Windows Tweaks and Advice of Doubtful Value

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Anand Khanse is the Admin of TheWindowsClub.com, a 10-year Microsoft MVP Awardee in Windows (2006-16) & a Windows Insider MVP. Please read the entire post & the comments first, create a System Restore Point before making any changes to your system & be careful about any 3rd-party offers while installing freeware.

15 Comments

  1. Toph

    Enlightening! Thank you, Anand. The only program I use to keep my laptop clean is CCleaner. And every once in a while, I take a look at USERS folders to remove traces of uninstalled programs.

  2. Dan

    In the Age of Windows 8 and 8.1, and the tech they sit on, you’re mostly spot-on with this article!

    Now, say you’re talking about the “geezer” Windows 7 Home Premium SP1 three-year-old NTFS dual core, non-hyperthreading (push me/pull you) laptop I’m on, with its spinning disk limited to 500GB raw space before Windows and everything else goes on it…boo-yeah, you’ve got to be a space miser to get bigger apps to run right or at all especially with a security suite needing pagefile of 1.5X to no more than 3X installed RAM (which is a whole 4GB RAM, with 1.6GB video RAM in Intel chipset gpu!).

    By saving work to disks or USB, this naturally leaves a lot of free space constantly open in range 400-424GB; as long as virtual doesn’t fall far below that no worries, but lots of my apps want keep-alives, constant updating, or high priority from Windows…so as I add more layers and effects to digital art, for example, even a pre-export image sitting in GIMP at around 1GB in size makes things slower and sometimes stresses even up-to-date display driver…could be why the “Windows Experience” rating for graphics ALWAYS scores 3.4 with all else around 7 out of 9. While the display driver/gpu issue can be isolated to the standalone video RAM issue, other apps compete with each other in HDD virtual memory…if not enough space to work in as “co-supremes”, they get slow or crash, and their opinion of “enough space” appears different from ours as they can’t send multiple all-at-once threads, having to line up in push me/pull you CPU qeues.

    So for me, a pagefile set to 1.5X installed HDD RAM and CCleaner do the space trick. Also helpful in my case is OCCASIONAL use of Free Registry Defrag, and of Defraggler (which is manual)…the native defrag is way too slow, and too many current “optimizers” keep CONSTANTLY defragging which constantly reduces pagefile free space and often leads to page fault BSODs…in a case like mine.

    Apart from these few things, even with me the balance of your observations remain true, and warn of what hamfisted playing with what are actually security issues can lead to; while some useless registry keys indeed need removal, too many AV/reg cleaners wouldn’t even know if a key with an old app’s name isn’t shared by Windows/other apps, yet they yank it; pagefile deletion happens at shutdown if an app wants it to delete, which can really prolong shutdown time simply to remove some session data; disabling dns degrades service just to get rid of same data CCleaner does; and the rest of things you talked about indeed are hairsplitting “timesavers” if anything at all.

    I’d say if your case is like mine, set your pagefile to no more than 3X HDD RAM, get CCleaner and learn it or buy support version, use Advanced Uninstaller for uninstalling fairly safely apps and leftover junk, and run Defraggler once in a while…from my own trial and error I can attest you’re not missing out on much not using some latest fad optimizer. If you just have to be more certain that literally NO data will fall into a thief’s or spyware’s hands, get , learn and use Privazer.

    Phew! What a bag of wind just to say of Mr. Khanse: “He’s right, you know that?”.

  3. Ohboy… here we go again, Anand. [grin]

    We’ve talked about some of these, and as you know, I disagree with the notion that registry and junk file cleaning doesn’t improve speed and performance. The only reason, as I’ve elsewhere written here, that many people can’t see it on their machines is because todays’ machines are so much faster, and their hard drives so much larger, that even when their both registries and hard drives are all clogged-up with stuff, they still perform well.

    But just fill-up the hard drive to pretty much anything more than halfway; or connect several external USB-connected hard drives so that Windows Explorer must deal with many volumes, and you’ll be able to see how cleaning things up can speed things up in a big hurry.

    As for the other stuff you cited, yeah… I pretty much agree; though at least a few of them are also only unnecessary because machines are just so fast, now; and their hard drives so large that most users rarely get ’em even one-quarter full, much less half. Again, until a drive — any drive — is around half-or-more full, it can be peppy even if it’s clogged to the gills with junk.

    And you’re also right about RAM or memory optimizers…

    …except for one: CleanMem | http://bit.ly/1nv2Vti

    And that’s only because it runs so differently from any other. Unlike all others, it never sits in RAM, or in the system tray. Once installed, the scheduler simply fires it every however many minutes. And it really does work; really does remove crap from RAM. Just because Windows 7 (and now 8) is better than any previous version at managing RAM doesn’t mean that there still aren’t idiot programmers out there who don’t ensure that their software doesn’t leave pieces of itself in RAM after their apps are closed. The problem of how Windows handles hooks has never changed, and remains, today. So having something like CleanMem to grab ’em and yank ’em — kicking and screaming, if need be — is still a good idea.

    But here’s the thing: Right around the time Win7 came out (actually, it was happening during Vista), machines began to get just so fast, and hard drives so large, that one may hardly tell the difference, anymore, between a machine running CleanMem, and one that’s not running it. So whether even CleanMem is really needed, anymore, is an admittedly good question. The reason I still use it is because of the earlier-mentioned hooks thing. Just because my machine’s now so fast that I can’t notice how crap left hanging in RAM slows anything down doesn’t mean that I like it hanging there. I want it out, just as a matter of priciple, even if I can’t see a performance difference once it’s gone. So I keep using CleanMem; but I admit that it’s less needed now than ever before.

    Also, yes, while it’s true that doing things like disabliing services and killing DLLs is dubious, what really CAN help speed things up is controlling what’s allowed to auto-start with Windows, using something like SysInternals’s freeware “AutoRuns” utility. No one may argue that the more stuff you’ve got running, the slow can become the machine. That’s been true since the days of old MS-DOS/PC-DOS, and it has never changed, no matter what version of Windows you’re talking about. All that’s changed is, again, that today’s machines are so fast, have so much RAM, and have such large hard drives which tend to never get past that critical and system-slowing half-full point, that even with tons of stuff auto-starting and running, the machine’s still acceptably fast. But that doesn’t mean that unnecessary stuff which auto-starts with Windows isn’t, technically, slowing things down. It simply means that the power and speed of the machine makes it so that one can’t as easily notice, and so one can easily just not care.

    So, then, that kinda’ brings us to the real bottom line of these kinds of tweaks: Yes, some of them really do serve no purpose… never did. But others of them actually do speed things up; but whether or not they’re really even necessary anymore, given how fast are today’s machines, is a whole ‘nuther question. Being as anally-retentive as I am, I don’t like knowing that there’s stuff clogging-up anything; and so I at LEAST periodically registry and crap file clean. And I watch-out what I allow to auto-start with Windows using AutoRuns. And I still use CleanMem even though even I can no longer detect, by my machine’s performance, that it speeds-up anything; it’s just that I know what it actually does, and I want that done, performance results be damned.

    The rest of it, yeah… you’re pretty much right.

    __________________________________
    Gregg L. DesElms
    Napa, California USA
    gregg at greggdeselms dot com

    Veritas nihil veretur nisi abscondi.
    Veritas nimium altercando amittitur.

  4. Anonymous

    These are the kind of tweaks that TWC is famous for. Useless tweaks that often the author does not know what they do. TWC should focus more on quality not pseudo fix or tweak articles for ad revenue and traffic.

  5. Caleb

    Great post. Most of these tweaks may have made sense earlier, but now after Windows 7, one doesn’t really need to tweak the system.

  6. ADAMAS

    ADANANK..HAI SCRITTO COSE GIUSTE ED UTILI.IN PRATICA SU WINDOWS 8 ,ED 8.1, NON SERVE ULLA PER OTTIMIZZARE PULIRE,DEFRag. MA SE SI VUOLE INTEGRARE W-8 CON UN OTTIMIZZIATORE ,GLOBALE, DI TERZE PARTI…QUALI SUGGERISCI. GRAZIE.CORDIALMENTE.DR.ADAMO ADAMAS KADMON

  7. Fran

    Wow, thanks! I’ve been a big idiot on unloading dlls and I never knew about all this stuff. I use CCleaner and it’s never seemed to harm my system. I’m running IObit defrag, though, which defrags the boot files every seven days and keeps the hard drive (supposedly) constantly optimized; maybe I shouldn’t? I’d better get on the forum about this.

  8. You may continue to use CCleaner. I too use it occasionally to clean out junk. Although the built-in Windows Defragmenter does a good job, no harm done if you use IObit.

  9. Tweakhound’s is a good resource. Thanks for posting the link.

  10. chuck

    Pretty sure it would be more more accurate to apply the label of “Doubtful Value” to this article.

  11. Please be specific. Which of these tweaks do you think adds value.

  12. GoneFishing

    chuck’s non-specific, hit-and-run comment cracks me up!! LOL!!

  13. Gerald K

    Some people do any tip they find online in hopes of speeding up their pc. This article is very informative.

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