Best guide for Windows performance optimization

The site had since perished.

I have changed memory modules in my home desktop and decided to revisit some settings (to get them in line with tripled amount of RAM). That got me to the long-bookmarked guide on Windows performance tweaks.

However to appreciate it some background information on tweaking is needed.

Why bother

Out of the box Windows comes with settings that can be described as generic:

  • they aim to provide decent experience on average PC;
  • access to most of functions is enabled, even to those rarely needed (users will complain about those missing otherwise);
  • some freaky stuff that Microsoft decided to be a good idea while it’s not (I am looking at you, search indexing).

So there is some margin of performance gain that can be achieved by changing default setting to those fitting your computer and needs.

Tweaking problems

Over years few major problems formed around tweaking:

  • some tweaks are harmful myths (took years to debunk clearing prefetch folder);
  • some tweaks are beneficial for specific usage profiles (gaming rig and database cruncher need different settings);
  • some tweaks deliver tiny performance gain at cost of potential problems (disabling system services).

So to get good results you need to know which tweaks are beneficial for your case and good enough to spend time implementing.

Guide on kadaitcha.cx

I think this is best guide on performance tweaking for few reasons:

  • only most important and useful tweaks;
  • full reasoning behind each tweak with pro/con explanations where needed;
  • including performance tweaks and perception tweaks (removing eye-candy interface slowdowns).



Guide is clearly written for advanced users:

  • you have to understand what you need;
  • what you don’t need;
  • how to edit registry for implementing part of tweaks.

However it is as good as performance guides get. Site has two slightly different versions of guide for XP and Vista as well as number of guides on other subjects.

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  • Donace #

    I love tweaking XP; use to spend ages perfecting it to my needs; I actually published a week or so ago a list of registry tweaks I use.
  • Rarst #

    @Donace I hadn't tweaked in a while actually. Old and very stable (except few broken things :) ) desktop. Went to check your article but getting error at your blog, mailed you details.
  • Madmouse Blog #

    I use to tweak my systems a lot, but these days I spend more time trying to use my computer than working on it. I do see that there are some pretty good tweaks on the site that you provided the link for. I will probably try a couple when I get my Linux box going completely. I am going to run Ubuntu on my most powerful system and then run VMware, so I can run Windows on the Ubuntu box. So, the tweaks will help the Windows operating systems to run a little faster.
  • Rarst #

    @Madmouse Yeah, running on virtual machine is not too bad with modern hardware. However effect of tweaks while OS is virtualized will be questionable. It's usually opposite for me (Ubuntu in VM on Windows) so can't say for certain.
  • Donace #

    Thanks for the heads up; I thought I had resolved that by now :p. Fixed now none the less
  • Nihar #

    Thanks for sharing this website. I always like my Laptop be fast and responsive and also don't like some apps consuming unnecessary memory.
  • Rarst #

    @Nihar Just read explanations carefully. Some tweaks that are beneficial for desktop can ruin performance or battery life on notebook. And by the way focus of performance optimization is mostly making apps consume more memory. Windows is too happy to dump stuff on hard drive - extremely slow media comparing to RAM. The more is going on in memory instead of HDD - the faster things will work.
  • Albert #

    I can verify that at Kernel Paging and Cache Tuning mentioned at kaditcha.cx did not work for me, in fact it reduced performance.
  • Rarst #

    @Albert That one is really one of the more specific and tricky parts. I usually don't mess with that one, even if system fits suggested usage.