Make Windows 7 Lightning Fast! Improve Boot Time and Shut Down. Eliminate Bloatware. Understand The Importance of a Fresh Install. Discover Win7 God Mode and Other Hidden Secrets. Improve Windows 7 Visible Performance. Shut Down Hibernate and Page File To Save Space. Discover Windows 7 Hot Keys. Maintain Win7 Health. Includes Valuable SSD Tips.

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Turn Off Search Indexing, Pagefile and Hibernate

The following tweaks may or may not yield individual results as much as they will when done as a group. One 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.

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; and
  5. Select Set, OK and then allow your system to Reboot.
There is also another little benefit to this if you are storage space strapped like many ssd users. You gain 3.5 GB space that is no longer reserved for Pagefile.

Hibernate Freebee!

There is another space saver if you never use Windows Hibernate.  Simply Click on the Start Orb, All Programs, Accessories and Command Prompt.  Now Type powercfg -h off and hit enter.  Presto, you just gained another 3 Gb of hard drive space.

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 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; and
  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 brand new systems.

There are some great sites to update your drivers available such as for video drivers and 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?

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