Vista: Tips and tricks 1

January 9th, 2007

500+ MB RAM Available 
1GB RAM, Vista with AERO, 500+MB Ram available!! (Before these tweaks I had less than 100MB available RAM).

I’m now told that Superfecth (by design) will try to gobble up most ram you have, so it’s normal to see virtually no free Ram with superfetch running. The idea is that if you load a program SF will quickly give you back ram, so (in theory) its not a bad idea to keep SF running).

Also, while I did not see specific improvements in performance with Superfetch and Readyboost, a number of reviews, e.g. by TomsHardware do have evidence that it helps.

Vista is very resource heavy. The following tips show you how to disable some of the unnecessary stuff, speed up your PC, and use Vista more effectively:


  1. These tips are for power users only - don’t change system settings unless you know what you are doing!
  2. Some of these settings (e.g. disabling defender) make your PC more vulnerable to malware etc. Also, disabling some services can cause your PC to malfunction / behave unpredictably, and / or pop up a video of Steve Ballmer doing the developper dance. Or not.
  3. By following these tips you agree that if you mess your PC I’m not responsible. Please back up your PC before attempting these tips.

VISTA Tips and Tricks list:

1. Disable Windows defender

  1. Open control panel- click classic view.
  2. Open defender - it’s at the bottom, next to Firewall and other stuff like Sidebar.
  3. Click Tools - then Options - and untick everything you see, such as:
    Untick automatically scan my PC
    scroll down, untick use real time protection
    untick advanced options, click save
  4. If user access control is on, you may get a warning. Click continue.

2. Disable User Access Control

On most versions of Vista, User Access Control is enabled - basically this is a security procedure which warns you before you (or any application) enables to do something considered risky, e.g. modifying system settings. Disable it only if you know what you are doing.

  1. Open Control Panel
  2. Open User Accounts
  3. Click turn user account control on/off.
  4. Untick use user access control
  5. click OK (you may need to restart).

3. Turn off hibernation

If you don’t use the hibernation feature, you can disable it and recover around a gigabyte of hard disk space. 

To do this, run “powercfg - H off

4. Press Alt

In most windows, you can get the traditional menu (File, Edit, View..) by just tapping the Alt key.

5. Turn on hidden files view

  1. In any drive window, click Alt, then click Tools - Folder Options
  2. Click View tab
  3. Select Show hidden files and folders.
  4. You can also untick various other annoying “Idiot mode” options like Hide extensions for known file types, and “Remember each folders view settings”.

6. Disable the sidebar
If you get tired of the sidebar, you can disable it easily via the control panel.

  1. Open Control Panel - Sidebar Properties
  2. Untick start sidebar when windows starts

7. Move swap file to another drive/partition

If you have another drive, you can speed up Vista a bit by moving the swap file to that drive. Even if you are using only one drive, moving the swap file to another partition is useful (if you intend to back up your primary partiton via a compressed mirror, saving space on the primary partition will speed up the process and reduce the backup file size).

  1. Press Windows + Pause/break key 
  2. Click advanced system settings
  3. Click the advanced tab 
  4. Click the settings button
  5. Now click Advanced (yes I know this is a bit confusing)
  6. Under virtual memory click change
  7. Untick automatically manage
  8. Select the new drive/partition you want to use for swap file and click system managed, click set (Note: Unlike Ubuntu, windows will not wipe the drive or partition - instead it just makes a file called pagefile.sys).
  9. To cancel the swap file on C click C and select no page file, click set

8. Disable unnecessary services

Warning - disabling services can cause your system to behave unpredictably, reduce security, not boot at all, or rupture the space-time continuum. Proceed with caution, only if you know what you are doing:

Navigate to: control panel - administrative tools - services Then try disabling the following (doubleclick, select disabled under startup type, click OK).

  1. Background Intelligent Transfer Service
  2. DHCP client (Only if you use a static IP, see Dan’s note below!)
  3. Diagnostic policy service
  4. Diagnostic System Host
  5. Distributed link tracking client
  6. DNS client
  7. IP Helper
  8. Offline Files (See for more info on what this is)
  9. Portable Device Enumerator Service
  10. ReadyBoost (if you are not using this feature (no flash drive)
  11. Secondary Logon (This may prevent you from using the “Run As/Run as Administrator” option.
  12. Security Center (prolly kills off defender etc).
  13. Shell Hardware Detection Service (Kills autorun - and good riddance).
  14. SSDP discovery (Something to do with UPNP devices. Darned if I know or care)
  15. Superfetch (This is Vista’s amazing caching service. Think of it as Vista’s Smartdrv. In theory it will slow down some operations but AFAIK it didn’t make much of a difference, and released a LOT of RAM).
  16. System Event Notification Service.
  17. Tablet PC input service (If no.. tablet PC?).
  18. Terminal Serives.
  19. Web client.
  20. Windows Defender (First disable it from control panel).
  21. Windows Error Reporting.
  22. Windows Event Log.
  23. Windows Image Acquisition (if no scanner and you are using your digital camera via a card reader).
  24. Windows Search (This is that annoying indexing utility. Keep it if you need to find files fast).
  25. Windows Time.
  26. Windows Update (if you can’t manually update, turn this back on).
  27. Print spooler (if you dont have a printer).
  28. Tip: Don’t disable task scheduler as defragment depends on it.

9. Setting up custom network settings
Vista will usually automatically detect your network, but if you need to set it up manually, heres how:

  1. Right click the Network Icon on the taskbar
  2. click Network and Sharing center
  3. Click the blue View Status link (if it’s not visible, ensure your cable is plugged in and click connect..)
  4. Click properties
  5. Doubleclick Internet Protocol Version 4 (TCP/IPv4)
  6. Enter your custom network configuration (The IP for this PC, the subnet, default gateway and DNS server - gateway and DNS server are usually your routers IP.
  7. You may need to restart your PC.

After restarting, you can select your type of network (e.g. Home) and you are good to go.

If you have other tips for Vista, please list them here as comments!

Entry Filed under: Microsoft, Vista

19 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Chad  |  January 30th, 2007 at 11:03 pm


  • 2. Claus  |  February 8th, 2007 at 6:07 am

    I don’t get it, why on earth are you interested in Vista a all. Why not just install a Windows 2000 or for that matter a Ubuntu Linux, you disable everything on it anyway.

    Security and search are the primal new things in Vista, and now you just want to disable it ???? Don’t get it…..

  • 3. Andy  |  February 8th, 2007 at 11:46 am

    HUH? Interesting advice….

  • 4. Andy  |  February 16th, 2007 at 2:51 am

    Ignore Claus hes an idiot

  • 5. Tadhg  |  February 25th, 2007 at 9:27 am

    not a comment or a tip - i want to change the start location in Microsoft Explorer from c:\[username]\documents to one of my choosing, how do i do that.

    thanks millions

  • 6. Joe  |  February 27th, 2007 at 2:43 pm

    I like the fact this article addresses many setings which could be easily changed. While I do not agree everything should be turned off, it does show you what is available and maybe the individual will want to disable a few of these services. Nice write up.

  • 7. Chris  |  February 28th, 2007 at 12:08 pm

    Thanks for the tips and taking the time to put the information you know online.

    Claus forums are full of people like you that are saying the same thing. Why would anyone be interested in Vista well here is your answers:

    1) Security
    2) The new GUI makes working faster
    3) DirectX 10
    4) Improved speed in applications
    5) Search facilities make life so much easier

    Instead of spending your time whining about people who use Vista why not actually try it out and I dont mean the RC1 and RC2 releases but the final retail Vista and see if you can compare it to windows 2000 or Ubuntu.

  • 8. n#  |  March 2nd, 2007 at 9:36 am

    @Joe and everyone:

    Yes these settings are up to the user

    UPDATE: I’m told Superfetch functions by swallowing all ram (and preloading applications). I’m not comfortable with this idea (call me weird) and would rather have free ram and loose a second or two loading each app. Or I would if I was using Vista, which I no longer am.

  • 9. Dan  |  March 21st, 2007 at 10:27 am

    One thing that’s important to note above is the disabling of the listed services depends *greatly* on your computer’s environment. For instance disabling DHCP if you have a home network is not a good idea. If you have this at work and can access these options be very careful as your corporate network will need the majority of those services.

  • 10. Chris  |  March 23rd, 2007 at 3:40 am

    I don’t know if this is just me finding this but I have run both the Business and Home Premium editions and find that the Home Premium tends to give me a lot of BSODs while the business hasn’t while running on the same machine.

    I am sure though if it is a bug with the Home Premium edition MS will sort it very quickly as they are already working on SP1 for release later in the year.

    Other than this Vista is a top quality OS.

  • 11. Cody Breshears  |  June 13th, 2007 at 7:01 pm

    I bought a Dell Inspiron e1705 that came with a SigmaTel HD audio card. I was experiencing audio delays. When i would double click to enter a folder i would get an audio double click delay. I would double click and a second or 2 later, Sometimes up to 4 seconds later i would hear it. Here is how to fix it >>>

    Control Panel (Classic view) > Sound > Double click Speakers / Headphones > Click Enhancements Tab > Put a check mark in “DISABLE ALL ENHANCEMENTS”

    I experienced faster load times, higher FPS in most of my games, and no more audible click delays.

  • 12. Johnny Faster  |  June 14th, 2007 at 9:43 am

    Thanks! I came here via Google for instructions on how to move the pagefile.sys off the drive and onto another. (Don’t know if it’s going to work yet, lol. I’ll come back here & bitch if it doesn’t…)

    I also appreciated the services to turn off, and I have seen these before for XP. But what no one ever does (a suggestion) is to PRIORITIZE those services you can turn off from safest to least safe. Some are “no-brainers” but some can really screw up your system if you turn them off and need them. FInding the balance point is the hard part. It would be nice to get the easy ones done first, and then start playing with the ones that may or may not be necessary.

  • 13. Scott  |  November 3rd, 2007 at 2:11 pm

    I’m slightly worried that you are recommending switching off UAC and Defender. Yes, both are often criticised for not being the most fantastic security devices ever but they sure as hell help. Linux users are more secure because their operating systems request that any serious system changes require Administrative appoval. Hence the point of UAC, to try and bring something like this to Vista. Defender is not by any measure the best anti spyware product in the world but it is better than nothing. And recommending disabling services when you don’t know what they do… I’ll say no more! For experienced users some of these tweaks may be OK. Having said all of this I did read your disclaimer which is fair enough. So this post was slightly pointless I guess.

  • 14. Kevan  |  January 12th, 2008 at 9:56 pm

    I have vista and xp on dual boot. Vista home premium came on computer and it seems lousy. it takes 3 times longer than xp to boot and shut down. I have 2 gig of ram and a 2.6 ghz core 2 duo. It is a bit more flashy than xp but it sure needs improvement. I shut some of the services down, but I have always used zone alarm suite and am comfortable with it alone. I also have ubuntu on the computer and it is the best of the lot for stability and lack of problems

  • 15. Thomas  |  January 22nd, 2008 at 4:08 pm

    Chris, you are totally wrong about speed improvements in vista.
    You did not read carefully what Claus has written.
    He said that if you disable everything that was posted on that webpage, than vista is no more than windows 2000. And he is quite right except gui. You can not talk about security in vista if you disable uac and defender, and all those services. You can not talk about using directx 10 unless you are running 8800 graphic card. And you deffinitely can not talk about stability and usability with the lack of software support.
    P.S. Andy I would say you are closer to be an idiot than Claus if you judge him be his statement

  • 16. UrDrWho  |  February 15th, 2008 at 7:53 pm

    The laptop I bought for my wife came with the PITA called Vista. IMHO if you “need” UAC then you shouldn’t be the one changing anything on your computer.

    Many programs run better than the hog called Defender.

    Turn off all the crap you can.

    If I wasn’t locked into proprietary software that my contractors require…..Windows would not be on my computers. Mr Gates has this nanny syndrome and passes it on in his OS.

  • 17. Overmind  |  May 26th, 2008 at 8:35 am

    The only thing vista effectively has over XP is DX10 (10.1 for SP1). But that’s not entirely true since DrirectX is no longer direct in windows vista. Since two additional software-emulator layers exist between application and hardware, DX cannot be called direct anymore. Therefore it should be names IX 10 (IndirectX).
    As for disableing stuff… I totally agree that all junk must be gone; just be sure you don’t kill something you may need (like DHCP).

  • 18. Harv  |  June 6th, 2008 at 2:51 pm

    I’m a heavy user of XP, (i have a WorkStation) and Vista (my new shiny portable). So, i often get so bad notes on vista, i disabled everything i don’t use, because i use it for work, and don’t need a pretty GUI. Another thing it’s compatibility, Vista make useless my common software of Geographic Information System (GIS), so i’m using basic software, in the SAME configuration of portable when i used XP (Yes my old laptop was XP, and i get a new, i think for better, laptop). So, o found this tips so useful, but i rather left some security software ’cause i surf in sharky zones…

    Nice site, keep doing

  • 19. Mike  |  September 21st, 2008 at 5:00 pm

    i find that vista is all about snealing up on what everyone is doing, it uses 75% of my memory just standing there, there`s no other choices to disable all this crap its eating up my memory although its a better tool than any other version.

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