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INTRODUCTION

The steps to troubleshoot performance-related issues in Windows Vista vary depending on the point at which the issue occurs. This article is intended to describe the steps that are used to troubleshoot performance-related issues that occur in Windows Vista.

For more information about how to troubleshoot other performance issues in Windows Vista, click the following article numbers to view the articles in the Microsoft Knowledge Base:
950684 How to troubleshoot performance issues during startup in Windows
950686 How to troubleshoot performance issues with standby, hibernate, and resume in Windows Vista

Overview

This article describes the steps that are used to start to troubleshoot performance-related issues in Windows Vista.

Performance issues that you may encounter on a Windows Vista based computer may include but are not limited to the following issues:
  • Applications may take a long time to start, or applications may perform slower than expected.
  • You may notice your computer has a consistently high hard disk usage or CPU usage.
  • Sound and video may appear choppy.
  • Performance decreases when you run certain applications or games.
  • Applications may become unresponsive.
  • Windows Aero may become disabled.
  • Windows Vista may take a long time to shut down.
Note Before you start to troubleshoot any performance-related issue, it is important first to set correct expectations. If you installed Windows Vista on a computer that only meets the minimum hardware requirements, but the computer does not meet the recommended hardware requirements, you may be unable to make a noticeable improvement to the performance of Windows Vista unless you upgrade the hardware on the computer, or you disable some features of Windows Vista. These features might include the search indexer or some visual effects.

Computers that meet the minimum requirements are known as "Windows Vista Capable," and computers that meet the recommended requirements are known as "Windows Vista Premium Ready." For more information about Windows Vista Capable and Windows Vista Premium Ready computers, visit the following Microsoft Web site:
http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/cc507845.aspx
For more information about system requirements for Windows Vista, click the following article number to view the article in the Microsoft Knowledge Base:
919183 System requirements for Windows Vista

More information

To start troubleshooting a performance issue in Windows Vista, follow these steps.

Step 1: Check the Windows Experience Index

Windows Vista includes a performance rating tool that is named WinSAT. This tool measures the performance of a computer, and the tool gives information about the performance in a way that is easy to understand for the end-user. The performance information about the computer is known as the "Windows Experience Index." You can use the information in this Index to determine what the expected performance levels are for the computer that is based on the rating of each component. When you review the performance rating for the computer, you see an overall score and a sub-score for individual components in the computer. The overall score is determined by the lowest sub-score on the computer. Therefore, if the lowest sub-score for a component in the computer is 2.6, the overall score for the computer will also be 2.6. This is because the component with the lowest performance in the system is considered the bottleneck.

When you review this score, you can use this information to determine whether there is a component in the computer that is causing the startup performance issue. When you determine the Windows Experience Index for your computer, you can use this information to correctly set expectations about the level of performance that you can expect to achieve with the current configuration. After you set the expectations, it is important to continue to troubleshoot the issue by proceeding with the next troubleshooting step. This is because, although the computer may have slower hardware, the computer may also have other issues with software configurations that can further decrease performance.

For guidance about how to make recommendations about computer performance that is based on the Windows Experience Index, visit the following Microsoft Web site:
http://windowshelp.microsoft.com/Windows/en-US/Help/f59082f4-6385-4a61-ba7e-2de9625a780a1033.mspx
Note If the computer has an overall system score of 1.0 because the video sub-score was 1.0, this overall score may not be an accurate representation of the computer's performance. In order to test the performance of the video card in the computer, Windows Vista Display Driver Model (WDDM) drivers must be installed for the video card. If the drivers for the video card are not WDDM drivers, the sub-score will automatically be recorded as 1.0 because the card cannot be tested for performance.

When you have identified performance expectations by using the Windows Experience Index, go to the next troubleshooting step.

Step 2: Check Windows Update

If a driver or an operating system component causes the performance issue, there may be an update that is available on Windows Update that addresses the issue. Visit Windows Update, and install any driver or operating system updates that are available. To do this, visit the following Windows Update Web site
http://update.microsoft.com
If you install an updated driver or operating system components from Windows Update, and this does not resolve the performance issue, go to the next troubleshooting step.

Step 3: Check for performance warnings

Frequently, Windows Vista can automatically detect any issues that are related to performance and can make recommendations about how to troubleshoot these problems. When this happens, a warning is displayed in Control Panel. To access these warnings, follow these steps:
  1. Click Start
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    Start button
    , right-click Computer and then click Properties.
  2. Click Windows Experience Index.
  3. Click Advanced Tools.
  4. In the Advanced Tools window, click the performance-related links to examine detailed information about the computer.
After you click the links in the Advanced Tools window, follow the recommendations that appear. When you have resolved all the issues that appear in this list, restart the computer to see whether the startup performance issue is resolved. If the problem continues to occur, go to the next troubleshooting step.

Step 4: Check the Reliability Monitor

When you troubleshoot a performance issue, it is important to determine whether the problem always occurred after you installed Windows Vista or if the problem began sometime after you installed Windows Vista. You must clarify this before you continue.

If the problem has always occurred, go to Step 5.

If Windows Vista was performing acceptably after it was installed, and the startup performance problem only began to occur sometime after Windows Vista was performing acceptably, you can use the Reliability Monitor tool that is included with Windows Vista. This tool lets you examine the events that occurred around the time that the problem began so that you can determine any relationship between the event and the issue. To do this, you must determine approximately when the issue began to occur. When you determine the approximate time, you can examine the events that occurred around that time.
  1. Click Start
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    Start button
    , type reliability in the Start Search box, and then press Enter.
  2. Click Reliability and Performance Monitor in the Programs list.
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    User Account Control permission
    If you are prompted for an administrator password or for confirmation, type the password, or provide confirmation.
  3. Click Reliability Monitor.
In the line graph that appears, you will see a representation of the reliability of the computer. Each vertical bar represents a day, and the height of the line for that day is determined by the events that occurred on that day. If any errors or warnings occur, the line will go down, and if no events or only informational events occur then the line will start to go up.

To use this tool to troubleshoot a performance issue that began sometime after Windows Vista was installed, follow these steps:
  1. After finding out the approximate day that the problem began, select that day in the Reliability Monitor tool.
  2. Read the Information, Warning, and Error events that occurred on the day that the problem began, and on the two days before the problem began.
  3. At this point, you must use the data that you have collected to start to troubleshoot why the problem might have occurred. Some possible examples of how to troubleshoot this problem are listed here. In the following examples, the most likely result is that you have to contact either the software or hardware vendor for more troubleshooting advice:
    • If you see that the problem started the day that a driver update was installed, you have to determine whether there is a newer driver than the currently installed driver. Then, you have to install the newer driver to see whether that driver resolves the problem. If no driver update is available, use Device Manager to roll back the driver that was installed.
    • If you see that the problem started after the installation of a new piece of hardware, disable or unplug that hardware, and then test to see whether the problem still occurs.
    • If you see that the problem started after you install a new program, check for any updates for that program on the software vendor’s Web site. If no updates are available, uninstall the program to test whether the problem continues to occur.
If the problem still occurs after you address any of the changes that you identified in the Reliability Monitor, you must contact the computer manufacturer or the hardware vendor to determine whether the computer or hardware that is installed supports Windows Vista, or whether there are any updates that must be installed to make the computer compatible.

Step 5: Disable the indexer for Windows Search

A common cause of poor system performance is that there is an application or a service that constantly stresses the hard disk. This can cause other components that are running to be deprived of the resources that they require in order to function correctly and at an acceptable speed.

One potential example of this kind of application is the indexer for Windows Search. Because the indexer uses low priority I/O, performance is not decreased for most computers. This is because the indexer service only accesses the hard disk when the indexer service determines that another component of the system is not already accessing the hard disk, and the hard disk is idle. In an older computer that has a slower hard disk, the hard disk may be unable to react quickly enough to new requests for disk access from other system components. This will cause system performance to decrease.

To test To test whether the indexer service is causing performance problems, disable the Windows Search service so that indexing no longer occurs. Before you do this, you have to determine whether the indexer has completed indexing the system. To check the status of the indexer service, follow these steps:
  1. Click Start
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    Start button
    , and then type index in the Start Search box.
  2. In the Programs list, click Indexing Options.
  3. At the top of the window that appears, you see either Indexing complete or Indexing Speed is reduced due to user activity.
If you see Indexing Speed is reduced due to user activity, the indexer has not yet completed indexing the user documents and the e-mail messages on the system. If you see Indexing complete, the system has completed indexing the user documents and the e-mail messages on the system. However, the indexer remains active so that it can index any new documents or e-mail messages that appear on the system.

In either case, you can test to see whether the indexer is the cause of the performance issue by disabling the Windows Search service. To disable the Windows Search Service, follow these steps:
  1. Click Start
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    Start button
    , type services in the Start Search box, and then press ENTER.
  2. In the Programs list, click Services.
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    User Account Control permission
    If you are prompted for an administrator password or for confirmation, type the password, or provide confirmation.
  3. Scroll down and locate the service that is labeled Windows Search.
  4. Right-click this service, and then click Properties.
  5. Set the startup type to Disabled.
  6. Click Stop to stop the service, and then click OK.
  7. Restart the computer.
Now, try to reproduce the performance issue to see whether the problem still occurs. Then, consider the following scenarios.

Scenario 1

In this scenario, the performance issue no longer occurs. Additionally, you find that the indexing process had not completed. In this scenario, the likely cause of the performance issue is the Windows Search service. We recommend that you turn the service back on and leave it running to enable the index process to be completed. The system will continue to be slow during the initial indexing phase. However, when the indexing is complete, system performance will likely return to expected levels.

Scenario 2

In this scenario, the performance issue no longer occurs. Additionally, you find that the indexing service had finished indexing. Or, you find that the performance issue did not previously exist, but that the performance issue occurred recently. In this scenario, it is likely that the database that the search indexer uses has become damaged or corrupted. In this case, you must rebuild that database. To do this, follow these steps.

Step A: Restart the Windows Search service
  1. Click Start
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    Start button
    , type services in the Start Search box, and then press ENTER.
  2. In the Programs list, click Services.
    Collapse this imageExpand this image
    User Account Control permission
    If you are prompted for an administrator password or for confirmation, type the password, or provide confirmation.
  3. Scroll down and locate the service that is labeled Windows Search.
  4. Right-click this service, and then click Properties.
  5. Set the Startup type: to Automatic (Delayed Start).
  6. Click Start to start the service, and then click OK.
Step B: Rebuild the database that is used by the search indexer
  1. Click Start
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    Start button
    , type index in the Start Search box, and then press ENTER.
  2. In the Programs list, click Indexing Options.
    Collapse this imageExpand this image
    User Account Control permission
    If you are prompted for an administrator password or for confirmation, type the password, or provide confirmation.
  3. Click Advanced.
  4. Click Rebuild, and then click OK to the warning that appears.
  5. Click OK to close the Indexing Options.
Note Now, the system must re-index the documents and the e-mail. However, when the indexing is completed, it is likely that system performance will return to acceptable levels. If the system continues to experience performance problems, go to the next troubleshooting step.

For help with Windows Search problems in Windows Vista automatically, click Run now button from the Automated Troubleshooting Services page and follow the steps in this wizard:
Fix problems in which Windows Search is not working or searches are slower

Step 6: Disable Aero Glass

Another potential cause of performance issues in Windows Vista occurs when Aero Glass is enabled. However, the performance issues occur when the system only meets the minimum requirements for Aero Glass. This experience resembles the experience that you have when you run any software on a system that only meets the minimum requirements. In this case, the experience may not be optimal.

To test whether performance issues are related to Aero Glass, disable Aero Glass on the computer. To do this, follow these steps:
  1. In Windows Vista, right-click the desktop, and then click Personalize.
  2. Click Windows Color and Appearance.
  3. Click Open classic appearance properties for more color options.
  4. Under Color scheme, select Windows Vista Basic, and then click OK.
Note When Aero Glass is disabled, the system uses the GDI method that Windows XP uses to draw the desktop.

When Aero Glass is disabled, try to reproduce the performance issue to see whether the problem still occurs.

If you no longer experience performance problems, the hardware may be unable to use Aero Glass to produce an optimal visual experience with Windows Vista. If you want to use Aero Glass and to avoid an adverse effect on performance, you must upgrade your hardware. In this case, you most likely have to upgrade the computer's video card.

If you decide to upgrade the video card, make sure that the card that you selected has the "Certified for Windows Vista" logo. To view this logo, visit the following Microsoft Web site:
http://www.microsoft.com/windows/products/windowsvista/buyorupgrade/logo.mspx
 If you continue to experience performance problems, the issue most likely is not related to Aero Glass. In this case, you must re-enable Aero Glass before you continue to troubleshoot the performance problem. To do this, follow these steps:
  1. In Windows Vista, right-click the desktop, and then click Personalize.
  2. Click Windows Color and Appearance.
  3. Click Open classic appearance properties for more color options.
  4. Under Color scheme, select another color scheme (Do not select Windows Vista Basic.), and then click OK.
You may have to contact your computer manufacturer or hardware vendor to determine whether your computer supports Windows Vista, or whether there are any updates that must be installed to make the computer compatible.

Step 7: Start the computer in safe mode

When you start the computer in safe made, you can determine whether the cause of the startup-related performance issue is related to a background service or to a driver.

To start in safe mode, follow these steps:
  1. Remove all floppy disks, CDs, and DVDs from your computer, and then restart your computer.
  2. Click Start
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    Start button
    , click the arrow next to the Lock button, and then click Restart.
  3. Press and hold the F8 key as your computer restarts.

    Note You have to press F8 before the Windows logo appears. If the Windows logo appears, you must try to restart your computer. To do this, wait until the Windows logon prompt appears, and then shut down and restart your computer.
  4. On the Advanced Boot Options screen, use the arrow keys to select the Safe Mode option, and then press ENTER.
  5. Log on to your computer by using a user account that has administrator rights.
If the problem continues after you start the computer in safe mode, the problem may occur for one or more of the following reasons:
  • There is a problem with underpowered or faulty hardware.
  • There is a problem with a driver that is installed.
  • There is a problem with an operating system component.
If you can verify that the problem continues to occur when you start the computer in safe mode, restart the computer in normal mode, and go to the next troubleshooting step.

Step 8: Perform clean-boot troubleshooting

If you verify that the performance issue does not occur in safe mode, start Windows Vista in a clean-boot environment to determine the programs or the services that are causing the issue. This process will systematically eliminate any of the third-party services or applications that are running on the system that could potentially be the cause of the problem.

For more information about how to perform clean-boot troubleshooting in Windows Vista, click the following article number to view the article in the Microsoft Knowledge Base:
929135 How to troubleshoot a problem by performing a clean boot in Windows Vista

Properties

Article ID: 950685 - Last Review: July 16, 2012 - Revision: 1.0
Applies to
  • Windows Vista Business
  • Windows Vista Starter
  • Windows Vista Ultimate
  • Windows Vista Home Premium
  • Windows Vista Home Basic
  • Windows Vista Enterprise
  • Windows Vista Enterprise 64-bit Edition
  • Windows Vista Home Premium 64-bit Edition
  • Windows Vista Home Basic 64-bit Edition
  • Windows Vista Ultimate 64-bit Edition
  • Windows Vista Business 64-bit Edition
  • Windows Vista Business N
  • Windows Vista Home Basic N 64-bit Edition
  • Windows Vista Home Basic N
  • Windows Vista Business N 64-bit Edition
Keywords: 
kbhowto kbexpertiseinter kbinfo KB950685

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