Black Viper
Black Viper
Apr 102007
 

Black Viper’s Top 9 tweaks for a faster (and less annoying) Vista PC

The following is what I do directly after a clean install of Windows Vista . This does not mean that everything I do will work
for you. Keeping that in mind, ensure you are fully aware of the risks of tweaking your system before doing so. Several of my performance tweaks "reduce" the default functionality of Windows and removes some built in security features. If security is a top priority for you or you are a new user to Vista, refrain from disabling any functionality noted as a security feature.

Point to note: Ensure that you are logged in as an "Administrator" or have Administrator rights before performing any of these
steps.

Even though I do these steps directly after a clean install, all of them be done at any time.

Quick Links:

Number One: User Account Control
Number Two: System Restore and Indexing Features
Number Three: Windows Sidebar
Number Four: Remote Assistance and Remote Desktop
Number Five: Vista Aero (Themes)
Number Six: Updated Drivers
Number Seven: Lighten System Tray
Number Eight: Add/Remove Programs
Number Nine: Services

Number One: User Account Control

User Account Control or UAC is a new feature in Vista that asks for permission to do system software tasks and also run programs. Unfortunately, this security feature is also annoying. I cannot predict the future of your system or what kind of security vulnerabilities will be used to attack systems, and as such, you need to decide for yourself if you desire to keep UAC active, but if you wish to disable it, here is how I do it:

With the default Category Control Panel:

  1. Head to Start
  2. Select Control Panel
  3. Select System and Maintenance
  4. Select Administrative Tools
  5. Select the System Configuration button
  6. Select the Continue button (if UAC is active)
  7. Select the Tools Tab
  8. Select "Disable UAC"
  9. Select the Launch button
  10. Select the Ok button to close the panel

You will have to reboot for the setting to take effect.

Number Two: System Restore and Indexing Features

If you are experiencing "random" slowdowns and "high" CPU usage for no reason, these two features are the most likely cause of the problem. These features are also a major cause of "missing" disk space. System Restore could be taking up to 15% of your hard drive space, just on its own. On a 200GB hard drive, that is 30GB!

System Restore Service creates system snap shots or "restore points"
for returning to at a later time. Every time you install a program or new driver, plus on a schedule, this service creates
a restore point to roll back to if a problem occurs. This is the first thing that I get rid of on a clean installation. If you use this and enjoy it, good for you. I never
will. I feel it is faster and less hassle to just install clean. If you do not use System Restore Service, I highly recommend you back up your important files using, for example, a CD/DVD burner or an external USB 2.0 hard drive. A rather good (and possibly the only) reason to use this "feature" is to roll back your OS after installing an unknown program or testing software. For example: BETA software
of any kind or before installing a Service Pack . NOTE: If you disable this service,
your previous "restore points" will be deleted. If, for what ever reason, you do not want this to happen, do not
disable this service.

The Indexing Service, by default, searches the start menu and the user account directory (C:/Users/<account>/) to assist in faster searching. However, with the tasks that I personally do, I rarely, use the Windows Search feature. The indexing feature has improved, though, as it is much more sensitive to an active user and will reduce the resources used while a person is actively using the system.

Get rid of System Restore and Indexing. Where do you find it?

With the default Category Control Panel:

  1. Head to Start
  2. Select Control Panel
  3. Select System and Maintenance
  4. Select Backup and Restore Center
  5. Select Create a restore point or change settings (on the left side)
  6. Select the Continue button (if UAC is active)
  7. Select System Protection Tab (should be there already)
  8. Uncheck your hard drives listed under "Automatic restore points"
  9. Select the Turn System Restore Off button
  10. Select the Ok button to apply the settings

With the Classic View:

  • Head to Start
  • Select Control Panel
  • Select Backup and Restore Center
  • Select Create a restore point or change settings (on the left side)
  • Select the Continue button (if UAC is active)
  • Select System Protection Tab (should be there already)
  • Uncheck your hard drives listed under "Automatic restore points"
  • Select the Turn System Restore Off button
  • Select the Ok button to apply the settings

You can now disable the Indexing Feature:

With the default Category Control Panel:

  1. Head to Start
  2. Select Control Panel
  3. Select System and Maintenance
  4. Select Indexing Options
  5. Select the Modify button
  6. Select the Continue button (if UAC is active)
  7. Select the Show all locations button
  8. Select the Continue button (if UAC is active)
  9. Double click "Users" in the "Summary of selected locations"
  10. Uncheck Users directory
  11. Double click "Start Menu " in the "Summary of selected locations"
  12. Uncheck Start Menu directory
  13. Select the Ok button to close the panel

With the Classic Control Panel:

  1. Head to Start
  2. Select Control Panel
  3. Select System and Maintenance
  4. Select Indexing Options
  5. Select the Modify button
  6. Select the Continue button (if UAC is active)
  7. Select the Show all locations button
  8. Select the Continue button (if UAC is active)
  9. Double click "Users" in the "Summary of selected locations"
  10. Uncheck Users directory
  11. Double click "Start Menu " in the "Summary of selected locations"
  12. Uncheck Start Menu directory
  13. Select the Ok button to close the panel

Number Three: Windows Sidebar

The new Windows Vista Sidebar uses between 12MB and 20MB of RAM with the default 3 Gadgets and no news headline feed.

Desire to disable the Sidebar? Several ways exist, but here are two of them:

  1. Locate the Windows Sidebar icon in the System Tray (lower right, near the clock display)
    1. Show hidden icons if it is not displayed
  2. Right click the icon to bring up the context menu
  3. Select Properties
  4. Uncheck Start Sidebar when Windows starts
  5. Select the Ok button to apply the settings

You can disable the Sidebar also by:

  • Right click on an unused area of the Sidebar (between Gadgets or at the bottom) to bring up the context menu
  • Select Properties
  • Uncheck Start Sidebar when Windows starts
  • Select the Ok button to apply the settings

If you wish to close the Sidebar now:

  1. Locate the Windows Sidebar icon in the System Tray (lower right, near the clock display)
    1. Show hidden icons if it is not displayed
  2. Right click the icon to bring up the context menu
  3. Select Exit

or:

  • Right click on an unused area of the Sidebar (between Gadgets or at the bottom) to bring up the context menu
  • Select Exit

Number Four: Remote Assistance and Remote Desktop

Remove Remote Assistance and ensure Remote Desktop is disabled.

Take Note: Remote Desktop is not available on Vista Home or Vista Home Premium, so the option will not be there.

Where do you find it?

With the default Category Control Panel:

  1. Head to Start
  2. Select Control Panel
  3. Select System and Maintenance
  4. Select System
  5. Select Remote settings (on the left side)
  6. Select the Continue button (if UAC is active)
  7. Uncheck "Allow Remote Assistance connections to this computer " option
  8. Ensure "Don’t allow connections to this computer" option is checked
  9. Select the Ok button to apply the settings

With the Classic Control Panel:

  1. Head to Start
  2. Select Control Panel
  3. Select System
  4. Select Remote settings (on the left side)
  5. Select the Continue button (if UAC is active)
  6. Uncheck "Allow Remote Assistance connections to this computer " option
  7. Ensure "Don’t allow connections to this computer" option is checked
  8. Select the Ok button to apply the settings

Number Five: Vista Aero (Themes)

Reduce the overhead associated with Windows Vista’s new Themes. As a side note, the new Aero is a big reason to upgrade to Vista and I really enjoy the new look. However, if you are using an older system that does not meet the recommended requirements to run the new Aero Glass engine, disable the themes to make it look like Windows 2000/XP (with its new theme disabled) and save the memory.

With the default Category Control Panel:

  1. Head to Start
  2. Select Control Panel
  3. Select Appearance and Personalization
  4. Select Personalization
  5. Select Theme
  6. From the drop down box, select "Windows Classic"
  7. Select the Ok button

With the Classic Control Panel:

  1. Head to Start
  2. Select Control Panel
  3. Select Personalization
  4. Select Theme
  5. From the drop down box, select "Windows Classic"
  6. Select the Ok button

Fine tune visual performance options:

With the default Category Control Panel:

  1. Head to Start
  2. Select Control Panel
  3. Select System and Maintenance
  4. Select Performance Information and Tools
  5. Select Adjust visual effects (on the left side)
  6. Select the Continue button (if UAC is active)
  7. Select "Adjust for best performance."
  8. Select the Ok button

With the Classic Control Panel:

  1. Head to Start
  2. Select Control Panel
  3. Select System
  4. Select Advanced system settings (on the left side)
  5. Select Advanced Tab
  6. Under Performance, select the Settings button
  7. Select Visual Effects Tab
  8. Select "Adjust for best performance."
  9. Select the Ok button

After that, Disable and Stop the Themes service.

With the default Category Control Panel:

  1. Head to Start
  2. Select All Programs
  3. Select Administrative Tools
  4. Select Services
  5. Select "Themes" service (Double Click)
  6. Select General Tab
  7. In the Startup type: select "Disabled"
  8. In the Service status area: select "Stop"
  9. Select the Ok button to close the panel

Number Six: Updated Drivers

Download and install all updated drivers from the hardware manufacture sites.
I cannot tell you what site you need to go to for your system components as I have no idea what is installed in your system, but do your computer a favor and get updated drivers for everything. Contact your PC builder or each manufacture for each item installed in your system.

As with every Windows release in the past, updated drivers fix bugs and also usually increase performance from the default OS drivers installed.

Usually, after the installation of each driver, you must reboot. If the driver installation program does not ask you to reboot, I still recommend to do so.

Number Seven: Lighten System Tray

After updating all my drivers, I remove any excess icons (all of them, basically) from the system tray (lower right) and
check the services (Number Nine) to ensure nothing else was installed (like NVIDIA’s "driver helper." Contrary to popular belief, those little "quick access" icons take up a lot of room and increase boot time.

Number Eight: Add/Remove Programs

Uninstall Windows Vista features that are unused:

With the default Category Control Panel:

  1. Head to Start
  2. Select Control Panel
  3. Select Programs
  4. Select Programs and Features
  5. Select Turn Windows features on or off (on the left side)
  6. Select the Continue button (if UAC is active)
  7. Check or Uncheck needed/unneeded Windows features
  8. Select the Ok button

Number Nine: Services

Adjust for any additional unneeded services. Windows Vista Services Configurations.

With the default Category Control Panel:

  1. Head to Start
  2. Select Control Panel
  3. Select System and Maintenance
  4. Select Administrative Tools
  5. Select Services
  6. Select a service to adjust by double-clicking
  7. In the General tab, Startup type section, select Automatic (Delayed Start), Automatic, Manual or Disabled.

If you like, you can also do: Start –> All Programs –> Accessories –> Run –> type in services.msc –> Select OK.

After configuring all services that you desire to change, reboot to see the effects of your tweaking.

Note: Do not use msconfig to stop services. It basically is "disabling" a service. Use the above procedure
and set to "manual" instead for testing purposes.

If you have not already, reboot now.
If you have rebooted, do it again.