25 Most Popular Windows Tips: The Best Explained and Worst Debunked

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kenban

I don't know why but it seems like shutting down time is getting longer and longer for me. Using XP. Larry, bladder infection symptoms

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crazyiniraq

AJinMosul

How can Max PC refer to QoS reserving 20% of Bandwidth as an absurd legend when it was in their Special Edition Summer 2004 issue???This was the issue on Tips,Tricks and Hacks for Windows XP. On page 40 under the Broadband Tip you describe in detail how to hack the registry to change the setting from 20% to 0.In older editions of XP this change could be made but it could not be done in newer editions.I read your magazine quite regularly and dont recall seeing a correction or retraction on this but now you refer to it as an absurd legend.What Gives???

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gendoikari1

And I wish you a happy GO TO HELL SPAMMER.

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sartan2002

I can't wait to go home and try some of these out.

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daddydave

The only time I clear temporary internet files is when a site isn't working. I'm always surprised by the number of people who think that forcing the browser to download the files from the internet is somehow going to speed things up.

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tri8gman

Unless of course... ...you're the average person who never ever clears the cache, resulting in 49.999MB of space used out of the 50MB allotted (default size for Firefox, varies from browser to browser). I don't see how forcing the browser to figure out which of the over 9000 files is oldest really helps the situation typical for most... It's really a context tip, not universal.

 

But then again, we read Maximum PC: we better have better cycles of maintenance over most. :P

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Ntldr

I like the article and it is helpful for the true ones, that being said, I do have a problem calling them registry hacks.  It isn't a hack it is simply editing the registry and nothing more. 

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Scootiep

"Putting your paging file onto a second hard drive will increase performance" and then "While not recommended, you can even put the pagefile on an external USB drive..."

 Can I ask why this isn't recommended? I was actually considering doing this with my 16 gig SDHC card on my laptop. Is it a device failure issue, or something more along the lines of "It's easy to forget and leaving it plugged in could result in the USB drive being snapped off by a careless bump." Which would be negated by the SD card because it's enclosed in the system.

 

To start press any key...ohh, where's the "Any" key. - Homer Simpson

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aviaggio

Cause USB drives are VERY slow. And it could crash the system if the drive disconnects for any reason. USB just isn't that bulletproof.

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Scootiep

So really the SD card would work fine as far as staying connected and being out of the way but probably wouldn't be fast enough unless it was a speed class of 30 to 45? Or would that still be too slow? Sorry, not really up to date on the requirements of paging file writes.

 

To start press any key...ohh, where's the "Any" key. - Homer Simpson

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AntiHero

I call win on this. /bookmarked

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jihnn

hola

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reosoft

I located the registry setting under HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Control Panel\Desktop, not HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Desktop.  Is this a misprint?

Reo

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xterminator

If u disable the indexing service in ur c:\ properties, your hd will perform better.

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JohnP

  I was watching a streaming movie on Win7 when it started stuttering. Went to Task manager and sure enough, indexing was going on the hard drive. Went to C: properties and killed indexing. No more issues. I have never seen the benefit for indexing in the first place.

 I rarely use search in explorer as I run Directory Opus 9 instead. If you do not know where a file is, you need to work on your housekeeping.

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BrandonLive

Do NOT alter that attribute.  That will NOT help your system performance and will only cause you problems in the future.  Do NOT mess with that file attribute, it exists for applications to mark temporary files.

If you don't want a drive or folder indexed, use the Indexing Options control panel.  Of course, if you disable the Windows Search service then none of this matters anyway.  But disabling that is a myth, it will only serve to make the Explorer slower.

If you want to learn more, read this:

http://blogs.msdn.com/e7/archive/2008/10/13/windows-desktop-search.aspx

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Gigabyte

You messed up bad on that one.  We do not need the registry or TweakUI.

 XP allows us to...

1) Slecet the Clear List button to clear recent documents.

2) Uncheck the "List my most recently opened documents" box to make the entire feature go away.

 

http://www.howtogeek.com/howto/windows/clear-recent-documents-in-the-xp-start-menu/

http://support.microsoft.com/kb/307875

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big_montana

I think you misunderstood, as this tweak eliminates the Recent Documents/List folders entirely. Without the folders present you do not have to remember to MANUALLY clear the contents before logging off, as since they will not exist, nothing there will be nothing to worry about eliminating, or forget about clearing.

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MRrelabled

I think you should test a one size fits all of 1.5GB min. I did a tests years ago and could never never get the pagefile over 1.2GB. Test It !

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MRrelabled

Disabling System Restore can improve performance, because it's crap it leave orphaned files and registry listings.

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zoltan the gypsy

Interesting article.  I have to differ on two topics: leaving superfetch and restore points enabled.  Not on laptops, IMNSHO.

When running on batteries, the last thing I want is superfetch banging away on the disk, burning battery and slowing the machine down post boot.

When sprinting for the ferry, I want the laptop to shut down FAST.  If it has just decided to set a restore point, it can take MINUTES.  Not good.

Z.

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mdude

I have vista 64 ultimate on a q6600 w/ 8 gigs of memory. With superfetch enabled, my computer is SOOOOO slow because every time I turn around superfetch is fetching something. I guess it's possible if I left it running for an hour to do it's thing, it might actually make it faster. But when I turn my computer on, or wake it up, I expect it to usable. And superfetch makes it unusable.

I've seen the same problem on a similar machine I built with 4 gigs of memory. It was bogging down because of superfetch. Once I turned the service off, it was like having a new machine.

I haven't used win7 enough to know if it's any better, but I'd be surprised if it was.

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Thanatos-

See i came to the same conclusion on boot times by clearing the prefetch folder but by disabling it completely i definitely saw an performance increase on boot time. Don't know if i can post links so just google "Disable Prefetch" and it should give you what you need.

Now on alot of these id love to have the registry hacks instead of simply being told "Use TweakUI". Why not post both.

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reggiester

To remove the recently opened docs/files from the start menu. you dont need to tweak the registry. jusy right click the task bar then choose properties. select the star menu tab, then click the customize button, select the advanced tab, then uncheck "list my most recent opened docs"

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neo1piv14

That will hide the recent documents menu, but if you go back in and make it show your recent documents, you'll see that it's still been keeping track. So for privacy reasons, use the reg hack, because if all someone has to do is make the menu show again to see what you've been doing, then you're SOL. 

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magnetizer

File fragmentation does not affect SSDs much because SSD random reads are very fast. Where the SSD falters is in random write times, and this is exacerbated by *free space* fragmentation, not file fragmentation. I am not sure, but I suspect this has to do partly with split (wasted) I/O requests and with the time required to erase+write data in MLC SSDs. Even the Diskeeper guys say that frequent file fragmentation is not required for an SSD, and free space fragmentation is what is necessary
http://www.diskeeperblog.com/archives/2008/12/hyperfast_is_al.html#comments

Another thing, in the article it was suggested (but not recommended) to put the paging file on a USB drive for 'performance gains'. That doesn't sound very logical...the bottleneck here will the USB bus speeds, which are lower than SATA bus speeds by an order of magnitude (480Mbps vs 1.5Gbps). So I doubt whether it will provide any benefit at all, and will most likely hamper performance.

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iaTa

I beat you to it I'm afraid - look further down the comments :)

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JustEnough

SuperFetch is a feature of Vista and is not available in your XP installation.  Check the article again carefully and you will see that SuperFetch is listed as a Vista Tip.

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Cache

I checked in XP, and I don't seem to have superfetch listed at all.  Am I missing something here, or does it need to be added/activated somehow?

 

I should note, this is a very clean install of XP...

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Falcon4

If you notice, that tip was cleverly hidden under a "Vista tips" header.

But it's no matter; it's simply known by a less glittery name under Windows XP: "Prefetch", which serves the same purpose. It's also enabled by default. You don't need to do anything to enable it, however there is a registry tweak to disable it. I do those adjustments while building my Windows installations in nLite, so I don't know where to do it post-installation. Google is your friend there. :)

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Falcon4

Okay, okay, one more and I'll shut up.

The best Vista performance tip, to get the most work and least headaches out of your computer?

It's called an XP disc, and perhaps nLite.

Sorry, I had to say it! ;)

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Falcon4

One last comment, of course.

Be careful about telling people to turn off 8.3 filename support. For some ridiculous reason, Windows XP itself still refers to the Program Files folder as "PROGRA~1" (its 8.3 filename) in some areas of the registry. On a computer I sold to someone, where I did an experimental drive-splitting cooperative-RAID, I installed Windows, created an empty folder called "Program Fails", mapped the secondary drive to that folder (so it became a mounted drive), moved the contents of the Program Files folder to the drive, then deleted Program Files and renamed Program Fails to Program Files.

The system booted and worked fine, but later down the line mysterious quirks started coming up. Uninstallers wouldn't run (claiming missing DLLs from PROGRA~1, a detail I overlooked at the time - but the DLLs were there), Windows Installer kept wanting to reinstall programs when I tried to run them, program and file icons went missing, almost all tied to Windows Installer. I didn't understand the problem until I tried CD'ing to C:\PROGRA~1, and being told that there was no such folder - it was now called PROGRA~2 because of the similar name I originally gave it! I had to use a registry search-and-replace tool to locate all instances of PROGRA~1 and replace them with PROGRA~2... hundreds, maybe thousands of entries.

Moral of the story is, it may be defunct, but Windows APIs still rely on them for some god-forsaken reason. I wouldn't suggest doing it. If it's disabled, the 8.3 filename for new files becomes "blank", with no way for an 8.3 API to access the files. Not good for relieving a PC tech's headache. ;)

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Falcon4

Okay, I've been a Maximum PC reader since the years when "1 GHZ!!" was all over the cover in huge caps. And I've been tweaking and building/repairing computers since MFM and RLL hard drives were relevant, and BIOSes actually used those numbered "drive type" settings.

 And I've got two serious problems to complain about in this article. Three, if you count Vistaids.

 First, the header (and therein, verdict) on "You Need To Overwrite Your Hard Drive Seven Times With Random Data To Make Data Unrecoverable: TRUE" doesn't even match the article text below it.  The whole article text was summarizing that it's impossible to recover data after one pass of zeroes (which is true). So therefore, the myth that you'd have to overwrite it 7 times is actually FALSE.

 My second and most serious gripe is an issue that truly should have come to light at least 2 years ago, and it involves page file "optimization". The only TRUE way to optimize a page file on modern Windows computers is to entirely _DISABLE_ it. Windows has been capable of running entirely devoid of a page file holding the system back, since XP SP2 was released. Unfortunately, many people on the internet seem to disagree, primarily due to the lack of media attention this tweak has received.

The fact of the matter is, Windows' memory management model is to "conserve" physical memory by moving data off to the page file - or, as I believe it's actually implemented, to write pages to the page file and purge them from memory to make room for additional disk cache. That was all well and good back in 1990. Now, computers have 2, 4GB of memory, and people still blindly and ignorantly allow Windows to allocate 1.5x (which is the actual value for Windows' page file calculation by default) of physical memory to the page file - so if you have 4gb RAM (effectively about 3.5gb and a potential for crashing, if you're in a 32-bit OS), you end up with a 4gb page file, limited only because Windows can't allocate any more! The irony is, if you have a 32-bit OS, 4gb RAM, and a page file, Windows won't even be capable of utilizing the page file in any shape or form (other than slowing down the system) due to the 32-bit processor's inability to address more than 4gb of virtual memory (where virtual memory is defined as any addressable memory space) within a 32-bit system. So a page file is entirely worthless - it just slows the system down. Even if it does not slow the system down, the only purpose it serves is a potential for slowdowns by the potenial for Windows to swap pages out to disk. That is all.

So I just wanted to bring this issue to light before this false "optimize the page file" tweak gets spread any further in this day and age. The only true way to optimize a page file on a modern Windows PC is to disable it entirely. I would know; I've been running my main PC without a page file for almost 4 years. Why would I suggest something that hasn't worked for me?

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Muerte

If Windows doesn't need to use the pagefile it won't. so it doesn't slow anything down by being there.  If it does need to pagefile something and you don't have it you will see the need for it.

My guess is that either you've been lucky thus far and have not taxed your ram with what you do.

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mdude

We use XP at work. Not too long ago I noticed my machine (4 gigs of memory) was going slower than it used to. I had configured all our machines to have about 2 gig pagefile. I decreased mine to 500meg, and performance increased significantly. Only when running a VM with vista in it do I get close to using all of my physical memory, so I know the pagefile isn't needed.

I noticed the same thing with my vista 64 box at home (8 gigs of memory). I have the pagefile set to 512mb now and it's much more responsive.

I understand why pagefiles are necessary, but the logical conclusion that windows won't use it if it doesn't need it seems to be false.

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Muerte

My guess is that your using more ram than you think.  There is alays a bunch of services windows uses that take ram for programs that aren't necessarily doing anything but holding  memory space, just in case.

Having too big of pagefile is also bad.  That's why they give that calculation.  The bigger it is the longer it takes to search for what it needs.

Why you would get better performance for eliminating your pagefile is beyond me.  It just doesn't work that way. 

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iaTa

Sorry guys but you are wrong on the SSD and defrag front.  It actually does help an SSD to defrag the drive as it enables more writes to be sequential rather than random which increases performance.  You can't just use any old defrag however.  Have a read of this:

http://www.diskeeper.com/hyperfast/index.asp

This isn't spam by the way.  I am a member on OCZ forums and we are constantly looing for new ways to improve the speed of SSDs.

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JohnP

  Disk defrag programs  have been around since the dawn of hard drives. They actually made a difference IN THE BEGINNING. I have seen NO PROOF (except for defrag program sellers "facts") that they make much difference if at all these days. And I have had defrag programs cause PROBLEMS with my drive since XP came out.

Just say no to defrag.

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Phated1

Do you have any actual evidence that this product works to improve speeds?  All I see is an advertisement by the company for the product, which holds no weight as any company is going to try to make their product sound amazing.  And MaxPCs statements are true to the fact that the reason defragging works on a HDD is because there are moving parts.  If the head has to move all over the platter to get one file, it slows performance.  In an SSD where there is no head moving around retrieving the data in theory defragging would do nothing but cause unnecessary read/writes.  So show us some third-party benchmarks using this software, and then we will see.

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iaTa

It works because it frees up clear blocks of space on the SSD for sequential writes.  Nothing to do with reads.  Benchmarks here if you don't beleive me:

http://www.ocztechnologyforum.com/forum/showpost.php?p=320622&postcount=19

I would assume the resuts would be even more apparent if the SSD had more data on it.

I'm currently in the process of testing Hyperfast and will post my results soon on OCZ forums.

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Muerte

Okay, one more time.  SSD's don't care if the data is sequential.  The only reason defrag is important for HD's is because the needle physically has to move to the spot where the data is.

A SSD does not have this problem.  The storage works just like RAM.  Its indexed by memory location.  You pop in the proper location and bang you have your data no matter where on the storage it is.

SSD is actually a misnomer since there is not a mechanical drive in the thing.

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horzo

have added turning off Windows Search in Vista. It generates a ton of disk activity, and isn't useful enough to be worthwhile.

Personally, I also turn off system restore. Max PC may consider the extra disk activity, drive space usage, and general overhead inconsequential, but I'd have to politely disagree. It adds extra time to any software installation, and to me is essentially useless. I can't remember the last time a driver install actually borked my system, but If by some small chance such a thing actually hapens, I'll just reinstall.

The few small files that I really can't lose, I back up to an external drive.

 

 

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Muerte

Its saved my ass many times. But I sometimes engage in risky internet behavior.  And do not relish the idea of reinstalling all my stuff, which is an even bigger drain on installation time.

The actual point of the tip was that their is no performance hit while running.  It may take a little more time to install but who cares, that's one time thing.  If your lucky.

As for the search?  If your not using it does it really matter?

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funkyp56

I THINK ITS COMPLETE BS THAT YOUR SITE TIMESTAMPS THE FEED TO BE IN THE FUTURE THEREFORE STAYING AT THE TOP OF MY SCREEN. 

 

FIX IT!!!! 

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willsmith

Actually, we don't do it to make you angry. We do it because we don't have a way to sticky stories at the top of the page without doing it. Sorry for the hassle. It's one of the features I've asked for ages ago, but it's been pretty low priority.

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soccer1105

I USE CAPS LOCK ALL THE TIME BECAUSE I'M CONSTANTLY YELLING, HAVE POOR SOCIAL SKILLS, AND DON'T KNOW HOW TO EXPRESS MY IDEAS IN AN INTELLIGENT WAY!

 

I AM A NEWB TO THE INTERNET, AND STILL THINK THIS IS EFFECTIVE!!!!

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Muerte

LOL

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DoctorX

man...i dont know which defrag program you are using..but if you found no improvement ... then you are using the wrong one.  I use jkdefrag... it is free and open source.  Runs on all windows from 2000-vista64.  And I notice 40-50% improvement in boot up times and loading the desktop.  Fallout 3 was cut down almost in half after running jkdefrag. Sorry... try again. 

 BTW... i have a 300GB C drive and my other drives have well over 5 million files. 

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JohnP

 If you are EXPECTING faster speed after a defrag, you will ALWAYS find that it is indeed faster! Observation and opinion is NEVER PROOF! Where is your scientific self respect?

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ScottProdigy

Today’s hard drives are fast enough to make fragmentation largely
irrelevant, and our benchmark tests have repeatedly borne this out: On
moderately fragmented drives, defragmentation will offer negligible to
no performance increase. For seriously fragmented drives (think 40
percent or more), especially those running XP or older OSes,
defragmentation can help, but don’t expect the world.

Well, that's not exactly true, and goes hand in hand with clearing temp files. Some users at my company have NEVER had a disk cleanup run on their system, and combined with software installs, and windows updates/service packs, the fragmentation on the machine is crazy. After wiping thousands of temp files that could equate to several gigabytes, a defrag is certainly necessary and will help an ailing system perform like new again.

As for 3rd party defrag apps, Diskeeper is much better than the Windows variety. It will allow an automatic defrag in the background when the system is idle, or have it run on a schedule (similiar to antivirus apps) so your system's performance is in "set it and forget it" mode. It can also defrag the page file while booting up, something that can't typically be touched within Windows (you'd have to shut off the page file to completely defrag the system.) Combine Diskeeper with the free Process Explorer, and you can crank the process for the defrag to a "realtime" priority, thus further speeding up the process.

Though it lacks many of the advanced features of Diskeeper, the freeware IObit Smart Defrag is a decent alternative as well. Keep in mind, all of these apps run on Vista and show some form of progress window, which even Windows ME has a leg up on Vista in that category!

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