Windows Vista Tweaks

Until some years ago all Microsoft operative systems followed this simple rule: I must run on the basis of the computer specs I am going to be installed in. What does that means? It means that the o.s. didn’t require a lot of memory nor specific features or a particular hardware set. That was true for most home computers. You had your little PC in your living room, a standard one, nothing fancy, right? It didn’t have a big amount of RAM (usually 512 RAM was considered a luxury), it didn’t have a big hard disk (usually 40 or 50 Gb made your eyes pop out of your sockets), it didn’t need complex motherboards or video cards to run. If you didn’t want to spend money on a PC you could decide to do so with the certainty that whatever Windows you were going to buy it would have worked anyway. That was possible because Windows 95, 98, ME, 2000 and XP were tailored to run on low-specs computers. Back then everything was fine and smooth (well, with Microsoft nothing is smooth, but I like to think like that) until the WOW era. It started on the 8th November 2006 with the announcement of Windows Vista. Since then the computer world has never been the same anymore (in worse of course). Windows Vista is the first Microsoft operative system that wants specific requirements to run. Basically, a machine must be perfectly tailored to host Vista. What does that mean? Firstly means that, since Vista is a resource-eater, your computer has to be very powerful and secondly you have to spend more money to just buy a standard machine. (To do what? To write the same documents you used to write when you had your Windows 95). After Vista was released many people arouse to protest against this concept. Why should I spend a lot of money for a computer full of useless-resource-eating-features I am not interested in? Even Microsoft itself didn’t have a very clear idea about how hungry its new o.s. was. As a matter of fact it stated that Vista needed 1Gb of RAM to run. But you guess what? With 1Gb of RAM Vista was so sluggish that you could barely use all the eye candy-features that came with it. That’s why big computer companies such as Hp and Dell advised to buy computers with at least 2 Gb of RAM. But this is not the end of the story. Once Vista is installed on your PC it activates automatically a series of services and features you may not desire, with the effect to slow your brand-new machine down. This article speaks about how to take control of the operative system and tell it what to do (and not the other way around) with the effect to make your computer faster or let your not-so-new-anymore PC hosts Windows Vista.

System Restore tweak

When you install a new program or a new drive, Windows Vista creates a restore point. It is also created thanks to a schedule program. But what is it? The System Restore is a feature that create “snapshots” of your operative system so that, if something goes wrong, you can roll your PC back to the last known good system configuration. It is a very useful service but it requires a lot of space on your hard disk as well as many resources from your processor and RAM. If you backup your files regularly into a USB pen drive or you have an external hard disk, this feature it totally useless for you and you can disable it safely. Here is how to do it.

Default Control Panel:

  1. Click Start
  2. Click Control Panel
  3. Click System and Maintenance
  4. Click Backup and Restore Center
  5. Click Create a restore point or change settings (look at the left side of the screen)
  6. Choose System Protection Tab
  7. Uncheck the hard drives under Automatic restore points
  8. A window appears. Click Turn System Restore Off
  9. Click Ok to apply the new setting

Classic view:

  1. Click Start
  2. Click Control Panel
  3. Click Backup and Restore Center
  4. Click Create a restore point or change settings (look at the left side of the screen)
  5. Click System Protection Tab
  6. Uncheck your hard drives under Automatic restore points
  7. A window appears. Click Turn System Restore Off
  8. Click Ok to apply the new setting

Index Service tweak

If your hard disk has a lot of files and you want to find them quickly, this service is the perfect solution since it indexes them for a faster retrieving. If you are an average user and the only things you have on your computer are documents, photos and few programs, this service is of no use. After disabling it you won’t see any difference when you look for a file using the “Search” option in the start menu, but you will see a slight improvement in your computer performance since the Index Service uses a lot of resources to index all the files and keep track of them. Let’s disable it.

Default Control Panel:

  1. Click Start
  2. Click Control Panel
  3. Click System and Maintenance
  4. Click Indexing Options
  5. Click Modify
  6. Click Continue
  7. Click Show all locations
  8. Click Continue
  9. Double click on Users on Summary of selected locations
  10. Uncheck the Users directory
  11. Double click on Start Menu in the Summary of selected locations
  12. Uncheck the Start Menu directory
  13. Click Ok

Classic view:

  1. Click Start
  2. Click Control Panel
  3. Click Indexing Options
  4. Click Modify
  5. Click Continue
  6. Click Show all locations
  7. Click Continue
  8. Double click on Users on Summary of selected locations
  9. Uncheck the Users directory
  10. Double click on Start Menu in the Summary of selected locations
  11. Uncheck the Start Menu directory
  12. Click Ok

Windows Sidebar

One of the new most evident features in Windows Vista is, without any doubt, the new eye-candy sidebar you can see on the desktop once you turn the PC on. You can play with it by adding many Widgets doing a variety of things. As a matter of fact with them you can: check the weather, watch pictures, read news, monitor your computer memory, etc. The bad-side is that this Vista wonder sucks between 12- 20MB of RAM with just the three default gadgets. No need to say that you have to remove it if you want a faster computer.

  1. Right click on a part of the Sidebar with no widget. A menu will appear.
  2. Click Properties
  3. Uncheck Start Sidebar when Windows starts
  4. Click Ok

Vista Aero Theme

The most famous feature in Windows Vista is its well-known Vista Aero theme. This is the real WOW Microsoft speaks about when it refers to Vista. Glossy windows, switching windows, translucent bars, shiny buttons. If you like bright things this theme is for you. Again, the bad-side is that it gets a lot, really a lot of resources. Let’s disable it.

Default Control Panel:

  1. Click Start
  2. Click Control Panel
  3. Click Appearance and Personalization
  4. Click Personalization
  5. Click Theme
  6. On the the drop down menu select “Windows Classic
  7. Click Ok

Classic view:

  1. Click Start
  2. Click Control Panel
  3. Click Personalization
  4. Click Theme
  5. On the the drop down menu select “Windows Classic
  6. Click Ok

Services

Windows Vista comes with a lot of so-called services already activated once you run it for the first times. These services stay on all the time plus Vista doesn’t warn you about them in a clear way nor ask you what you prefer to do with all of them. Useless to say that all these services take a lot of resources away from your PC resulting in a reduced computer performance. Let’s take the situation in our hands and decide what to run and what we don’t need.

Default Control Panel:

  1. Click Start
  2. Click Control Panel
  3. Click System and Maintenance
  4. Click Administrative Tools
  5. Click Services
  6. Click twice on a service
  7. You should already be on the General tab, and you should see the Startup type section. Here you can decide if disable a service or not.

These are the services you can safely disable:

  • Application Experience
  • Application Management
  • Certificate Propagation
  • Distributed Link Tracking Client
  • Fax
  • NetLogon
  • Offline Files
  • Portable Device Enumerator
  • ReadyBoost
  • Remote Registry
  • Smart Card
  • Smart Card Removal Policy
  • SNMP Trap
  • Tablet PC Input Service
  • Terminal Services UserMode Port Redirector
  • WebClient
  • Windows Remote Management – WS Management
  • WinHTTP Web Proxy Auto-Discovery Service

When you double-click on a service, on the left of the main window a brief auto-explanatory description appears. You can learn in this way if you need it or not.

For others Windows Vista Optimisation tricks you can read this post.

Important Notice: Disabling these services don’t result in a dramatic Operative System failure (i.e. you can not turn on your PC anymore or it breaks down all of a sudden). The only thing that may happen to it, is that it may loose the functionality of some features. If so, go back to the Service window and turn on the services you disabled to find out which one is giving problems. Anyway I am not responsible for any improbable damage these tweaks may bring to your computer. USE THEM AT YOU OWN RISK.

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