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Quick guide to a faster PC

Non-MS Tech Forum Talk about computer and tech topics


  • [s=/forum/874190/0//Quick_guide_to_a_faster_PC.html#startup]Removing Startup Items[/s]
  • [s=/forum/874190/0//Quick_guide_to_a_faster_PC.html#explorer]Increase Explorer Responsiveness [/s]
  • [s=/forum/874190/0//Quick_guide_to_a_faster_PC.html#disk]Regular Disk Maintenance [/s]
  • [s=/forum/874190/0//Quick_guide_to_a_faster_PC.html#av]Firewall & Antivirus Alternatives [/s]
  • [s=/forum/874190/0//Quick_guide_to_a_faster_PC.html#malware]Ensure your PC is spyware/malware free [/s]
  • [s=/forum/874190/0//Quick_guide_to_a_faster_PC.html#alternatives]Free alternatives to bloated applications [/s]
  • [s=/forum/874190/0//Quick_guide_to_a_faster_PC.html#ff]Speed up Web Browsing (And upset some web hosts!)[/s]
  • [s=/forum/874190/0//Quick_guide_to_a_faster_PC.html#services]Service configurations[/s]
  • [s=/forum/874190/0//Quick_guide_to_a_faster_PC.html#vista]Vista and 7 Tweaks[/s] New
  • [s=/forum/874190/0//Quick_guide_to_a_faster_PC.html#hosts]Hosts file - Protect your PC[/s]
  • [s=/forum/874190/0//Quick_guide_to_a_faster_PC.html#program]Super-Awesome All-in-one tweak program![/s]
  • [s=/forum/874190/0//Quick_guide_to_a_faster_PC.html#notes]Final Notes[/s]

[i]Before Proceeding[/i]:

I highly advise you to make a complete registry backup before you apply any registry edits to your computer. Some may not like the outcome, and this provides an easy way to revert to your previous settings. If you don't currently have an application to backup your registry, and don't feel like doing it with the registry editor, I've written a small batch file to make the process automated.
[url=]Download it here[/url]


Removing Startup Items

This may be one of the simplest, most effective way to make your computer run more quickly. Many programs will start up when you power on your computer (such as IM Programs, etc). These drastically increase the time needed between powering your system on and having the system in a usable state. In addition, the programs running add to your overall memory usage, which can make your PC feel sluggish.

To manually choose what to run upon startup of your PC:
  • Click "Start", Select "Run", and type "MSCONFIG", without quotes. Press "OK", and "System Configuration Utility" will pop up. Navigate to the "Startup" tab, And deselect any programs that you'll either start manually, or don't constantly need running.
  • In Windows Vista, simply type "msconfig" into the search bar in the start menu, and hit Enter.

Remember to be strict about what you allow to run upon startup. A lot of the listed items are unnecessary, and can be de-selected. Items that belong to hardware drivers are also unnecessary, because they're just additional utilities to further configure the hardware. These settings are loaded when Windows starts up, making them unnecessary.

Essentially, you'll want to de-select EVERYTHING, except: Programs you wish to start up when your computer boots, as well as any Antivirus/antispyware programs you may have installed that provide realtime protection.


Increase Explorer Responsiveness

There are several ways to increase file and folder browsing when using any Windows operating system. Several are listed below:
Disable Auto-Network Search
Windows automatically searches for network files and printers everytime you open Windows Explorer. To fix this and to increase browsing significantly:
Open any Explorer Window, for example, "My Computer". Click "Tools", Select "Folder Options". Click on the "View" tab. Uncheck the "Automatically search for network folders and printers" checkbox, Then click Apply, and OK. Afterwards, Reboot your PC.

Disable Indexing Service
This system process indexes and updates lists of all the files that are on your computer. It does this so that when you do a search for something on your computer, it will search faster by scanning the index lists. If you don't search your computer often, or even if you do search often, this system service is completely unnecessary, as it consumes significant amounts of resources.
To disable it, go to the Control Panel and click Add/Remove Programs. Click the Add/Remove Window Components. Simply unclick the Indexing services and click next. (For some systems only).

Disable Windows Superfetch
Vista's new "SuperFetch" feature sure sounds great, and for some it works great. However, this is not the case for many Vista users. What it does is pre-load applications into RAM, [i]incase[/i] you open the program, so it loads faster. Right off the bat, this sounds like a bad idea for those with average amounts of memory, doesn't it?
If you've got ~4GB+ of RAM, keeping this on may benefit you. For everyone else, this wastes very valuable system memory, which can make your computer feel extremely sluggish. This is especially true for Games, such as MapleStory.

To disable it, go to start, and type "services.msc" in the Search bar, without the quotes. Scroll down 'till you find "Superfetch", and double-click the service. Set the Startup type to "Disabled", click "Stop", followed by Apply & OK.

This will make Vista's prefetching act much like Windows XP - Which was quite efficient & wasted little resources.

Decrease Menu Delay
This little tweak just makes your computer "Feel" faster. You don't have to wait around a second after hovering your mouse over a menu before it shows. To enable this small tweak:
Go to Start then Run, Type 'Regedit' then click 'Ok'. Navigate to "HKEY_CURRENT_USER>Control Panel>Desktop", Select "MenuShowDelay" . Right click it, and select "Modify". Reduce the number to around ~100. You can choose whatever suits you, though I personally favor very little delay. Finally, Reboot.

Increase Swapfile Performance
  • XP
If you have more than 256MB of RAM this tweak will considerably improve your performance. It basically makes sure that your PC uses every last drop of memory (faster than swap file) before it starts using the swap file.
If you do NOT have more than 256MB of System RAM, DO NOT Enable this tweak!
Go to Start then Run, Type "msconfig" then ok.
Click on the System.ini tab, and Expand the 386enh tab by clicking on the "+" Sign.
Click on new then in the blank box type"ConservativeSwapfileUsage=1 ", and Click OK.
Reboot your computer.

Speed up shutdowns
Open the registry editor (start>run>"regedit", or type "regedit" in the search box of the start menu).

  • XP Only
Navigate to HKEY_USERS>.DEFAULT>Control Panel>Desktop

Highlight the "WaitToKillAppTimeout" value.
Set it to 1000.
Now highlight the "HungAppTimeout" value.
Set it to 1000 as well.
(The above may be problematic if you don't save your work before shutting down!)

Navigate to HKEY_CURRENT_USER>Control Panel>Desktop
Highlight the value "AutoEndTasks"
Change the value to 1.

  • XP, Vista and 7
Navigate to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE>SYSTEM>CurrentControlSet>Control , and locate "WaitToKillServiceTimeout".

Default Value: WaitToKillServiceTimeout=20000

Modified value: WaitToKillServiceTimeout=5000 (noticable speed increase)
Modified value: WaitToKillServiceTimeout=1000 (extreme, use it at your own risk)

I found 3000 worked nicely, but try the 5000 first. 3000 does sometimes leave some programs lagging which then need a further key click.


Regular Disk Maintenance

Over time, Clutter on your hard drive will accumulate. This will hinder your computer's performance, and may prevent you from installing applications in the future due to lack of disk space. A useful utility to remove such junk files is called "CCleaner".
CCleaner has been designed to delete temporary, and unnecessary files from your PC with a single click. It's a very convenient program.
[url=]CCleaner Download[/url]

Disk Defragmenter
When files are read and written regularly, files tend to become fragmented. This occurs when pieces of files are located on different areas of the hard drive. Because the hard drive is actually a mechanical device with moving parts, data access time will be improved if the read/write heads don't have to seek out the information on the disks themselves.
Microsoft has included a Disk Defragmenting program, Which can be accessed through the "Start" menu.
To run Disk Defragmenter, Simply go to:
Start>All Programs>Accessories>System Tools.
Note, The defragmenting process may take up to an hour, Depending on how often you defragment, and how large your hard drive is.
You can program your computer to automatically defragment your drive when your computer isn't in use, for example, while you're sleeping.
To do this, go to: Start>All Programs>Accessories>System Tools>Scheduled Tasks.
I've uploaded a copy of my job properties for you to download (note: Right click and hit Save As to download).
Save the file to your desktop, Open Scheduled Tasks, and drag the file onto the Scheduled Tasks window. The job properties can be edited to suit your needs, but it's set to defrag daily, at 4:53AM.

A phenomenal defragging program by Piriform - The company that brought us CCleaner.
I can tell you, from experience, it's a much more efficient defrag than many alternatives that are out there. Best of all, It's less than one megabyte in size.
Easy on resources, yet does a fantastic job of maintaining your hard drive. That's the way all defrag software should be...
[url=]Download Defraggler[/url]


Firewall and AntiVirus Alternatives

Many popular Antivirus applications, especially early Symantec products (pre-2009), use a lot of system resources. They can be replaced with much smaller, and in my opinion, more efficient programs. There are many free antivirus programs out there, though judging by ease of use, resource consumption, and detection rate, the following three triumph over competitors.
[url=]Avira Antivir[/url]
[url=]Avast! AntiVirus[/url]
[url=]Comodo Antivirus[/url] (Suggested by nerdbomer)


Ensure your system is free of malware

Spyware of all types can degrade performance significantly. Two programs I'm recommending here are free ways to keep your PC Spyware and Malware free, that work alongside AntiVirus programs.
Spybot - Search & Destroy
Spybot Search & Destroy is an easy to use program that will scan your PC for Spyware, and will generally delete what's found to be malicious.
You can download Spyware S&D for free, here.
Credits to ZYBlade

MalwareByte's Anti-Malware
A phenomenal anti-spyware utility that's small, light, and effective. It's far more capable than many other non-free alternatives on the market. The only reason I'm keeping Spybot-S&D up is because it seems to have better detection of some older malicious programs, which still may pose a threat.
[url=]Malwarebyte's Anti-Malware[/url]

HijackThis is a program that scans your PC for everything.. literally. It'll show all your running processes, startup items, etc. This program is generally used to eliminate severe cases of Malware, that Spybot S&D can't delete alone.
The best way to use this is to do a scan, and PM the log file to someone with extensive computer knowledge for examination.
Feel free to PM the logs to me, or anyone else computer-savvy. (PM me if you'd like to help out with this)
[url=]Download HijackThis[/url]


Freeware Alternatives to Well-Known programs

There are a lot of extremely large, bloated programs that cost a lot of money, and many of you probably own some of this software. Here's a list of alternative programs & utilities. All of the following programs have been tested by me, as well as several friends, and are completely safe.
  • Iceows: Another lightweight alternative to WinRAR, and uses the explorer shell, much like WinRAR. (Walridge3)
  • InfraRecorder:It replaces nero hands down. It's fast, free, and above all, It's under 3MB to download. It makes Nero users feel right at home.
  • 7-Zip Archiver: It replaces all other archiving software, and supports most archive formats from ACE to ZIP. It's a smaller, and more lightweight replacement for WinRAR and WinZip
  • Foxit PDF Reader: Because adobe pdf reader is for noobs (excuse my language).
  • Foobar2000: A minimalistic media player that has built-in support for common and some rare audio formats. Very resource friendly.
  • OpenOffice: A free alternative to Microsoft Office. Comes with Microsoft Office file format support AND, is about 3/4 smaller than Microsoft Office 2007.
  • Paint.NET: A fairly small Microsoft Paint replacement. It is powerful enough to even do some things that Photoshop can do. It is rather versatile.
  • Mumble: A low latency audio chat server/client application. It provides superb audio quality over Skype and Ventrillo.
  • uTorrent: One of the most popular Bit torrent clients out there. Amazingly small and works like a charm.
  • Mozilla FireFox: Most of you use and love this browser, so I won't say much about it.
  • Mozilla Thunderbird: Because Outlook Express is a major security risk!
  • GOM Player: With this multimedia application, you don't need any codec packs that cause conflicts with each other.
  • VLC: If GOM Player isn't your thing.
  • AbiWord: An opensource word application. Does the trick for little school essays and small assignments for class.


Significantly faster browing with Firefox

Firefox is one of the fastest, most customizable browsers around, but that's not to say it can't be improved even more!

In Firefox's address bar, type "about:config" (without quotes).
This will allow you into the "hidden" options within the browser, through which you can unlock it's full potential.

Type "network.http" in the Filter: area, without the quotes.
  • Locate "network.http.max-connections-per-server"
Set the value to 30.
  • Locate "network.http.max-connections"
Set the value to 64.
  • Locate "network.http.max-persistent-connections-per-server"
Set the value to 8.
  • Locate "network.http.request.max-start-delay"
Set the value to 0.
  • Locate "network.http.pipelining"
Set the value to true.
  • locate "network.http.pipelining.maxrequests"
Set the value to 10
  • Right-click any of the listed options, select "New" -> "Integer"
Label it "nglayout.initialpaint.delay" and set the value to 0.


XP Service Configurations & Tweaks

*Windows XP
  • Collection of XP Registry Tweaks
This .rar file contains some of my registry tweaks.
You can right click -> edit the file, delete what you don't want applied to your system, and simply execute the .REG file; It's as simple as that!
[url=]Tweak file contents [Read before you execute!][/url]

  • Service Configuration Files
This file contains pre-configured Service Configurations to conserve memory. They're based off of BlackViper's service recommendations, as well as TheElderGeek's services guide.
With this file, there's no real effort needed - I've done all the work for you. Simply double-click the .REG file of your choice, reboot, and the service configuration will be applied. I've included the Windows Default registry settings, in the event that something necessary was inadvertantly disabled.
[url=]Download Service Configurations[/url]


Windows Vista & 7 Tweaks

  • Speed up SATA Hard Drives
Click Start, and type Device Manager, then hit Enter. Expand "Disk Drives". Right-click on your hard drive, and select "Properties". On the "Policies" tab, check "Enable advanced performance". Hit OK, and close device manager.

The Data Loss risk is for those who repeatedly unplug their PC's to shut it down, lose power, or hold the power button for 5+ seconds to turn their computers off. If that doesn't sound like you, This tweak won't do any harm. Even in one of those cases, I've found that no data has been lost or corrupted, as this is a tweak I use on every computer in my home, as well as work.

  • Pre-compiled tweaks to improve overall performance
These tweaks I've put together will noticeably increase your system's overall speed & responsiveness. You can check what tweaks are included by right-clicking the .reg file, and choosing Edit, or simply opening them with Notepad. They're neatly labeled & organized for just that reason.
[url=]Disk&System Tweaks[/url]
[url=]Network&Explorer Tweaks[/url]

  • Services
Unfortunately, I haven't completed the service configuration files for Vista, due to the fact that they made it slightly more difficult. However, you can still manually change the Services to suit your needs, to conserve resources, and to improve performance.
[url=]BlackViper's Service Configurations[/url].
-Note that some of your services may not be included on BlackViper's site. This is because you've likely installed additional programs, but don't worry. Most of the programs you've installed that include services require them, so there's no need to disable anything not on BlackViper's list.
-The above service configuration will also work on Windows 7.

  • Windows 7 Exclusive Tweaks
I've compiled a bunch of tweaks that will significantly boost the performance of both Windows 7 RC, as well as RTM. They're all executable .reg files, and as always, you can simply right-click them to customize the actions that will be taken.

Performance-oriented tweaks
The following are geared towards improving the performance of your Windows 7-based PC. There are four flavours, one for those with large amounts of RAM (3GB+) and one for those with less than 3GB of RAM. You'll also have two choices based on whether or not you have UAC enabled.
[url=]High RAM with UAC Enabled[/url]
[url=]High RAM with UAC Disabled[/url]

[url=]Low RAM with UAC Enabled[/url]
[url=]Low RAM with UAC Disabled[/url]

Additional tweaks
The tweaks included in this file aren't all necessarily geared towards performance, but instead, remove some typical windows annoyances. A good portion of these do indeed improve performance, but for some users, it may cause a lack of functionality.
This is being posted for those who can be classified as Windows 'experts'. The average user need not download this file, as the user may not like the end result.
As always, right-click -> edit to remove any undesired tweaks.
[url=]Windows 7 Misc Tweaks[/url]


Custom HOSTS file - Protect yourself from intruders & spyware

The hosts file is often considered useless, and many simply delete it because they don't know what it does. The Hosts file translates domain names into IP addresses, just like a DNS server. We can utilize this function to protect our computers from outsiders (known-bad servers, adware, and general website ads).
I've compiled a huge hosts file, with nearly 20,000 blacklisted web servers, effectively protecting your computer from many malicious servers.

To use it, simply Download the file, and extract it to C:>WINDOWS>system32>drivers>etc . If you encounter trouble, right-click your current hosts file, select Properties, and ensure "Read Only" is un-checked.
Once the new Hosts file is in place, it's wise to re-enable "read only" to prevent malicious software from tampering with it.


The super-awesome all-in-one tweaking utility trial!

[i]NO, NO, NO, NO, NO![/i]
Programs that claim to tweak your computer automatically, and do most of the work mentioned in this guide are garbage. They leave a bunch of crap behind that's often difficult to get rid of, and do a very bad job at what they're supposed to do. Plus, the fact that 99% of these programs are closed-source means you have no idea what's actually being done to your system.
Even the ones from commercial companies, like Tune-Up utilities, UniBlue, etc. They're not good for your system, period. TuneUp utilities is probably one of the better ones available, but it still serves no purpose. The only real reason to use this is to clear out your temporary files. Disk Cleanup (integrated in Windows) will do this for you automatically, and CCleaner (Link above) will also do this. Not only that, but it will clean your registry.


Final notes & recommendations

A few DO's and DONT's for maintaining a secure, fast computer, for those who want to keep their PC in tip-top shape.

*DO - Perform regular antivirus & antispyware scans with any of the applications mentioned in this guide.
*DO - Regularly defragment your hard drive(s). This actually extends the life of the drive, and improves disk read/write speeds.
*DO - Check for programs that you didn't install yourself, or have been installed without your knowledge. These are often malicious, and will drag your PC's performance down.
*DO - Search for lighter alternatives to huge programs. A perfect example of this is Adobe Acrobat reader. It's gigantic for what it does and will install many useless utilities. Foxit, on the other hand, is under 3MB, installs nothing but the reader itself, and is extremely easy on resources.

*DON'T - Not-do anything on the DO list.
*DON'T - Install any software that sounds too good to be true.
*DON'T - Keep a plethora of programs running in the background. This drags your PC down, and once you run out of RAM, your computer will become extremely sluggish.
*DON'T - Put off virus scans until it's too late - Many malicious programs can and will make your computer inoperable.
*DON'T - Keep programs installed that you no longer need. Many programs also install services which consume resources.
*DON'T - Forget to check this guide once in a while for updates. Any time I decide to do an update, it's usually relatively major, meaning another decent boost in speed for your PC.

If you've got a suggestion or addition to this guide, feel free to PM or Comment.
Please give due credits if you're going to use parts of the guide, or re-word them so that they're not recognizable.
Posted: December 2008 Permalink


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Thanks! This guide helped a lot.
Jul 16 2009
Mozilla, cause you can just get IE tab from the add-ons, views any site like IE can do, and IE is just not that customizable
Jul 18 2009
hmm i did the tweak for firefox... i dont see any change :[
Jul 21 2009
Is changing my screen resolution to highest bad or not? My maplestory had some issues these past two weeks. For some reason, I lag for about 1-2 minutes then my computer shuts down ms. This happens almost every time I try to go on and it has been frustrating dealing with this. Any suggestions?
Jul 21 2009
I opened the tweaks (system and disk tweaks) and it revealed like junk letters.
but other than that, great guide!
I followed it and DID notice something!
Jul 21 2009
ashje Level 124 Bera Battle Mage 4
Quick Question: How do I find out my RAM?

Found it. Is 512 good or bad and should I do the Increase Swapfile Performance tweak?
Jul 22 2009
Err, if you're using Vista, you're crazy, and if it's XP, it's OK, but 1 GB is reccomended... I have 4 gig ram and i used the swapfile performance tweak, but 512 mb, it's the bare mininum, i dunno....
Jul 22 2009
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