Plus performance-enhancing tweaks for Vista and XP
Windows 7 is a brilliant OS and offers us loads of long-overdue improvement and upgrades. However, like any OS it can benefit from a few tweaks. We've rounded up 25 essential tips to make your PC run faster.
Switch to Chrome
Works in: XP, Vista, 7
Quick - what's the single most used app on your PC? The web browser, of course.
So it's no surprise that one way to make your Windows experience faster is to switch to the swiftest browser, and that's Google Chrome.
In our tests, Chrome loads pages faster than Firefox 3.5 (which ran a close second), Internet Explorer 8.0, Opera 10.0 and Safari 4.0.
Granted, the advantage may amount to only a second or two, but those seconds add up.
Tweak your power settings
Works in: Vista, 7
Using Windows' power-management features to save energy makes sense - but you shouldn't do it at the expense of productivity.
For example, if you're working on a desktop PC (or using a plugged-in laptop as your desktop), you don't need your hard drive to turn off after five minutes, your processor to throttle back when idle, or your video playback to be ‘optimised for power savings'.
Since you're not trying to preserve battery life on this machine, you should crank every performance setting to maximum.
By default, Windows Vista and 7 both come configured for ‘Balanced' performance.
To crank things up a bit, click Start, type power, and select Power Options. Choose the High performance plan. (If you don't see it listed, click Show additional plans.) Now your machine will run with desktop-optimised power settings.
If you want to tweak individual settings, such as how long the hard drive should sit idle before shutting down, click Change plan settings, Change advanced power settings.
Turn off the eye candy
Works in: Vista, 7
Everybody loves bells and whistles, but Windows' eye candy come at a price - especially on older PCs with single-core processors or minimal RAM.
If you're more concerned with zippy performance than you are with transparent windows and animated controls, consider turning off the visual effects.
Open the Control Panel, type visual in the Search field, and click Adjust the appearance and performance of Windows. Choose Adjust for best performance, and then click Apply.
After a few seconds you'll see a decidedly plainer Windows interface - and enjoy a much snappier response.
If the look is too stark, you can choose the Custom option and then select any effects you want to restore. Just remember: the more you enable, the greater the performance hit.
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