Friday , 18 April 2014
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The Windows 7 Optimization Guide

FRESH INSTALLATION VS. MIGRATION

Enough cannot be said about the importance of doing a fresh, full and clean installation of Windows 7 on your computer if it has never been done in the past.  New computers contain vast amounts of bloatware (trial programs, manufacture specific utilities and freeware), as well as specific settings that will slow your computer in order to ensure the stability of the system for the needs of the manufacturer.  Many times newer systems contain programs that the consumer believes are vital yet utilize a vast amount of system resources to do their job.  This slows your computer.

Did you ever wonder why some computers take several minutes to start yet others take less than 30 seconds???¬† A ‘clean install’ alone will change your start times significantly.¬† The most valuable upgrade one can make to a computer is a fresh installation of the operating system and its hardware drivers.¬† We first need to put pen to paper and determine what will be involved in our new OS installation.

  • Did the system come with an OS Win 7 disk?¬† If not, we definitely need one of them;
  • Are we aware of what hardware is installed within our systems in order to find the proper drivers?
  • Do we know how to find our drivers through the manufacturers support site or that of the hardware vendor themselves?
  • Have we downloaded these drivers onto a separate USB/DVD so we can have them when needed?

.These are very important questions we have to tackle before the new installation because, sure as heck, something will go wrong even with all the preparation in the world. Care for an example?

.I bought my new system, an Acer 1810T-6188, a few weeks back and wanted to do a fresh OS installation.¬† Well, my first thing to tackle was finding the OS disk as I never received one with the system.¬† It came with an internal system recovery drive which was useless as I was also changing to a ssd.¬† I dug up the disk but then needed to create an .iso file in order to create an installable Windows 7 USB disk for the installation as my system doesn’t contain a DVD drive.¬† I then learned that, since I was moving over 64 bit form 32 bit, the USB disk couldn’t simply be created on a 32 bit system.¬† I tackled that and then did the installation only to find out that the laptops wireless module was not recognized by my new installation of Windows 7.¬† This wasn’t good.¬† I didn’t figure I would need to download the drivers as I would simply do it after the installation as I was told that all hardware would certainly be recognized by Windows 7.¬† It was a long day but one that I enjoyed because I thrive on problem solving which is an asset if your following through with this thread.¬† It never stopped there though.¬† While experimenting with different service settings the next day, I did a computer reboot only to find my ‘hardware’ wasn’t recognized as a result of a hardware or software change.¬† So I tackled that.

Ok so…I’ve probably done a great job of disillusioning and scaring you right?¬† If so, refer once again to the above ‘READER ALERT!’ because once you start it’s just too late to go back.¬† It becomes an addiction which will definitely present obstacles yet one that will make you confident in your problem solving skills and your creation of a new system to suit your own personal needs and ideas.

.FASTER BOOT

.Simply put, this little collection of tools will help you to gain control on quicker start times, internet confirmation, shut down times as well as throwing in some performance improvements.  As a bit of a start though, lets discuss two of the largest causes of a lengthy boot time on a computer, automatic updating and virus programs.  A great many programs leave files in your startup folder and automatically set themselves to automatic updating on installation.  Automatic updating can increase your boot time by 6-60 seconds, and more, depending on what you have installed.

.For example, I use a great optimization utility called Advanced System Care which does a great job keeping my system clean.  It only gets used when I choose so I never considered that it would be the cause of a 7-8 second delay in my start time.  It turns out that, in the programs Options menu, there are two check boxes, one for starting the program automatically at startup and the other for automatic updating.  I simply unchecked them and got that time back but who knew right?

The other consideration that I mention has to do with finding the right virus program.  I like freeware myself and have had the opportunity to check the start times of four programs in the past while.  Was I surprised to find that the best program started in the least amount of time was 5-6 seconds while at least two others chocked 10-15 seconds on to the boot time.

a. Configuration File Adjustment

The Configuration File can be found by pressing the WinKey + letter ‘R’ simultaneously which will bring up the Run command.¬† From there, type ‘msconfig’ into the box and press enter.¬† While here we are going to perform a few changes to decrease our boot time:

  1. Uncheck GUI Boot which will stop the colorful opening ceremonies of the software and save you precious seconds at start up as will these others;
  2. Reduce the Delay time to 3 seconds;
  3. Choose Advanced options and select 2 for the number of processors if you are fortunate to have such; and
  4. Click on OK followed by Apply and then agree to restart your computer.

.b. Remove any Unused and Unneeded Services

.Windows 7 running services can potentially be the main cause for slow start and performance in a computer system.  Many of the services are never used by the computer as the general settings are meant to cover any number of computers and their configurations.  On first seeing the Service Applet, the columns will show the name of each service, description, status and startup type.   The user needs to carefully consider the properties of each one to determine if it needs to be running or not.  The safest method of approach is to set services to manual, when unsure, rather than to disable them.

So, simply press WinKey + ‘R’ to again bring up the Run Command and type in ‘services.msc’ before pressing OK.¬† Double clicking on any service will help in determining if it is useful or not as well as changing its properties.

Some services that start automatically, by default, that can be disabled are:

  • Computer Browser
  • Distributed Link Tracking Client
  • IKE and AuthIP IP Keying Modules
  • Offline Files
  • Remote Registry
  • Tablet PC Input Service (If you are not using a tablet)
  • Windows Error Reporting

You can experiment carefully with some services and I would suggest only a few at a time and then return if something doesn’t work as planned or there are adverse results.

c. Eliminate Unneeded Start Up Programs

Start Up programs, as with Windows Services, have the ability to slow your system down a great deal.  Start Up programs are a bit more obvious to the typical user however.  Many software programs, on installation, embed files within the Startup folder that are running behind the scenes needlessly.  Quick Time is famous for this as is MS Office, however, MSN Messenger and the many communications programs that start automatically are a better example.

To examine your Startup, press WinKey + ‘R’ and type ‘msconfig’ and OK.¬† From there select Startup and examine the running files.¬† Again, determining what you can shut down may take a bit of work, however, my policy is that if I can start it when I select the program, there is no need for its files to be running all the time and slowing my system.

d. Remove Unused Fonts

I have just counted and was astounded to learn that there were a total of 708 fonts installed on my computer by Windows 7 taking up a whopping ¬Ĺ GB of space, all but 3 of which I may never use.¬† Windows loads each and every one of these fonts at boot up and must keep track of them, thus slowing your system. Feel free to cut down on the total number if you like by simply deleting them.¬†¬† Go to Start Menu/Control Panel/Fonts.

e. Get Quicker Internet Confirmation

There is a quick trick to getting your internet to confirm quicker on boot.¬† Press Winkey + ‘R’, type in ‘services.msc’, double click and disable Workstation. This tweak is not advisable if your system is located within a network or workstation environment as it will affect the environment itself.

f. Speed Up Your Shut Down Time

.Windows 7 allows you to control your shut down time and allows it to be set from instantaneous to a 20 second delay.  In considering this, your work habits need to be thought of and whether or not there is data being saved on exit.  My shut down time is set at 2 seconds which I find a perfect setting as I hate waiting for a computer to shut down.  We need to go into the Registry for this one so buckle up!

Press Winkey +’R’ and type ‘Regedit’ which brings you to the Registry Editor;

  1. Follow¬Ě HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control and then look to the right to find WaitToKillServiceTimeOut and double click on it. You can enter a value from 2 to 20000, each value representing a millisecond.¬† Two seconds would be 3000; and
  2. Again click OK and then simply exit the program; it will be saved automatically.

PERFORMANCE

The following teaks may or may not yield individual results as much as they will when done as a group.  Once may not notice a change of a few milliseconds in menu appearance or that of reducing start time by two seconds through an individual tweak.  Some tweaks are extremely controversial.  Some will draw a lot of attention and some require a certain amount of acceptance of risk.  Many have been used for years without incident and it would be wrong to not pass them along and let the user decide.  Some are carried forward from the Vista Guide while others were emailed or found elsewhere on the internet.  Pick out what you like and are comfortable with and leave others for those who like the risks or who have a bit more (or less) knowledge and definitely less sense.

a. Disable Windows 7 Search Indexing

By default, Search Indexing is turned on in Windows 7, although most recreational users have no need for it since they know what they want and where to get it.  Disabling Windows Search can provide a significant performance boost to users who know where their files can be found and find that the Search command is not one found in their normal use of this OS.  There are a few separate processes to shut down to ensure search functioning is disabled.  These are as follows:

  1. Right click on the Windows Orb (bottom right) and select Properties/Start Menu and Customize.¬† Deselect the radio button for Search Programs and Control Panel and select the radio button for Don’t Search in the selection of Search other files and Libraries;
  2. Click Winkey + ‘R’ and type ‘services.msc’. Click on Windows Search and disable it; and
  3. Click Start Menu/Computer and Right Click on ‘Local Disk ‘C’. Uncheck the bottom box that speaks of indexing and allow it to complete.¬† This may take a few minutes.¬† Reboot your computer and you are done.

.b. Enable Write Caching

By default, Windows 7 uses Cache flushing. This means that the system will periodically instruct the storage device to write all data waiting in the cache to the storage device.  When you select Enable write caching on this device, you can turn off these periodic commands to transfer the data.  Not all devices support all of these features.

When you select the Better Performance option, Windows 7 uses a method known as write-back caching. In this method, the storage device itself is allowed to determine whether using the high-speed cache will save time completing the write commands.  If it will, the device signals to the computer that the data has been stored successfully even though the data may not actually be present in the storage device yet (such as the hard disk or flash memory).  This method markedly increases the throughput of storage operations, which are often a major bottleneck for system performance overall.

Go to Start Panel/Computer, right click on ‘Local Disk C’ and select Properties.¬† Find Hardware, right click on your hard drive shown, follow Policies and check both boxes shown.

c. Consider Potential of Shutting Down Your Pagefile

This next suggestion is sure to raise the eye of many which is why there needs to be a bit of an explanation behind it. Many years ago, the creators of Windows realized that the need for physical memory could not keep up with the demands of newer and more demanding software.¬† There simply wasn’t enough physical memory available to keep up with technology.¬† As a result, virtual memory was created which is commonly known now as Pagefile.

Pagefile is a section of your computer’s hard drive which is dedicated solely to assisting the needs of your computers physical memory which is commonly known as RAM (random access memory). In short, rather than storing information into RAM, your system likes to make sure there is always sufficient amount available for programs so it places active programs in Pagefile where they can be quickly accessed.¬† Pagefile is actually a dedicated portion of your hard disk which is doing the job of your RAM.¬† There are two controversies related to this which speak to that of system performance as well as system and information safety.

With respect to system performance, there is little, if any, evidence that would substantiate that turning off Pagefile will show any noticeable improvement.  It will, however, get you back 3.5Gb of drive space.

The simple mechanics of it depict a different picture, however.  Physical RAM is a great deal faster than Pagefile and, therefore, information stored there must be retrieved at a much higher rate.  Conversely, if you consider that your hard drive is trying to retrieve its normal course of data and, also, trying to utilize Pagefile in place of ram, it is something like two people trying to drive a car at the same time.  Windows 7 is wonderful at making it work, however, with Pagefile, you are guaranteed a great deal more disk activity and many believe a slower system.  Again, there are many who also believe otherwise.

There is also an inherent risk associated with shutting down Pagefile, in that if your system does not have sufficient RAM available, it could cause problems or even shut down your software, causing one to lose any information they haven’t backed up. (As did my husband and that is why I am retyping this whole article for him. No word of lie.)¬† This is why one needs to ensure that they have sufficient physical memory installed and available for their normal every day use.¬† For example, I utilize Windows 7 64 bit which enables me to use as much physical RAM as I can feed it, this being 4 GB in my case.¬† I use a system monitor within my gadgets to watch my RAM use.¬† Commonly, with Pagefile shut off I have 3 of 4 GB free.¬† Now, even with 8 copies of Word, Photoshop, Adobe Acrobat, the internet, a mail program, video playing as well as music in the background, I still have 2.6 GB of free physical memory.

My view quite simply is that we pay for the amount and power of our physical RAM so it just makes sense to use it to its full potential.  Myself, I believe that the difference in system response is physically noticeable.  And beside, Windows 7 even has a check box to turn your Pagefile off so who are we to argue right?

Shutting down Pagefile is a bit more work than usual but, like all else, you will learn a lot about your system in your trip to get it done.

  1. Left Click on the Orb, Control Panel and then System;
  2. Choose Advanced System settings, Advanced Tab, and Performance Settings;
  3. In Performance Options, left click on Advanced and Change Virtual memory;
  4. Unclick Automatically Manage Paging File and Select the No Paging File radio button;
  5. Select Set, OK and then allow your system to Reboot.

d. Uninstall Unneeded Features and Windows Programs

Consider uninstalling unneeded Windows 7 features, and while you are there, unused programs, in order to save space and improve performance.  Your performance is improved in turning off unneeded windows features such as 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 already been moved.  This checking and rechecking can hinder system performance.

  1. Left click Orb, Control Panel and Programs and Features;
  2. Click Turn Windows features On or Off and decide what to keep and what is not needed; and
  3. Click OK, exit and then look through and remove any unneeded software programs that you have.

My Windows Features checked items consist of Games, Internet Explorer 8, Media Features, Table PC Components and Gadget Platform.¬† The only reason I don’t shut down Tablet is because of a handy little item called the Snipping Tool which will be described later.

e. Get a Flash Drive and Use ReadyBoost

To start, this does not really apply to SSD users as there is no significant access time increase between the SSD and USB flash drive.

For the rest, lucky you!!!  You can now literally add physical memory to your system by popping a USB flash drive in and enabling it to use ReadyBoost.  For the systems with limited RAM this is a great add on because it limits the use of Pagefile which, as discovered earlier, is a portion of the hard drive which is dedicated to emulating physical RAM and can slow your system.

The drive must be USB 2.0 compliant and it is recommended that the USB have at least 1 GB of available space for ReadyBoost.

  1. Insert a USB drive or SDHC card;
  2. Go to Computer on your desktop and right click on the device you want to use;
  3. You will see a tab for ReadyBoost.

You can also wait for Autoplay to pop up, select General Options and click Speed Up My System.  A little wandering around within the ReadyBoost menu will show you that you can also choose how much memory from the drive to dedicate.

f. Ensure all Hardware Drivers Are Up To Date

To start, I understand many are going to read this and realize that they never had a clue that drivers need to be updated.¬† Well, technically they do and they don’t.¬† On one hand we could question why we would fix a good thing yet, on the other, there are sometimes important performance gains to be realized.¬† Believe it or not, there have also been several instances of manufacturer fixes and upgrades that take care of problems associated with problems of brand new systems.

There are some great sites to update your drivers available such as www.laptopvideo2go.com for video drivers and www.x-drivers.com for just about everything else.¬† The most important consideration that must be given is that the correct driver is downloaded and close examination of the driver information confirms it’s the right driver for you.¬† Installing the wrong video driver could necessitate a complete system re-installation in just the right circumstances so ensure you have the right driver and READ CAREFULLY!

g. Change Your Power Settings

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, especially after plug in from battery power with Windows 7???

To help you in controlling performance and battery power, Windows 7 has brought forward an option from Vista (that dreaded word) 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 is as easy as that.

Yes…I know… this is really a cheat tweak that many know already but, it is 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?

DESKTOP APPEARANCE

The easiest and quickest way to increase performance, short of you changing your power option, is through adjusting your desktop appearance and ability to display Windows Aero features.  Although these may not be as visually appealing, many claim these can provide a great performance boost when needed.
.
a. Trading Appearance for Performance

Windows 7 has done a great deal to improve upon the look and feel of its graphical environment and a large amount of resources are used to ensure this ‘premium’ appearance.¬† One of the best boosts we can give Windows 7 comes from disabling visual effects to maximize performance.

  1. Go to System Properties by pressing WinKey + Pause/Break (top right corner of keyboard);
  2. Click on Advanced System Settings, Advanced and then Settings; and
  3. Click the radio button for Best Performance.

Windows greatest strength in this option is that it is completely user friendly in that you can customize it to best suit your needs or let Windows decide what is best as it sees fit.

b.  A Different Way of Seeing Your Desktop

Disable Aero by right clicking on your Desktop, select Personalize and then scroll to a non-Aero theme;

Toss the Transparency by right clicking the Desktop, select Personalize, Window Colour and uncheck Enable Transparency;

Remove Desktop Gadgets that can be slowing your system by deleting them individually by clicking the X that appears in their upper right corner or by right clicking the Desktop, View and un-checking Show Desktop Gadgets; and

Adjust Resolution by right clicking Desktop, selecting Screen Resolution and then selecting the screen that suits you needs.  You can also go into Advanced Options, Monitor and change it from 32 Bit to 16 Bit if need be.

When you perform these changes, your system, of course, will lose some of its curb appeal and shine but the performance may be considerably greater, depending on whether you have a newer and streamlined or older and less equipped system.

c. Speed Up Menu Appearance Time

This little ad on is exactly as it sounds.  It is the time that elapses when you select a menu until it actually pops up.  We need to dig into the registry for this one so, if you are not comfortable with this, move along to the next tweak.

  1. Press WinKey + ‘R’ and type ‘Regedit’ which brings you into the Registry Editor;
  2. Follow HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Control Panel\Desktop and look to the right until you find MenuShowDelay which will display a number representing the number of milliseconds until the menu pops up.  You can change it to a number ranging from 1 to 4000; and
  3. From here, simply click OK and then exit by pressing the red X top right of the screen.

See… now that wasn’t so hard now was it? You will need to log off and log on before this little tweak works.¬† Get ready for it!

d. Turn on a Desktop Slideshow

One of the great features of Windows 7 at the ability to set your desktop as a slide show which allows you to choose the folder with your favorite pictures or backgrounds, how long between intervals and also the choice to shuffle.  My wife loves this as our pictures are in the thousands and span several years of our family life.  They display at random on the desktop which she thoroughly enjoys.

Simply right click on your Desktop and choose Personalize.¬† Select Desktop Background and browse to find select pictures.¬† I put all my favorites into a specific folder and select the folder.¬† Once complete, right click again on your Desktop, you will see a selection for Next Desktop Background just in case you don’t like the present one too much.

SECURITY FEATURES

There are a number of changes one can make with respect to Windows 7 Security Features.  Some will help speed up your movement within Windows while others will increase, or decrease, performance depending on whether you choose to use it or not.  Many users reading this may not be of a level to determine whether these will best suit their needs and for this, I would advise against making changes to their User Account Control and System Restore specifically.    This article was created in the sense that it should provide all the options to the consumer depending on their level of knowledge.

a. Make Windows 7 Log On Automatically

If you are simply using a home computer and have no need for log on screens, you can eliminate this by the following these steps:

  1. Press Win + ‘R’ for the Run Command;
  2. Type ‘netplwiz’ and hit enter;
  3. Uncheck Users Must Enter a User Name and Password to Use this Computer and press Apply; and
  4. You will be prompted for your User Name and Password; do so and hit Enter.

Many believe this change alone to save them several seconds in system boot times.

b. Take Control of UAC

One of my biggest pet peeves, of Windows, is the annoying prompts each and every time one wants to install a program or make system changes.  This can be changed easily by adjusting the scale in User Account Settings to a level that makes you happy with both protection and your ability to work with your computer.

Simply left click on the Orb and then Icon top right of the Start Menu.  Next click Change User Account Control Settings and adjust the scale to suit your needs.  While there, one can also learn how to change their account type, name and picture as well as being able to manage other accounts if they are in Account Administrator.

c. Get Rid of Action Center Balloon Notification

The new Windows Action Center is a great thing for those who aren’t quite on top of their system.¬† It is capable of pop-ups and balloons for pretty much everything under the sun that might reflect security in one way or another.¬† I am really not a fan of always seeing that little flag with some new red mark on it to remind me that Windows doesn’t think my security is quite up to par.

The icon can either be shut right off or not shown yet still active.¬† Right click on the Power Icon and selecting Turn System Icons Off where you get to choose which you want and which you don’t.¬† You can also customize them to how and when they alert you by selecting Customize Notification Icons if you don’t want to shut them off completely.

d. Disable System Restore

System restore is an effective tool for backing out of things such as tweaking mistakes, failed program installations and other activities that seem to leave your system damages.¬† For this reason, consider carefully whether you want to turn it off or just leave it.¬† Turning it off allows for performance improvement as new system backups aren’t being created in the background and, also, it allows for more computer space as it frees up some valuable disk property.¬† I regularly back up to an external which solves my problems with respect to this.

  1. Go to Control Panel/System/System Protection and then Configure.
  2. Turn off or adjust System Protection; and
  3. Apply and then confirm Yes.

If you elect to just reduce the size of your System Restore file, create a restore point to be safe.

e. Password Protection & Encryption For Flash and External Drives

Windows 7 inclusion of Bit Locker to Go now allows a user to encrypt and password protect USB or external drives with little to no trouble at all.

  1. Go to your Computer icon, right click on the drive you wish to protect and Turn On Bitlocker;
  2. A Password screen will appear to create your password for the drive;
  3. Save or Print Your Recovery Key;
  4. Start encryption and wait until complete and that’s it!!!

The next time that you insert the disk on Windows 7 system, the password screen will open up allowing you access to your files.

PRECAUTION:¬† This will only work on Windows 7 systems and the USB /external drive will not work on other OS’s once encryption is complete.

f. Log On As A Guest

A new and great feature about Windows 7 appears in its guest log on.  This is a great method for allowing children to use the system as this mode places limits on making system changes, installing software or writing to the disk outside the user profile.  A great security feature is that all data saved inside the profile is deleted once the user logs off.

g. Browse In Private While On Public Computers

A new feature in IE8 is the ability to open the browser in an InPrivate Browsing session that allows you to perform banking and so forth from a public location without fear of leaving behind any residue.  IE will not retain anything you do in an InPrivate Browsing session.  You can perform this action if you are already within IE by selecting the Safety button and then InPrivate Browsing.  This will open another IE window altogether.  However, you can save a few steps by using the shortcut.  Right-click the desktop IE icon, click InPrivate and the windows will open in an InPrivate session already.

HOUSEKEEPING

I think one of the best things we can do for our computer in order to keep it running its best is to commit to a weekly cleanup.  I will confess that I am 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 application leaves tons of unneeded registry entries in your system.

a. Know the Software that Works!

I rely heavily on freeware that has been proven, has great reviews and works.  People needlessly pay valuable money for virus programs and cleanup tools when there are better ones available for free on the internet, many of which are actually better and in the case of virus software, do not eat up a lot of your critical system resources.  I have absolutely no hesitation in promoting the download site I use which is www.download.com as well as these following software programs which are all FREE and not time limited:

1. AVG Antivirus Free Edition is probably the number one download for the entire internet and has been downloaded just under 2 million times on this site alone.¬† I have downloaded it on countless occasions for my systems and that of those I have helped.¬† It is a complete protection program, is easy to install, uses very little system resources, works in the background and updates very often.¬† It has been around for years and, in my opinion, is the best Anti-virus program one can invest in.¬† I haven’t used Avast software but it also ranks at the top of the popularity chart;

2. IoBit Advanced System Care 3 Optimizer is Amazing.¬† It takes all the maintenance and cleaning concerns off your hand and works with a simple mouse click if you don’t want it to run automatically.¬† Again free and not time limited, this software takes care of spyware removal, registry errors and concerns, privacy sweep and free space by cleaning junk files.¬† It is a complete system and its utilities have add ons like Internet Booster, Game Booster and Smart Defrag;

3. VLC Media Player is an all around media player that plays just about every type of media possible.¬† Everyone has run into those times when media won’t play because such and such an extension is not compatible.¬† I have never had this problem with VLC installed; and

4. CCleaner just to confirm my system is clean.¬† There is really no need with Advanced System Optimizer but I like having the second system cleaning program available just in case.¬† It’s a bit overboard I know but I have been using this for so long I had to throw it in.¬† Its cleaner and registry fixing tools are just as powerful as Advanced System Care 3.

b. Troubleshoot Computer Problems

Got a computer problem you are not sure of? Windows 7 has great troubleshooting capabilities which can be found by going to the Control Panel and then Selecting Troubleshooting.

Once there you will find a bevy of capabilities to troubleshoot Programs, Hardware and Sound, Network and Internet, Appearance Personalization as well as System and Security.  From there you can choose to go to Change Settings and turn background checking of stability off since it is on by default.  I would suggest leaving it on.

c. Find the Hidden Power Efficiency Diagnostic Tool

Windows enables us to conduct energy efficiency testing of our systems and then see the subsequent report to determine what we can improve upon. Simply:

  1. Access your command prompt through Accessories or by typing ‘cmd’ in the Run command menu;
  2. Type ‘powercfg/energy’ at the prompt and let the system do the test; and
  3. Go to your root drive (C: )  and click on the energy report.  It will display errors, warnings and information that can assist in improving your power efficiency.

TIPS N TRICKS

I would be a bit negligent not to add some of the great little Windows 7 tricks and tools that are included with the program.  I hope you find something in this little tool box that you can use.

a. Lets Resurrect Quick Launch

  1. Right click on Taskbar/Toolbars/New Tool Bar and paste following into Folder:

%userprofile%/AppData/Roaming/Microsoft/Internet Explorer/Quick Launch

.You will immediately see a Quick Launch menu appear on the right. You can then right click and unlock the task bar, right click on the divider and choose how you want this little applet to appear.  You can choose to have just small or large icons, text and/or title.

b. Whats this inside the Calculator?

The new calculator has an incredible little tool hidden within that lets you simply calculate mortgages, leases as well as fuel economy.  Simply go to Accessories/Calculator/View and Worksheets.  To add to this functionality, one will also find unit conversions and date calculations as well as the 3 types of calculators.

c. Taking A Closer Look At Magnifier

Did you ever want to quickly zoom somewhere on the screen, whether it be for a picture or letters that are just a bit to small?¬† By holding down the WinKey and pressing ‘+’ or ‘-’, it turns the magnifier on and zooms the screen.¬† That’s just the beginning though!!!¬† By exploring the available options you can choose full screen, lense or docked views and there is even more in setting up the magnifier options.¬† Amaze yourself with the power of this little tool.

d. Windows Snipping Tool is Amazing!

A little known tool that Windows 7 has that merits discussion is called Snipping Tool.¬† It enables you to freeze whatever is on your screen, take a picture of that spot on the screen and save it.¬† Simply press WinKey + ‘R’ for the un Command and type ‘Snippingtool’ and hit Enter.¬† Just for a bit of a background, this is Microsoft’s description of ‘The Tool’:

http://windowshelp.microsoft.com/Win…605b41033.mspx

e. Whats Up With Wordpad?

You probably haven’t given much thought to WordPad lately, but the version shipping with Windows 7 has undergone a major renovation.¬† Think of it as a lite version of Microsoft Word.¬† WordPad sports a spiffy ribbon interface, making it a snap to create well-formatted documents.¬† Plus, you are no longer relegated to saving them as .RTF files.¬† WordPad now supports the Office Open XML document¬† (.DOCX) format.¬† This makes it even easier to open .DOCX files created in Word in WordPad.

f. Open a Command Prompt in Any Folder

We know that we can get to a command prompt through Start Menu/All Programs/Accessories but there is a much easier way which is new to Windows 7.¬† One can simply hold down the Shift key and right click on their Desktop or any folder menu to see a selection ‘Open Command Window here’.¬† Thanks Microsoft..nifty add on.

g. Can We Burn Disks Yet?

In a word … Yes. Windows 7 makes creating a disk form an .iso file as easy as a double click on the file.

HOTKEYS

How could we do a guide without some of the newest and most popular key combinations of Windows 7?

  • ‘ Win + Left/Right ‘ Maximizes program to the preferred side of the screen
  • ‘ Win + Home ‘ Reduces all windows and leaves only the active one
  • ‘ Win + Home Again ‘ Restores the screen to its original look
  • ‘ Win + Number ‘ launches corresponding application to number in Quick Launch area
  • ‘ Win + Space ‘ allows you to view your entire desktop by hiding all open application or allow you¬† to quickly hide your activities by pressing Win + space bar.¬† The activities only return on release of the WinKey
  • ‘ Win + Shift + Arrow ‘ Move current window to alternate screen
  • ‘ Ctrl + Win + Tab ‘ Open persistent task selection window, roll mouse over each icon to preview item and minimize others
  • ‘ Win + D ‘ Minimize all windows and show desktop
  • ‘ Win + E -¬† Opens computer drive folder
  • ‘ Win + F ‘ Opens search
  • ‘ Win + G ‘ Brings gadgets to forefront
  • ‘ Win + L -¬† Locks the users screen
  • ‘ Win + M ‘ Minimize the current window
  • ‘ Win + P ‘ Opens menu for alternate screens or projectors
  • ‘ Win + R ‘ Opens run command
  • ‘ Win + T ‘ Cycle through task bar opening each with Aero Peak
  • ‘ Win + U ‘ Starts ease of Access center where you can access the onscreen keyboard
  • ‘ Win + X ‘ Starts Mobility Center

ONE LAST TRICK

I thought I would leave one of the best shocks in Windows 7 to last, this being a small yet incredibly powerful hidden application called God Mode. God Mode will place a control panel icon on your desktop that has every command available in Windows 7 inside and listed alphabetically.  Here is how to get it

  1. Right click on the desktop and select New followed by Folder;
  2. Open the folder and name it: ‘God Mode.{ED7BA470-8E54-465E-825C-99712043E01C}’;
  3. Once done, the folder will change to that of the Control panel and the user now has immediate access to a word of commands within Windows 7, 281 commands to be exact.

CONCLUSION

Congratulations for making it through The ‘My Computer¬Ě and Windows 7 Optimization Guide.¬† I hope that there was something that you found that may be of use in the future.¬† Tweaking isn’t anything we need to do, but rather, somewhat of an addiction, for many.¬† It is an opportunity to set up your system to exactly the way you want it.¬† I hope you enjoyed the guide and invite you to pass the knowledge on to others just as I have gained throughout the years.

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About Les Tokar

is a technology nut and Founder of The SSD Review. His early work includes the first consumer SSD review along with MS Vista, Win 7 and SSD Optimization Guides. Les is fortunate to, not only evaluate and provide opinion on consumer and enterprise solid state storage but also, travel the world in search of new technologies and great friendships. Google+
  • Rudd

    hi great guide i am fan of computer electronics myself. I have question about windows 7. I wanted to install clean installation of win 7 on my father laptop but i dont have windows 7 installation disk. the recovery system is hidden on the recovery partition and its full of useless apps. the question is how to make windows 7 dvd out of the recovery partition, is it possible.

  • Ian Weydert

    Just a note on the pagefile; if the pagefile is disabled completely on the C: drive the system will not generate crashdumps. The pagefile must be as large as the system memory for the system memory dump to generate. I leave it up to user preference whether system dumps should be saved. I prefer it myself, but I think being aware of the effects of disabling the pagefile are more valuable than memory dumps themselves.

    http://support.microsoft.com/kb/2860880

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