How to optimize Windows 7 for best performance

If your Windows PC is not loading or responding as quickly as you would like it to, this comprehensive guide is for you.  If you are fed up of having to deal with “not responding” error messages while waiting for your favorite application to launch, this guide is for you.  And if you just want to tweak your Windows installation for maximum performance, this guide is definitely for you.

IMPORTANT: These tips/tweaks will also work for Windows 8, 8.1 and 10, but the options may be slightly different.

CAUTION:  While the tutorial is put together with the computer novice in mind, please be careful when executing some of the tweaks, especially the registry based ones, since improper use may result in your PC generating additional errors or even failing to boot properly.

Now for the good stuff:

TWEAK 1: Scan for viruses and other malware

While this is not exactly a tweak, it is one of the first checks which should be performed on a machine that is running slower than it should, especially if you’re experiencing popups and other error messages.

 

TWEAK 2: Disable startup programs and services

This tweak will stop unwanted programs from running when the PC boots and you login.  You will still be able to launch the programs when you need them later.

  1. Click the Windows Start button
  2. In the Search box type “msconfig” (without the quotation marks)
  3. Press Enter on the keyboard
  4. Go to the Startup tab and disable the programs you do not want starting when Windows boots. (see HERE for a list of programs which can be safely disabled)
  5. Go to the Services tab
  6. Check the box in the bottom left corner which says, “Hide all Microsoft services
  7. Disable the services you do not want running (you may want to leave your antivirus, Intel services, Dropbox, and some of your PC manufacturer’s services checked)
  8. Click OK and reboot your computer

 

TWEAK 3: Change Power options to “High Performance”

This tweak will set your PC to not lower your CPU’s speed even when it isn’t being used, running it at its top speed most of the time.  This tweak may also stop other components, such as your wireless card and hard drive from entering power-saving modes based on their configurations.

CAUTION: This tweak will negatively affect the overall battery life/performance of laptops and as such is recommended more for desktop PCs.

  1. Click on the Windows Start button
  2. Click on Control Panel
  3. Click on Power Options (you may need to switch from “View by: Category” to view by icons)
  4. Choose High Performance (you may need to click “Show additional plans” to see this option)
  5. To the right of High Performance click Change plan settings
  6. Choose Change advanced power settings
  7. Select High Performance from the menu in the top left corner
  8. Click on USB settings
  9. Click on USB Selective Suspend
  10. Change the option to Disabled
  11. Click on Processor Power Management
  12. Click on Minimum Processor State
  13. Set it to 100%
  14. Click OK, then save changes

 

TWEAK 4: Remove registry error from Windows

(the guide has already been posted HERE)

Be very careful when applying this tweak

 

TWEAK 5: Enable hard drive write caching

This tweak improves your system’s performance by using RAM (which is faster) to collect and store write commands sent to your hard drive (which is slower) until the hard drive is in a ready state to be written to.  This causes your applications to run faster since they get to proceed/run without having to wait for data write-requests to be written to the hard disk.

CAUTION: While disk write caching can increase/improve system performance, it can also increase the chances of data loss should there be any power or system failures before the data is written to the drive.

  1. Click on the Windows start button
  2. Click on Control Panel
  3. Click on System
  4. In the top left corner click on Device Manager
  5. Click on Disk drives
  6. Right mouse click on the hard drive listed there
  7. Click on Properties
  8. Click on the Policies tab
  9. Check the boxes to “Enable write caching…” and “Turn off Windows write-cache buffer flushing…
  10. Click OK

 

TWEAK 6: Disable User Account Control (UAC)

(the guide has already been posted HERE)

 

TWEAK 7: Uninstall bloatware

Bloatware are unwanted software which are preinstalled on a new computer by the manufacture. While some of these programs may prove useful, many can easily be removed with little or no disadvantage to the user.

  1. Click on the Windows start button
  2. Click on Control Panel
  3. Click Programs and Features
  4. Uninstall all the programs you do not need/use

 

TWEAK 8: Change Processor Scheduling

Changing the processor scheduling setting will improve the way your computer handles audio tasks along with a few other non-audio related programs.

  1. Click on the Windows Start button
  2. Right mouse click on Computer
  3. Choose Properties
  4. Click on Advanced system settings (it’s in the left panel of the open window)
  5. Ensure that the Advanced tab is selected
  6. Under the Performance section click on Settings
  7. In the Processor scheduling section choose “Background services
  8. Click OK and OK (you MUST reboot the system for the changes to take effect)

 

TWEAK 9: Defragment your hard drive

(the guide has already been posted HERE)

CAUTION: This tweak is ONLY for persons running traditional hard disk drives and SHOULD NOT be used on Solid State Drives (SSD).

 

TWEAK 10: Update ALL device drivers once updates are available

 

TWEAK 11: Modify Windows Menu delay values

(this is a registry tweak and should be approached with much caution)

This tweak modifies the amount of time it takes clicked on menus (both popup and pulldown) to appear.

  1. Click on the Windows Start button
  2. In the Search box type “regedit” (without the quotation marks)
  3. Press Enter on the keyboard
  4. Double click on HKEY_CURRENT_USER
  5. Double click on Control Panel
  6. Click on Desktop
  7. In the right pane scroll to MenuShowDelay
  8. Double click on MenuShowDelay
  9. Change the value from 400 to a smaller number that is 1 or higher; this number/value represents the milliseconds of delay between your mouse click and the menu being displayed.
  10. Click OK.
  11. Close the registry editor and reboot the computer for the changes to take effect.

NB: You can also change the value of the MouseHoverTime registry key following the value instruction in step 9 above.

 

TWEAK 12: Delete Windows temp files

(for additional information on temp files see HERE)

  1. Click on the Windows Start button
  2. Click on Computer
  3. Double click on the C: drive
  4. Double click on the Windows folder
  5. Scroll to the Temp folder
  6. Select and delete all the files in there

 

TWEAK 13: Turn off Windows visual effects

This tweak chooses performance over appearance by scaling back on the visual bells and whistles to provide you with the performance boost you may be looking for.  You can choose which visual effects you’d like to turn off, or you can turn them all off.

  1. Click on the Windows Start button
  2. Click on Control Panel
  3. Click on Performance Information and Tools
  4. Click Adjust visual effects (it’s in the left panel of the open window)
  5. Click the Visual Effects tab
  6. Click Adjust for best performance (if you want to turn all the effect off or deselect them individually)
  7. Click OK

 

CONCLUSION:

As important and as useful as the tweaks listed above may be, there are a few other things which should be considered from a hardware perspective that can help further improve overall performance, these include:

  1. Adding more memory (RAM) based on your operating system version and motherboard limits.
  2. Use the Windows ReadyBoost feature if adding more RAM is beyond your spending power.
  3. Switching from a traditional hard disk drive to a faster Solid State Drive (SSD).
  4. Removing large files (movies, lossless music files etc.) from the hard drive to free up space.