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Speed up Windows by stripping it down

Turn off functions you don't need

Windows has plenty of features that you can turn off to speed things up. Here's how to find the features you don't need.

Services

The first time you look at the Services window, you may feel that you're getting deeper into geekdom than you ever wanted to go. But calm down - it's really not that difficult.

To enter Services in Vista or Windows 7, click Start, type services, and press Enter.

In XP, select Start, choose Run, type services.msc, and press Enter.

The window that comes up can seem intimidating. It lists a great many services (nearly 200 on my PC) that various programs need to help them do their job. The problem is that some of the services that are running in the background could just as well be sleeping.

Double-click a service and up comes its Properties dialogue box. One option on the General tab, 'Startup type', controls how the service starts. Select Automatic, and it loads when Windows boots. Select Manual, and it loads when a program needs it. Select Disabled, and it won't load at all.

Tablet PC extras, part 2: Vista, Windows 7
I've already discussed why you should or should not turn this set of features off, and I've described how to do the first part of the job. Now comes the second part. In Services, find and double-click the Tablet PC Input Service. In the 'Startup type' drop-down menu, select Disabled, and then click OK.

ReadyBoost: Vista
In theory, plugging a flash drive into your PC and letting ReadyBoost take control of it will speed up your PC. I have my doubts.

But if you aren't using ReadyBoost to speed up Windows, the feature is slowing it down. In that case, you'll be happier turning ReadyBoost off entirely.

In Services, find and double-click ReadyBoost. In the 'Startup type' drop-down menu, select Disabled, and then click OK.

XP doesn't have ReadyBoost, and Windows 7 doesn't allow you to turn it off.

Search indexing: XP, Vista, Windows 7
Indexing speeds up Windows' searches considerably, especially in Vista and Windows 7: An indexed search can take seconds, while a non-indexed search can take minutes. But when you're not searching, indexing drags down performance.

If you almost never search for files, or if you use a third-party search tool like Copernic Desktop or Google Desktop, consider turning off search indexing. Otherwise, leave it on.

The service you want to turn off is called Windows Search in Vista and Windows 7, and Indexing Service in XP. To turn it off, select Disabled.

Error reporting: Vista, Windows 7
I've already discussed how to do disable this feature in XP. To switch it off in Vista or Windows 7, you'll need to disable it in a different location.

Windows reports errors back to Microsoft, in order to gain information for later bug fixes. The trouble is that this reporting operation slows down your PC at the moment when you're most annoyed by it.

If you'd rather speed up your PC than help Microsoft debug software that it has already sold to you, find and double-click the Windows Error Reporting Service. In the 'Startup type' drop-down menu, select Disabled.

NEXT PAGE: More services

  1. Turn off functions you don't need
  2. System properties dialogue box
  3. Windows features dialogue box
  4. Services
  5. More services
  6. The desktop


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