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.
Reload all your apps after a reboot
Works in: XP, Vista, 7
Windows XP, Vista, and 7 have at least one thing in common: they always urge you to reboot after installing new updates and patches.
Afterward, you'd think the OS would be courteous enough to restore your currently running programs, much as Firefox and Internet Explorer 8.0 restore tabs after a crash or restart - but, alas, no.
Thankfully, Cache My Work can reopen your apps after a reboot.
It's especially handy for those times when you step away from your PC for a while only to discover upon your return that Windows has restarted without even asking you.
The no-cost utility builds a checklist of ‘cacheable' programs that are currently running. Check off the ones you want to restore, click Save, and you're done. (The tool also gives you the option of restoring Windows Explorer windows, a nice touch.)
Install apps in a flash
Works in: XP, Vista, 7
So you just made the move to a Windows 7 PC, and now you need to install all your software.
Talk about a hassle, what with digging out the CDs, downloading programs from various sites, and then babysitting your system while you install one app after another. There has to be an easier way.
There is. Ninite, an awesome free service, automatically downloads and installs a variety of popular no-fee apps.
All you do is scroll through Ninite's list of 70-plus programs, checking off the ones you want. The service offers the most current versions of nearly every popular freebie, including Firefox, iTunes, Microsoft Security Essentials, OpenOffice, Picasa, Skype and Steam.
Once you've made your picks, click Get Installer to download a small executable file. Run that file and sit back while Ninite goes to work.
How long it takes depends on how many programs you've selected. We chose a baker's dozen (including the trial version of Office 2007 Standard, which we already own - now we just have to type in the security key), and Ninite was done in all of 10 minutes.
That makes the service a must-have for anyone setting up shop on a new PC.
Expert tip: turn your PC into a Wi-Fi hotspot
Works in: 7
Say you have a broadband card in your laptop, but no way to share its wireless connection with your iPod touch or another PC. Or maybe you've paid for a hotel's Wi-Fi service but you don't want to pay again just to connect other devices.
You need Connectify, a clever utility that turns your Internet-connected PC into the equivalent of a Wi-Fi hotspot. Although at the time of writing it was an early-stage beta, it worked quite well on our test systems.
After installing the program, just click the Connectify icon in the system tray, choose the connection you want to share, and then enter a name and password for your wireless network.
Now fire up your other devices and look for the new connection. Join it, enter the password, and you're off to the internet races.
Just keep in mind that because Connectify is still in development, it may not work perfectly with every device.
On the plus side, it's free while in beta, and it may remain an ad-supported freebie once it's finished.
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