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5 Simple Ways to Speed Up Windows Vista

Compared to Windows XP, Vista is a much heavier operating system. It has lots of great features, but they can slow down you computer a lot, especially if it hasn't got a powerful CPU or has too little RAM. Before your patience snaps and you spend a lot of money on new hardware, follow these simple tips to make Vista lighter and faster.

Compared to Windows XP, Vista is a much heavier operating system. It has lots of great features, but they can slow down you computer a lot, especially if it hasn’t got a powerful CPU or has too little RAM.

Before your patience snaps and you spend a lot of money on new hardware, follow these simple tips to make Vista lighter and faster.

1) Disable Windows Vista Aero

Great looks come at a cost. In case of Aero it’s heavy CPU, RAM, and video card usage. Aero can use as much as 15% of your CPU. And if you are using a laptop, keep in mind that it affects your battery life. With the Aero theme turned off battery life is equal or even better than if you’re using Windows XP. So it would be a good idea to disable Aero if you want your battery to last longer.

Turning off the Aero theme is easy:

1. Right-click your desktop and click Personalize
2. Click on Window Color and Appearance. It will look different from what you are used to.
3. Click Open classic appearance properties for more color options
4. Now select any theme you like, for example the Windows Classic theme

2) Use ReadyBoost to Increase Performance

Windows Vista has a lot of features to help older and less powerful computers run it. ReadyBoost is one of them. It lets you use a USB drive as a secondary memory cache, before hard drive caching. Of course, it is no substitution for RAM, but it does make your computer faster.

There are certain requirements your USB drive has to meet:

– It has to be USB 2.0
– It must be at least 256MB (though there is no point to use a device that is smaller than 1GB)
– It has to be able to read at 3.5 MB/s
– It has to be able to write at 2.5 MB/s

If you don’t know whether your USB drive is ReadyBoost compatible, plug it in and give it a try anyway. If it is, an AutoPlay box should appear with a dialog stating that you can use it for ReadyBoost. If you have AutoPlay disabled, do the following:

1. Go to Computer, right-click the removable storage device and select Properties
2. If the drive is compatible, you will see a ReadyBoost tab. Click on it
3. Then select Use this device and set the amount of space that you want to be used for ReadyBoost system file
4. Click OK and you are done

3) Speed Up External Hard Drives

Windows Vista operates internal and external USB hard drives differently. The great feature for USB thumb drives is that write caching is disabled. That means you can safely remove them without any risk of losing data. However, if a large external hard drive is always connected to your computer, disabled write caching can decrease performance.

To turn write caching back on to improve your external hard drive performance:

1. Go to Start, then right-click Computer and select Manage
2. Then go to Device Manager on the side menu
3. Expand Disk drives and find your external hard drive
4. Right-click it and select Properties
5. Open the Policies tab and select Optimize for performance
6. Check Enable write caching on the disk and Enable advanced performance
7. Press OK and reboot

4) Boost SATA Disk Performance

It is also possible to speed up SATA disk drives by enhancing write caching. Here’s how:

1. Click Start, then right-click Computer and select Manage
2. Go to Device Manager
3. Expand Disk Drives
4. Right-click your hard drive and go to Properties
5. On the Policies tab check Enable advanced performance
6. Press OK and close the Device Manager

The downside of enhancing write caching is that if you experience a power cut, the risk of data loss and corruption increases. So be careful if you don’t have a battery backup. If you are a laptop user, the chance of losing data is less, since your laptop battery is always there to save you.

5) Defrag regularly

Badly fragmented disks can cause a lot of problems, like general system slowdowns, slower startup and shutdowns, and even computer crashes. Basically, your hard drive is the slowerst part of your computer and file fragmentation makes it even slower.

Windows has a built in Disk Defragmenter. To use it go to Start Programs Accessories System Tools Disk Defragmenter. Like any other defrag utility it gathers file fragments that are scattered all over your disk and writes them into adjacent clusters.

But to be honest, I never use Windows Disk Defrag – it takes quite some time to do its job and skips too many files.

The good news are that there are good free defrag utilities available for download. The one I like is Auslogics Disk Defrag. It doesn't need extra time to analyse the disk, so it's very fast. Also now it has an option to defrag single file or folder, which is really handy.

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