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 Post subject: Sovereign's Windows Vista FAQ
PostPosted: Wed Jan 23, 2008 12:45 pm 
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After seeing the same questions about Windows Vista pop up time and time again, I figured it would be a good idea (in line with the "Where's my RAM" thread) to create a similar repository of the most common questions relating to Windows Vista. If you have a question about this thread's contents (not a suggestion for the thread itself) post it here!

Thread has been updated as of August 21, 2008!
All questions which had answers changed are marked with a "*" for now.
Totally new FAQ items are marked with "**".

Table of Contents
(Note: All images were found using Google Image Search unless noted otherwise, and all images are stored on ImageShack.us)

Deciding Whether to Install Vista
1. What do I need to run Vista well?
2. What do "Vista Capable" and "Vista Premium Ready" mean?
3. What's the difference between the versions?
4. What about 64-bit?*
5. What about games?*
6. Do I really "need" Windows Vista?
7. Does upgrading in-place from Windows XP cause Vista to run like a dog? Are upgraded versions less stable/reliable than clean installs?
8. Can I upgrade from ___ to Vista, or do I have to do a clean install?**
9. I only have an Upgrade Disk. Can I do a "clean" install?
10. I read ___ about Vista licensing, is it true?**

Questions about Vista once installed
1. Why is my hard drive being accessed all the time?
2. The Task Manager says I have 2MB of free RAM! What's going on?
3. Vista is using humongous amounts of memory! Help!
4. My laptop used to get __ hours of run-time, and now gets less. Why?
5. What's the real life meaning of my Windows Experience Index?
6. What's with User Account Control, or those little annoying boxes? WHY?*
7. What is ReadyBoost, and can I really get away with using a flashdrive as RAM? Won't it destroy my flash drive?
8. What's with the Taskbar and windows changing from translucent to opaque when a window is maximized? Where'd my Glass go?*
9. Can I Fold under Vista?*
10. How do I never have to format my Vista machine again?
11. How do I move (My) Documents, Pictures and other profile folders off of the OS partition?
12. Does SLI work in Vista?*
13. How do I make Vista "faster?"
14. What about Physical Address Extension in Vista? Can I run 32-bit and 4GB RAM then?
15. I can only boot Vista when ___ drive is connected/the Vista DVD is in the drive. Why?

Service Pack 1 Questions
1. Vista Service Pack 1 makes all 4GB show up on a 32-bit system, does this mean I can use all 4GB?
2. Does Service Pack 1 fix most of the problems people were reporting with Vista?**

Removing/Dual-Booting Vista
1. I upgraded, but now I want Vista gone!
2. My computer came with Vista pre-loaded, now what do I do to get rid of it and go back to XP?
3. I want to switch to Linux
4. I want to dual-boot with XP*
5. I want to dual-boot with Linux
6. (I'm insane and) I want to triple boot Vista, XP and Linux.

This is by no means complete, and if anyone wants to help by posting answers to these questions (or posting more questions they see all the time) feel free. I have no knowledge of removing Vista, I ask others to step in here.

Currently, I am done editing this thread as I have reached the practical limit of my knowledge and have run out of questions. Suggestions are welcome, questions about concepts and ideas in the thread are to be discussed here not in this thread!

Legal Stuff

All portions of this guide not previously copyrighted (c) 2008 by Sovereign. Posts with a byline are copyright to that user. Anyone submitting material to be included acknowledges that this guide may be reprinted with the sole permission of Sovereign, however, bylines will be left intact. Please do not republish without permission from the me (trust me, I will most likely grant permission, but I'd appreciate the respect of being asked, seeing as how much time I have put into this).

You are solely responsible for what you do with the contents of this guide. Neither I (Sovereign) nor Maximum PC, Future Networks or any user who has contributed to this FAQ are responsible for any damage to your computer, system down-time or any other consequence of using this guide. By reading it and following any instructions contained herein, you accept these terms.


Last edited by Sovereign on Thu Aug 21, 2008 7:48 am, edited 47 times in total.

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PostPosted: Wed Jan 23, 2008 9:30 pm 
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What do I need to run Vista well? (Updated July 13, 2008)

Image Credit: Sovereign

Windows Vista requires a much faster "base" computer than Windows XP did when it was released. What you "need to run Vista well" contained herein is my opinion and my opinion only. If it is grossly incorrect, please tell me and I will correct the post. My definition of "runs well" means the system runs with Aero Glass enabled, and is responsive to the touch (no spinning blue ring).

CPU Recommendations
In general, a decently modern CPU is required. My roommate runs Vista on a single-core 1.86GHz Pentium-M and it does not feel slow. In general, I believe most higher-end Pentium 4s and Athlon XPs should be able to run Vista. Again, I have not worked with these CPUs, so at present this is just an educated guess.

I run Vista on an Intel Q6600 (3.0GHz quad) and Core Duo (note the lack of a "2" after) which is a 1.73GHz dual core part.. Unlike Windows XP, Vista (to my knowledge) does not require any of the special patches that Windows XP did to make dual-core CPUs behave. It also manages dual (and quad) core scheduling better. Vista is licensed per processor socket, not per core! There have been rumors about Vista being limited on dual core (or quad core) CPUs, this is completely false! This Microsoft page talks about multicore licensing as related to servers, but the same applies to consumer versions. As long as you don't have more than two physical processors, Vista will not complain. How do you know how many physical processors you have? How many processor sockets does your motherboard have? If you have more than one and don't know it, count me surprised and astounded. Having two (or more) CPUs show up in the Task Manager does NOT mean you have two physical processors, necessarily, because both dual core and HyperThreaded CPUs show up this way as well. See the following image:
Image

This is not a four-socket system, dual core with HyperThreading or twin dual core system. This is a quad core CPU, but as you can see with the number of different processor configurations that this could represent, you cannot always tell CPU count from the Task Manager view alone.

RAM Recommendations
I recommend 2GB of RAM or more for Vista. Again, Vista will run on as little as 512MB of RAM, but at that level, the Aero Glass theme is disabled and the system uses ~75% of the main memory just sitting idle. I know this from a test we conducted using my roommate's laptop (which had 1GB in two 512MB sticks at the time). Vista runs okay (in my opinion) on 1GB RAM, and if all you're going to do is word-process and internet, you can "get away" with having so little memory.

However, if you want Vista to perform its best, you really need 2GB or more of memory. I had 1GB in my laptop, and it felt sluggish. I currently have 2GB. This allows the OS to have plenty of room to spread out (its bloat), as well as have plenty of RAM for SuperFetch to do its job. Any more RAM than 2GB is overkill unless you are a heavy gamer and/or are into professional CAD applications. Plus, anything above 3.12GB requires switching to a 64-bit edition of Vista to take advantage of. I will talk about that later.

Hard Drive Recommendations
Does Vista need a Raptor? Will my old 10GB EIDE drive work? No and no. Vista does not need a super-fast drive to perform reasonably well, otherwise laptop users would be out in the cold. My laptop has a 5400RPM drive, and Vista is more than okay. However, any drive under 40GB is really not a good idea (and that assumes you don't have very much "stuff" that you store). Vista install sizes have been reported by users of [H]ardOCP to be anywhere from 10GB to 26GB(!) depending on version and whether or not Service Pack 1 Release Candidate 1 is installed. My Windows Vista Ultimate x64 with no Service Pack weighs in at 14.0GB (14.1GB on disk). My recommendation is nothing less than 120GB if you are a typical user with some music, games, movies and other content. SATA (Serial ATA, thin cables) versus PATA (Parallel ATA, fat ribbon cable) doesn't really make a difference. Why? Because no single drive in existence right now has the ability to saturate the data bus continuously. I only recommend SATA as future-proofing (and to improve airflow/cable management), not because SATA is 200x faster than PATA.

Graphics Card Recommendations
Windows Vista ditches the GDI+ system used to draw the desktop environment in Windows XP and earlier. It instead uses the Desktop Window Manager to draw into an offscreen buffer, which is then rendered in real-time 3D like a game. Hence, this OS needs some kind of 3D acceleration to look its best. Rest assured, GMA950 will cut it, you do not need 8800GTX SLI just for the Operating System alone! However, if you want to play games that's an entirely different story. Virtually any modern graphics unit (integrated or otherwise) is more than capable of running Vista's fancy Aero Glass interface.

Other Hardware
All those "Vista Certified" fans, PSUs, speakers, monitors, desk lamps and air cans (okay the last two don't exist...yet :P) are full of bollocks and are just trying to drive sales by claiming to be "with it" for the next operating system. Whatever you may have heard, Creative (and other soundcards) DO work in Vista, however in order to implement DirectSound, Creative has written ALchemy to translate DirectSound into OpenAL (which Vista runs natively). This has resulted in some blue screens and general annoyance as ALchemy doesn't always work as it is supposed to. Furthermore, unless you own an X-Fi, Creative wants you to pay for the privilege of having full 3D audio in Vista. I call bullshit on that one.


Last edited by Sovereign on Mon Jul 14, 2008 10:55 am, edited 8 times in total.

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PostPosted: Wed Jan 23, 2008 9:31 pm 
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What do "Vista Capable" and "Vista Premium Ready" mean?

These are Microsoft's marketing terms. Officially, Microsoft lists out both "Capable" and "Premium Ready" specs at far lower than what I've just said, primarily so they can try to move more PC sales with Vista onboard. Average Jane and Average Joe consumers will think "Well if Microsoft says it's 'capable' it should be fine." Unfortunately, Vista Capable means the following:
- 800MHz (single core) CPU
- 512MB RAM
- DirectX9 Capable graphics processor

Vista Premium Ready is more in line with what I'd call "bare minimum to avoid Vista-slide-show."
- 1GHz (again single core) CPU
- 1GB RAM
- DirectX9 Graphics support with 128MB of memory (not specified as dedicated) and Pixel Shader 2.0 technology with 32 bits per pixel
- 40GB of hard drive, 15GB free
- DVD-ROM drive
- Audio output
- Internet connectivity

Needless to say, these requirement sets fall pathetically short of what is needed for a true "premium" Vista experience. There is a difference between "capable" and "runs optimally." To me, "Premium Ready" just means that you can turn on Aero Glass.

Summary of Sovereign's Vista Hardware Recommendation
- Modern CPU (2004 or newer), at least 2.6GHz Intel, 2.13GHz AMD
- 2GB RAM (use whatever speed works with your CPU)
- 120GB hard drive (if this is your primary machine, my laptop gets by with 60GB because I don't store much on it)
- Dedicated video card supporting DX9


Last edited by Sovereign on Thu Jan 24, 2008 3:00 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Thu Jan 24, 2008 2:46 pm 
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What's the difference between the versions?

This information is mostly taken from Microsoft and Wikipedia.
Image
Vista Home Basic: The bargain bin version is best described by what it lacks. Specifically, no transparent Aero Glass effects are included, nor are there any advanced media center or business features. This version supports one physical CPU (with an unlimited number of CPU cores). The 64-bit version will accept up to 8GB of RAM. I would not recommend this version to anyone. Stay away!
Image
Vista Home Premium: This is the version most consumer PCs ship with nowadays. The Aero Glass theme is included in this and all subsequent versions with full transparency support. Windows Media Center is included, as is a version of Windows Meeting Space that allows participation (Home Basic can only view meetings). Parental Controls are included with this version, as are "Premium" games. One physical CPU (unlimited cores) is supported. The 64-bit version supports 16GB of RAM. This is most analogous to Windows XP Media Center Edition. My pick for non-business oriented home users.
Image
Vista Business: Has the same feature-set as Home Premium minus Parental Controls, Premium Games and Media Center. The backup features are more robust, allowing a complete backup of the computer using Windows Complete PC Backup and Restore (absent from Home Premium), full Remote Desktop support, Tablet support and Previous Versions via Shadow Copy. The Encrypting File System is supported. New to Vista is a handy Encryption Certificate backup wizard so that reinstalling does not cause you to lose data. I made that mistake once, thinking "The same computer with the same username and same password should generate the same certificate." Boy was that wrong... Notably different is the support for two physical CPUs (again unlimited cores per CPU). The 64-bit version of Business is limited to 128GB(+) of memory (no one I know has pushed to see if more than 128GB is supported). My choice for laptops and no-nonsense (business) desktops.
Image
Vista Enterprise: This is not a version that ordinary consumers should be concerned with. If you don't have it, you don't need it. It is distributed via OEM channels only. For the curious, it does contain a superset of Business features, improving upon data security with full BitLocker drive encryption, Virtual PC Express and Multilingual User Interface support (notice these things all matter to internationally-oriented big corporations...hence my earlier statement).
Image
Vista Ultimate: The "kitchen sink" version of Vista is a super-super set of practically every feature in preceding versions. Also in this version, Windows Ultimate Extras (currently consisting of 36 language packs, Hold 'Em Poker, Windows DreamScene and EFS Enhancements) are available. None of these are, in my opinion, really "Ultimate" in any sense of the word. They lack the "WOW" factor that Microsoft has been pushing for the whole Vista line. Windows Vista Ultimate combines the media capabilities of Home Premium with the backup/restore features in Business and the data encryption capabilities of Enterprise. If you really need all those things together, then Vista Ultimate is your only choice. I personally splurged on this "super-premium" Operating System for my desktop, but it really is a matter of preference and many power users happily run Home Premium and Business (x64). Memory and processor support are the same as in Business (128+GB for 64-bit, dual CPU socket support).


Last edited by Sovereign on Thu Jan 24, 2008 4:21 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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What about 64-bit? (Updated July 11, 2008)

You've heard the term "64-bit" before, what does it really mean for you? To risk oversimplifying, imagine that you are a CPU. You are a 32-bit CPU which likes to eat M&Ms. You can eat up to 32 M&Ms at a time, but no more. Your brother is a 64-bit CPU, and he can eat 64 pieces of delicious candy at a time. He can eat twice as fast as you. That's 64-bit versus 32-bit in super-layman's (to the point of possible inaccuracy) terms. It means more processing power for the same raw gigahertz speed. However, it also means that you can use more RAM. 32-bit processors can only address 4GB of addressing space (which includes not just RAM but videocards, SATA controllers and the like as well). For a detailed explanation of the implications of 32-bit addressing limits (and how 64-bit gets around them) see Memory Addressing in a 32-bit OS (AKA "Where's my RAM?").

Note that 32-bit games and applications will generally run under Windows Vista x64. 16-bit apps, however, are problematic as Microsoft removed support for 16-bit applications, which causes problems with some older installers. In this case, either a dual-boot or Virtual Machine is probably necessary. For anyone with 4GB or more of RAM, Windows Vista Ultimate x64 is the only practical option. Windows XP x64 was poorly received because at the time it arrived, consumer x64 wasn't really all that popular, and as a result drivers were not written for this operating system. At the time, there was no pressing memory-related need for x64 operating systems, as 2GB was plenty for a gaming system. However, nowadays 4, 6 and 8GB within a gaming powerhouse is much more common than it used to be, especially with the ready availability of cheap DDR2.

Due to the limitations mentioned in the "Where's my RAM" thread, Vista x64 is my OS of choice for gamers, multimedia people and anyone who needs a PC for heavy lifting. As of Service Pack 1, the vast majority of the problems that caused Vista nightmares from the Microsoft side (rather than user error, which still plagues us) are gone. Drivers are plentiful, except for some older/strange hardware. There's no reason to be afraid of Vista x64.


Last edited by Sovereign on Sun Jul 13, 2008 5:20 pm, edited 3 times in total.

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What about games? (Updated July 11, 2008)
Gaming on Vista is not noticeably different than Windows XP on a properly-equipped (read: Core2 Duo or AMD equivalent, fast DX9/DX10 card) system. Although DX10 is definitely still slower than DX9, the framerate hits are far smaller now. Despite these ATI tests and these NVIDIA tests, the articles are largely dated now. Most people who have "gaming" systems either have a computer powerful enough to handle Vista's overhead or know to steer clear of Vista until they have a more powerful system (and perhaps Windows Seven is out).

As a general rule, I have had no issues with games functioning under Vista. The only game I had a significant issue with was FEARCombat, which would not install with User Account Control enabled. Given that many power users disable this feature (or annoyance, depending on your opinion), this may or may not be a problem. Any game with "Games for Windows" on its box should work with Vista flawlessly.

Bummed that a game you installed doesn't have a proper icon in Vista's Game Explorer (or just doesn't show up period)? Get Vista Game Explorer Editor which will allow you to add your own games, or fix games that have erroneous art. I get most of my game boxes from AllGame.com. You can also get information on game publishers, publication dates and game summaries from this site.


Last edited by Sovereign on Fri Jul 11, 2008 7:23 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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PostPosted: Thu Jan 24, 2008 2:50 pm 
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Why is my hard drive being accessed all the time?

If you have a new machine with Vista installed on it, or you just (re)installed Vista, this will happen and is entirely normal to the functioning of the OS. Windows Vista contains an enhanced prefetcher known as SuperFetch, which tries to intelligently decide what programs the user is going to access next. A new machine has no idea how you operate, and therefore cannot guess, so it's constantly swapping data into and out of memory. It takes about a week for SuperFetch to learn your habits (assuming you "put some miles" on your computer in a week, the less you use your machine the longer this training period takes).


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PostPosted: Thu Jan 24, 2008 2:51 pm 
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The Task Manager says I have 2MB of free RAM! What's going on?

Does your Task Manager look like this? (Image credit: Sovereign)
Image
Well, in my case, 7MB. Oh no! I have no RAM left for my programs! Stupid, dumb, lame Vista, I hate you! Before you start raging about how Vista fails entirely, let me explain something to you. Random Access Memory is a cache, it's faster to get data from there than it is to get data from the hard disk, but slower than the CPU's internal caches (L1, L2 and some have L3). What Vista does is proactively load (cache) parts of programs you use often (hence the "Cached" value in the screenshot). Therefore when you launch Word, Firefox, Supreme Commander or Outlook some of the pieces the EXE needs to load are already "warm" in memory, and therefore don't need to be loaded. This actually makes the OS feel and act faster, and from what I understand is comparable to how some flavors of Linux manage memory. If you need the memory, Vista immediately releases it; there is no performance penalty for "un-caching" things.


Last edited by Sovereign on Sun Jan 27, 2008 10:32 am, edited 2 times in total.

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PostPosted: Thu Jan 24, 2008 2:52 pm 
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Vista is using humongous amounts of memory! Help!

Windows Vista has a larger memory footprint than Windows XP. Vista uses memory in ratios roughly approximate to the amount of RAM you have installed (I'm just talking the bone-stock OS here, not Folding or other background applications).

512MB - 75%
1GB - 50%
2GB - 33%
4GB - 25%
8GB - 12.5% (or so I'm told)

Why? Features (or bloat, depending on who you ask). See my yet-to-be-written Vista Tweaking FAQ.


Last edited by Sovereign on Thu Jan 24, 2008 3:04 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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My laptop used to get __ hours of run-time, and now gets less. Why?

Simply put, Windows Vista uses the graphics processor to draw the desktop. The GPU uses more power than the CPU-based, GDI+ renderings of the past as it is in 3D mode all the time (even low-power 3D uses more battery than 2D mode). This is part of Vista, stronger batteries have already begun to appear (Dell Vostros claim 6-7 hours under Vista). My Inspiron E1505 which used to get 6 hours under Windows XP (6:30 if I really pushed it) gets around 5 hours with Vista. Not bad, long enough for me. It is important to note that a Vista-based laptop runs far hotter than your typical XP based one. Therefore it is important that you take your battery out of your computer when not charging or running on battery, because the heat which builds up either on your lap or on a desk reduces the battery's life significantly. Of course, if you are doing mission-critical work you should leave your battery in, as an inconvenient loss of AC power would cause you grief.


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What's the real life meaning of my Windows Experience Index?

Remember those system requirements on video game boxes? "You need an 800MHz processor, 256MB RAM and a 32MB 3D card blah blah blah to run this game." The Windows Experience Index, or WEI, was designed to alleviate the problem by rating a computer on a scale from 1.0 to 5.9. Higher numbers are obviously faster, and can run more advanced games. Simply look at the WEI on the box and the WEI on your PC to figure out whether you can run a game. Of course, this doesn't work as well in practice as you might think , and many a e-penis war has broken out over the size of one's WEI. To be honest, despite the "weakest link" rating system (score is brought down by the slowest part of your system) it does not adequately cover the nuances of hardware requirements to leave me happy.


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What's with User Account Control, or those little annoying boxes? WHY? (Updated July 11, 2008)

Seen this before?
Image
Welcome to Microsoft Windows Vista! This mechanism, User Account Control, runs with the "lowest user credentials" model in mind. By default, the user (even an Administrator) operates with the lowest possible privileges (no arbitrary writes to system directories, Program Files or any of that other important stuff). In order to break out of the sandbox, this box appears. Click "continue" to dismiss. If you're seeing this instead:
Image
you are running as a Standard User, and in order to authenticate yourself for Administrator-level access you must provide an administrator password. Some people recommend running in this mode, although I find it highly annoying to log onto my computer and then have to repeatedly type my password to install programs and access system settings, so I run as an Administrator in Admin Approval Mode (that is, I have to explicitly approve changes which trigger UAC). UAC seems annoying and overly intrusive. It is both, but it is also useful. The goal is to help protect users from themselves by giving them a last chance to say no to "pr0ndownloader.exe" or "harddrivenuker.bat" before they are allowed to execute. Just leave UAC on. While you can turn it off, I would never endorse such a course of action.

Note that Service Pack 1 has largely eliminated the excessive UAC prompts for moving Start Menu icons. Also, if you start setting up a system with User Account Control on, then turn it off, you may notice some programs break or seem to "lose" their settings or customizations. Example: I play Call of Duty 4. If I have User Account Control on (default) then my player is something around level 25. However, if I disable UAC, my resolution settings, graphics settings, audio settings, character achievements and practically everything in the game reverts to defaults! This is because User Account Control redirects game writes to a specific non-Program Files location. With UAC off, the game tries to read and write to the default locations rather than the redirected locations. Thus, things appear to reset or disappear when you disable UAC from having it enabled or vice versa.

My recommendation: pick on or off and stick with it.


Last edited by Sovereign on Fri Jul 11, 2008 7:26 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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What is ReadyBoost, and can I really get away with using a flashdrive as RAM? Won't it destroy my flash drive?
(Parts of this section are borrowed from Wikipedia)

ReadyBoost is a caching technology integrated into Windows Vista that speeds up paging requests. When data is "paged out" of main memory, it is usually written to the hard drive. Even the vaunted Raptor has a seek time of ~4.5 milliseconds, which, while fast, cannot hold a candle to the essentially zero seek time of a flash device. Therefore, Microsoft decided to use flash drives as a kind of uber-cache that has no access time.

Any ReadyBoost compatible device must be at least 250MB after formatting (256MB advertised size) with an upper limit of 4GB (advertised). The device must be capable of 2.5 MB/s read speeds for 4 KB random reads spread uniformly across the entire device and 1.75 MB/s write speeds for 512 KB random writes spread uniformly across the device. Finally, the device must have at least 235MB of free space. The ReadyBoost process compresses data onto the flash drive (Microsoft states a 2:1 compression ratio) and encrypts it with AES-128.

ReadyBoost is mainly aimed at lower-end systems with 512MB RAM. According to this AnandTech article, significant performance gains can be realized. In one case, the test operation took two seconds with ReadyBoost (1GB) enabled but close to 12 seconds with just 512MB of RAM. However, it is important to note that installing 1GB of main memory cut the same operation to 0.8 seconds.

For those of us with 1GB or more of RAM, however, ReadyBoost's value is questionable. Performance improvements virtually disappear with 1GB of system memory.

With regard to the life of a flash drive being used for ReadyBoost, although such drives have limited read/write cycles, Microsoft claims that drives used for ReadyBoost can last ten years under such treatment.


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What's with the Taskbar and windows changing from translucent to opaque when a window is maximized? Where'd my Glass go? (Updated July 11, 2008)

All Images Credit: Sovereign

When you have a window floating around on your desktop, it typically looks like this:
Image
...but when you maximize it the window looks like this:
Image
The same goes for the Taskbar. With no windows maximized...
Image
With a window maximized...
Image
What's with that? I don't like it, what can I do? Well first of all, this is the way Microsoft wanted it. Now, that doesn't mean you can't do something about it though ;). The free program VistaGlazz patches your Windows Vista style files to allow not only custom styles but to keep the Taskbar and window title bars transparent (in the default Aero theme). I take no responsibility whatsoever if you manage to hose your computer's theme with this application (it is possible for the patching to go wrong or just not work for some reason).

The developers have released VistaGlazz Beta 3 for Windows Vista Service Pack 1 systems! Note that this works for x86 and x64. Get it here. The same disclaimer applies: neither I nor the authors of VistaGlazz are responsible for any screwups that may occur as a result of using this program! I currently have VistaGlazz Beta 2 installed on my 32-bit laptop and 64-bit desktop. Neither have issues with themes or styles, and both work without any appreciable performance hit.


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Do I really "need" Windows Vista? (Updated July 11, 2008)

One does not "need" Vista unless your computing requirements dictate it. I would recommend Vista for anyone building a new, powerful computer (Core2Duo CPU, 2GB+ RAM) simply because it is Microsoft's new "mainstream" operating system. Copies of Windows XP are no longer being produced, although they certainly still exist on store shelves, both digital and physical. I would also recommend Vista x64 for anyone building a system with 4GB or more of RAM because Vista x64 is (and will continue to be) much better supported than Windows XP x64 ever was. Now consumer x64 means something, at the time XP x64 was released it didn't. Drivers and applications are being written appropriately.

If you have 2GB or less of RAM, x64 is not in your "needs" list. If you purchase Windows Vista Ultimate Retail (comes in a black box, not a disc envelope) you get both 32-bit and 64-bit Windows in the same box. Otherwise, if you purchase a license for any other version, you may order 64-bit install media from Microsoft for a $10 processing fee. Note that "32-bit" keys work on 64-bit versions of Windows, so if you "obtain" x64 install media somewhere, as long as you own the license to run the 32-bit software, the 64-bit install media will work.


Last edited by Sovereign on Fri Jul 11, 2008 7:35 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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PostPosted: Thu Jan 24, 2008 3:45 pm 
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Can I Fold under Vista? (Updated July 11, 2008)

YES! See this for SMP instructions and this for the regular F@H Client. Frame times (time taken per step/percentage point) have been reported to be higher, but I run the SMP Client on Vista and still manage to meet deadlines set by Stanford.

Please see the official GPU2 Client Forum for information on Folding with NVIDIA GPUs (only higher-end 8 and 9 series cards support the necessary CUDA features). See the Maximum PC High Performance forum for information about the ATI Folding client.


Last edited by Sovereign on Fri Jul 11, 2008 7:38 pm, edited 3 times in total.

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PostPosted: Thu Jan 24, 2008 3:51 pm 
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Does upgrading in-place from Windows XP cause Vista to run like a dog? Are upgraded versions less stable/reliable than clean installs?

According to my own experience and ExtremeTech's tests, no, no and no. Did I mention no? Upgrading to Vista from Windows XP does not in any way impact the performance or stability of your machine. I used this process on a friend's heavily customized (in both hardware and software) machine and said machine runs flawlessly.


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PostPosted: Thu Jan 24, 2008 4:03 pm 
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How do I never have to format my Vista machine again?

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This involves a nifty little trick that only is available in Vista Business and Vista Ultimate: The Complete PC Backup tool, as shown below.
Image
This tool uses a technology from the server world, called imaging. Norton Ghost is a commercial program performing a similar function, but with the ability built right into the (Business and Ultimate) operating system, why buy third party? With it, you can create a disk image on DVDs or a hard drive. This image includes your operating system, programs, user data, activation files and everything else on the operating system drive. If your user data is stored on a different drive (like mine), then this will not be backed up.

The key is to start with a fresh install of Windows Vista, then set up things the way you like them (programs, cosmetic settings, system settings) and then image. Don't be too generous with the applications you install, as it will cause your backup to grow in size and take up more space. I personally have Windows (duh) backed up, drivers that are up-to-date as of the backup date, as well as my complete Office 2007 Ultimate installation (activated!), instant messaging program and a few other things. I did not include any games though. Why? Because my taste in games changes quickly, and I'd have to uninstall some games after re-imaging every time. Very annoying. Once you've decided exactly what goes into your backup set, you can create your image on DVDs or a hard drive.

These discs can also be used to "un-crash" your computer if System Restore fails to fix problems. I have used them to get my system back on its feet in less than a half hour. Did I mention that it's all ready to go with Office and other important, school related things installed already? Quite convenient and useful! Of course, the idea was to use them for "quick reformat" if Windows Vista starts to suffer from "Windows rot" (I haven't had a single installation around long enough to notice). Either way, you must start the recovery process from the Windows Preinstallation Environment, which requires a Windows Vista DVD. It's a shame you cannot boot off the backups and start the restore from there... I guess you can't have everything. 32-bit backups will restore onto 64-bit capable systems (the restored Windows will run in x86 mode) but 64-bit backups do not work on 32-bit systems. Also, you must have a 64-bit Windows DVD to start the process if you have a 64-bit backup.


Last edited by Sovereign on Fri Jan 25, 2008 12:50 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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How do I move (My) Documents, Pictures and other profile folders off of the OS partition?

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Windows Vista offers the ability to maintain the structure of a user profile on a completely different partition/physical drive from the operating system. This is useful for situations in which the OS crashes or corrupts the system partition. Your user data will not be affected if it is on another drive like mine is.

Go to your User Profile folder (it should be the first thing under your profile picture on the right side of your Start Menu). Right click on, for example, Documents. The following box will appear:
Image
You can then move your documents folder off the system partition and into a safer area. I recommend doing this if you have more than one physical drive for safety's sake. You can do this by bringing up the properties of any of the (visible) folders in the user profile folder. You should leave any hidden folders (like AppData) alone. If you mess up your Documents, you take responsibility, it's not my fault!


Last edited by Sovereign on Fri Jan 25, 2008 12:50 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Does SLI work in Vista? (Updated July 11, 2008)

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Yes and no. Primarily referring to standard, two-card SLI, yes. See below:
Image
However, it is often the case that to enable or disable SLI, one must reboot the whole system. Methods such as changing the theme to Classic and closing Windows Sidebar meet varying levels of success. Annoyingly enough, on top of the reboot requirement, the screen will often go blank after one chooses to "Apply" enabling or disabling SLI, so you are stuck waiting while the system power-cycles and have no clue whether it is actually rebooting or just jammed up.

Tri-SLI and Quad SLI work in a functional manner, but whether they deliver a performance boost worthy of the extreme cost ($1000 and up for graphics alone) is debatable. Single-card SLI (7950GX2, 9800GX2) does in fact work. I can only personally attest to the 9800GX2, as this is the card I own currently (having upgraded from 7900GTX SLI).


Last edited by Sovereign on Fri Jul 11, 2008 7:40 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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