Archive for October, 2008

Tips and Tricks for Vista users

Monday, October 20th, 2008

I recently read an article in PC World Magazine on tips on how to help Vista run faster. A lot of our users have not been impressed with Vista; even though our hardware is beefed up with more memory and more hard drive space, the operating system seems to have disabled all the features that would be normally beneficial with its over indulgence of features.

Below are some of the features I have disabled and I must say, my Vista computer seems much happier (and faster!) for it.

Sidebar

The Windows sidebar is a new feature with Vista. Among other things, the sidebar shows the clock; it can be customized to include a post it note for quick note jotting, the weather report, add RSS feeds, and the stock market ticker (although that may not be as popular as it once was). There are those who really like and use the sidebar (present company included), but many more who find this feature useless. To disable the sidebar:

1. Right click anywhere on the sidebar

2. Select Close Sidebar

3. Uncheck Start Sidebar when Windows Starts

4. Click OK

Aero

Aero was developed so that Vista would compete with Mac's operating system. It has neat features like creating thumbnails of your programs when you hover the mouse pointer over the task bar (one of those features you see and think to yourself, "oooo! That's pretty cool!") as well as other graphics. Aero adds little – very little – practicality and a lot of panache, and is also using a lot of your valuable resources. To shut off Aero:

1. Right click anywhere on the desktop (not on top of an icon)

2. Select Personalize – Windows Color and Appearance

3. Click the link that says Open class appearance properties for more color options

4. Choose Windows Vista Basic

5. Click OK

Assorted Interface Beautification Options

These are the options that make Vista "pretty" – gives it its new look. To see what all of those options are:

1. Click Start (round button in the left hand corner of your computer screen)

2. Right click on Computer

3. Choose Properties

4. Click the Advanced System Settings link

5. Click the Advanced tab

6. Click the Settings button

To make Vista look like Windows XP, check "adjust for best performance." When I tested this setting, the colors on the monitor didn't look as vibrant. I advise to leave the box "Let Windows choose what's best for my computer" checked, but UNCHECK all the boxes that say "Fade," "Show Shadows" and "Drop Shadows." I have not noticed at all what I am missing by having these boxes unchecked, but I am noticing my computer running faster.

Internet Printing Client

One of the new printing features in Vista is something called Internet Printing. We use network printing, local printing, but not internet printing – and there are no current plans for the University to adopt internet printing. By turning off the service, you will increase your computers' performance.

Windows Meeting Space

Windows Meeting Space is a built-in peer-to-peer space where you can share files amongst your colleagues – much how we use Netfiles, and the reason we don't use Meeting Space. Disabling Meeting Space will speed up your computer.

Tablet PC Features

Except for the very few of us who chose a PC Tablet, the rest of us can turn off the Tablet PC features on our computers because, well, we don't need them.

To turn off Internet Printing, Windows Meeting Space, and Tablet PC Features:

1. Click Start (round button in the left hand corner of your computer screen)

2. Click Control Panel

3. Double click Programs and Features

4. Click on the Turn Windows features on or off link (left hand side)

5. Find and expand the Print Services section by clicking the plus sign next to Print Services

6. Uncheck Internet Printing Client

7. Find Windows Meeting Space and uncheck the box

8. Find Tablet PC Optional Components and uncheck the box

9. Click OK

It will take several minutes for this service to disable; you will be invited to restart your computer. Do not restart your computer at this time.

There are also several services that most of us just are not using. Vista has a built in service called ReadyBoost – supposedly, it speeds up Vista by caching memory to a flash drive. Another service that is just slowing down your computer is called Offline Files. If you work on files stored on a server (i.e., Netfiles), and you would like your computer to sync a copy of those same files to your hard drive, Offline Files features can do this. Unfortunately, you will run the risk of files not always being in sync (it's safer to simply work in Netfiles if that is where you file is stored). The third worthless feature, and arguably the most worthless feature windows has, is the Windows Error Reporting Service. We've all seen this. A program crashes, and you're invited to send your error report to Microsoft in hopes that they find a solution as to why the program crashed in the first place. More than likely, your report will either go unresolved or end up in a big ol' pile of other people's reports on the same program – either way, you're wasting your systems resources on a feature that isn't doing anyone any good.

To disable ReadyBoost, Offline Files, and Windows Error Reporting Service:

1. Click Start (round button in the left hand corner of your computer screen)

2. Type Services

3. Press the Enter key

4. Find and double click on ReadyBoost

5. In the Startup type drop down menu, select Disabled

6. Click OK

7. Find and double click Offline Files

8. In the startup type drop down menu, select Disabled

9. Click OK

10. Find and double click on Windows Error Report Service

11. In the startup type drop down menu, select Disable

12. Click OK

13. Close the Services box by clicking the red "x"