choose. It's far more convenient, time-saving and efficient than obsolete scheduled or manual defragmentation.
ReadyBoost is one of the more appealing features in Vista. Put simply, it uses a solid state memory disk as an extra disk memory cache.
To take advantage of ReadyBoost, find the fastest USB flash drive you can find and plug it in. AutoPlay will pop up a dialog offering to use it for ReadyBoost. Just enable it and you're done.
Microsoft suggests that you use a USB drive roughly the same size as the amount of RAM you have.
ReadyBoost data is encrypted, so if someone snatches your flash drive, they won't be able to read your data.
Don't expect miracles from ReadyBoost, and keep in mind that it is not
an alternative to a memory upgrade. Rather, it caches disk reads on the fly and can often speed up data access. It won't help at all if you're short of Vista's minimum RAM requirements. Buying more RAM is always a better alternative to running ReadyBoost if you're looking for long-term performance gains.
To take a radical approach to make Vista faster, you can use the free application vLite
. The software, which was created by a developer named Dino Nuhagic, claims to reduce Vista's footprint by as much as one half. vLite strips out many of Vista's default system components like Windows Media Player, Windows Mail, Windows Photo Viewer, MSN components, Wallpapers and SlideShow.
Using vLite will save gigabytes of disk space, but the changes it makes to your machine are permanent, so use it with caution. You can also take solace in the fact that many of the applications vLite removes can be replaced with free downloads or web apps.
Speed Up Vista on Older Machines
Vista's snazzy UI design is easy on the eye but hard on the processor. Consequently, older machines may lag. But there's no need to rush out and buy new hardware. Give these tips a try first and see if they improve your Vista experience.
- Get rid of Aero -- The Aero interface is pretty nice, but it has demanding graphics requirements. Vista will disable it by default if your graphics card isn't up to snuff, but even if it is, you might find the speed tradeoff unacceptable. Head to the Window Color and Appearance panel (right click the desktop and choose personalize) and click the link to "Open classic appearance properties for more color options." Select an option other than Aero and you're done.
- For a less radical option just turn off the "glass transparency" setting which seems to be the source of much of Aero's memory usage.
- Another less-drastic solution is to turn off the animations and other visual effects.
- Disable the Sidebar -- Widgets are memory hogs and getting rid of them will help speed up Vista.