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Windows 7: Optimize Windows 7

Optimize Windows 7

How to Speed Up the Performance of Windows 7
Published by Brink
01 Jun 2009
Published by

How to Optimize Windows 7

information   Information
This is a list of suggestions that will help show you how to optimize Windows 7 by speeding up and improving it's performance.

You can pick and choose which ones you would like to do, or feel comfortable doing. If you do not notice an increase in performance or have a problem with the suggestion, then you can always go back and undo the suggestion at it's provided tutorial link.

If you have a question about one of the options, then please feel free to post a question here. We'll be happy to help.

This list of suggestions will continue to be ongoing. I will be adding and updating suggestions to this list every so often, so you may would like to check back from time to time for anything new.

If you like, please feel free to post any of your own suggestions that you find to help the performance of Windows 7.

Note   Note
Windows 7 Minimum Hardware Requirements:
  • 1 GHz 32-bit or 64-bit processor
  • 1 GB RAM for 32-bit Windows 7 OR 2 GB RAM for 64-bit Windows 7
  • 16 GB available disk space 32-bit Windows 7 OR 20 GB for 64-bit Windows 7
  • Support for DirectX 9 graphics with 128 MB memory (in order to enable Aero theme)
  • DVD-R/W Drive
  • Internet or phone access to activate Windows 7.

Here we go:

1. Use a Solid State Drive (SSD)
Installing Windows 7 onto a solid state hard drive (SSD) instead of a normal SATA or IDE hard drive will dramatically increase your computer's performance.
2. Install the Latest BIOS and Device Drivers
Make sure that you have the latest available drivers installed for all of your devices and BIOS version for your motherboard. These will often have updated that correct new bugs, bug from the previous version, and may add new features, and increase performance. Check at the device's website for them. Be sure to have the correct versions for your 32 bit or 64 bit Windows 7. If you do not have Windows 7 drivers available, then you can often times use Vista drivers instead with sometimes having to use Compatibility Mode on the driver installation file with Vista selected.
3. Install More RAM
The more you have the better your performance can be up to a point. Usually 4 GB (32-bit) or 8 GB (64-bit) will be the most that you will need though unless you do memory intensive actions such as video editing.

Better memory (RAM) performance will depend on fast the bandwidth MHZ rating (higher the better) is, and if you are using faster dual (DDR2) or tripple (DDR3) channel memory in that mode instead of just one stick in single channel mode. It's best to have all of your RAM sticks with the exact same specs.
4. Upgrade to a Better Video Graphics Card
If you're a gamer, then upgrading your video card to a better one can give you much better FPS (frames per second) and performance. In some situations, better video cards can be a huge benefit even without heavy onscreen video work, because certain applications can leverage the GPUs for calculations. If your current card and motherboard support SLI or CrossFireX, adding a second card and bridging them will be a good option as well.
5. Turn Transparency Off
The glass transparency effect uses the most resources from the Aero feature. You can disable it without disabling Aero.
6. Turn Off Unneeded Visual Effects
Uncheck the visual effect options that you do not want or need, or select the Adjust for best performance option, to increase the speed. You can optimize performance by changing how menus and windows appear. The most common visual effects to uncheck are:
  • Animate windows when minimizing and maximizing
  • Animations in the taskbar and Start Menu
  • Enable transparent glass
  • Fade or slide menus into view
  • Fade or slide ToolTips into view
  • Fade out menu items after clicking
  • Show shadows under windows
  • Slide open combo boxes
7. Turn off all unnecessary animations
If animation effects, such as fade windows when closed visual effects, run slow or sluggish on your computer, then using Turn off all unnecessary animations can help improve your computer's performance.
8. Enable Write Caching for Storage Devices
This option is usually the best choice for storage devices that must provide the highest possible performance and that you intend to not remove from the system frequently, such as internal hard disk drives.
9. Disable or Remove Unwanted or Unneeded Startup Programs
Double check through your startup programs and disable or remove the ones you do not want to have start when Windows 7 starts. It is a good idea to check these every once in awhile to help make sure that some unknown program or malware has not placed itself to startup with Windows 7.
10. Set Unused Services to Manual
Services use processes that run in the background using part of your computer's resources. Check through your services with the help of the guide provided in this link, and stop and set to manual the services that affects features that you do not use or need to gain a tiny bit more performance. WARNING: Disabling the wrong service could hurt performance, or even cripple Windows 7. If you do not truly know what you are doing, then it's not recommended to do this.
11. Turn Off Unneeded Windows Features
Windows 7 includes many features. You can review the list of features and turn off the ones that you do not want or need.
12. Turn Off or Change Disk Defragmenter Schedule
By default Disk Defragmenter is scheduled to run in the background automatically every so often in Windows 7. Having this running in the background can cause a slight slow down and extra hard drive activity. You should either set the schedule to run at a time when you are not using the computer while it is on, or turn it off and run Disk Defragmenter manually when it is convenient for you instead.
13. Defragment Your Hard Drive
Fragmentation makes your hard disk do extra work that can slow down your computer. This will show you how to open and use Disk Defragmenter to manually analyze and defragment your disks and drives in Windows 7. Do not do this on a SSD though.
14. Disable Hibernate
If you do not use hibernate, then disabling it will save you a GB size file from being saved on your hard drive when you put the computer into hibernation mode. When hibernate is disabled, the shut down time will be shorter by not having to save memory to the hiberfil.sys file, but you will no longer be able to resume from hibernate for a quicker startup. If you like, using sleep instead of hibernate will allow a faster resume.
15. Turn Off System Protection
If hard drive space is at a high premium for you, then turning System Restore off will free up some hard drive space. When disabled it will also not run in the background anymore while it creates restore points. However, disabling System Restore will mean that there will be no restore points available to go back to quickly fix Windows 7 in the event of a problem with your Windows 7 system files instead of having to reinstall Windows 7. You will need to create backups or system images if you disable System Restore instead incase you need to reinstall.
16. Speed Up the Menu Show Time
This will allow you to reduce the amount of time it takes for a menu in Windows 7 to pop, fade, or slide open when you run the mouse pointer over it.
17. Enable High Performance in the Power Plan
This power plan maximizes system performance and responsiveness. However, if you use a mobile PC running on battery power, then you will notice that your battery doesn't last as long when using this plan.
18. Speed Up Mouse Hover Time
This will show you how to change the delay time, in milliseconds, that the mouse pointer has to stay hovered on a item before it is selected or opens a pop-up in Windows 7.
19. Reduce Time to Display Operating Systems at Boot
This will show you how to change the amount of time to display a list of operating systems in the Windows Boot Manager screen at boot and wait for you to select a OS to start before the default OS starts automatically. If you do not dual boot with another operating sytem on your computer, then you can uncheck, or reduce the time as low as it will go, to save on how long it takes to boot your computer.
20. Add or Remove Gadgets
Gadgets can be handy to offer information at a glance and provide easy access to frequently used tools from your dekstop. However, since each gadget added will take up some of your system resources. You can see how much memory is being used by the gadgets in Task Manager (Ctrl+Shift+Esc) under the Processes tab with the sidebar.exe process.
21. Run Disk Cleanup
Running Disk Cleanup every so often will help find and remove unnecessary files on your hard disk to free up disk space and help your computer run faster.
22. Speed Up Shut Down Time
This will allow you how to set the AutoEndTasks, HungAppTimeout, WaitToKillAppTimeout, and/or WaitToKillServiceTimeout values that Windows waits for programs to save data and close before shutting down.
23. Add COPY TO FOLDER and MOVE TO FOLDER to Context Menu
This will allow you how to add Copy To Folder and Move To Folder to the context menu to make copying and moving files faster and easier in Windows 7.
24. Log On Automatically to a User Account at Startup
This will show you how to select a user account to have Windows 7 automatically log on to at startup so that you do not have to spend time manually logging on to the user account everytime you start or restart the computer.
25. Disable Require a Password on Wakeup
If you use sleep, hybrid, or hibernate mode, then you may wish to disable the option to have your computer require you to enter a password everytime you wakeup the computer.
26. Use Sleep Mode
If your computer does not run primarily off of a battery, then using sleep mode will allow you to put your computer to sleep and wake it up quickly instead of completely shutting down and starting the computer.
27. Decrease How Long Windows 7 Notifications Stay Open
This will allow you to change how long notifications or messages are displayed in the Windows 7 taskbar notification area before they close automatically.
28. Disable Thumbnail Previews in Windows Explorer
If there are a lot of thumbnails in a Windows Explorer window, then it can slow down your computer while you wait for the thumbnails to load. If this happens or you prefer icons instead of thumbnails, then disabling thumbnails will speed up how fast a Windows Explorer window will open by displaying only icons instead of thumbnails.
29. Turn On ReadyBoost
You can use ReadyBoost in Windows 7 with USB flash drives and flash memory cards to help speed up your computer if it is low on RAM (memory).
30. Uninstall the Bloatware Programs from Your Computer
Most computers that you buy, at a retail store (OEM), have a ton of software installed on it. Some of these can take up a lot of resources. Uninstall the programs that you do not want to use from Programs and Features.
31. Disable Program Compatibility Assistant
If you are a system administrator who requires faster performance and are aware of the compatibility of the applications you are using, then disabling Program Compatibility Assistant (PCA) can be useful.
32. Scan your Computer for Malware or Spyware
If your computer has been infected with spyware or malware, then this they can cause all sorts of issues including slowing your computer down to a crawl. Be sure to scan your system with a good program like the free Windows Defender Offline, MSE, and Malwarebytes Free for malware (ex: virus) and spyware, and allow the program to remove any that may be found.
33. Move the "Page File" to be on a Separate Hard Disk
Moving the page file to a second physical hard drive instead of the same C: drive that Windows is on can help improve the performance of Windows 7 if the other hard drive is at least as fast or faster than the Windows drive.. Doing this allows Windows to use the page file on one drive while not having to interrupt reads or writes on the Windows drive. Be sure to let the page file be System Managed. Windows 7 does a great job of keeping your page file in peak condition and performance.
34. Keep your Index Enabled and Updated, or Disable the Index
Your needs for the index, searches, and libraries will determine what will be best for you. By default the index is enabled in Windows 7. If you do a lot of searches in specific locations or for specific file types, then searching using the index with these locations and file types added to be included in the index could help give you faster search results than doing non index searches. If you find that the index search results are not accurate, then rebuilding the index will update the index for accurate search results afterwards. If you like to only do non index searches to always have accurate search results, then you could either disable the index or set your Search options to not use the index when searching in file folders for system files. Non index searches will take a bit longer to give search results. If you disable the index, then this will help your HDD not run as much while the index (if enabled) automatically updates itself in the background when your computer is idle. If you disable the index, you will also no longer be able to search within libraries.
35. Set to Have "No GUI Boot"
Disabling GUI Boot can help reduce the amount of time it takes to startup Windows by a few seconds or so.
36. Set "Turn off hard disk after" to Never or Increase Time
While having your HDDs turn off after set x amount of idle minutes can help save energy, it can also cause your PC to pause while waiting for the HDD to spin back up when needed. You could either set this to never turn off the HDDs, or increase the amount of idle minutes before turning off the HDDs to avoid it being turned off while you may still use it and having to wait for it to spin back up as often.
37. Uninstall or Disable Unneeded Internet Explorer Add-ons and Toolbars
This is to only help with the performance of Internet Explorer (IE) than Windows, but disabling any unneeded installed add-ons and toolbars will help IE load and perform faster.
38. Clean Your Computer
Keeping the fans and inside of your computer clean and dust free can help prevent performance issues. Dust acts as an insulator, making it harder for your hardware to dissipate the buildup of heat. When this problem becomes significant enough for your computer to overheat, certain components such as your processor or graphics card may temporarily throttle back their clock speeds in order to prevent damage to your hardware.
39. Performance Optimization Guidelines for Windows 7 Desktop Virtualization
This downloadable .docx guide describes important tuning parameters and settings that you can adjust to improve the performance and energy efficiency of the Windows 7 operating system.
40. Use a Faster DNS Server
Most ISPs like to brag about how much bandwidth they are giving you, but they don't mind letting the rest of their infrastructure slowly get overwhelmed or deteriorate. Among the biggest offenders are the DNS servers our ISPs use. If you want to know why things seem to take forever to start loading, slow DNS servers are often the cause. You might consider adding or using a fast DNS server like Google Public DNS as your primary DNS server in your TCP/IP settings to see how it compares to your ISP.
41. Change Maximum Download Connections per Server Limit in Internet Explorer

Internet Explorer has a limit for the amount of simultaneously downloads per website or server.
  • Internet Explorer 7 and earlier versions limit the number of files that you can download at one time to two by default.
  • Internet Explorer 8 and Internet Explorer 9 limit the number of files that you can download at one time to six by default.
  • Internet Explorer 10 and Internet Explorer 11 limit the number of files that you can download at one time to eight by default.
In addition, if you visit a website with lots of images (and supporting files like CSS styles and Javascript), then you could have a slower browsing experience. On average, your browser could have to make several requests to the site's server before it can finish loading the page. Requesting all the files needed to download with the default 8 (ex: IE11) at a time is going to be slower than requesting say 16 files at a time.

As internet connection speeds increase, the default number of simultaneous downloads to a single website or server may be to restrictive and not meet your needs.
I hope these help you,

08 Jun 2009   #1

Windows 7 Professional 64-bit

My thoughts on your suggestions (remember this is just my personal take):

3. I find turning aero off makes the display slower since it doesnt have the hardware accelleration
4. Arent you contradicting yourself here when you suggest enable transparent glass here but disabling it in #3?
5. I think it might be prudent to copy the warning Microsoft give on that dialog box about write caching.
10. If you leave your computer on over night doing things, then one of those tasks could be defragging. So instead of turning it off, it could be rescheduled late at night
17. This is an old vista suggestion where the sidebar program was on more than off. Since it is now mostly off until you run a gadget then there is no point in disabling this feature, particularly as you may want to use a gadget in the future
18. you could also add mention of running ccleaner which is a bit more comprehensive than the included cleaner
21. Could be a security risk if you share the computer or there are other people about
My System SpecsSystem Spec
08 Jun 2009   #2

64-bit Windows 10 Pro

Hi Nick,

No problem. :)

3. Turning off glass transparency would not turn off Aero, just the transparency part that uses more of your GPU to do.
4. No, "Enable transparent glass" is just an option to uncheck to turn it off in Visual Effects.
5. The warnings are included and highlighted in red in the tutorial at that link to notify of the possible dangers of these options.
10. Good point. In 9 though, if that is what you meant, there is a mention to schedule it to run when the user is not using the computer.
17. True it's a bit nit picky, but the process is still running whether you use Gadgets or not. It can easily be turned back on though.
18. I thought about adding CCleaner, but I wanted to try and keep it with using only the included features of Windows 7 instead.
21. Very good point. Warning added to tutorial.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
19 Aug 2009   #3

7 x64/ Back-Track 4

Thanks Brink I already most of the tweaks/ optimizations myself but i did forget to do the Write-caching on my disk drive
My System SpecsSystem Spec

19 Aug 2009   #4

64-bit Windows 10 Pro

You're welcome DarkDavil. :)
My System SpecsSystem Spec
26 Sep 2009   #5

Win7 Ultimate X64

Thanks big fella. Definitely see a difference.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
26 Sep 2009   #6

64-bit Windows 10 Pro

You're most welcome Robearl. I'm happy to hear it. :)
My System SpecsSystem Spec
07 Oct 2009   #7

Windows 7 build 7600 64 bit

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by Brink View Post
Hi Nick,

No problem. :)

3. Turning off glass transparency would not turn off Aero, just the transparency part that uses more of your GPU to do.
4. No, "Enable transparent glass" is just an option to uncheck to turn it off in Visual Effects.
5. The warnings are included and highlighted in red in the tutorial at that link to notify of the possible dangers of these options.
10. Good point. In 9 though, if that is what you meant, there is a mention to schedule it to run when the user is not using the computer.
17. True it's a bit nit picky, but the process is still running whether you use Gadgets or not. It can easily be turned back on though.
18. I thought about adding CCleaner, but I wanted to try and keep it with using only the included features of Windows 7 instead.
21. Very good point. Warning added to tutorial.
Regarding 17:
Doesn't do this here, I just closed all gadgets and sidebar.exe disappeared from the taskmanager.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
07 Oct 2009   #8

64-bit Windows 10 Pro

Hello Mikaka,

It's nice to see that has been fixed in the RTM build. Thank you for bringing this to my attention. 17 has been updated. :)
My System SpecsSystem Spec
12 Oct 2009   #9

windows xp sp3

hi Brink,
this was a great read
greatly improved my system
My System SpecsSystem Spec

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