The following guide is a compilation of the absolute best tips and tweaks found on the net as contributed through NBR members. These tips tweaks are presented to enhance the Vista user experience and have been tried and tested by several, each tweak proven very effective if the instructions are followed as described. Although these have been tested, there is no guarantee as to their effectiveness on any one system as individual hardware, software and manufacturer limitations must be considered.
Good luck. Don’t panic if something appears not to work correctly and, most of all, ensure you follow the instructions VERBATIM(tx Pixelot) when effecting a tweak. Members are always available in the forum to help you along. Also, there is another valuable thread which provides access to the best Free Software found on the net compiled and maintained by Calvin.
The following tweaks will help you in achieving a better speed at startup and shutdown of you computer, general performance as well as showing you how to display Vista’s secret boot screen.
1. Disable TMM
This tweak is responsible cutting system start time 3-5 seconds and eliminating that blank screen flash when you start Vista. This normally occcurs when Vista searches for external monitors on startup of Vista. If you are not using an external monitor, or dont switch back and forth always…turn TMM off.
Here’s how to fix that annoying black flicker on boot:
1. Go start/control panel/administrative options/task scheduler.
2. On the left-hand side, click “Task Scheduler Local” (you should already be there, but just in case).
Expand “Task Scheduler Library,” then “Microsoft,” then “Windows,” then click “MobilePC.”
Up top, you’ll see a task called “TMM.” Click it, and on the right-hand side, click “Disable.”
If you use an external monitor occasionally as I do, just press and hold FN and press F8 twice to switch monitors.
2. Eliminate Unneeded Startup Programs
When your computer starts, there are a number of programs that start automatically and remain running in the background which steal away much needed memory. They add up in time and although many have no real use to the average user, others can be eliminated from starting automatically and started from the ‘All Programs’ or ‘Quick Launch’ menu as required. My best example of this is Messenger (or AIM/ICQ) which starts and hogs valuable resources even when your not using it.
First lets see how to get there to see what we have shall we?
1. Type ‘msconfig’ in the Run command (Winkey + R) (new trick for you here lol);
2. Press Start/Control Panel/Admin Tools/System Configuration/Startup; or
3. Download this excellent freeware program called Startup Inspector
This is an excellent program for the newby because it has a consultant which, not only tells you what each program is, but also tells you which are required by the system (user chosen, recommended, not required or unknown).
Now what can we disable and eliminate from the startup process? This is much an individual choice but I personally have shut down all that start ‘NVIDIA, Messenger, Office, Nwiz, and quicktime.
The good thing about disabling is, if you see a negative result…go into safe mode, Run, Msconfig and undo your changes.
3. Cut Shut Down Time In Half!!
I need to precede this with a warning that we are going to advance ourselves a bit here by moving into editing our registry. It means that its absolutely necessary to follow the exact steps as a wrong entry or deletion my cause a reinstall of Vista at worst.
Before we start, by default, there is a 20 second delay in shutdown of Vista, a process that vista has set in order to allow software to shutdown correctly. You can adjust this to a much shorter time, thus significantly reducing the total time it takes to shutdown your computer.
Ready? Ok lets go..
1. Press the Start Orb (bottom left and then go into the Run command (remember Windows key + R).
2. Type ‘Regedit’ (without the quotes) and hit enter.
3. As the Registry File is so large, Im going to ask you to go top right and maximize this to full screen…and follow me.
4. Click the little triangle to the left of HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE/ SYSTEM/ CurrentControlSet/ Control.
5. Click on the “Control” Folder. Select “WaitToKillServiceTimeout” Right click on it and select Modify. The default value is 20000. Setting it to a lower 4 digit value, say 5000
6. Simply exit when done.
The 20000 signifies a 20 second delay wheres 5000 signifies a 5 second delay. I cut 20 seconds off my shutdown time by changing this as it suggests so don’t try and figure out exact time reduction by numbers…just play with it bit by bit.
You may want to remain at the 5000 mark as Vista does need time to shut software down. If this is not enough, come back and increase the size.
4. Get Quicker Internet Confirmation!
The last item to load and confirm on some systems is the internet connection itself. Many people have complained that, it may take as much as 10-15 seconds for Vista to confirm the connection during which they cannot do anything. I have experienced this myself with one of my SSDs and subsequently learned about this tweak.
In fact, I have used it on all my systems (none of which are network connected locally) and find my internet connection to now be much faster and a definite start time improvement.
The process is simple and as such:
1. Click ‘Winkey’ + R to get the ‘Run’ window;
2. Type ‘services.msc’ and hit enter;
3. Scroll to one of the final entries which is ‘Workstation’
4. Double click to open and disable it; and
5. Reboot and Voila!!
NOTE: This tweak is a great enhancement for standalone systems that use wired or wireless internet such as I. It is not so good if you are at home or work with a LAN or server configuration. I would not advise it on any LAN environment because you will not be able to access any files over the LAN. Its a standalone tweak only!!
5. Use Vista’s Secret Boot Screen!!
This is more of a trick than a tweak as it does nothing for performance. Simply, if your bored of that ole bar scrolling across the screen, do this:
1. Go into ‘Run’ by clicking WINkey + R,type ‘msconfig and hit enter; and
2. Go into the boot menu, click ‘No GUI Boot’ so its checked, apply, ok and reboot the system.
You will see the new boot screen as it starts. If you don’t like it, just go back and uncheck the box
SPEED AND PERFORMANCE
6. Disable Vista Search Indexing
All versions of Vista have Search Indexing enabled by default which is an unneeded resource for most. Its function is to continuously update files on your system so that they can be made available for faster searching. Unfortunately, this takes its toll on system performance which is why its listed in several tweaking programs as a top tweak; I agree totally.
To disable Windows indexing:
1. Click Start, then computer;
2. Right click on Local Disk ‘C:’
3. Left click on Properties;
4. Uncheck ‘Index this Drive for Faster Searching’;
5. Let it complete and select ‘Include subfolders and files’ in any subsequent dialog box
EDIT: From here we will go one step further and turn off Windows Search in your services as per Trebuins recommendation. I was going to wait and shut all useless services down at once but, he is right and, this does pertain strictly to this so…
1. Click on start/run and type in ‘MSConfig’ and hit ok;
2. Click on Services tab and find Windows Search
3. Uncheck/Apply and Ok…Your done!!!
Voila!! Its funny eh, a feature that is supposed to speed up searching that is one of the worst reasons for system slowdown.
7. Disable Excess Windows Processes at Boot!
Im going to give a bit of a background to this as it is probably the one tweak that can really screw anyone up if they make the wrong move. I think its better to walk through slowly and make sure we are all clear then to jump into and have someone go into a panic if they do something wrong. Windows Vista starts somewhere just short of a hundred processes running each and every time you boot into Vista, many of these being unneeded. Their are four options that describe how each process is started, these being manual (start), automatic, automatic delayed and disabled. Having said that, you dont want to disable something your not sure of, it could prevent you from getting into Vista again.
Trebuin has been kind enough to make a chart of very safe changes we can make in Vista. It is here: Trebuin Safe Process Changes I would suggest you start with his values as they are proven.
There are two ways to affect these changes, the first of which is by typing ‘services.msc’ into the run command which should be on your Vista Menu. (If its not rt click on the Vista Orb lower left/properties/start menu-customize and check Run).
The second is to simply enable or disable services by typing ‘msconfig’ into the Run bar or:
Press Start/Control Panel/Administrative Tools/System Configuration and Services.
There…I have taught you just enough to really hurt yourself (lol) and a good acrobat has a safety net just in case so….
If you make a mistake, this link will allow you to reset your services back to the original Vista Values, no matter what version of Vista:http://www.speedyvista.com/registry.html
A safe idea would be to actually copy and save the bat file that applies to you, on a disk, so you can get to it if you need it. Myself, I was fooling around one day and found that my Internet wouldn’t work as I disabled the wrong service; it creates a bit more wrk.
For those wanting to venture even further, I am going to promote a site (www.blackviper.com) and include this link which will enable you to not only learn about each and every process, but also, explore his ideas on safe settings, his choices as well as bare bones settings. I have personally used his choice settings without a problem.Blackviper Service Configurations
8. Turn Off Unused Windows Features
This tweak is actually a ‘two in one’ as it saves disk space by turning off unneeded windows features as well as improving performance by shutting down Remote Differential Compression (RDC). Briefly RDC monitors changes in files in order to transfer them with minimum compression over a network, thus eliminating the transfer of an entire file which has been already moved. This checking and rechecking can hinder system performance. With respect to the other features that I will suggest shutting off, I myself only leave Games, Ultimate Extras (both self explanatory) and Tablet PC. I choose to leave tablet PC as it enables a little feature called Snipping Tool which I absolutely love. Anyone who hasn’t used it, type ‘snipping tool’ in the ‘Run’ box and enjoy.
In anycase, the tweak is as follows:
1. Press Start/Control Panel/Classic View and select Programs and Features;
2. Choose ‘Turn Windows Features On and Off;
3. You can safely unselect ‘Indexing Service, Remote Differential Compression, Tablet PC Optional Components (if you don’t want Snipping Tool), Windows DFS Replication Service, Windows Fax & Scan (unless you use Fax through a modem) and Windows Meeting Space.
Oh and if you want to be real smart, DFS Replication duplicates files for use among multiple PCs in a network and keeps them in sync. Its not very useful on a stand alone.
9. Get a Flash Drive and Use ReadyBoost!!!
To start, this does not apply to us SSD users as there is no significant access time increase from the SSD and the USB storage drive.
For the rest, lucky you!! You can literally add memory to your system by popping in a USB storage drive and enabling ReadyBoost on that drive. For systems with limited RAM, Vista has a file on the hard drive called pagefile.sys. When it gets low on ram, it uses pagefile to store and retrieve files accessed most often. If you can imagine, this results in a huge performance drop as accessing the hard drive for ram is exactly what we do not want to do.
Vista now enables us to pop in a USB drive and create a disk cache through the added memory which in some systems can be a huge step up, especially when 2Gb storage drives are so common now.
First, if your going to buy a drive, it has to have the following specifications:
1. It must be USB 2.0 compatible;
2. It must be at least 64mb in size; and
3. It must be able to read at 3.5mb/sec and write at 2.5mb/sec which all pretty much are in any case.
Next… How do we do it???
1. Plug in the USB storage drive;
2. Press Start/Computer and right click on the new drive;
3. If the drive is compatible there will be a tab for ReadyBoost, click on it;
4. Select ‘Use this Device’ and select the amount of space you want to use.
Now, there is no need for restarting the system and the effects occur instantaneously. It is nice to know that when you restart with this drive again, it automatically defaults to ReadyBoost again. I would expect those running Vista with 512mb will see a huge difference by sticking a 2Gb drive in performance where those with 1Gb will still visibly see the difference.
Wanna learn more about ReadyBoost or any other new windows feature for that fact??? Just Click on the word!!
10. Turn on Write Caching for Better SATA Disk Performance!!!!
This tweak speeds up the performance of your hard disk by enabling write caching. There is a danger to this, if you have no backup power supply, as a loss of power would result in loss of any information within the cache at the time of the outage. So…. make sure to continually backup your files in data programs such as Word, Excel, and so on…
To enable write caching:
1. Press Vista Orb/Computer/right click on ‘C’/Properties;
2. Click on Hardware and double click on your hard drive;
3. Go to Policies and check ‘Enable Write caching on the Disk’
4. You can go one step further by checking ‘Enable Advanced performance’ but pay attention to the underlying warning.
This option isn’t available to all. Newer systems are automatically set to run in AHCI mode through the BIOS and utilize a program called the ‘Intel Matrix Storage Manager’. Together, these already enably higher performance of your system and prevent you from ‘Enhancing Write Caching’ on your own. You may be able to check it off but when you exit and return, its unchecked again. Don’t panic!!! Thats just the way it presently works.
11. Ensure Your Video Drivers are Up To Date!!!! (NVidia Drivers only)
To start, I know that some of you are going to read this and realize you never had a clue that you should update your video drivers!! To a great extent, if the driver you are using works for you, why stick a fly in the ointment right? For many however, video driver updates can, not only improve upon performance but also, fix problems associated with the older drivers in use. You need to read the driver information to, not only ensure it is compatible with your graphics adapter, but also to recognize that the updates and fixes will help you in some way.
Many of the most recent fixes have this little issue solved which has been recognized in so many trouble posts here at NBR:
“The display is corrupt or there is no display upon resume from sleep mode” ISSUE RESOLVED
So..first off go here for the latest video driver update: LaptopVideo2Go
You will see on the left, your choices first which you need to make sure are correct. If you are using Vista as a 32Bit environment, select it. Also, if you have updated previously, the latest and greatest drivers are listed on the right.
As far as updating simply find the latest driver and double click on the exact file number you want. It is in the version column. DONT CLICK ON THE DOWN ARROW!! This will bring you to the screen where you can verify all the information I mentioned above.
Now, once in this screen, I want you to click on the driver as well as modded inf. Download them both to the same location on your computer; the desktop is simplest. Look at that…there is even a quickstart guide to help you along if your hesitant or unsure!!! You can browse this and even look through the pictures for reference but PLEASE…follow my directions exactly to ensure this works for you.
Next double click on the downloaded driver file to extract it. It will create a folder with tons of files in it. Once thats done, I need you to click on the modded inf file, hold the clicker down, and drag that file into the new folder. It will ask you and I want you to replace the ‘inf’ file from the driver with the ‘modded inf’ file.
IF YOU DO NOT, you may get some silly message later that says that your system is not compatible with the driver.
All that is required now is to find the file entitled ‘Setup’ inside the folder and double click on it.
Once the process starts, you will get a red warning label that says ‘Windows can’t verify the publisher of this driver software’ Install the driver software anyway.
Thats it!! Restart your system and enjoy.
As for cleanup, you can now delete the original compressed file, any modded inf file still there, as well as the newly extracted folder that was created. They are all no longer of any use.
12. Increase Performance by Adjusting Vista Visual Effects and Performance Properties!!!!
I’m going to take the time to really let you control your system through visual and performance effects right now.
Change your Power Setting
I’ll start first with a simple trick that most will laugh once they learn. Have you ever wondered why sometimes your system runs very slow, expecially after plug in from battery power with Vista???
To help you in controlling performance and battery power, Vista has a new option that lets you decide at what level you want your system to perform. You simply ‘left click’ on the battery icon in your system tray and decide whether you want your system running in balanced, power saver or high performance mode. It as easy as that.
Yes…I know… this is really a cheat tweak that many know already but, its really a reminder for all that will be a performance increase at some point. How many times have we wondered why our system was running slow only to go into the power option and see that we are still on power saver mode?
Now… on to the real tweak!!!!! Dum Dum Dum Dum du Dum. okok not quite yet… another mini-cheat tweak.
Enable or Disable Vista Aero
Vista uses up alot of resources to allow it to look great, some of which slow the system down just for the visual effect. There is a simple way to decide, as far as the desktop goes, what exactly you want and don’t want.
1. Right click on the desktop background and select ‘Personalize’ and ‘Windows Colour and Appearance’.
2. Experiment with turning off Vista Aero by checking and unchecking ‘Enable Transparency’.
This, along with others I will cover shortly, results in a performance increase because, each time you click on new windows, that window has to be rendered as the system is set up. So… if you don’t need Aero, uncheck the box and the system does not have to work that much harder every time you open a new window.
Change your Vista Colour Scheme
We can actually carry this a step further. Click on ‘Open Classic Appearance Properties for More Colour Options’. Here, you will find that you can adjust your colour scheme which results in a less demanding appearance.
For example, Windows Vista Basic is much less demanding than Windows Aero and similarly Windows Standard is less demanding than Vista Basic. One can see this by simply clicking on the menu selection. Play around and make the system your own and how you want it.
Adjust Vista Visual Effects
Now, lets get to the meat and gravy shall we? (or soya for those vegetarians)
1. Click Start/Control Panel/Classic View/Performance information and Effects/Adjust Visual Effects
Here you can play around with each and every little setting that you choose to make your system speedier and more in tune with what you want.
Want an example?
One of the boxes you can select or deselect is ‘ Use a background image for Each Folder type’ If you deselect it, your folders (ie. picture folders) won’t have to take the time to put a picture on its face every time you select it. This can be particularly obvious with systems with lesser memory and no graphics card.
Personally, I leave every boxed checked, but then again Im running with a dual 2 core processor,4Gb RAM and in 64 Bit mode. Life is great!
13. Remove that Annoying Security Center Notification!!
Sometimes I take for granted that things will work themselves out when they occur as should be the response to Vista ‘s Security Center alerts. For example, if you turn off UAC in the tweak above, you will continually get security balloon tip warnings that display the ‘Red Armour X’ with a balloon warning. I am surprised to learn that many leave it on and are alerted continually because they aren’t sure of how to turn it off.
Well, for all those who fall into this category, your gonna chuckle at the simplicity of it. But first, a bit of a background if I may…
Security is placed in Vista to ensure that your system is as protected as it can be. It not only gives you an idea of what to do to protect your system and keep it protected, but it alerts you if something is not working.
It monitors your antivirus program, firewall, automatic updating, spyware, internet security settings as well as UAC. If I left mine on, I would be getting alerts every 2 seconds as I am tweaked and have many of these systems adjusted.
If you are computer savvy and want to rid yourself of this annoying ‘Coat of Armor’ and its balloon tips, just do the following:
1. Double click on the Armour icon in your system panel to go into Security Center;
2. On the left, click on ‘Change the way Security Center Alerts me’; and
3. Choose to either have the icon remain and get rid of the balloon alerts or to remove the icon and not be alerted.
You can always change back or check it later if you would like by going into Control Panel/Security Center and modifying your options.
14. Turn Off User Account Control (UAC)
This tweak is best followed after a ‘clean’ install with respect to the below listed advisory.
One of the most annoying things in Vista is the protection of your system through UAC. Before I knew how to disable it I considered throwing the system out the window. The purpose of UAC is to make you confirm a large number of everyday functions in order to somehow protect your system from malware infections. In any case heres how to shut it off (or turn it back on).
1. Click on start and then click on your username picture top right of the start menu.
2. Click on ‘Turn User Account Control on or off.’
3. Uncheck (or check) User Account Control, select ok and restart.
Thats it except…
There needs to be a word of caution in turning UAC on and off. There is a process called virtualization that, when UAC is ‘on’ saves program data files (things like INI files, configuration files, saved game files etc.) within a totally separate area for each individual user. If you then turn UAC off, there have been reports that certain programs may be unable to find that saved data. The truth, in fact, is that the data is still there but only visible to the program in this ‘virtualization folder’ once UAC has been turned on again.
An example is… If UAC is on and you install some game, and the game then saves files to that program’s main directory and subsequently you turn UAC off. Those files may appear to the game that they have been deleted when, in all actuality, they are stored in this folder and only accessible through virtualization when UAC is on. (Thanks to SchuderiaConchiglia and Crash for an enormous amount of background study on this.)
15. Turn off System Restore (just not quite yet)
One of the most powerful tweaks available to Vista has to do with the System Restore feature. Back in the days of 3.1/Me/Millenium and even XP, we would have screamed to have something this effective in restoring our system when we made a mistake. Quite simply, System Restore will restore your system to how it was when the last restore point was created….which is why the top title has ‘just not quite yet’. The power during our tweaking is that, should we make a mistake, we can just revert back to a previous state.
First, you can access system restore by several methods, a few as follows:
1. Start/Control Panel/Backup and Restore Centre/Create or Repair a Restore Point; or
2. Start/All Programs/Maintenance/Backup and Restore Center.
System Restore is on automatically. To turn it off, you simply go into ‘Create a Restore Point or Change Settings’ and turn it off (or on) by checking or unchecking options.
Now to the meat and gravy of this tweak….I’m going to describe it to you through the words of an old Clint Eastwood movie:
The Good: When System Restore is turned off, it saves a large amount of disk space because it is not continually creating restore points. It also enhances performance significantly as it is not running in the background and creating these restore points.
The Bad: When it is turned off, you cannot revert to a previously saved restore point; and
The Ugly: If you make a significant mistake with it off, there is usually no turning back. You may need to completely reinstall, if its bad enough, which can be time consuming.
My Own Opinion??? Ok…sure I would suggest you leave it on for now, anyway, and reduce your saved restore points to just the one by:
Start/Computer/Right click on ‘C’/Properties/Disk CleanUp/More Options/System restore and Shadow Copies (Clean Up).
When your tweaking is nearing an end and you are comfortable with what you have, make a disk backup and by all means shut it down. You will see a world of difference.
16. Check out this disk defragmenter and optimizer!
Earlier, I had included two programs that, for the most part, had alot of success. After a great deal of consideration I have elected to remove these because, for a select few, these have had devastating results. ScuderiaConchiglia has been generous enough to tear apart one of these programs to extract and create a command file for a very powerful system optimization. This optimization will cut your system startup time in half!
His defrag application can be found here but please read through the thread to ensure a full understanding of the process.
17. Get CCleaner!!! It Works with 32/64Bit (Click here!)
CCleaner (formerly Crap Cleaner) is a freeware system optimization and privacy tool. It removes unused and temporary files from your system – allowing Windows to run faster, more efficiently and giving you more hard disk space. The best part is that it’s fast! (normally taking less than a second to run) and Free.
It cleans the following:
1. Internet Explorer Cache, History, Cookies, Index.dat;
2. Recycle Bin, Temporary files and Log files;
3. Recently opened URLs and files;
4. Third-party application temp files and recent file lists (MRUs);
5. Including: Firefox, Opera, Media Player, eMule, Kazaa, Google Toolbar, Netscape, Office XP, Nero, Adobe Acrobat, WinRAR, WinAce, WinZip and more…
It also contains an ‘Advanced Registry Scanner’ and cleaner to remove unused and old entries to include File Extensions, ActiveX Controls, ClassIDs, ProgIDs, Uninstallers, Shared DLLs, Fonts, Help Files, Application Paths, Icons, Invalid Shortcuts and more…
There is also a Windows Startup editor as well as a back-up tool just in case you delete something your not supposed to.
18. Commit to a Weekly Maintenance Schedule.
I think one of the best tweaks we can do is to commit to doing a proper cleanup of our system at least weekly. I will confess Im a nut for this and do it daily but, most importantly, it does ensure your system is in top shape and running its best.
Through internet use, trying new things and…yes tweaking, your system will save internet and tmp files which will build up over time to an incredible size, slowing your system down quite a bit. Further, installing and uninstalling new programs and applications leaves tons of unneeded registry entries in your system.
So…I will walk you through my regime. I hope it helps you along.
1. Clean Internet files. I use Internet Explorer but have used FireFox which is similar. Lets start by going into the ‘tools’ menu (IE) and deleting our browsing history. I choose to delete all the different allowable otions just to make sure we got everything.
2. Clean your Registry. In Tweak # 4 above, we downloaded CCleaner. Lets use it now to first clean our windows files, then applications and follow this with a registry scan and fix.
3. Scrub your System Clean. Im gonna let you in on a little secret that the God’s are gonna condemn me for. I do a thorough scrub of my system with a program calledEasy Cleaner 2.0 by ToniArts. BE CAREFUL THOUGH! This program was originally intended for XP and is over a year old. Do not touch the ‘Registry’ or ‘Duplicates; buttons. Its more of a 64Bit concern but they are not fine tuned for Vista. Use ‘Unnecessary’ and click to choose all file types. ‘Find’ followed by ‘Delete all’. You will be surprised at the vast amount of files that are found and cleaned.
4. Empty your Recycle Bin.Go to the Recycle Bin and empty it. EasyCleaner puts all its discarded files there.
5. Confirm with a Disk Cleanup. Start/Computer/Rt Click on ‘C’/Properties/Disk Cleanup.
6. Finish with a System Defrag. Start/Computer/Rt Click on ‘C’/Properties/Tools/Defragment Now.
Feels like your computer just had a good bath doesn’t it. This regime has been used by me for the longest time and I have found my system stays in tip top shape with this.
For the hard disk users (Im SSD personally), lack of cleaning and continuous use will cause a huge buildup of garbage files followed by extreme file fragmentation which will slow your system immensely.
To put this into perspective, its like walking down a road and then walking down it again once its been hit by a few hundred bombs. Which would be the quicker trip?
TIPS, TRICKS AND SOFTWARE
19. Windows Snipping Tool IS AMAZING!
I let the cat out of the bag in the last tweak so I figured I might as well spill the beans. If you have Vista Premium or above you have a great new tool called Snipping Tool. It enables you to freeze whatever is on your screen and take a picture of it. You may notice that I use this in tons of my threads as it is so easy.
To get to it…
1. Click Start/All Programs/Accessories and voila ; or
2. Start ‘Run’ and type ‘snippingtool’.
Just for a bit of a background, tthis is Microsofts description of ‘The Tool’:
NOTE: If you delete Tablet PC above, this will not work!!
20. Improve your Battery Life with Vista Battery Saver!!!!!!
Its been awhile since I threw a program in here and, for the most part, its because they need to pass my standards to make it here. They must be complete freeware and not share/trial ware and there also can’t be advertisements or limited execution of the program, prompting one to buy the ‘better’ version.
Having said that, I just have to throw this one in!!! Its called Vista Battery Saver by Codeplex and is created for the sole purpose of allowing more manipulation of battery modes as well as applying hidden tweaks that increase battery life automatically. It is a system tray icon that does reside in the system tray which, normally, would knock it out of contention automatically. It is an .msi installation file though that, from what I can see, creates NO cpu usage or increase of its own and, serves the purpose of increasing battery life. My start time hasn’t suffered as well!!
There is a plus in this program that Vista, for some reason, hasn’t included. It allows you to set the performance mode (high performance, balanced and power savor) automatically when it is plugged in or on battery. It also enables you to choose when to keep MS Aero and sidebar on or off, again to improve battery life.
Ok enough of my jibber jabber and go here:
Vista Battery Saver
In addition, we have become aware of another battery saver called Aerofoil which serves the purpose of saving battery life through turning off Windows Aero alone when on Battery mode. Check it out if you like!!!!
21. Increase or Decrease Desktop Icon Size in just a click!!!
Its nice every now and then to find a neat little trick that you never knew. This is the case with this appearance tweak which allows you to increase or decrease the size of your desktop icons.
1. Click on your Desktop screen.
2. Hold the Control key down; and
3. Move your mouse scroll wheel up or down.
Tadaaa. You can control the size of your icons.
21. Can’t Afford Office? Get OpenOffice for Free!!!
Yes, this inclusion is going to be a programmers nightmare because I’m supporting yet another program that is absolutely free. To pass my standards, the program has to be free of any limitations, time constraints, upgrades that cost us money and openly distributed to everyone. This one fits that bill and more!!
The program is called OpenOffice and it is described in detail here. The direct download is here. Quite frankly, it looks like the other software, acts like the other software, saves documents just like the other software..plus lots more and doesn’t cost you a penny.
I’de probably list this as the best freebee on the net with respect to the amount of money saved. Now that I am using this, I don’t understand why one would get the other program.
As a brief overview it has a very detailed word processor (that resembles the other one almost exactly), spreadsheet (same same), presentation creator (again same same), database which seems actually simpler, and add to this a drawing tool and mathematical function creator. Just click on the word to see the specific function page.
Heads up as it is a large download but worth every bit of space it takes and dont take just my word for it, see what others are saying.
REGAIN VALUABLE SPACE
22. Reduce or Eliminate the Size of Your Disk Cache
By default, Vista utilizes several gigabytes of hard disk space with a file called pagefile.sys in your root drive. Through some time and patience, Vista users with 2 or more gigabytes of ram will be able to gain a great deal of that much needed space back and increase performance by slowly reducing the ‘pagefile’ or disk cache, or even eliminating it.. For example, I have elected to shut down my pagefile completely whereas, previously, I had reduced it to 600mb minimum and 1200mb maximum. I decided on this after watching my RAM usage carefully and seeing that, with my use, I never came close to using 4Gb. My space savings was well over 3.5Gb of hard disk space.
On shutting it off, I immediately saw a boost in performance which was unexpected. Having done a little background as to the reasoning for this, I learned that pagefile is utilized by your system even when it is not needed. By shutting it off, you are forcing the sytem to use your RAM to its full potential.
Should you elect to reduce, a common belief is that the pagefile should be 1.5 times the total amount of your ram and the minimum and maximum should both be the same if your sure no more will be required. This will prevent excessive disk activity at times when it is required for the pagefile to expand.
USER ALERT!!!! Reducing your pagefile size by too much will severely slow and cripple your system as it cannot create a large enough disk cache for the job at hand, thus resulting in a great deal more disk activity and slower system.
Now…how to get there….
1. Go to:Control Panel/System/Advanced System Settings/Performance Settings/Advanced/Change;
2. Make note and write down the present system managed pagefile size;
3. Disable the ‘automatic’ or ‘system managed’ size;
4. Slowly and carefully reduce your pagefile over a period of time by creating a custom size; and
5. If you find your RAM use remains on the low end of the pole after some careful monitoring, just turn it off completely and enjoy.
Good luck and enjoy the newly regained disk space!!
23. Clean System Restore and Eliminate Shadow Copies
If, after careful consideration, you elected to leave System Restore on and pass on Tip #15, there is another great little trick to save space. It is common for new users to write the forums stating that their disk space is dissappearing and they don’t know why. By default, System Restore will save a copy of your current desktop on regularly scheduled intervals, whenever something new is installed and also if an error or update occurs with the system. The results in alot of GB of needless backups remaining for no reason. Also, shadow copies of programs are created on expansion after installation, many of which remain their needlessly.
To get there, follow: Start/Computer/Right Click On ‘C’/Disk CleanUp/More Options/System Restore and Shadow Copies/Clean Up
You can check the space on your drive after this and be amazed!
24. Delete Unnecessary Files and Directories
After installation of the Vista environment either by Microsoft or the manufacturer, there are several files that are large in size and left after the fact that simply are not needed. I will detail a few below but please, as always, tread carefully. I would always advise to make a backup of the files and directories your about to delete…just in case.
a) Remove Dell Driver disks (Dell User Special POST!)
For us Dell clients, there are a large number of driver files that are left on the system needlessly after installation.
They are located at C:/Dell and are all located within a ‘drivers’ folder. To simplify and warn you regarding a folder concurrently, you may delete all the folders within the Dell folder EXCEPT MEDIADIRECT. Lets just leave MediaDirect as it involves a separate environment we use outside of Vista.
b) Remove Software Distribution Files
They can be found at C:\Windows\SoftwareDistribution\ and are created after Vista and Vista update installation. They consist of the expanded files before file execution and are no longer needed after it has been completed by Vista.
Windows will not allow you to delete ReportingEvents.log and EventCache as they are in use, but you can delete everything else in there safely.
c) Remove MS Office MSOCache File
You will need to enable hidden folders to see this file. It is found at C:\MSOCache and is created through the installation of Microsoft Office. If you have the disk set, it is of no use as it is never used except for certain user requested Office updates. It is not advised that you remove this if you haven’t got the original diskset, however.
Here is an article from Microsoft on why it exists and how to remove the MSOCache.
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