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ISPreviews Windows Vista Performance Tips

Mark.J

Administrator
Staff member
ISPreview Team
I wrote this awhile ago for some friends so please forgive me if anything is a little out of date since this was pre-SP1. Anyway, many people are upgrading to Vista now so if you want a little extra performance out of the beast then here are a few of the things that I do after installing it:

1. Disable Search Indexing

Vista’s search engine is faster but it loves to index everything all the time, causing your hard disk to get thrashed. This will make the OS seem sluggish and most people hardly ever use it anyway so you might as well kill it until you need it. Here’s how.

Run Services (just type “Services” at the Start Search bar), right click on the Windows Search service and select “Properties”. Then choose “Disabled” for the start type. Afterwards, you have to stop this service by right clicking on it and selecting “Stop”.

Note: you can still search, it'll just be slower.

2. Disable Remote Assistance

Seriously, most people won't need this and it’s an added security risk, kill it.

Right-click on the Computer icon and choose Properties, in the left pane choose Advanced System Settings. In the resulting window, switch to the Remote pane. Uncheck Allow Remote Assistance connections to this computer.

3. Disable Windows Defender

Microsoft’s Windows Defender starts up every time you load Vista and tries to deal with spyware. This hogs a lot of resources, thrashes your HD and is about as effective at catching malicious infections as Dexter (tm) is with not killing people. So long as you have a good router firewall and strong anti-virus/spyware software (not Norton) then disable this.

Go to Start > Programs > Windows Defender > Tools > Options > Uncheck everything, especially ‘Use Windows Defender’. Click Save.

4. Disable System Restore on other HD’s

You only really need System Restore to be running and monitoring the hard disk your OS is installed on, there’s no need for it to track any HD’s you’ve designated for downloads and games etc.

Right-click on the Computer icon and choose Properties, in the left pane choose Advanced system settings. In the resulting window, switch to the System Protection pane. Uncheck all drives except the one Vista is installed to.

A pop-up will happen asking for confirmation, click Turn System Restore Off, then click Apply.

5. Disable Windows Welcome Centre

It may be useful to some people at first but eventually you’ll want to be rid of the Windows Welcome centre and there’s only one proper way to stop it using resources even when you can’t see it (Microsoft seems to like useless idle processes).

1. Start Regedit (Start > Run > Type ‘regedit’).
2. Navigate through HKEY_CURRENT_USER, Software, Microsoft, Windows, CurrentVersion, Run.
3. Right click on the WindowsWelcomeCenter key and select Delete.
4. Reboot your PC.

6. Disable Automatic Defrag

This attempts to defrag your hard disk to improve performance but often can’t tell the difference between an idle and active state. To put it another way, it thrashes your hard disk and can cause sluggishness. Note that you should always defrag hard disks once every month anyway but having this enabled all the time is not required unless you're extremely lazy :) .

1. Click on Start, and then click Control Panel.
2. Click on “System and Maintenance”.
3. Under “Administrative Tools”, click on “Defragment your hard drive”.
4. If you are prompted by User Account Control to allow the action, click on Continue.
5. In the Disk Defragmenter window, uncheck “Run on a schedule (recommended)”.
6. Click OK.

7. Kill unused services.

Vista runs a lot of services at default that 90% of people will never ever need, disabling them will help to improve the overall performance of your system and use less RAM. Typically I can’t be 100% sure what you’re all doing with your PC’s so I’ve only listed the really useless stuff below (will add more only when I’m certain they’re safe to suggest):

1. Run services.msc via the Start > Run command (Windows key + R).
2. Stop the following services and change their start-up type to ‘disabled’.

* Tablet PC Input service

Do you own a Tablet PC or UMPC with touch screen? Probably not, kill it.

* TCP/IP NetBios helper

Nobody (consumer wise) really uses NetBios anymore, it’s a relic from the Windows95/98 days and you don’t need this either.

8. Disable Aero.

That sexy looking transparent windows effect you get on more modern systems can suck up to an additional +100MB's of physical system memory, eats extra battery life (bad for laptops) and also uses up a smidgen more CPU time. Personally I prefer to keep it enabled but if you want to switch it off then here's how.

1. Go to your Desktop and Right Click anywhere with some free space.
2. Select 'Personalize' from the drop-down menu that appears.
3. Choose 'classic appearance properties for more color options' at the bottom of the new window.
4. On the scroll list of Colour Schemes select 'Windows Vista Basic' and Apply.
5. Done.

No more transparent windows.

NOTE: Some may find the 'Vista Basic' theme to be a bit ugly, in that case it's worth checking out this as a custom replacement:

http://vishal-gupta.deviantart.com/art/Vista-Blue-RTM-for-Vista-Basic-64148498

However, to use a custom theme like that you will also need to download and run the UltraUXThemePatcher first, which can be found here (tested up to Vista SP1):

http://www.public.sytes.net/hoefs/windows/uxtheme.php?lang=en

9. Fixing DirectX 9 Game Compatibility.

Vista uses a DirectX 10 wrapper to run DirectX 9 games, except the default installation does not include all of the latest DX9 files and Windows Update does a poor job of fixing this. Instead you should download the most recent end-user runtime files (e.g. 'DirectX Redist (June2008)'):

http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/...text=DirectX End-User Runtimes&DisplayLang=en

Unpack these to a temporary directory and then run the DXSETUP file and update. Done.

10. Improve DirectX Game Performance.

There are a couple of ways in which you can give some of your games a performance boost.

1. DirectX9 based (made for XP) games should be run in Windows XP compatibility mode. Simply Right-Click the shortcut or game executable, select the 'Compatibility' tab and make the appropriate adjustment under 'Compatibility mode'.

2. While in the 'Compatibility' tab you can also 'Disable visual themes'. This will disable the Aero UI while playing and free up more resources for your game. Note that games run in 'Fullscreen' mode (not Windowed on your desktop) will do this automatically anyway.

11. Run Vista's Sidebar in LOW PRIORITY or Disable it completely.

Vista's Sidebar is actually quite useful once you figure out how to use all the gadgets. You can of course disable it by Right-Clicking a blank area of it, choosing ‘Properties’ and then disabling the ‘Start sidebar when windows starts’ option. The sidebar should also be closed after doing this, which needs another Right-Click as before.

However, you may prefer to keep it but save CPU time and battery life by running it as a LOW PRIORITY, in which case a little technical knowledge is required. To do this you need to make a new Shortcut at the following location via the 'Windows Explorer' application:

C:\Users\[YOUR USERNAME]\appdata\roaming\microsoft\windows\start menu\programs\startup\

The shotcut would need the following in its location field:

C:\WINDOWS\system32\cmd.exe /c start "sidebar.exe" /LOW "C:\Program Files\windows sidebar\sidebar.exe"

Now, when you next restart your computer, the sidebar should be given a lower cpu priority and use less of your CPU. On most modern PC's you shouldn't suffer any degradation as a result of this. Remember to change the drive letter from 'C' if you have Vista installed somewhere other than your primary hard disk and change the YOUR USERNAME to match.. uh.. your username.

12. Disable Superfetch.

Superfetch is a clever bit of technology that loads your most frequently accessed programs and applications into RAM, thus improving load times. However, shifting all that data into memory will thrash your hard disk, especially if you play games or use media heavy applications. It will also slowdown the bootup process because you're shifting extra applications into system memory.

Naturally you can leave this feature untouched, though it's worth seeing how Vista performs without it. After all, what does it matter if Microsoft Word loads in 2 seconds as opposed to half a second? Having to wait an extra second or two won't bother most people. Typically you can either disable or modify how Superfetch works. To disable..

1. Open 'Services' in 'Control Panel' or by typing 'services.msc' into the Start menu 'search' or 'run' boxes.

2. Scroll down the new list to find 'Superfetch', right-click, select 'Properties' and disable it in the 'Startup type' (requires reboot).

To modify instead of disable..

1. Click the Start button (bottom right) and type REGEDIT in the Start Search area (or 'Run command' if you have that option) and enter.

2. Navigate to this location in your system registry:
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\Session Manager\MemoryManagement\PrefetchParameters

3. On the right side, double-click on EnableSuperfetch.

4. Give it one of these number values:

0 = disable Superfetch
1 = enable prefetching when program is launched
2 = enable boot prefetching
3 = enable prefectching of everything

Click OK and close everything.
 
Last edited:

akbray

ULTIMATE Member
I've done some of these already, but not all.

I have a Fista laptop at home, and I will be setting most of these up on it tonight!

That said, it isn't running too slowly now that I have disbled the Sidebar and doubled the memory to 2mb.
 

Captain_Cretin

ULTIMATE Member
Mmmm, I can remember doubling my memory to 2mb; an Amiga 500 I seem to recall, with the sidekick harddrive; a MASSIVE 20mb (later upgraded to 200) lol
 

Mark.J

Administrator
Staff member
ISPreview Team
I've got some more tips to add, will do that soon.

Also with regards to Vista's sidebar, you can improve performance without disabling that completely. I think the idea is that you disable it and then make a start-up shortcut that forces the sidebar to load at start-up, except with a LOW CPU priority (it doesn't need more than that).

Now I could be wrong as I’m not on my Vista system, but the shortcut you’d need to add would go here:

C:\Users\[YOUR NAME]\appdata\roaming\microsoft\windows\start menu\programs\startup\

The shortcut you’d make would need to be something like this:

C:\WINDOWS\system32\cmd.exe /c start "sidebar.exe" /LOW "C:\Program Files\windows sidebar\sidebar.exe"

Don’t forget to disable the sidebar first though, which is achieved by Right-Clicking an area of it, choosing ‘Properties’ and then disabling the ‘Start sidebar when windows starts’ option. The sidebar should also be closed after doing this, which needs another Right-Click as before.

Let me know if this works because I can’t use Vista where I am now.
 

Kits

Super Moderator
Staff member
ISPreview Team
Why not use a USB flash drive to help speed up starting of the pc I do loads much faster than XP
 

aquiss

ISP Rep
Mmmm, I can remember doubling my memory to 2mb; an Amiga 500 I seem to recall, with the sidekick harddrive; a MASSIVE 20mb (later upgraded to 200) lol
That must have been an A500+, as the A500 has 512k as standard :D

I must admit, I miss the Amiga days, but I still have 7 of them, in various versions at home.
 

Kits

Super Moderator
Staff member
ISPreview Team
Still have one seriously considering connecting it to pc
 

Captain_Cretin

ULTIMATE Member
There was provision onboard for another 512k, and by cutting a few tracks on the mobo you could increase the video ram to 1mb, then there was a set of pins for RAM chips built into the sidekick HD enclosure as well; it may have been for 2mb, giving 3mb overall.

Mine is still in the loft, although I must admit I threw away hundreds of disks for it only a few days ago.
 

akbray

ULTIMATE Member
:laugh::laugh:
Doh!!!... I was trying to figure out why u were laughing...and why Fista was so sloooow.....

I need a coffee!!
 

Mark.J

Administrator
Staff member
ISPreview Team
Added another tweak to turn off or modify Superfetch.

Vista defaults to caching everything to ram, which will thrash your hard disk and seriously slow down your boot times just so applications launch a little faster. Personally I turn this off and everything is better, plus I don't then have to defrag as often because any disk access will have an impact on drive fragmentation.

If you don't want to turn it off then try modifying the setting to only cache at boot, which is closer to how WinXP works.
 

akbray

ULTIMATE Member
Where is the setting for Superfetch?

Andy
 

hawkwind

Regular Member
Where is the setting for Superfetch?

Andy
If you click the start button, then type services in the search box then enter, the services box will come up (after the uac prompt) then scroll down to superfetch.

This is the first one i disable along with windows search which also tends to thrash the hard drive.
 

Mark.J

Administrator
Staff member
ISPreview Team
Been using all these tweaks on my main system for a week or so now and Vista is certainly a lot better with than without them :). No more HD thrashing, lower RAM usage, lower CPU / battery consumption and a generally smoother experience.
 

Mark.J

Administrator
Staff member
ISPreview Team
Updated no.8 with a new custom theme choice.
 

Mel

ULTIMATE Member
There was provision onboard for another 512k, and by cutting a few tracks on the mobo you could increase the video ram to 1mb, then there was a set of pins for RAM chips built into the sidekick HD enclosure as well; it may have been for 2mb, giving 3mb overall.

Mine is still in the loft, although I must admit I threw away hundreds of disks for it only a few days ago.
Yeah, that's right. I did the 1mb chipset ram mod, and bought the A590 (?) 20 Meg harddisk with 2mb of "fast" ram installed, making 3mb in total, although I had 512K tied up by bootstrapping Kickstart 2.0 from the hard disk. If Only Vista was 10% as efficient :smilet:
 

Captain_Cretin

ULTIMATE Member
Why didnt you fit the kickstart 2 Rom on the motherboard?? It was a straight swap if I remember correctly. (2.04 then later 2.1).
Lemmings still looks better on the old Amiga version than the last variant I saw released for the PC
 

orangehippo

Guest
can you guys say that vista is better than xp? from what i've been seeing a lot prefers xp over vista.
 

akbray

ULTIMATE Member
IMO, Vista offers nothing more than XP, but required greater system resources to do even the most basic things. Vista does look marginally better, even if (like me) you switch off the Aero interface.

Unfortunately, XP will be killed off fairly soon, so there won't be security patches etc for much longer.
 

turnkey

Top Member
IMO, Vista offers nothing more than XP, but required greater system resources to do even the most basic things. Vista does look marginally better, even if (like me) you switch off the Aero interface.

Unfortunately, XP will be killed off fairly soon, so there won't be security patches etc for much longer.

Not that soon for security updates ....

Mainstream Support delivers complimentary and paid support, free security updates, and bug fixes to all Windows customers who purchase a retail copy of Windows XP (i.e., a shrink-wrapped, not pre-installed copy). Mainstream Support for Windows XP will continue through April 2009.

Extended Support delivers free security updates to all Windows customers. Customers can also pay for support on a per incident basis. Extended Support for Windows XP will continue until April 2014. New bug fixes require the Extended Hotfix Support program.
 
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