Summary: Optimizing Microsoft Windows Performance

This article discusses the most common causes of slow performance and how to troubleshoot those issues.

Automated Performance Diagnostics

Automatically diagnose and fix common causes of poor system performance, such as the following:

  • Power saver settings

  • Running multiple anti-virus programs

  • Having too many users logged on to the computer

To download and run this automated troubleshooter, click the Fix this problem link:

Tuning System Performance in Vista

There are several tasks you can perform when using Vista to improve slow performance. Vista contains built-in-features that allow you to manage potential slow performance issues. These include:

  • Deleting programs you never use

  • Limiting how many programs load at startup

  • Running fewer programs at the same time

  • Turning off visual effects

  • Restarting regularly

  • Checking for viruses and spyware

  • Checking your computer’s speed

  • Disabling services you don’t need

To learn more about these features, please refer to Windows Help Article: "Optimize Windows Vista for better performance".

The left pane of Performance Information and Tools includes tasks that can help you improve your computer's performance. For more information on using these tasks, please refer to Windows Help Article: "Ways to improve your computer's performance".

There are several tasks you can perform to maximize already good performance. These include:

  • Ensuring that you have adequate RAM

  • Ensuring that you have an adequate virtual-memory configuration

  • Using ReadyBoost

  • Managing startup programs

  • Keeping your disks defragmented

  • Maintaining adequate free space on your disks

  • Avoiding tweaks of dubious value

For specific information about how to maximize Windows Vista's performance, please refer to Windows Help Article: "Get maximum performance from Windows Vista".

Microsoft Windows Vista contains a built-in-diagnostics feature that assists in managing potential slow performance issues. To learn more about it, refer to Microsoft's "Built-in Diagnostics" page.

Troubleshooting Recently Added Software

If software has been recently installed and the computer is running slowly, refer to the following troubleshooting wizard for assistance: Programs Do Not Run As Expected Wizard ID: 322121.

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This does not apply to software programs that were pre-installed on your computer.

Identifying and Troubleshooting Malware and Viruses

The computer may be slow because of "malware." Malware includes a variety of harmful programs which include spyware, adware and viruses that can interfere with standard computer operation. If malware is suspected, refer to the following link:

For more information on identifying and removing malware, click the following article number to view the article in the Microsoft Knowledge Base:

129972 Computer viruses: description, prevention, and recovery

Cleaning Your Hard Drive to Improve System Performance

If the hard drive is full of unnecessary files, it can cause the computer to have slow performance. Typically, a hard drive with less than 20% free space will run slowly. "Cleaning" the hard drive by reducing the number of files may help improve performance.

To learn how to "clean" your computer's hard disk drive, refer to the following Microsoft Help and How-to article, "Delete Files Using Disk Cleanup".

General Troubleshooting for Slow Performance

To troubleshoot slow performance on your computer, the following articles are available from the Microsoft Knowledge Base:

950684 How to troubleshoot performance issues during startup in Windows Vista

950685 How to troubleshoot performance issues in Windows Vista

950686 How to troubleshoot performance issues with standby, hibernate, and resume in Windows Vista"

Upgrade Memory to Improve Slow Performance

If the computer is still running slowly after ruling out malware, recent software installations, and inadequate hard disk space, the problem may likely be a hardware issue.

Consider upgrading the computer memory. 512 MB is adequate for basic Windows usage. Memory-intensive tasks such as games, media applications, or productivity software, often require more memory.

Contact your computer manufacturer or a computer technician for more information on how to purchase and install more RAM memory for your computer.

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