Speed up Vista

Jun 17, 2008
Updated • Aug 4, 2010
Windows, Windows Vista

When I first got Windows Vista about 7 or so months ago it did seem to be pretty slow compared to Windows XP.

After checking out all the online tech websites I followed all the tweaking tips such as disabling background services, turning of animations and visual effects, using the Vista Power Saver application and various ‘speed-up-windows’ programs.

Since then I have reinstalled a couple of times and discovered that all these tips are essentially useless on a decent, fairly new computer.

I could notice no performance improvement at all with all visual themes enabled then with them disabled and I got near identical battery life with aero on as I did off. I’m going to call this as complete bollocks:


This tiny program will save up to 70% of your battery by disabling those nice, but greedy Vista features. Running in task bar with private workset of 5.5M and 0% CPU it will do all work for you, by enabling and disabling customizable features when power source changed or battery power fall under certain percent.

All you need is the advanced Vista Power Options and you can save a lot more battery power. As far as disabling background services go I will simply echo Ed Bott’s advice:

That is breathtakingly bad advice. It is as if the automotive columnist in your local newspaper told you to open the hood of your car and start disconnecting wires and hoses one at a time to see which ones made your car run faster or quieter or smoother. It might be hours or days or even weeks before you run a program that requires the service you disabled, at which point you might have no clue that the disabled service is the cause of the nonfunctional program.

Here’s the reality: On an otherwise healthy PC running Windows Vista, disabling most built-in Windows services is extremely unlikely to have any noticeable effect on memory usage, startup or shutdown time, or system performance. On the contrary, you are more likely to create problems by disabling services. Not to mention the amount of time you will surely waste and the productivity you will lose with all that starting and stopping and rebooting and web searching.

Any services which are causing significant slow downs on your computer are likely to originate from a third-party source such as Nero’s background indexing. Windows Defender may also cause some slowdown with it’s daily scan.

And lastly the system tweaks, many of these will make some small improvements, but they largely apply to specific actions and are not connected to overall performance itself.

What is your opinion on this? Am I wrong? Did these things make a difference to the performance of Vista on your computer?


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  1. Paul DeLeeuw said on July 10, 2008 at 7:39 pm

    There must be some difference in our systems. I moved several files ranging from 14MB to 230MB from one hard drive to another. Both connected with SATA. The Vista mover spent several seconds calculating how long it would take, then took 47 seconds to move the files. Teracopy moved them immediately and took just under 30 seconds. I do not have SP1. That is another story.

  2. Josh said on July 10, 2008 at 11:42 am

    That’s what this article was about… doing that will have little to no effect on performance

    I found pretty much no difference between Teracopy copy times and Vista SP1 copy times.

  3. Paul DeLeeuw said on July 8, 2008 at 12:03 am

    Vista is slower than XP for three reasons:
    1. It uses a great deal of hard disk time, especially when booting up (due to hidden tasks)
    2. It gives Microsoft programs and utilities (processes) an inordinate amount of processor cycles
    3.It emphasizes security over performance, so moves files very slowly.
    What can you do?
    1. Go to task Scheduler. Under Task Scheduler Library is Microsoft. Open it and you’ll see a list of categories. Click on each and you will find all sorts of tasks that start up and run in secret. Most can be disabled (with a right click) or fiddled with.
    2.Download and install Process Lasso. This program lets you limit the amount of processor time any program gets. It will also automatically throttle any processor hog.
    3. Download Teracopy. This little gem automatically takes over file copy and does it many times faster than Vista.

  4. Rarst said on June 18, 2008 at 2:17 pm

    >Have you ever used nLite and installed XP without the bloat? My XP running off a Virtual PC is MUCH faster than XP installed on a better computer.

    Probably you got my “chopping” in too general way, I was refering to current topic – disabling services and such aka useless tweaks.

    nLite is advanced stuf most users won’t even figure out how to do from start to finish. It’s not really “tweaks” area. :)

  5. joshua said on June 18, 2008 at 6:27 am

    @Michael Shi… yes of course, those are options and will definitely have an effect on performance, I was referring to the so called useless background services which consume next to nothing of system resources but people insist make a difference.

  6. Ceridan said on June 18, 2008 at 1:57 am

    Actually, a couple of services that run can have a fairly huge impact on system performance.

    I don’t ‘search’ for files on my hard drive that much, but the bloody “SearchIndexer service” absolutly eats hard drive performance just to provide quicker searches, so I generally turn it off as I have my files very well organized.

    Windows Defender also doesn’t do me any good.

    Side bar uses tonnes of memory, totally depends on the amount of gadgets you have loaded but the default ones actually use quite a bit.

    To be honest though, if you want a system performance boost, turning off the ‘pretty themes’ will provide a bigger performance boost than most of the tweaks you see out there.

  7. Dave said on June 17, 2008 at 11:10 pm

    @ Rarst…

    “Chopping of parts of OS doesn’t make system faster.”

    No, it doesn’t increase your CPU speed, but it gives you PC less to load and manage.

    Have you ever used nLite and installed XP without the bloat? My XP running off a Virtual PC is MUCH faster than XP installed on a better computer.

  8. Rarst said on June 17, 2008 at 6:05 pm

    I guess we have whole generation raised on “magic tweaks” already. :(

    Chopping of parts of OS doesn’t make system faster.

    No amount of system services can challenge performance hit from some third party crap.

    Use good apps, defrag and don’t touch system stuff. This is ultimate tweak. :)

    PC less ultimate tweak is – do everything you can to stay on XP as long as you can and some time after it :)

  9. Michael Shi said on June 17, 2008 at 5:52 pm

    There were two things I turned off on my vista.

    1. Vista sidebar. It slows down my system huge time
    2. Windows Defender. It’s useless given I had my nod32.

    That is all and My vista is very fast on a okay P4 solo-core PC.

  10. Jefis said on June 17, 2008 at 5:27 pm

    Disabling built in services you will gain performance, system will start up faster, and sure will gain performance boost.

  11. joshua said on June 17, 2008 at 5:11 pm


    I’m not sure how it could be possible seeing as the majority of the services take up all of a couple kb of ram each.

  12. Dan said on June 17, 2008 at 2:14 pm

    Actually, whether real or not, I’ve solved anything from slow bootups to BSOD errors when disabling services I don’t need… especially those that allow unnecessary process’ to run.

  13. Alfred said on June 17, 2008 at 11:00 am

    never bothered to run those Vista tweaks.
    Vista aint slow if you have a good computer and you set the right power options

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