Microsoft Releases Springboard Series Newsletter - Vista Performance and Tuning Tips

Justin Kerr

When Vista launched over a year ago we had many compelling reasons not to upgrade . But as time progressed and Microsoft silently addressed our woes, it seems clear; the Vista of today could be somewhat misjudged . That doesn’t make it perfect however, and Microsoft has owned up to this by releasing a 14 page guide with tried and tested tweaks that improve overall performance and boost notebook battery life. This free and easy to follow PDF guide walks you through native tools built into the OS which allow you to optimize Vista’s performance. The contents are especially helpful if you are new to Vista, having just come from XP, but even Vista veterans are bound to find a few things of note. If you manage to make your way through the Microsoft guide and are still looking for more, a host of other tweaks and tips can be found in both our online archives and Maximum PCs March 2008 print issue.

Improve Battery Life

- Looking for ways to improve your battery life? Microsoft suggests you start in the power options menu. Simply type power options into the start menu and select from either performance, balanced, or power saver modes. These presets will adjust sleep settings, LCD power down frequency, hard drive performance, etc.

- Tweak your indexing options. By having Vista index your commonly accessed folders such as my documents you can improve the speed at which results are delivered to you, and keep the hard drive from spinning up too often for in depth scans of your entire drive.

Improve Performance

- Disable specific aero effects to improve responsiveness. The guide walks you through how to disable individual aero features to make systems with lower end graphics cards feel more responsive.

- Use Ready Boost on computers with limited amounts of RAM to improve performance using a compatible USB key. This is no substitute for adding ram, but it’s the next best thing if you can’t.

- Use sleep mode rather then turning your computer off. While in sleep mode, some laptops draw as little as 1 watt, and can recover from sleep in as little as 5 seconds. This will help overcome the painfully slow boot times of modern OS’s. Just select sleep, instead of shut down from your start menu.

- Prevent programs from loading into the background after boot up by using msconfig or Windows Defender. Enter either of these two options into Vista’s start menu to begin. The Windows Defender interface is slightly more polished and is a better place to start if you don’t have any experience with msconfig.

- Use control, alt, delete’s task manager to view background services that are running on your machine. Found unwanted services? Disable them! Not sure what each service is? Check the Microsoft TechNet to see a list of known services and their function.

- Tweak user account control without disabling it, want to know how? Microsoft’s TechNet is a great place to look.

- Learn to use the task scheduler to enable automatic disk cleanups, and tweak your defrag frequency. Try to setup automatic backups and anti virus scans to run while your away.

- Check your Windows experience index score by right clicking my computer then selecting properties. A 3 is considered average, but 4 or greater means your PC has the right stuff for Vista. Conversely, if your computer scores a 2 or lower, you’d probably be better off with XP (though they avoid telling you that specifically in this guide).

- Think your running out of RAM or CPU cycles? Use the performance tab under ctrl, alt, delete’s task manager to monitor your systems performance. For example, by leaving the task manager open, it will record how much memory your computer is using and document the maximum amount that has been asked for during your session. This allows you to identify if you are running low on resources during normal use. Want more info? Click the resource monitor to see what processes are banging away on each individual category such as CPU, RAM, Hard Drive, or Network. This will give you a clear idea of what services are causing bottlenecks with individual parts of your machine.

Got More Tips or tweaks that you havn’t seen in Maximum PC online or print?

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