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Windows Vista has often been criticized for being bloated and slow and everyone unanimously seems to agree that Vista is a beast that Microsoft needn’t have confronted us with. Beast or not though, Vista is here to stay. It is bundled with nearly every computer now sold and it looks like we’ll have to live with it for some time to come.
I’ve been using Vista since it came with my notebook and actually find it to be better than Windows XP. Although I have the benefit of using a fairly recent machine and, even then, I have had to customize Vista quite a bit to save on some memory and speed up daily tasks.
In this post, I’ll share 4 tips to help you speed up Vista PC and live with that bloated beast.
1. Disable Aero
Aero is the fancy marketing term for the not-so-fancy graphics that you see in Windows Vista. Sure, some of those effects look pretty and might even impress your girlfriend (or boyfriend) but Aero is a resource hog. If you are running Vista on an older computer, there is no reason to torture the poor machine and stress yourself in the process.
To disable the Windows Aero look, right click anywhere on the desktop and click Personalize -> Window Color and Appearance. This will open a window like the one shown here.
Now chose one of the color schemes in the list. Windows Aero will enable all effects, Windows Vista Basic will disable the snazzy effects you see while switching between Windows using alt-tab, or the window preview that you see if you hover your mouse over the taskbar. The Basic setting is a nice compromise between speed and usability, though. You can try the Windows Standard and Windows Classic settings too if you want to.
You can get some more juice out of Vista by disabling some window effects. Right click on ‘My Computer’ and then click on >Advanced System Settings -> Settings (under the Advanced tab and performance section) and then choosing whether you want Windows to adjust itself for best performance or best appearance.
2. Disable the Vista Sidebar
The Windows Vista Sidebar is a nice looking but mostly useless piece of bloat that most Vista installations can live without. Whatever stroke of genius led Microsoft to let the sidebar be switched on by default, you can actually get rid of it, and save some precious memory in the process.
To remove the Sidebar, right click on the Sidebar and select ‘Close Sidebar’. In the dialogue box that you get, uncheck “Start Sidebar when Windows starts”, and click OK.
ReadyBoost was one big hyped up feature of Windows Vista. The feature supposedly lets Windows use a flash drive connected to the PC as a memory cache and since most flash drives are faster than regular hard drives, this apparently helped Windows perform faster. The reality is that most people don’t use this feature and for them, it is only slowing down the system. To disable this service, go to ControlPanel -> Administrative Tools -> Services. Double-click on the ReadyBoost service and select ‘disable’ from the drop down box.
4. Disable User Account Control
This tip will not really speed up the computer as such, but will definitely let you use the computer faster. User Account Control (UAC) is one of the most talked about features of Windows. Talked not by Microsoft, but by people who like to hate Vista, for whatever reason. If you’ve Vista used for any amount of time, I’m sure you’ve come across this feature. This is the feature with which Vista prompts you with dire consequences if you chose to ignore its warning. The screen goes dark and a pop-up….well….pops up and asks for permission to perform the said task. It is not only annoying, but it essentially serves no purpose, since most people become immune to the warning in just a couple of days.
For those people, it is best to disable this feature altogether. Here’s how :
Click on Start – > Control Panel -> User Account. In the User account window, click on the link named “Turn User Account Control on or off”. In the dialogue box that follows you can disable UAC altogether. Click OK, reboot and move on.
If you guys have any more tips to help speed up Vista, please share them with us in the comments. Have you tried the tips I have mentioned here? Do they work for you?