Love it or hate it, Windows Vista is here to stay as the default operating system for those buying PC laptops on the market today. We all know Vista requires more hardware power, such as 2GB of RAM being almost a necessity to get decent performance, but are there Vista OS and software tweaks you can do to improve performance without buying better hardware? There certainly are, and our forum members are working together to collect them all.
A major Thanks goes to Les Tokar (forum member flamenko) for starting the "Top Vista Tweaks You Can Find". This article is a mere summary of what Les and other forum members have come up with so far as recommendations for greatly improving your Windows Vista Experience, but keep checking the thread in the future as the NotebookReview.com community is working to make it grow.
1. Disable TMM
This tweak is responsible for about a 3-5 second delay and blank screen flash when you start Vista. It searches for external monitors but is unnecessary.
If you are not using an external monitor, or don’t switch back and forth always then turn TMM off. This is responsible for a 3-5 second pause and blank flash you get when turning your computer on.
Here’s how to fix that annoying black flicker on boot:
- Go start/control panel/administrative options/task scheduler.
- On the left-hand side, click "Task Scheduler Local" (you should already be there, but just in case).
- Expand "Task Scheduler Library," then "Microsoft," then "Windows," then click "MobilePC."
- Up top, you’ll see a task called "TMM." Click it, and on the right-hand side, click "Disable."
- You’re done!
Start time reduced and blank flash gone!!!!
2. Use TuneXP 1.5 (TY and Rep Trebuin) (Click here)
This little XP program works great on Vista and reduces your boot time by reorganizing it. The program is phenomenal and has no side effects except a much quicker start speed. As you get more knowledgeable, there are a bunch of other great utilities in the program. Basically, it takes all your boot files and places them at the front of the disk.
This is the best tweak in our arsenal as there are several reports that it will cut your start time in half. I have verified this with my Vista 64-bit startup (20 seconds) and have cut my sons 32-bit Vista startup time in half to 40 seconds.
I use it on both my Vista 32 and 64 bit systems and it works great. Word to the wise though, dont use later versions. This version is the only tested for this.
- Install the program and if asked to select a drive, select ‘C’
- Go to Memory and File System and Click on Ultra-Fast booting (it may appear to freeze but it’s working)
- Once it’s done, it will inform you not to reboot your system until defragmentation is complete
- Bring up your Task Manager from your system tray by right clicking in the tray bottom right and select Task Manager
- Go to processes
- You will see two processes relating to defrag. Dont restart your machine until they dissappear.
3. Disable Vista Search Indexing
All versions of Vista have Search Indexing enabled by default which is an unneeded resource for most. Its function is to continuously update files on your system so that they can be made available for faster searching. Unfortunately, this takes its toll on system performance which is why its listed in several tweaking programs as a top teak; I agree totally.
To disable Windows indexing:
- Click Start, then computer;
- Right click on Local Disk ‘C:’
- Left click on Properties;
- Uncheck ‘Index this Drive for Faster Searching’;
- Let it complete and select ‘Include subfolders and files’ in any subsequent dialog box
From here we will go one step further and turn off Windows Search in your services
- Click on start/run and type in ‘MSConfig’ and hit ok
- Click on Services tab and find Windows Search
- Uncheck/Apply and Ok, you’re done!!!
If you think you’ll need search, don’t mess with this, but if not it’s a great way to speedup your system.
4. Get CCleaner, it Works with 32/64Bit (Click here)
CCleaner (formerly Crap Cleaner) is a freeware system optimization and privacy tool. It removes unused and temporary files from your system – allowing Windows to run faster, more efficiently and giving you more hard disk space. The best part is that it’s fast (normally taking less than a second to run) and Free!
It cleans the following:
- Internet Explorer Cache, History, Cookies, Index.dat
- Recycle Bin, Temporary files and Log files
- Recently opened URLs and files
- Third-party application temp files and recent file lists (MRUs)
- Including: Firefox, Opera, Media Player, eMule, Kazaa, Google Toolbar, Netscape, Office XP, Nero, Adobe Acrobat, WinRAR, WinAce, WinZip and more…
It also contains an ‘Advanced Registry Scanner’ and cleaner to remove unused and old entries to include File Extensions, ActiveX Controls, ClassIDs, ProgIDs, Uninstallers, Shared DLLs, Fonts, Help Files, Application Paths, Icons, Invalid Shortcuts and more…
There is also a Windows Startup editor as well as a back-up tool just in case you delete something your not supposed to.
5. Turn Off User Account Control (UAC)
This tweak is best followed after a ‘clean’ install with respect to the below listed advisory.
One of the most annoying things in Vista is the protection of your system through UAC. Before I knew how to disable it I considered throwing the system out the window. The purpose of UAC is to make you confirm a large number of everyday functions in order to somehow protect your system from malware infections. In any case heres how to shut it off (or turn it back on).
- Click on start and then click on your username picture top right of the start menu.
- Click on ‘Turn User Account Control on or off.’
- Uncheck (or check) User Account Control, select ok and restart.
Thats it except…
There needs to be a word of caution in turning UAC on and off. There is a process called virtualization that, when UAC is ‘on’ saves program data files (things like INI files, configuration files, saved game files etc.) within a totally separate area for each individual user. If you then turn UAC off, there have been reports that certain programs may be unable to find that saved data. The truth, in fact, is that the data is still there but only visible to the program in this ‘virtualization folder’ once UAC has been turned on again.
An example is… If UAC is on and you install some game, and the game then saves files to that program’s main directory and subsequently you turn UAC off. Those files may appear to the game that they have been deleted when, in all actuality, they are stored in this folder and only accessible through virtualization when UAC is on.
6. Turn Off Unused Windows Features
This tweak is actually a ‘two in one’ as it saves disk space by turning off unneeded windows features as well as improving performance by shutting down Remote Differential Compression (RDC). Briefly, RDC monitors changes in files in order to transfer them with minimum compression over a network, thus eliminating the transfer of an entire file which has been already moved. This checking and rechecking can hinder system performance. With respect to the other features that I will suggest shutting off, I myself only leave Games, Ultimate Extras (both self explanatory) and Tablet PC. I choose to leave tablet PC as it enables a little feature called Snipping Tool which I absolutely love. Anyone who hasn’t used it, type ‘snipping tool’ in the ‘Run’ box and enjoy.
In any case, the tweak is as follows:
- Press Start/Control Panel/Classic View and select Programs and Features
- Choose ‘Turn Windows Features On and Off
- You can safely unselect ‘Indexing Service, Remote Differential Compression, Tablet PC Optional Components (if you don’t want Snipping Tool), Windows DFS Replication Service, Windows Fax & Scan (unless you use Fax through a modem) and Windows Meeting Space.
And if you want to be really smart, DFS Replication duplicates files for use among multiple PCs in a network and keeps them in sync. It’s not very useful on a stand alone.
7. Windows Snipping Tool IS AMAZING!
I let the cat out of the bag in the last tweak for #6, so I figured I might as well spill the beans. If you have Vista Premium or above you have a great new tool called Snipping Tool. It enables you to freeze whatever is on your screen and take a picture of it. You may notice that I use this in tons of my threads as it is so easy.
To get to it…
- Click Start/All Programs/Accessories and you’ll find the tool there, or…
- Start ‘Run’ and type ‘snippingtool’.
Just for a bit of a background, this is Microsofts description of ‘The Tool’
NOTE: If you delete Tablet PC features from Vista, this will not work!
8. Eliminate Unneeded Startup Programs
When your computer starts, there are a number of programs that start automatically and remain running in the background which steal away much needed memory. They add up in time and although many have no real use to the average user, others can be eliminated from starting automatically and started from the ‘All Programs’ or ‘Quick Launch’ menu as required. My best example of this is Messenger (or AIM/ICQ) which starts and hogs valuable resources even when your not using it.
First lets see how to get there to see what we have shall we?
- Type ‘msconfig’ in the Run command (or Windows key + R)
- Press Start/Control Panel/Admin Tools/System Configuration/Startup; or
- Download this excellent freeware program called Startup Inspector
I personally like the program for the new user because it has a consultant which, not only tells you what each program is, but also tells you which are required by the system, user chosen, recommended, not required or unknown.
Now what can we disable and eliminate from the startup process? This is much an individual choice but I personally have shut down all that start with ‘NVIDIA, Messenger, Office, Nwiz, quicktime". Be careful not to turn off important processes, when in doubt don’t disable a process, but if it’s something obvious and you know you don’t want it then disable it.