Special Note: Those who are interested in a career optimizing system performance should look into coursework from an IT management program at an accredited university, for example Creighton University Online.
Windows Vista boasts some cool features including better security, user-friendly functionality and impressive GUI comprising Aero interface, Flip 3D and many other graphical features. However, all these features come at a cost because they are notorious for affecting the performance of your computer and causing problems, such as frequent system freezes and crashes.
So, if you find your Windows Vista PC slowing down, you can follow the steps listed below to speed it up.
Step 1: Increase Your RAM.
Where Windows XP can run comfortably on 512MB, Vista requires at least 1 GB of RAM. Although the ideal recommended RAM is 2 GB. Also, if you like to use all those graphical features and need to work on several programs simultaneously, you may be better off with 4 GB.
Step 2: Use the ReadyBoost feature.
Although increasing RAM is an option, there is always a maximum limit, after which you cannot add more. In this case, you may fool your computer by using the ReadyBoost utility. This utility enables your Windows Vista PC to use a flash memory chip or a USB driver to boost the system memory.
When you insert your high performance flash card or USB drive in their sockets, you will be asked if you want to use them to speed up your PC. If you say yes, you will have to define the amount of memory you want your PC to use for the purpose.
Step 3: Install a better video adaptor.
If you are interested in using the high-end graphical features of Windows Vista, it is recommended that you opt for a Vista Premium Certified video adaptor with a good amount of RAM. Also, if you want to play Windows Vista games, ensure that your video adaptor supports DirectX 10.
Step 4: Disable unwanted startup programs.
You might have many programs that may be unnecessarily loading at system startup and feeding on your system resources. This is more likely when you buy a preloaded Vista computer from a vendor who added several software programs to the system. Although there might be some programs, such as antivirus and antispyware, that you may want the system to load at startup, you may easily do without many of them. Therefore, to speed up your computer, use the System Configuration utility to disable these unwanted programs from starting at system startup. You may also use the Startup Manager included in registry tools, such as RegServe to disable startup programs you don’t need. Finally, check the Startup folder and remove shortcuts of any programs that you don’t want to load when the system boots.
Step 5: Disable unnecessary enhancements.
Windows Vista comes with several visual enhancements, such as sliding or fading menus, shadows for mouse pointer and menus, and animations when windows are maximized/minimized. Although visually appealing, these features need to use a lot of system resources. Therefore, if you need a faster system, you must disable them.
To do this, open the Performance Information And Tools applet from Control Panel and then select Adjust Visual Effects link in the left pane. In the Performance Options dialog box that opens, you may disable the visual features you do not need, or you may just click the Adjust For Best Performance option to disable all resource consuming visual features in one step.
Step 6: Tweak the indexing options.
Search features in Windows Vista are really fast and efficient. However, the feature is dependent on periodic indexing of software and files on your PC. You system tends to slow down when this indexing is being done. Therefore, to speed up your PC, you may adjust the indexing feature to index only certain locations on your hard disk. To tweak the indexing feature, select the Adjust Indexing Options in the left pane of the Performance Information And Tools applet.
Step 7: Clean and defrag your hard disk.
The existence of unwanted and fragmented files slows down your computer and generates errors. To get rid of unwanted programs, you may use the Windows Vista Disk Cleanup utility. And, to repair the fragmented files, you can use the Windows Vista Disk Defragmenter tool. In Vista, you may schedule the Disk Defragmenter to run periodically to maintain the contiguity of data stored on your hard disk
Step 8: Tweak the power settings.
If you don’t mind using more power, open the Power Options applet from the Control Panel and then change the power settings to High Performance. Using more power will boost the PC performance. By default, the configuration is set as Balanced that limits the CPU usage to 50%.
Step 9: Disable the sidebar.
Although the sidebar is a useful Vista feature, it is not required if you don’t need to use its applets. So, to speed up your PC, disable it. To do this, right-click on the side bar, select Properties, and then clear the checkbox that sets the sidebar to launch at system startup. Finally, right-click the side bar and then click Close to turn it off.
Step 10: Disable Aero interface.
Lastly, if after implementing all of the above, you still haven’t got the desired results, disable the Windows Vista Aero interface. To do this, right-click on your desktop and then select Performance. Next, select Windows Color And Appearance and then click Open Classic Appearance Properties For More Color Options. Finally, on the Appearance tab, select any theme except Aero from the drop-down list.