how to improve Windows Vista performance – top 10 methods

Boost Windows Vista PerformanceLast week I wrote a post on how disabling search indexing can boost Windows vista performance. In this I will look at various methods which you can use to drastically Windows Vista performance.

Ok. You just bought your brand new laptop which comes pre-installed with Windows Vista. But unfortunately your new laptop performance looks worse than your pretty old laptop! Is there any way to improve it?

Well, as an operating system, Windows Vista is stable and I think it is just a matter of tuning to get it performing. Before I go into the methods, here is a word of advise. Get your machine atleast 1GB of RAM since Vista is really memory hungry!

1. Remove all junk software from your PC – Most of the online stores (Dell for example) bundle a lot of software when they sell a Windows Vista installed laptop/pc. You don’t need many of these software and hence removing them can substantially boost Windows Vista performance. First thing to do when you get your PC/Laptop is to remove everything except the bare minimum you need!

2. Disable Windows Defender – One of the biggest complaints about Windows operating systems was its vulnerability to viruses. To address this issue, microsoft added a lot of stuff into Vista, essentially making it bloated and cumbersome. Windows Defender is one such feature. If you are a power user who knows what can cause virus infection or security problems you don’t need Windows Defender.
To disable windows defender, go to control panel->administrative tools -> services -> windows defender and stop it. Also change the startup type to manual.

3. Disable UAC (User Access Control) – This is one of the most annoying features. Whenever you click on anything which affects system configuration, a popup comes up asking whether you want the operation to be executed! Of course, I want that, that is why I clicked on it! For a power user this is the first thing to disable.
To disable user access control, go to control panel->user account->turn user account control off.

4. Use ReadyBoost to extend RAM – If you have below 2GB or below, you can use readyboost feature of Vista to improve performance. For this, you will need a high speed USB 2.0 memory stick (flash drive). Vista will use this as an extension to RAM. This improves system performance and also reduces load on harddisk there by extending its lifespan.

ui-performance.jpg5. Reduce graphics and other UI features – Windows Vista by default has a pretty jazzy user interface. If you are a power user, you rarely bother about these UI features. Disabling these features will dramatically reduce load on your processor and memory. This is one method sure to speed up your experience on Windows Vista.
To optimize system configuration for maximum performance, go to control panel->performance information and tools->advanced tools (on the left menu)->adjust the appearance and performance of windows->Select Adjust for best performance radio button and press Apply.

6. Remove unnecessary startup programs – You might have couple of startup programs configured. Remove all the unnecessary programs to reduce startup time and to improve overall system performance. Anti-virus programs are notorious for reducing system performance and increasing harddisk load.
You can check out startup programs using regedit command (use with caution!). Find all the startup programs under computer->HKEY_CURRENT_USER->Software->Microsoft->Windows->CurrentVersion->Run. (User can also use Windows Defender for this)

7. Disable unncessary services - Your system might have a lot of services which you may not need. But identifying them may not be very easy. Open up control panel->administrative tools->services and stop/disable services. Some of the services I disabled are Windows Search, Windows Defender, Windows Cardspace etc.
Disable unncessary windows services

8. Disable Windows Search Indexing – As i have written earlier, disabling Windows Search indexing may improve performance substantially, especially when you have a new system.

9. Monitor tasks running – Monitor your task manager regularly. Look for any processes which hogs memory/processor resource. Also monitor for programs which may be accessing harddisk frequently. Find out the real use of resource intensive processes and if not required, remove them.

10. Buy a new PC/ upgrade RAM – If your system performance is still low, you probably need to buy a new PC to run Windows Vista. Also remember to have atleast 2GB RAM for optimal performance!

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7 Responses to how to improve Windows Vista performance – top 10 methods

  1. Ajay says:

    Point 5. Reduce graphics and other UI features

    If u disable this feature then better use Windwos XP or even window 98. Why to switch to Vista????????????

  2. JM says:

    Point3: Disable UAC. I’d really question this advice.

    Sure, when you personally change something on your system – of course you’re asking it to happen. The problem is that the operating system doesn’t distinguish between you and some software pretending to be you. So when “Mr Malware” comes along and starts making changes, you’ll never know about it (if you turn off UAC).

    You might turn around and say that “I only want my computer to do directly as I ask” … but I think most of us would be taken aback by how much functionality we’d lose (things that go on in the background automatically, using your credentials).

    I doubt very much that it would be the first thing that power-users would disable – they should have a better appreciation of it’s impact on the security of their system. To recommend to your readers to open themselves up to potential security threats, is poor advice IMHO.

    Microsoft get rapped for being the bane of all evil, but in fairness, the latest Mac OS does exactly the same and we never hear complaints about this.


    Other advise about removing the heaps of junk that get put onto computers (new and old) is sound though. This can make a major difference.


    In response to “ajay” (above) – I completely agree with his sentiment. However, part of the problem is that manufacturers now ship vista almost as defacto, even on computers that don’t quite cut it. For example, I own a marvellously tiny Sony Vaio vgn-ux … that ships with vista. Problem is thtat it’s not really man enough for the job of running aero-effects. It does work with them, but I’d rather have a more responsive machine – hence they’re turned off.

  3. Jeff says:

    You are wrong about the ReadyBoost. This feature augments the read/write cache memory built into hard drives. This is completely different from RAM. So Vista will use Readyboost to cache data onto the usb or sd card – making the initial load time of say i tunes or photoshop elements slow, but all further load times of the application (as long as machine isn’t rebooted) much faster.

  4. Sikk says:

    If UAC is the only thing stopping you from loading your computer up with malware then you shouldn’t own a pc. The access controls where meant to help administrators maintain control of their PC’s in a network and idiots protects their RN’s and laptops in an increasingly wireless world. Lauding on him for this advice is asinine. I personally found the article to be very intuitive for a user not a tech to have written it.

    The only folly I would point out is the windows defender point, you need a firewall on your computer, period. Yes I would recommend using one other than windows defender, but make sure it is a good one (zone alarm is my preference, their newest suite is astounding). BUT, there aren’t many other choices out there for people running 64 bit Vista or XP. So make sure your are on a platform with better options before you go bulling your pants and bending over in a subway restroom while blindfolded.

  5. Jeremy says:

    someone asked why use vista if you tone down the visualizations to xp/98. Simply put: directx 10 only works on vista. it’s just unfortunate that vista performs so poorly when it comes to graphical display.

  6. Muppet says:

    @Sikk: Firstly, there are people out there who are just like those who you say should not have a PC. They are naive about just how dangerous downloads and attachments are, and therefore run them with impunity. Windows was created so that everyone, smart or stupid, could use a computer.

    Windows Defender isn’t a firewall, it’s a spyware scanner. Disabling it has no effect on the firewall.

    Please check your facts before making blind comments such as this.

  7. kmd says:

    Muppet: If these people who are ‘naive about how dangerous downloads and attachements are’, then I hardly think there are going to click ‘don’t allow’ when a malicious program wants to run. Programs on Windows computers use names that any ‘naive’ person is not going to understand so they are just going to click ‘allow’ to all programs they are asked to allow, hence defeating the purpose of UAC.

    Please check your facts before making blind comments such as this.

    JM: Mac OS might have a similar feature to UAC, but I have used Mac OS X for a while, along with Windows, and Mac OS by far has littler questions than Windows. It pretty much only asks questions when they are needed, and it would only ask the question once (ie. not through three or four questions when installing one program.)