8 Dec 2013

Speed up your Windows 7 machine

Many of my friends and colleagues, who might have started to use Windows 7 find it to be sluggish and heavy. I would often suggest a few steps, to which they would object, mainly because they have not yet moved out of the Windows XP experience (can you believe it?). They are intimidated by the Windows 7 features like aero peek, windows animations etc but they want to embrace it with the performance of XP !!

When I bought my laptop with Windows 7, some 3-4 years back, I had gone through the dilemma of experiencing sluggishness after a period of time. I had gone in search of the truth behind, and found many sites recommending to upgrade RAM, hard disks, processors, defrag regularly, scan antivirus regularly etc which would either costs money or inconvenience them. Instead i had chosen a few steps, to implement them one time and enjoy the beauty of it till date.

Below are few of my recommendations, in order of my preference

1) Turn Off Search Indexing
By default, Windows enables the Search Indexing, which as a process runs in the background and indexes every word, file, folder. So that when you search for a term, or a file, it returns the result in a short period of time. The only drawback while disabling this feature is that it will take a longer time to show you the result.

To turn off the search indexing, go to Control Panel > Indexing Options. A shortcut would be Start > type "index" in the search box, and you'll see that choice at the top of the start menu. (As i told you, many are yet to think beyond the XP experience.) Click "Modify" and remove all settings configured. (Locations and file types).

Alternative: If you are one of those, who does not have time to search thousands of files, keep the indexing on. Whenever you feel that the system is slowing down, and you need some extra speed, open "run" (Windows Button+R) and type "services.msc". When the services window is open, find "Windows Search", double click on it and either stop it temporarily for some time or disable it.

2) Turn Off Aero Effects
I know that this is one of the reason for which you fall for Windows 7, but trust me, when you begin to fight for performance, disabling this will definitely help you. Open "Performance Information and Tools" under "Control Panel" setting and choose "Adjust Visual Effects". Here there is a long list of visual effects options, but not forgetting why we are here for, select "Adjust for best performance" and it will turn everything off.
Don't worry, you will survive the decade old looks, and appreciate the performance enhancement.

3) Increase the page file and memory allocated for Background services
The page file is an area on your disk, which you can assign to be used by Windows similar to RAM. So increasing it would improve /increase your computer’s performance. You can leave it to Windows default to will select it automatically or increase the size and get better experience. Check the “Automatically manage paging files for all drivers” feature from the Virtual Memory menu.

4) Limit Startup Processes
In the Start button's search box (Windows Button+R), type MSCONFIG, then head to the Startup tab. You'll see a long list of apps, mostly for system support, but you'll be able to identify rest which clearly aren't necessary. e.g GoogleUpdate, Adobe Update or even QuickTime running all the time. Disable all those un-required processes by un-ticking them.

5) Turn Off Desktop Gadgets
These are Windows 7 gadgets, which are aimed for increasing productivity of the user. However if you think of it, it is a side process and not a main process, which can be ditched. You can turn it off by typing "gadgets" in the start menu search bar, choosing "View list of running gadgets" and select each in turn and click Remove to shut any gadgets you can live without.

6) Disable UAC
If you are the only user of your machine, and have Administrator access, you should disable UAT for boosting performance. This will not directly improve the performance, but cut down on the background processes. UAT is basically a notification mechanism used to prevent malicious changes to your system.
To disable it, go to Control Panel > User Accounts > Change User Account Control Settings.

7) Uninstall Bloatware
There will be a lot of apps you installed but no longer want. Head to Control Panel | Programs | Uninstall a program. Many of the programs will require a reboot, because they probably load processes at boot time and take up valuable RAM and CPU cycles. You can also click "Turn Windows Features On or Off" and scan the list to see if there's anything you don’t use eg Games, Solitaire. 


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