Community Newsletter: Q&A forum: What can I do to improve the speed of my Vista machine?

by: Lee Koo (ADMIN) December 14, 2007 1:05 AM PST

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What can I do to improve the speed of my Vista machine?

by Lee Koo (ADMIN) ModeratorCNET staff - 12/14/07 1:05 AM

Question:

Hi! Very simple question to the Vista gurus out there. What
can I do to improve the speed of a Vista machine? Seems like
my old expired computer with 98SE was faster, but how can
this be when I have four times more memory (2 GBs), a huge
hard drive of 250 GB, a better video card I think, and a much
faster processor. Vista is nice and pretty and all--moving
icons, nice colors--but why is it so darn slow? From booting
up to shutting down, to open and closing programs, it seems
like Windows took one step backward. OK enough of my
complaints, because that's not what I'm writing in for. I
just wish someone can advise me on some things I can do to
speed up Vista without having to add more hardware to my
fairly new computer (5 months old). Or is this really a lost
hope as to I have just accept what I have and deal with it?
Please say it isn't so. Thanks for listening, I hope you can
help me. Signed the frustrated one.

--Submitted by Darren S.

Answer voted most helpful by the CNET Community newsletter readers:

Looks are expensive, and "Free" costs more than you think...


Unfortunately, you inadvertently pointed out the problem yourself: Vista is about looks. Every one of those effects, from the translucent windows to the pearlescent shine to the oversized icons, eats up processing power that would otherwise be spent on running applications.
Also, much of the new software that comes on a pre-built computer (i.e. the "free" antivirus, AIM, other mfg. programs) are also serious resource hogs. Norton's AV products have been getting worse and worse each year, to the point where they can cut the system's performance in half.

The best handful of "tweaks" you can make to your Vista system to speed it up are as follows:
(Note: You can access the first three of these options by going to Control Panel's Classic View, then clicking Performance Information and Tools.)

1) Change the Theme: By going into Adjust Visual Effects and unchecking things you can do without (you may want to play around to see how you like it), you can remove all of the resource-sucking features of Vista.

2) Disable Indexing: One of the not-so-new features of Vista is the Indexing Service, which quietly catalogs your computer in the background to make searching faster. Problem is, it uses a lot of resources for (IMHO) a not-so-useful function. Yeah, it helps speed up your searches, but it's not worth the performance sacrifice.
You can disable this by going into Adjust Indexing Options, clicking modify, (clicking Show All Locations if applicable) and unchecking everything.

3) Ditch the Bloatware: All that junk that your computer comes with slows it down. By going into Manage Startup Programs, you can stop them from starting with your computer. Leave all the Microsoft Stuff alone, and disable the others that you don't need. If something doesn't work right after reboot (i.e. no Sound or lousy Graphics), you probably disabled a driver. Just go back in and turn it back on. (Granted, this is a little more dangerous than the other options, so exercise common sense here. We don't want to make things worse.)

4) Scrap your Slow Security Software: If you're still using the "free" Antivirus / Security Suite that your computer came with, you might want to consider something else. While I realize I might get flamed for saying this, I recommend something like Windows OneCare or Webroot's Antivirus for their small performance footprint and "set-it-and-forget-it" ease of use. Plus, OneCare can be used on two other PCs, too.

5) Don't be a Packrat: This one is probably the hardest to stick to, but also the simplest solution. Don't install programs you don't need, keep your documents folder organized, and keep the desktop as clutter-free as possible.

Now click "Update my Score" and watch your performance ratings soar!

Happy Computing!
Launchpad_72 aka IAmTheDonut

--Submitted by CNET member Launchpad_72

If you have any additional tips or recommendations for Darren here, please click on the reply link and post away. Please read on for other great advice from our members within this discussion thread. Be sure to check the CNET Windows Vista forum for additional Vista help and advice from your fellow members. Thank you!

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