Windows7 Tips and Tweaks

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It’s here and it’s coming at you like a freight train. We’re not even out of the beta and I’m thinking about tweaking this latest release from Microsoft. So before I get into some great tweaks, let me share some news about the progress of Windows 7 on its way to market.

Rumor has it that Windows7 RC1 could be released to some select testers on April 10th. I’ve been using the Windows7 beta 7000 build that was initially released to the public and while there have been others, 7022, 7048 and 7057, there have also been reported fake releases seen on some of the torrent sites. It makes much more sense to wait for the official MS RC1 release that’s due in May. I’m not quoting any particular source on this as everyone is quoting everyone else and there’s no real confirmation from Microsoft on any of it.

I’ll stick with my prediction that Windows 7 will be released before 2010. There’s just too much momentum for Microsoft to waste.

I love tweaking my systems to lower boot times and increase performance. I think that’s one of the things that excites me about a new operating system. However, after years of tweaking and the normal number of mistakes and bad tweaks, I’ve learned the importance of “BackUp”. Do it now because it does no good to whine once the deed is done. Back up now to avoid that empty feeling in the pit of your stomach when you realize the system isn’t booting.

TIP #1. Install the correct nVidia Drivers.

nVidia has already released a Window7 video driver. You can get it at their site, nVidia. This is exactly opposite to what nVidia put us through with Windows Vista. In fact it doesn’t seem that long ago that I was lamenting the lack of nVidia drivers for Vista users. It’s been about a year since Pitstop charted the use of graphics chips by Pitstop users. April of 2008 had 44% of Pitstoppers using nVidia. With nVidia’s early support of Windows7 that share should continue its’ rapid growth.

Fill in the correct chip series information and operating system version. They have both 32 and 64 bit drivers available. The 64 bit version for my 8 series card is 181.71 and it’s even WHQL certified. It downloaded with no out of the ordinary events. The installation was a little slower than normal but nothing alarming. The system rebooted to a perfectly good desktop.

TIP #2. Do not remove the UAC.

The new configuration is absolutely not a bother. It gives the “standing in the shadows” protection that we should have had in Vista. Another good thing about it is that if you want to change from the default setting it’s easy to do. Just go the control panel and click on User Accounts and then “change the way…” There’s an easy to use slider to adjust the settings. I’ve found that the setting just above “Never Notify” gives just the right amount of nag to help me feel safe without irritating me to death.

TIP #3. Switch to 64 bit.

Now’s the time. After 3 months use, I’m running into very few problems or programs that I can’t use. From what I’m seeing, if it’s available for Vista, it’s available for Windows7. Take the plunge and do it when you upgrade to Windows 7. BTW, this is the perfect time to mention that there will be an RC1 available to the public soon. You may want to keep a close watch so you don’t miss it. You should see it sometime between now and May.

Tweak #1. Best Performance.

It works for XP, it works for Vista, and it works for Wndows7. This is a super tweak designed by Microsoft. Start/ Rt Click Computer / Properties / Advanced / Performance settings / Adjust for best performance. I can’t imagine why anyone would use a computer without changing this setting.

Tweak #2. Stop Background Programs.

It doesn’t get any more important than this. Sure there’ll be the normal tweaks suggested by PC Pitstop pointing out new and exciting setting changes, but what about using what Windows7 gives you? Download AutoRun here. Our OverDrive program points out programs and process and suggests which ones to shut down. According to Windows 7 Help and Support, Auto Run can do the same thing. Give OverDrive and Auto Runs a whirl. Use either one to shut down the resource hogs running in the background. This is probably the number one thing that slows down a system. Hardware on your system doesn’t get slower, it’s the number of programs running in the background that does it.

Tweak #3. Reset your Virtual Memory.

Windows has always done a pretty good job of managing your page file but most systems today have plenty of physical memory. If you have enough you can do away with the page file altogether but it’s simpler and safer to set a static page file. Windows 7 will show you a minimum and a maximum suggested. I set initial size and maximum size to the the maximum suggested. This prevents Windows from constantly resizing the page file. Start/ Rt Click Computer /Properties / Advanced/ Performance Settings/ Advanced/Virtual Memory/Change/ you will find the suggested sizes here.

The one other thing I’d like to mention is the amount of useful information contained within this operating system. I seldom used Help and Support in XP or Vista. With Window 7 I can’t get enough of it. It’s search function is fantastic. Please take a few minutes and check it out. Go to: Start/ Help and Support. Type in something like Page File or Start menu or if you really want a treat try performance. That should keep you busy for an hour or so.

Good luck and happy tweaking.

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LINKS:

1. Windows 7 Introduction

2. Engineering Windows 7

3. Windows 7 release date

4 Nvidia Updates Window 7 drivers

5. RC1 Release date

6. Boot info

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24 thoughts on “Windows7 Tips and Tweaks

  1. Been running 7 64bit since official Microsft release, found everything except for my poor old HP Laserjet 1018, XP 64 had a problem with this also. Downloaded build 7068 yesterday and installed, going great, same prob. with printer though. Even Linux has a problem with this, so it’s really HP’s fault not Microsoft or Linux. As Microsoft are no longer selling XP you would think they would drop the price to make an illegal copy legal, i.e. validation, makes sense to me.

  2. i never was a big fan of Microsoft’s business practices, but they come out with something that works. and while it takes them time to iron it out (smacks a bug back under the browser) eventually they get going. I’m using vista ult at home and Generally I have been OK with it. though I have a quad phenom 9750 and could wish for better performance. that’s the main reason I’m looking forward to a win7 full release. (sry just don’t have the time right now for betas.)I do believe that everyone who did buy Vista ult should be able to buy win7 for $10. on a last note if the game makers would get together and release Linux versions of their games it is very possible that I would migrate to Linux, but what are the chances of that happening? I’m all for capitalism but really if windows OS weren’t so expensive you would have a lot more people who actually pay for it thus raising those profits and killing off the pirates in one fell swoop.

  3. Like many who have commented here, I too am very impressed with Windows 7, I recently built a new Core i7 system with 6Gb of DDR3 RAM and an nvidia GTX 260 Black Edition graphics card, and Windows 7 x64 Beta came along at just the right time! Its the perfect OS for todays new hardware, given all the documented problems with Vista and the age of XP, this is the only choice for a new generation of PC’s. There are a couple of things that annoy me with the Beta though, First, you’re stuck with the Beta IE8 as well, and as I’ve discovered theres a number of plugins that won’t work with it, and despite the ability to remove IE8 in build 7057 of W7, there’s no support for IE7! (I’m not a Firefox fan). The only other issue I have is that the Beta will expire in August, yet the RTM won’t be available to buy until Q4/09 – Q1/10 meaning a reinstall of an older OS for the sake of 2 – 3 months, come on MS either move the release date up to the Beta expiration date or extend the Beta, I only have 32 bit XP from my old PC to fall back on!

  4. This is encouraging news to read. I’ve been running XP-64 for nearly 2 years now on a dual quad xeon machine. It’s nice to know there’s a future to look forward to when support for XP-64 ends.

  5. I was impressed when i installed W7 64-bit beta on my homemade system with 4 GB of memory. When I built the system I had no 64-bit OS, but intended to upgrade when it became feasible. As others have said, everything just worked in W7. Then I upgraded the CPU from an AMD Phenom 6500 to the newer, faster AMD Phenom II X4 940. Whee, noticeably faster and everything still worked! Finally, to break the 32-bit barrier that constrained me to 4GB of memory, I added another 4GB. Ooops! ATI’s beta W7 64-bit drivers for my HD 3870 X2 display adapter would no longer load. Not Microsoft’s fault, of course, but a major brick wall for me. Also, the folding@home program would not run any more; again, not Microsoft’s fault. So although I really liked W7, I purchased 64-bit Vista Home Premium OEM from Newegg and installed it on the partition that formerly held W7. It has no problems loading the 64-bit Vista display adapter drivers or the running the folding@home program. When Windows 7 is released I will probably upgrade to that. Vista has been out long enough that programs and drivers accommodate it; some of the software out there will not work with W7.

    The point in writing this is not to blame MS, just to demonstrate that W7 is still beta software, and not ready for general use. Install and use it if it works for you, but be prepared to back out of it, don’t burn your bridges!

  6. @Zolar of Cincinnati…It would seem you are having a bad year(or eight)! I don’t give advice but here is something that works for me…take all the “boogiemen” from your past, deal with them and move on. Microsoft is not out to “get” you or anyone else. If there are features or settings in your OS that don’t meet your standards you should offer feedback to the manufacturer rather than ranting to a bunch of folks that wish you would have made the switch to Linux years ago. Which brings me to my next point…if Microsoft products are so “evil”…why are you pounding an XP driven keyboard? I bet you have an old hard drive laying around with Windows 3.11 on it don’t you?

    You speak outwardly of hatred for all things Microsoft…but your “logical” self knows the truth…you stick with what works best, you run it until the wheels fall off and then you get a new one…I’ll see you in the Windows 7 line on release day!

  7. hi all,
    just an update for chris bunting, i dont have any problems using win 7 and punkbuster, i cann`t comment on battlefield games but call of duty games (4 and 5) certainly work fine!

  8. I am not all that savvy with software.
    I installed W7 beta and I love the ease of use.
    Even the newest noobs out there would have no problems.

  9. Well, I have been using Windows 7 x64 since the public beta download. I like it but, it does have a fair share of problems, My Vista installation does not have any problems. Most of these have to do with the common IE 8 lock ups but 7 does lockup without the browser being open, quite frequently. The new look to the quick launch area is very bland and you cannot tell what apps have what opened without draging the mouse over them one at a time and hovering to see what’s there. Vista & XP is much more productive in that small area. The system tray is also less informative and harder to use, not enough color or indicators when wireless networking actually has a connection, for example. Media center seems much tougher to use if there are customizations or problems, kinda like an apple if no probs then its cooler but when you want or need to change something, good luck. So I love Vista and never had any problems since I knew what the UAC was for. 7 is just a small tweak in my opinion, if Vista works for you then I would save my time and money.

  10. Does anyone know if it will be possible to change Vista for Windows 7 by a simple ‘upgrade’ or is it too totally different for that?
    cheers
    Brian

  11. Well Well Well ,such dissapointing reading from a reader who aint taken the time to read,nm eh.(homework first bud)
    All i can say is ,ive been using 7 since the week it arrived,and i got 1 thing to say.
    AMAZING.this thing has balls.and its pretty too.
    I am absolutly speachless that out of the hell that was vista this beautifull piece of crafted kit should be available to the world.and remember folks ,its still in beta ,and producing no problems wotsoever ,and believe me ive pushed it and pushed it,far as i can and still it doesnt complain.every driver and security issue and any compatability is dealt with in a quick and precise manner (silently) in most cases.
    ,the nvidia driver of new offers a little more ctrl but we neednt worry about the rest of the tools that go with ntune etc ,they will be available when finaly release date arrives,even wifi dongle worked with an inf import,and that was a surprise.
    Plus it is so much easier for the none savvy to use.
    and this baby has even been futureproofed a little.WOW.
    Now im shocked to say MS has been usefull after the last 8 years of slagging ol bill off and allocating all my desires to osx and linux side i finaly see the light.and thank god MSoft did too.this is whats been needed for windows for a long time.So roll up ya drives and crack on with this thing ,its deffinatly a prize choice to make.

  12. Nice reply Jason, I thought the world was coming to an end when I read Zolar of Cincinnati, Ohio’s post.

    Thanks for the tips PCPitstop, I’ve been running Windows 7 since the first public release it is fantastic, I will not be returning to Vista or XP.

  13. I’ve been using Windows 7 Ultimate Beta x64 and I haven’t had any problems at all. My Quad core pc is only 2 weeks old but I think Windows 7 is just plain awesome. I never went to Vista, I stayed with XP Pro x64.

    I am an avid gamer and the only reason why I have to spend more time using XP (Dual Boot) is because Punkbuster won’t update for Windows 7 so i can’t play any of the Battlefield of Call of Duty games I have. Punkbuster is the only program I’ve ran across that just won’t work on Windows 7. Otherwise, I would just use Win 7 from here on out..

  14. I love Zolar’s response; did you forget your tin-foil hat today?

    Your first problem: If you have $10,000 worth of PC and you somehow think that you need to replace it ALL to run Vista or Win7, then you’re sorely misinformed.

    Your second problem: You think Vista relays back ALL of your actions? Even SOME of your actions? Why don’t you take Wireshark to your network link between a Vista box and the internet. Go ahead, capture every single packet transmitted while you rip every DVD in your collection, while pirating every app you want, and whatever other illegal nonsense you can make up. And when you review the bare wire-sniffed results, you’ll realize that you’re (once again) sorely misinformed.

    Your third problem: Dell gets deals (not like what you describe, however) because they buy tens of hundreds of thousands of copies at a time. The most expensive copy of Vista was Ultimate (non-upgrade) and it retailed at $249 at launch. And if you or anyone else pays $400 for an operating system, you’re sorely misinformed. Wow, a trend starting?

    Your fifth problem: sandboxing. Great idea, but why limit your ire to Microsoft only? Why hasn’t Apple done this? Why hasn’t ANY of the major players in Linux done this? You think they have? About the only commercial operating system that works the way you describe is for AS400 / big-iron mainframe boxes. I don’t think you’re as “up” on operating systems as you claim to be, which feeds back into the “sorely misinformed” category like the others.

    Your sixth problem: Huh? Where do you get this stuff? Ok, let’s piecemeal the operating system. How is your 60 year old mother going to know which pieces she needs and doesn’t need? Should “everyone” be instantly knowledgeable enough to go download a calculator app, a browser app (how are you going to do that without a default included browser?), a media player app, a remote terminal app… I think you’re sorely misinformed about the knowledge that the “general” consumer. Why do you think Apple is making such fantastic business? They bundle a monsterous pile of software into their base OS just like Microsoft does, and yet nobody complains to them?

    Your seventh problem: Microsoft is NOT the source of all evil in the world, regardless of your misinformed state. Freeware that is installed from (insert your favorite vendor here) is paid for by the owners of that software — MacAfee, Roxio, Symantec, the various developers of the crap games. Microsoft sees no money for 3rd party developed apps that just happen to use their operating system. This is why YOU can develop an application for Windows and not pay royalties to Microsoft either. Again, you’re sorely misinformed.

    Your eight problem: You turn off system restore, it deletes the system restore points. Wow, imagine that — you turn off your electricity, and you can no longer turn on your lights. ZOMG teh h0rr0rz! Howabout just setting your system restore “SIZE” configuration to your liking? Then it takes up the space you want, and prunes off the ‘old’ parts as needed when the size overlays. The system restore functionality in Vista is lightyears beyond that in XP, both in terms of total functionality and total size needs. If you can’t be bothered to learn about the system, then don’t start making stupid claims against it.

    Your final and ultimate problem? You aren’t misinformed, you’re purposefully (and willfully) spreading FUD (fear, uncertainty and doubt) with zero factual basis. Every point you described is utter nonsense at absolute best; or is irrational hatred more likely.

    Save the world, go to Linux. And while you’re there? Do all the knowledgeable folks a favor and shut your pie hole.

  15. PS When Microsoft releases source code(s) for all their products, then I would be less likely to criticize.

    What are they hiding anyway?

  16. I would like to try Windows 7, but there are a few MAJOR problems with it.

    1st problem is that I cannot afford to dump XP and all my equipment & software (about $10,000 worth) and buy everything new.

    2nd problem, Microsoft still incorporates DRM in the system allowing others to see what you do, including Microsoft products. If I want to make a backup copy of a CD or DVD or even a program that I own or license or even play them, somehow or some way it gets back to the ‘author’. How about google ‘nsa keys’ (which serve no benefit to the consumer). And those are the one’s we actually KNOW about. What about the ‘other’ stuff? This a a serious breach of privacy to say the least. It’s none of anybody’s business what I am doing and don’t need a ‘chaperon’. See problem #5 below for justification.

    3rd problem is that Microsoft price gouges the consumers. OEM’s (Dell for example) only pay about $35 per copy but consumers who want to buy a retail copy get charged up to $400. And most times, consumers have to ‘upgrade’ or buy new equipment. OOPS! Microsoft probably gets a kickback on that too.

    4th problem is that there are too many versions that come out. Microsoft only needs an ‘ultimate’ version for consumers and a separate deployable stripped down version for businesses. Businesses don’t need the cutzie effects. All they need is Windows 2000 classic style, no ‘homeowner’ type software, and built in site blocking the block adult content, myspace, facebook, twitter, web email, IM’s, etc, all of which are wasting productivity (and yes it does-any other contradiction to this is a fabrication in order for people to justify their behavior), and invite worms & etc. (this is a good option for parents too). If you’re at work, then work, not play, not shop, etc. On business systems, get rid of HTTPS protocol on workstations. This should slow down or stop online shopping abuses by employees. You’re at work WORK to work, not play, not shop, not social network. Maybe the rest of the world will stop calling us lazy American workers.

    5th problem, Microsoft comes out with a new money maker but still refuses to fix problems since WIN 95. Why won’t Microsoft use it’s Virtual Machine Technology like VMWARE? Sandbox everything and LOCK the core of the operating system. If the core is locked, and everything else is sandboxed, Malware and etc can’t do any real harm.
    Or at least get rid of Browser Integration.

    6th problem, All Microsoft operating systems come optimized for a business environment with cutzie stuff added in the make you think you’re getting something for your money. Home systems should come absolutely fully optimized so that no ‘optimization sites’ or tweaks need to exist. No speed tweaking necessary. And give the consumer the option to turn on the cutzie stuff if they desire – sort of an opt-in for the resource waster stuff.

    7th problem, go buy a computer and see all the Cr@pware and trialware installed. It takes quite a while to remove it all and clean things up. Again, Microsoft gets a cut in that too.

    8th problem, if you turn off system restore, you lose all your restore points. WHY??? I would want to turn mine off and KEEP all my restore points. That way, 6 months down the road, my hard drive isn’t full of restore points or lose restore points altogether. And why doesn’t Microsoft come out with a ‘click for defaults’ for group policy or the registry for that matter? Why should anyone have to buy a drive imaging program and keep that copy elsewhere to restore to a usable point? OOPS! My bad. Microsoft probably gets kickbacks from those companies too….

    I am starting to learn Linux right now. I figure it will take me 5 years (coincidentally the expiration of anything XP) to learn it.
    At least, I have some semblance of control and privacy, not to mention I won’t have to take out a mortgage to buy an operating system, computer, software, and equipment.

    Again, I would love to try Win7, but to me, it’s just a huge waste of time. XP works just fine. (note: I do miss my Windows 98 – that was a fun system and fairly easy to fix when needed)

    I could write an encyclopedia against Microsoft or a tiny handbook against Linux.

    BTW, I just installed PCLINUXOS to aOLD IBM harddrive. I did not have to install ANY drivers whatsoever. I see Microsoft won’t even bother to write even generic drivers or offer ‘non-certified’ drivers at windowsupdate. I can’t see buying equipment that Microsoft thinks is in my best interest.

    Has anyone tried installing Windows7 from scratch using an nVidia RAID array? Or ANY storebought RAID array? And not be told you have to insert a ‘floppy’ for drivers???
    How many computers even come with a floppy anymore??

    Again, I don’t expect Microsoft to do ANYTHING that’s in the best interest of the consumer. And I feel that Windows7 isn’t any better.

  17. Great article. I installed the latest Nvidia drivers and I am getting better 3D performance.

    I’ve been running windows 7 build 7022 [32bit] on a 4 years old PC [Pentium D 3.0 Ghrz, 3GB DDR2 ram, Nvidia GForce 6600 512MB, Creative XFI Sound Card, 250GB sata HDD] and I haven’t tweaked at all. I also have XP Pro SP3, and Vista Ultimate on the same PC and I noticed that Windows 7 runs much faster.

  18. I tried tweak #1 Performance. I’m running windowXP SP2, IE8.. Don’t think IE8 likes the tweak, screen looked horrible, all grey, so I put it back.

    I try any and all suggestions made by PC Pitstop

    Thanks,
    – Fred

  19. Thanks, great info. Running 7000 (64) and changed everything, fast? it overtook me. Also running 7057 on other drive, now going to make changes there. One thing I noticed is that in Explorer8, the print setting dosen’t give you the option of “as selected on page”, in 70057 it does, weird.

  20. W7 Rocks! Great tips. As for the statement, “… Adjust for best performance. I can’t imagine why anyone would use a computer without changing this setting.” I am using a $1000 Quad Core extreme processor with a 9800 Nvidia card. I don’t want a screen that looks like it did in 1996! LOL, each to their own. Thanks again for the tips.

  21. Thanks for the W7 tips! I used nVidia’s Auto-detect for my video driver. After reading your tips, I saw that my machine had the 32-bit driver. I loaded the 64-bit driver.

    Never leave to others what you should do yourself…i.e., don’t rely on the auto-detect feature for determining the best driver for your OS/Video card combination.

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