If you bypassed Windows Vista and made the jump straight from XP to Windows 7, you may have been impressed by the big leap Microsoft took in visual development and features. For a lot of people who upgraded and installed Windows 7 on their old computer, all the extra bits that look great – the see through menu bars and visual multi-tasking – will unfortunately slow the PC down. Here are 10 ways you can improve the performance of Windows 7.
Turn off Aero
The huge visual leap Microsoft made between the XP and Vista operating systems — the attractive see-through taskbar and translucent window frames — means PCs with a slow video card will struggle to deliver the same speed you may be used to. Turn off the fancy graphics for improved performance on entry-level or older machines. Right click the desktop, select Personalize -> Windows Color and Appearance and turn off transparency. Plain, but faster.
Turn off visual effects
Even with Aero switched off, there are even more visual effects in Windows 7 that eat up your PC performance, and can be safely switched off. Right click Computer and select Properties. Click Advanced System Settings, which will open the System Properties popup window. Select Advanced tab and under Performance, click Settings, and choose Custom. Now, uncheck all the boxes except the bottom four. Restart your PC and notice the difference in speed!
Moderate your Sidebar
The Sidebar looks great but as with the new visual features in Vista, it will chew your CPU and take processing time away from the programs you use frequently. Disable the Sidebar by right-clicking it, select Properties -> Clear Sidebar. If you can’t bring yourself to get rid of the sidebar altogether, just remove the applications you don’t use.
Disable Search Indexing
Windows 7 Search Indexing stores parts of frequently-used files so the computer can quickly look them up and access them next time you’re searching.
If you don’t do much searching for files, you can safely turn this off to save memory and space.
Go to Start -> My Computer -> Manage -> Computer Management -> Services and Applications -> Services and find Windows Search in the list. Right click Windows Search, and choose Properties. In General tab of the popup window, go to the Startup type dropdown and choose Disabled. Click Apply, and OK, and you’re done.
Disable startup programs
Every PC has a host of programs that open automatically when you boot up. Most of them are important, but some of them you don’t need right away when you start the computer. Open Windows Defender and select Tools -> Software Explorer to reveal the programs Windows opens automatically at start up. Those you’re sure you don’t need to open overtime, click and select Disable.
Disable User Account Control
The User Account Control (UAC) feature controls the Windows permissions levels for user accounts. It is the reason you see the popup boxes asking for permission to perform tasks that require Administrator access. There are arguments that turning off the UAC makes the computer less secure because you don’t need passwords or permissions to carry out tassels, but if you just use your computer at home, you may find disabling the UAC gives you a bit of speed.
To turn off UAC, go to Start -> Control Panel -> User Accounts and Family Safety, and click User Account Control settings. Next, drag the slider to Never Notify, click OK and restart.
Boost your RAM
A handy little trick for Windows 7 users, is the ability to use a USB jump drive as an extra source of RAM. This is great if you have a couple of big applications open at the same time, or if you want to easily switch between movies, music and photos.
To use this feature, you need a USB stick that has flash memory (NAND memory devices). Insert your USB stick and open My Computer. Right click the USB drive, select the Ready Boost tab, and check the Use this device checkbox. When you’re choosing your settings, note that minimum 512Mb RAM works best. If your device does not show you the Ready Boost option, it means your USB falls short of the minimum data transfer speed that Windows needs to use it as RAM.