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Speed up Vista by Dumping Default Features and the Sidebar

written by: Meryl K Evans•edited by: Bill Fulks•updated: 6/7/2010

Vista comes with many features, some of which you will never use. These unused features could be the difference in better computer performance. See what you can do to get your Vista computer in better shape.

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    Most of us will never encounter half of Vista’s features. Operating systems come with many features to reach the needs of every computer user and network. Instead, toss out some Vista features and options and receive a reward of better computer performance.

    However, no promises on this performance thing because everyone has different setups, installed applications and computer habits, such as having eight tabs open in the browser, along with five other applications.

    Before beginning this venture, create a restore point for safety.

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    Turning off Default Windows Vista Features

    1. Click Start.
    2. Click Control Panel.
    3. Select Uninstall a program under Programs.
    4. Select Turn Windows features on or off in left pane.
    5. Click Continue when Windows asks for permission to continue.

    You receive a long list of features and sub-features to sort through as the next image shows. For example, do you need Internet Printing capabilities or Windows Meeting Space? Internet Printing lets you print on a printer in which you have its HTTP address. If you’re perplexed, you most likely don’t have the capability or information to make this happen. So disable it. Why is this on by default? Who knows.

    Here is a Windows Vista Feature Guide to help you decide which items to enable and disable.

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    Windows Features

    Turn on / off Windows Features
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    Gadgets and the Sidebar

    When I first received this laptop with Vista, I customized the Sidebar with Gadgets. Then I realized this could slow down the computer. So I dumped the Sidebar using the following steps:

    1. Right-click the Sidebar.
    2. Select Close Sidebar.
    3. Click Start Sidebar when Windows starts to disable it.

    The gadgets are cute and informative, but they don’t contain anything you can’t get elsewhere on the Internet or by looking out the window for the weather report.

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    Performance Options

    Sure, it’s cool to see animated controls and windows, fading and sliding views and other visual enhancements to make Windows pretty. Do you want pretty or do you want faster performance? Or maybe you can compromise by adjusting Performance Options:

    1. Click Start.
    2. Right-click Computer.
    3. Select Properties.
    4. Click Advanced system settings in the left panel.
    5. Click Continue.
    6. Click Settings under Performance, which is on the Advanced tab to open the Performance Settings window as the following image shows.

    You can either choose the features you want, but if you can’t make up your mind, you could let the computer decide and tell it to Adjust for Best Performance. Beware that it will probably deselect everything and produce a very bland looking interface. Instead, try deselecting an item or two and click OK. See how that looks.

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    Performance

    Change Performance options
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    Services

    You might consider disabling some of the services that appear in Services. The services window as shown in the following image lets you stop, start and pause Windows Vista services. One such feature you can safely disable is Windows Error Reporting Service. This service is supposed to help the company find and resolve the problems you report. But seriously, it rarely helps you. Instead, disable it and gain more resources.

    To run Services, do the following:

    1. Click Start.
    2. Enter services into the search box.
    3. Hit Enter.
    4. Click Continue.

    To disable Windows Error Reporting Service or any other service, right-click the service and select Properties. Change the Startup type to Disabled. Speedy Vista provides a list of services, describing each and their recommended settings.

    These are biggies that should make a difference. It is wise to make a few changes at a time and reboot your computer. Test the changes and then make more changes. This way, you don't have to start all over again if something you do last is the only one causing problems.

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    Services

    Services window