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Windows Vista hints and tips

Tips index

Speed up by stopping services

Disable Vista servicesServices are special programs that run in the background and they perform specific tasks for Windows or applications. They can run all the time and they can be started automatically by Windows during the boot process. This makes them useful for things like security software such as anti virus or a firewall. There are lots of services and because Windows doesn't know what you will be doing with your computer, it loads everything it thinks you might need. Consequently the computer ends up running services you won't be using and this wastes processor time and memory.

You can speed up your computer ever so slightly by disabling services you don't need. It doesn't remove them from the computer and you can re-enable them at any time if you find that you do actually need them.

Click the Start button, type services.msc and press Enter. Click the third icon in the toolbar to hide the console tree to get a better view of the services. There are lots of them and you shouldn't change anything unless you know exactly what you are doing because some are vital to Windows and it won't work without them.

Some services, however, aren't important. Select Remote Registry and you'll see a description on the left: "Enables remote users to modify registry settings on this computer. If this service is stopped, the registry can be modified only by users on this computer. If this service is disabled, any services that explicitly depend on it will fail to start." IT experts in large companies with lots of networked computers might use this to tweak Windows settings on a remote computer somewhere in the building withough them having to get up from their desk. For the average Vista user at home with their PC it just isn't needed. The status is probably blank because there is no need for it to be started. You can double click this service and set the Startup Type in the drop-down list to Disabled so that it will never run.

Select ReadyBoost and you'll probably see that it has started. ReadyBoost is a feature that enables USB flash memory disks to be used as extra mememory on PCs with too little. It can certainly help a Vista PC with only 512Mb of RAM. However, if you never use this feature, why bother with the service? It just wastes processor time and memory, so double click it and set the Startup Type to Disabled.

Select Tablet PC Input Service and you'll see that the description says "Enables Tablet PC pen and ink functionality. You do have a tablet PC right? No? Well why are you running the service? Double click it and set the Startup Type to Disabled.

The services mentioned so far are safe to disable. There are some others that are useful, but aren't essential and you might be able to live without them:

  • Diagnostic Policy Service provides troubleshooting for Windows components. If Windows is working OK it won't be needed.
  • Distributed Link Tracking Client maintains links between files across networked computers. If you don't access files on other computers yu don't need it.
  • Network List Service identifies networks you are connected to and stores the properties. It probably won't be missed.
  • Remote Access Connection Manager manages dial-up and virtual private network connections. You probably don't use them.
  • Server is used for file and printer sharing over a network. If you don't do this yo don't need this service.
  • Shell Hardware Detection is used by AutoPlay to detect when you've inserted a device or disc. Disable if you don't need to automatically run devices/discs when you insert them.
  • Web Client is used by programs to create, access and modify files on remote computers on the internet. Is this something you do? No, then disable it.
  • Windows Error Reporting Service allows errors to be reported to Microsoft and gets solutions. If you aren't experiencing any problems then there's nothing to report, so you won't miss it.
  • Windows Time synchronises the date and time on all the computers on a network. Are you on a network? Does it matter if the clock on one PC is slightly different to another? Not really.

Don't disable all these services at the same time. The safe way to do it is one at a time, testing your PC in between and only going on to the next service if everything is OK. Stopping these services will not prevent Vista from starting, so if there's a problem, just run services.msc and set the Startup Type to Automatic.