Advanced Windows Performance Tweaks
Everybody wants their computers to start up faster. But what about shutdown speed? I know from experience how annoying it is to keep waiting for your PC to power down. Luckily, there are ways to fix it.
One of the reasons why Windows can take a really long time to shut down is because it clears the page file every time you power off your PC. This is good from the security point of view, as the page file stores temporary files and other data. Sometimes unencrypted passwords can end up in your paging file, which means that clearing it on shutdown is not such a bad idea. However, if you have all your sensitive data encrypted or if extreme security is not high on your list of priorities, it’s a good idea to stop Windows clearing the page file every time you shut down your computer. To do that, you’ll need to change some stuff in the registry. Here is how:
Another way to speed up Windows shutdown is to decrease the time Windows waits to kill non-responding services. To do that, we will need to open regedit again:
Now that we’ve made your computer start up and shut down faster, it’s time to improve its overall performance. I have to warn you that improving overall computer performance usually means disabling features and services. So, if you are not comfortable with disabling certain things, simply skip the advice and read on.
Check running processes
One thing that all operating systems have in common is that they rely on hundreds of processes to run correctly. Basically, there are three main types of processes that can be running on your system – a) essential and non-essential system processes; b) processes run by applications installed on your computer; c) viruses and malware. Ideally, you’d like to have as little of the non-essential processes as possible because having too many running processes reduces your PCs speed. And you definitely don’t want any viruses and malware!
But how to check which processes are running on your system and what they are? Easy – simply launch the Windows Task Manager by pressing Ctrl+Shift+Esc and go to the Processes tab. You will see the list of all processes running on your system and information on how much CPU and RAM they are consuming. The Task Manager also provides a PID and shows under which user profile the processes are running.
So, now you know what’s running. But how to find out what exactly are all those processes, which ones are essential and which ones are not? While some process names are very straight-forward and you won’t have any problems identifying the programs that run them (for example, Skype.exe), some process names won’t give you any clues. But don’t despair – there are plenty of ways to find out.
What you need is a more advanced Task Manager than the default one
provided in Windows. There are plenty of alternatives, but my absolute
favorites are Auslogics Task Manager and Sysinternals’ Process
Both of these programs have features that are not present in the standard Windows Task Manager. For example, Auslogics Task Manager displays running programs, processes, services, shows you which files are locked by other files, and allows you to unlock them. In addition to that, you can view properties for each process to find out which application is running it, view security rating for each process and look it up on FileInspect.com – a useful online process library. And it also displays network usage by each process, which is great for identifying malware. Pretty good, isn’t it?
Process Explorer allows you to expand process trees and view which services are part of which process. This is especially handy when you are researching a process like svchost.exe and need to know which tasks a particular svchost.exe instance is responsible for.
Now, if you want to disable unneeded processes, it’s best to manage them either by disabling the software that runs them on startup or simply disable unnecessary Windows services that are responsible for running these processes. This approach is a lot better and safer than killing the process in the Task Manager. But if you are sure a process is run by a piece of malware, it’s best to kill it immediately and run a scan with up-to-date security software. Here is how you can kill a process in the Task Manager:
Indexing is one of those Microsoft features that is good in theory and not so good when the theory is tested by everyday life. The indexing feature was designed to speed up Windows search. Basically, it indexes all files and folders on your hard drive, so that the indexes can be used to find files and folders more quickly when the need arises. In theory, your files and folders should only be indexed when the computer is idle, so that there aren’t any performance issues. A good idea, isn’t it?
Unfortunately, the indexing feature is not perfect. Even though it’s not supposed to kick in when you are using your computer, it often does just that. This causes your hard drive to start making noises and slows everything down. So, if you don’t use Windows search all that often, it makes sense to either disable indexing altogether or modify indexing options, if you are on Windows 7.
Disabling indexing is easy. You can simply right-click on your hard
drive in (My) Computer, go to Properties and uncheck Allow
Indexing Service to index this disk for fast file searching in Windows XP
or Allow files on this drive to have contents indexed in addition to
file properties in Windows 7.
However, it’s best to disable the Indexing Service altogether. Here is how:
If you are running Windows 7, you can choose to adjust indexing options. This way you will make sure that Windows still indexes your frequently searched locations, but doesn’t hog your computer by indexing folders you never search. Here is how you can configure indexing on a Windows 7 computer:
There are more ways to improve Windows performance. Read how in our ebook “Turbo Windows – the Ultimate PC Speed Up Guide”. Download it for FREE now!