Windows Tweaks and Advice of Doubtful Value

There are some Windows tweaks and advice which can at best be considered to be of doubtful value. Though most of them may not cause much harm, some of them, may actually hurt performance. Some of them may have worked with older Windows versions, but are redundant now. Frankly speaking, the best “tweak” is to improve performance is to throw RAM at it! Or else even one simple thing like ‘reducing start ups’ will make a lot of difference in performance.

Dubious Windows Tweaks & Advice

Here is a list of some tweaks or advice which have no value or are of doubtful value.

dubious-windows-advice

Use Registry Cleaner or Optimizer to make Windows run faster

Using a safe registry cleaner to remove orphaned and left-over registry entries, is fine. But do not expect Windows to run faster. If you are using a Registry Cleaner with a view to speeding up your system, it may not really help. If your registry had been corrupted or has a problem, it is unlikely that using a registry optimizer will make that problem go away. If you are trying to remove the residual registry junk; yes it may have its own use.

Do not go blindly with the changes, which some 1-click optimizers recommend. Most such software normally ask you if you would like to perform the optimization with a single click, or if you would like to check each suggestion, before accepting it. Go for the latter option and check each of the recommendations, and only if you are sure what the tweak does, should you allow the change.

Hmm… Are Registry Cleaners good or bad.

Clear Junk files and make Windows perform better

Deleting junk files in general, is a good idea from the point of good PC maintenance and house-keeping. But some people like to go on cleaning rampages with the mind-set that they are improving performance. All they are doing is freeing disk space, since NTFS performance does not degrade with increased file numbers. Windows is not going to perform better just because you deleted junk files.

Cleaning or tweaking the Prefetch Folder

Every time you clean up the Prefetch folder, you delay application load times, the next time you launch them. Its only after the second time that you regain optimal application load times. Only one Prefetch file is created per application. Windows cleans this folder at 128 entries, down to the 32 most used Application’s prefetcher files.  In Windows Vista and later, this folder does not occupy more than around 50MB. Cleaning the Prefetcher can therefore be construed actually as a temporary self-inflicted un-optimization. Now why would you want to do that? The developers of the memory management system, in recent versions of Windows have done a good job and so it is best you leave the Prefetcher alone.

Read more on the Prefetch Folder.

Disabling Certain Services to speed up Windows

Don’t take this advice to its extremes, for in fact this could actually cripple your system.

For instance Disabling the Task Scheduler to improve performance actually prevents the Prefetcher and the Layout.ini file from forming or being updated, forcing, inter alia, longer application startup times.

Never ever shutdown the System Restore Service… because you never know when it may save your day.

Disabling the DNS Client Service may decrease the overall performance of the client computer, and the network traffic for DNS queries increases if the DNS resolver cache is deactivated. This effectively reduces Internet Performance for sites you have previously visited and puts an unnecessary load on your ISP’s DNS server.

These are just a few examples. So do refer a good Services Guide like Black Vipers before you decide to disable Services. Windows 7, Windows Vista, Windows XP users may use our freeware SMART, a utility for tweaking Windows Services. It is based on the Black Vipers guide. Shutting down services indiscriminately is a sure shot prescription for trouble.

Always Unload DLL to free up memory

Using this tweak on Windows XP/Vista/7/8/10 has absolutely no effect. This registry key is no longer supported in all post-2000 Windows OS’s.

The ReadyBoost Tweak

Several ways being suggested on the net as to how to make your USB ReadyBoost compatible by changing the value of Device Status to 2, ReadSpeedKBs to 1000, WriteSpeedKBs to 1000 in the registry key HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE /SOFTWARE /Microsoft /Windows-NT /CurrentVersion /EMDgmt

But using such methods only fools Windows into thinking that such USB drive are ReadyBoost compatible. Expect no performance gains in such cases.

Tweak Solid State Drives to improve performance

Tweaking SSDs will bring no real performance improvements in Windows 8/10. It is best to leave the values at their defaults.

Read about Superfetch & Prefetch for SSD in Windows.

Process Idle Tasks to clear memory and make PC run faster

Does Rundll32.exe advapi32.dll,ProcessIdleTasks really clear memory? Not really! This command simply puts Windows into an idle state, enabling it to perform tasks that it wouldn’t otherwise normally do while the PC is in use

Read the misconceptions about Rundll32.exe advapi32.dll,ProcessIdleTasks.

Disable Quality of Service to increase bandwidth

QoS allows Windows to set priorities to its traffic. By default, programs can reserve up to an aggregate bandwidth of 20% of the underlying link speed on a computer.The Windows Operating System reserves a fixed percentage of the total Internet bandwidth for the QOS or Quality of Service usage like Windows update, license renewal, etc. But disabling QoS will not lead to an increase in network bandwidth. Microsoft has already clarified long back about this:

One hundred percent of the network bandwidth is available to be shared by all programs unless a program specifically requests priority bandwidth. This “reserved” bandwidth is still available to other programs unless the requesting program is sending data. By default, programs can reserve up to an aggregate bandwidth of 20 percent of the underlying link speed on each interface on an end computer. If the program that reserved the bandwidth is not sending sufficient data to use it, the unused part of the reserved bandwidth is available for other data flows on the same host.

Read more on how to configure & limit Reservable Bandwidth Setting In Windows using Group Policy.

RAM or Memory Optimizers

Memory Optimizers claim to free up memory that is not being used or is being unnecessarily used by idle processes. Memory Optimizers move computer memory data into the virtual memory or Page File and thus trick users into believing that they freed up computer memory. You may have noticed that your computer in fact appears to be unresponsive after you have used some RAM Optimizer. Using Memory Optimizers may actually degrade performance.

So then… Do Memory Optimizers work?

Reduce Windows Boot Time with Advanced Boot

This tweak advised you to open msconfig > Advanced tab > Advanced button and change the Number of processors to 2 or 4, instead of 1. This too makes no difference, and it all depends on your system configuration.

Know of any tweaks or advice that you consider as bad or of doubtful value? Please do share here for the benefit of others.

If you are a tweak enthusiast, you may want to read this post on how to make Windows Startup, Run, Shutdown Faster.

Post updated and ported from WinVistaClub

Posted by on , in Category Windows with Tags
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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