Windows 7 is the most powerful and best implemented Microsoft operating system to date, but with a few light touches of advanced customization, it is possible to free up resources and speed up your computer considerably.
When we turn on the PC for the first time or we have just installed the operating system, everything goes very smoothly. But with the passage of time and daily use, the installation gradually degrades and we lose a good part of the performance that we enjoyed at the beginning.
The Windows Registry, the processes that run in the background and the services that are loaded by default at every start, among other components, are some of the sections that we can “touch” to easily optimize our operating system. With this we will achieve both a faster start and shutdown as well as greater stability in normal operation.
In addition, using a USB key to manage virtual memory or taking full advantage of the most powerful configurations to optimize the paging file , we can go further. And of course, on older machines, it’s also easy to free up load on components by adjusting visuals , removing fonts you don’t normally use, or stopping the indexing service.
1. Eliminate superfluous keys
Every time we install or uninstall a program, the Windows Registry adds information that, in the long run, can cause inconsistencies that end up being detrimental to the stability and fluidity of the system. Without going any further, despite the fact that we have removed a program from our computer, it may have left a trace with the use preferences or other technical parameters.
One of the most comfortable and effective options is to resort to external registry optimization and defragmentation software, such as TuneUp Utilities (www.tuneup.es) or CCleaner (www.piriform.com/ccleaner), but with some advanced knowledge, we can do it also manually.
To do this, in the search box of the Start menu we will launch the regedit command and the Windows Registry will open . As any operation of this type can be really delicate if we do not know what we are doing, the first thing will be to make a copy of the Registry, entering File / Export and indicating a name for the backup that we will generate. In Interval of exploration, we will mark All and we can save. To restore it, just double click on the .reg file that we obtain.
Now that we have everything safe, let’s review what is in each branch. The first one, HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT, contains all the established file associations (for example, that a .doc document is opened with Word), although in reality all we see are shortcuts to the HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINES \ Software \ Classes path. Precisely, in HKEY_CURRENT_USER \ Software is where the applications create their entries, so if we detect any of some software that we have already uninstalled, we can delete it without problems.
In HKEY_CURRENT_USER we will see the system configuration information and the user software with which we have logged in, with what we modify will only affect us. From here, we can customize what is shown in the Control Panel, the installation directories, the network settings, etc.
For its part, HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE focuses on what affects the hardware and controllers of the PC, while HKEY_CURRENT_CONFIG is a dynamic branch, in which entries are created on the fly, according to the applications that we are running at that time and the services of Windows that are in use.
2. Accelerates computer startup
To gain valuable seconds every time we turn on our computer, we have several options. The first is available from the Registry, within the HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE \ Software \ Microsoft category. From there we can see all the services that start automatically as soon as the operating system starts. By right-clicking, we will remove the ones we don’t want to keep.
The other is more secure and intuitive, and is accessed from the MSConfig utility (we can search for it and run it from the Start menu). Once the main window of this utility is opened, the Windows Start tab will show a list of all the applications that run when the system starts, and simply by marking or unchecking the ones that interest us, we will complete the operation (totally reversible, for other part).
Finally, we can also download a free utility, AutoRuns for Windows, from Microsoft’s own website, more complete than MSConfig and with options that go beyond startup programs, covering other components.
3. All for faster shutdown
In addition to speeding up the startup, in our hands is the possibility of making the system shutdown faster. Specifically, when we are going to close Windows, a signal is sent to all running processes and applications to stop them, and as a preventive measure, there is a set time in which the system waits for a response (in fact, when it does not establish such communication is when the annoying warning appears to force the closing or to continue waiting).
From the Registry, we can modify this period of time and indicate that, in case of delay, everything stops automatically and the system is turned off or restarted, although we run the risk of losing information if we have not saved the documents that we had open. Specifically, we will create within the HKEY_CURRENT_USER \ Control Panel \ Desktop branch an entry of type String Value (from the Edit / New menu bar) with the name WaitToKillAppTimeout. We right-click on it and, in Value information, we will enter a number in milliseconds, so if, for example, we only want to wait a maximum of 5 seconds, we will write 5,000.
4. Manage your paging file
The Windows virtual memory is used to store data temporarily programs and processes that are in use and require additional space in main memory. To manage it, a paging file is created on the hard disk, so access ends up being somewhat slower (unless we have an SSD solid state disk). With the current configurations, in which the most common is to have more than 4 Gbytes of memory, we can make all this data run directly in it and thus gain some performance.
To change this parameter we go to the Registry and look for the entry HKEY_ LOCAL_MACHINE \ SYSTEM \ CurrentControlSet \ Control \ Session Manager \ Memory Management. There, we double click on DisablePagingExecutive and we will change the Information of the value from 0 to 1. After rebooting the system, the changes will be applied and we will have optimized the paging file.
5. Deactivate background processes
When our team is up and running, a multitude of processes run in the background. Some are typical of the operating system and others depend on the programs that we have open at that time, but it may also be the case that, once closed, they leave some operational trace.
Pressing the key combination Ctrl + Alt + Delete we will access the Task Manager, and, in Processes, we will be able to see them all and the amount of RAM and CPU they consume. If any have become unstable (we will know from excessive use of resources) you can close it by clicking on End Process . However, if there has been an error, Windows may be unable to stop them.