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Peter Roberts

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Peter Roberts - UCL

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Speeding up Windows - two tricks to try

20 January 2009  |  2494 views  |  2

We've already pondered why Windows slows down over time and had some handy tips from the community, so I thought I'd share some more of mine as I started to do last year.

I'll assume your machine is patched and not compromised for starters!

I spent two years trying to get a stable audio production platform running on XP - with limited success - but I did find some few useful tricks that work - and some apply to Vista too.

As Joe, who I used to work with so succinctly put it: "XP is pretty good if you turn all the crap off" by which he meant all the visual fluff. Vista also seems to have this problem - you either have a responsive machine or a pretty looking interface. Not both - so it's your choice. 

If you're feeling brave you can try these two yourself. In theory none of this will damage your installation but the usual caveats apply. Make backups of important stuff first. Have a fire extinguisher handy and make sure you can blame the IT dept if it goes wrong.

Adjust for best performance

This is more or less instant. In Control panel - click System and then Advanced. You'll see a Performance section of the panel - click Settings. Under Visual effects click the button labelled Adjust for best performance then Apply or Ok. At this point your machine will slowly turn into something that looks like Windows 2000. All grey and functional - but possibly faster and less annoying. If it makes no difference you can always change it back.

Virtual memory

This requires restarting. I've read conficting reports about the paging file used for virtual memory - Google it you'll see what I mean - but if you wish you can try setting that from the same Performance screen we looked at earlier. Under Advanced there's the Virtual memory option. Mine is set to twice the size of my RAM for both initial size and maximum size. If nothing else it seems to stop the machine grinding to a halt when disk space gets low.

That's enough excitement for one day.


Clicking Settings in the Performance section reveals this

Comments: (2)

A Finextra member
A Finextra member 21 January, 2009, 06:36

About the virtual memory:

Windows is configured to use the virtual memory offered.  Thus, it will swap memory space to and from disk, regardless of the amount of true memory it has in use. If you have a machine with 2GB or more of memory and you are not using heavy visual editing software, this (virtual memory) swap should be turned off completely, it only slows your computer down.

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Ed Daniel
Ed Daniel - esdaniel.com - Europe 05 February, 2009, 14:50

+1 for comment above, I also have swap disabled.

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job title Moodle support
location London
member since 2008
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I was the technical lead on the Finextra family of web sites from 1999 to 2009. I'm at UCL these days supporting Moodle.

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