Vista Toolkit – Top 5 Tips & Tricks

I was off work for a week after getting my knee operation (ACL Reconstruction).

That finally gave me a chance to tune up my Dell XPS M1330 which is running on Vista Home Premium. My notebook is packed full of great hardware but I’ve struggled with Vista from the start, its not a great OS and will be very shortlived with Windows 7 around the corner. So I’ve put together my top 5 ways to improve Vista’s performance and make it a more acceptable OS to work with. Its actually working really well now for me.

  1. Scotty Winpatrol – Shorten the boot time

    • My machine was taking over 6 minutes to get from powered on to being functional
    • Download and Install Scotty Winpatrol
    • Disable as many “Startup Programs” as you possibly can
    • I reduced my boot time to 3 minutes and improved overall running performance significantly
  2. UAC & Notifications (Turn them off!)

    • You need to use Vista as an Administrator Account, normally that is the case by default
    • Click on the Windows Start button and type in “User Account Control”
    • Disable the feature and also disable the notifications => here’s a detailed article on how to do it
  3. Turn Off Aero

    • Vista Aero is Microsoft’s misguided attempt to “out-wow” Apple’s OSX, its completely useless and eats resources and battery life.
    • I downloaded and installed the free Vista Battery Saver application (V. RC2 )
      • Installation Note: This open source software has a small snag in the install
      • Just as the installation is about to finish it stalls and the system tray icon appears
      • The program actually starts running before the install has finished
      • There’s a simple solution – kill the system tray iconby right-clicking and selectin “Exit”
      • Now just wait for the installation to finish!
    • Once installed this program cleverly disables Vista Sidebar and Vista Aero if you’re running from battery
    • This greatly improves battery life on the notebook and also the overall performance
    • Alternatively you can select “Windows Vista Basic” Colour Scheme from the “Window Colour and Appearance” section of “Personalization”
  4. Use the “Text Search” Interface (Don’t Install Google Desktop)

    • Vista has a native text based search and command interface that you might not be familiar with.
    • Google Desktop has a very negative impact on both Vista and XP from my experience, better off using Windows Desktop Search on XP or the native search interface of Vista
    • Typing a text search for what you want to do is much more efficient than clicking through reams of folders or navigation structures, or icons.
    • In Vista, just click the “Start” button and start typing what you want to do
      • Programs: type the name of a program you want to run
      • Settings or a Control Panel feature that you want to access, just type it
      • Files or Folders: a fully featured desktop search
    • If you have Windows XP I would recommend installing Windows Search which is quite good also Install
  5. Try using a flash drive for a “performance boost”

    • Microsoft have added a feature that allows you to utilise space on a USB flash drive to boost the system memory cache (RAM)
    • Simply plug in a compatible USB flash drive and the auto prompt will ask you if you want to
      • Only  a compatible flash drive will work, that means it needs to have good Read & Write speeds.
      • If you eject the drive safely the space will not be freed up on your flash drive, so just yank it out
      • There’s a max of 4GB on RAM with this so that’s the most you can achieve (On a 32-bit OS me thinks)

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