Top 10 Tips to Keep Your Windows Vista Computer Running Smoothly

Are you using Vista on your computer? If so… have you had any issues with the performance, and how your computer actually runs? These tips were sent in by a community member by the name of Elis.

When I used to be on Windows XP, I always had the problem of keeping my computer running smoothly. Now that I,’m on Windows Vista the job has become much easier. Although Vista uses more resources, somehow I think it has been brilliantly built if running under optimum specs. So here is my top 10 tips on how to keep windows vista running smoothly.

His suggestions are general guidelines…

  • Leave your computer on for as long as you can. I leave my computer on for months on end. Every time I restart my computer, the cache to certain folders, files etc is deleted. This means that files will open slower than normal. No harm comes from leaving your computer running, and it has been proven that there is no long term damage… apart from receiving a higher than normal electricity bill
  • My note: I don’t know how that was proven, but I keep my primary computer on all the time as well.

  • Firewall. The Windows Firewall now has the option to configure incoming and outgoing traffic, which I think is great. It comes in very handy when you need it most.
  • My note: I don’t fully agree with the above tip, about using Windows Firewall. Many free firewalls are much better at protecting you than the one from Windows… such as Comodo.

  • Antivirus. Get yourself a decent anti virus. Personally, I prefer ESETs NOD32 Anti virus which does a magnificent job. It is also light on resources unlike its competitors Norton and McAfee. Every month or so I do a virus scan, but nothing is usually found.
  • Defragment. Defragmentation of your hard disk is very useful, as files are spread all over the place. There is nothing wrong with the built-in Windows Defragmenter, but there is a better one which is faster and has better options. O&O Defrag 10 repacks fragmented files together and optimizes your hard drives. You should check it out. You can also save 5% off Purchase using coupon code ALEX-KCBH
  • Disk Cleanup. The Disk Cleanup can come in very handy usually. It’s mostly needed when things get overcrowded. I recommend you DO NOT delete the temporary internet files and thumbnails. There is also an excellent free program called ATF Cleaner. It safely cleans things like temp files, cache, java cache, and more… at the click of a button. YOU decide what you do and don’t want ATF Cleaner to clean for you.
  • Keep files organized. I keep all my pictures, videos, documents… everything is organized. I truly think it is very helpful to know where all your files and folders are. This way, they are also not thrown all over the place so you forget what you’re looking for.
  • Have only one instance of each type of software running at one time., such as Browsers or Antivirus. I know most people stick to Firefox, but personally I like IE7. No, I haven’t mistyped. Thats correct: Internet Explorer 7 is my choice. Web sites pop up in under a second. I have tried Firefox. Although it is brilliant with all the nice features and plug ins, I find them irrelevant. IE7 does a marvelous job for me.
  • Delete software that you do not need from “Remove Programs.” I used to have a ton of software on my computer. These were usually things I did not need or didn’t use. I know some software may be considered ‘cool’ to have so you can brag to your friends about them. But when they have no use… they are just wasting computer resources.
  • Startup programs. MSCONFIG does a magnificent job on helping you choose what programs should start and what shouldn’t, although it is up to you. If you haven’t heard of msconfig before then here’s how to open it! Click “Start”, then “search”. Type msconfig, and click “enter”. After it has appeared, go to the “startup” tab, and choose what irrelevant programs you want to cancel from starting. Keep in mind that you cannot disable things like display drivers, and any other necessary system files/programs.
  • Running Programs. Always check what programs/processes you have running on your computer through the task manager. It usually helps because some programs will stop responding in the background if you have one that is taking up a huge amount of resources. You might experience some lag.

31 thoughts on “Top 10 Tips to Keep Your Windows Vista Computer Running Smoothly”

  1. Pingback: IT Professionals
  2. Very good tips. I use windows vista right now and its “OK” I thought maybe this would have something I didn’t already know. The only good thing I found was the defrager. I’ll give that a try later. As for the firewall tip I agree to have another besides windows. Lets face it Microsoft has some weak points. cough VISTA cough.

  3. I have been using Windows Vista since September and haven’t had any major problems. I have had blue screens, crashes. Infact i had to wipe my computer clean. This was my own doing though because i downloaded a program that was unstable and quite strange. Ever since i have done that Windows Vista has been running as smooth as i have ever seen it. I would like to see from windows a Mac Mini type computer. I would use that alot. I would use the mac mini but unfortunatly it is way over my price range.


  4. Yes, please leave your computers on all night. I NEED the extra business. By leaving your computer on all night, you are giving some script kiddie a chance to test out the latest firewall & anti virus hack on your ip address. What happens after that, well, that is when you bring your computer to me to fix. I NEED the business!

    While you’re at it, leave your windows update on auto update and install. After a six month trial on automatic, the six month I went in manually and all of a sudden found two or three extra critical updates that the auto feature seemed to miss. Hmm, what does that tell you? Maybe the auto feature on MS isn’t quite a automatic as people think? I ran another six month trial on notify me and manual download each month. On the sixth month, I checked on the MS site manually, and guess what, everything was covered. So please leave your computer on auto update and install, I NEED the business!

    In reality, I tell me customer just the opposite. Part of my customer service is to fix their computer, set them up with a maintenance schedule to run Adaware, Spybot, and Spyblaster (protects from links of known malicious sites) at least twice a month. AVG is a good antivirus program, and Threatfire (just came out that provides additional protection against root kits.) It compliments your anitvirus program and just makes it more stronger. My goal is to setup a customer so he/she doesn’t need to call me until they are ready to upgrade to a new computer. That is the service that I prefer.

    But please, I hope people follow your suggestion on leaving your computer on at night, I need the extra business!

  5. “Leave your computer on for as long as you can”
    that’s a bit like saying you should keep your old cars engine running all the time because otherwise it would be started cold and don’t give it’s full performance.

    it’s a waste of money and natural ressources.

    here’s a compromise:
    replace at least 10 light bulbs (20 if you have a hardcore overclocked sli bonkers computer) in your house, specifically the ones that are on the most, with compact fluorescent lamps, then you can let your computer run all day and be up in your energy balance.

    and if you care even slightly, you can – in addition to getting energy efficient illuminants – also switch your computer off when you don’t use it (i.e. when you’re asleep) and save even more natural ressources and money!

    best regards,

  6. “there is no long term damage… apart from receiving a higher than normal electricity bill”

    I have to disagree with this statement unequivocally. First of all, a remark like that in this day and age shows a callous disregard for the environment that is almost breathtaking; second, modern hard drives and high-speed processors render the hard drive damage and loading speed concepts — once valid considerations — moot, especially on a will-maintained machine.

    The rest of the suggestions, while not inaccurate, are mostly a matter of opinion, and not especially well-informed opinion at that.

  7. Am I missing something. The last two issues of “Windows Fanatics” had only one article. I love the daily newletter! Been a subscriber for years.

  8. Since the “don’t fully agree” comment was made for the firewall, one can only understand it to mean that Chris fully agrees with the other 9 tips.
    These tips were so comical I had to check to make sure that it wasn’t April 1st.
    Actual tips for optimizing Windows (of any version) have such detailed technical instructions that a ‘blurb’ Top-Ten list couldn’t possibly cover the 10 best in sufficient detail to actually implement them.
    We probably would have been better served by a list of the “10 least-needed but on by default” services.

  9. How refreshing to hear something positive about Vista. I switched to Vista Home Premium as soon as it was released and have had only one issue and that was the absence of drivers for my scanner Cannon LIDE20 which was cheap and on it’s last legs anyway so I bought a much better one LIDE60 for about $70 problem solved. I like Vista and I think much of the negative revolves around the lack of drivers for older equipment. Once you get your hardware updated (the cause of problems with any OS) the system runs smoothly. I LOVE Office 2007 also. Vista has my vote!

  10. I personally use xp, and soon vista, when i get my ram, and video card upgraded. I use Eset Nod32 SmartSecurity, and it sure is worth it, my computer runs smooth as hell, but i normally only have about 5-10 apps running with a 512mb ram Sony vaio desktop machine. Msconfig to me, is so helpful, i have like 40 things that startup and it gets to annoying.

    Thanks for the great tips,

  11. hey chris. I think that these are some good tips for Vista. We all know that Vista takes up more resources than XP but there are ways to boost you speed a bit. These tips just mentioned are some of those tips. You can also use a Tuneup utility like “Tuneup Utilities 2008” which can help increase your speed on Vista or XP. If anyone is interested here’s the link

  12. Great blog chris, i recently had to downgrade from vista because it keeps crashing soo often, This has been maybe the third or fourth time ive upgraded and down graded from vista, the Yips are very helpful for anyone who wants to maintain a clean running vista.

  13. Great post Chris! I’ll still take Firefox over IE any day, just something I like about my browser supporting the W3C web standards. Also, I’ve found defragging to not be nearly the issue it was in XP. Every day in the early am, usually I’m asleep by then, it automagically defrags the drive for me. I love CCleaner for cleaning up the computer, and AVG is an excellent antivirus for free, I’ve heard it slows down Vista at startup, but I haven’t noticed it.

  14. People who turn their computers off are sooooo living in the past! Modern computers are meant to be on all the time and these days they come with lots of power saving features. An average modern computer takes up about as much power as a couple of light bulbs and with powers-aving as little as a night light, so enough with the hypocritically preachy ignorance and realize that if you REALLY cared about conservation, you would take a 30 second shower instead.

    They’re also meant to be behind a router! Hello!?

    As for the tips. How generic can they be? Is Chris being serious be posting this regurgitated fluff?

    Here’s how you run Vista smoothly:

    1) Use 2 or more gigs of RAM
    2) Disable User Account control as well as all non-essential services
    3) Run Aero with a fast Directx 9 card. (this actually takes a load off your CPU)
    4) Use the latest Vista-compatible versions of all your software

    End of story. Welcome to smooth and modern computing.

    And, seriously, enough with the obsession over defragging. It’s an issue of the past. Vista is a modern operating system and automatically defrags itself. You don’t need to throw your money away on 3rd party software that does nothing extra except maybe save your hard drive a nanosecond here and there by moving the page file closer to the hard drive needle.

  15. Disable (Not just stop) unneccessary services – And Vista’s full of them. For example, why would you need a Tablet PC Input Device service running on a desktop? An 800MB memory footprint is high enough.

    Make sure you put a USB2 thumbdrive in and enable ReadyBoost. It makes your system boot faster and seems to help in caching frequently-used data. You can use up to 4GB for ReadyBoost, and 4GB thumbdrives are cheap these days.

  16. Disabling UAC is stupid advice. It’s like saying -always leave the front door to your home open since it’s too much work to open it everytime you leave or enter. Disabling UAC also messes with the admin privileges.

    Disabling unnecessary services is also just a waste of time. Most of these take up hardly any memory anyway, and you run the risk of disabling services that are required at some point of time.

    You dont need any fancy schmany ‘high-end’ directx9 card to run aero. It runs just fine on my 1.6 HGz T5450 + integrated intel X3100 ‘GPU’ (lol) equipped laptop. No slowdowns, no nothing.

    The simplest way to run Vista is
    (1) Have a minimum of 2 GB RAM. This is absolutely essential, but RAM is so cheap ATM, that it’s a non-issue.

    (2) Have good drivers for your hardware. Choose your hardware wisely.

    (3) Keep the HDDs defragmented and in good shape since Vista accesses the drive quite a lot. Much more than XP used to do. A defragmented drive has to do less work and in the long term it will help to ensure a longer life for the drive. Can also save some money by avoiding premature drive wear/tear, apart from improving disk performance.

    (4) Don’t install random junk and spyware!!

    (5) LEAVE IT ALONE. Vista can take care of itself very well- it’s a self-tuning OS. It’s not like XP which needs to be tweaked a lot.

    Leaving the PC on all the time is a personal preference. Nothing wrong either way -except for a higher electricity bill if it’s perpetually on, but that depends on your system config and power-saving features.

  17. >Disabling UAC is stupid advice.
    >It’s like saying -always leave the front door to your home open

    UAC is hardly comparable to ‘front door’ security. If you want to come up with an analogy for UAC, it’s more like having a bouncer at the door who doesn’t recognize any of your friends and who comes to you every time someone wants to enter your house even when you specifically invited them. It’s paranoid overkill and geared towards users who have no understanding of security or the implications of executing/installing a program. Even then, they are usually so numb to clicking ‘Allow’ that they would probably click ‘Allow’ to anything. It’s a broken feature.

    Any user who knows what they’re doing and only runs trusted software should have no need for the pointless time-wasting overhead created by UAC.

    As for messing with admin privileges, you can change the security policy so that you can disable all the pointless prompts while still allowing the UAC service to run and perform its low-level operations.

    >Disabling unnecessary services is also just a waste of time.
    >Most of these take up hardly any memory anyway,
    > and you run the risk of disabling services that are required

    Services don’t just take up memory. They waste processor cycles because they are running all the time. And there are plenty of specialty services that can be stopped in order to free up system resources. Also, you can just set them to manual so that they will run automatically if needed, but don’t run 24/7 taking up resources.

    >You dont need any fancy schmany ‘high-end’ directx9 card to run aero. It runs
    >just fine on my 1.6 HGz T5450 + integrated intel X3100 ‘GPU’ (lol) equipped

    You clearly have no idea what you’re talking about.

    A) DirectX 9 is hardly considered “high end”. It’s a basic feature that all modern day cards already have.
    B) Your laptop’s Intel X3100 GPU supports Directx 9 (it even supports DirectX 10!) and is a fairly fast GPU.

  18. Since the defragger in Vista does not have a graphic interface, i switched to Diskeeper. Even on XP it was a pain to run the task manually Otherwise, Vista seems great.

  19. To Mattias,
    I’ll keep this brief:
    (1) UAC is to protect the users from themselves. It warns them if a program (badly written, or malicious) tries to access resources it should not. The user has a role to play in it. It is not the only defense, but is a critical one. I agree, the intrusiveness of the UAC could be toned down a bit, but having it is better than not having it at all IMO.

    (2)Vista proactively uses both RAM and CPU resources available to it; but when an app requests those ‘extra’ resources, it will always hand it over. Disabling services has NO noticeable impact on performance since the CPU time and memory they use are negligible (I am not counting 3rd party rubbish like Quicktime here). It’s better to leave them alone.

    (3) Dude, I dont know what to say if you think the X3100 is ‘fast’ regardless of whether it is DX10 or not. I am currently using a 8800GT (512MB) in my gaming rig, a 2 year old 7800GT in my secondary rig and the X3100 on my laptop, so trust me, ‘fast’ is the very last term I’d associate with that intel junk.

    Anyways, let us agree to disagree 😉 .cheers.

  20. Spitfire:

    1) Fair enough. I would like to see UAC have an option to remove approval prompt for any actions caused by the user and relegate it to just actions attempted by executables only.

    2) Well, overhead is overhead, any way you slice it. Whether it makes the computer faster or not, I still don’t want my computer wasting CPU cycles doing something pointless.

    3) I didn’t mean to imply that a ‘fast’ video card equated to a $300 gaming card. My point was simply that a card that can run DirectX 9 is fast enough to render windows better via the GPU instead of the CPU, which will in turn make the computer more responsive. For example, I have an old P4 with a Radeon 9800 (3 year old directx 9 card). Windows is more responsive when Aero is turned on because the GPU is handling all the window rendering operations instead of the CPU. As for your Intel X3100, I’m sure it doesn’t cut it for gaming, but based on the specs it should be able to handle Vista Aero rendering better than the CPU would at 2D rendering. (with good drivers of course)

  21. hye christ..

    i’m a new user of vista…

    i like to download and leave my pc on as i went to sleep..

    but when i start to use vista.. i found that my pc will show the logon screen and my download was pause..

    my question ius how i want disbable the logon screen and keep my windows on work although i was not there…

  22. Rid my PC from the bugs.
    I was very happy that I found the antispyware solution from Search-and-destroy (Search-and-destroy) to help me rid my PC from the bugs that threaten its overall performance. I’m sure that you already know that when you search the wide world of cyberspace you pick up spyware and viruses that can make your computer run slow and sluggish. Over time, it will completely stop working if you don’t find a good scan to prevent this from happening and the Search-and-destroy Antispyware is one of the best I’ve found so far. I love it and I’m sure you will too.

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