Windows Vista: Time for a Revival?

May 24, 2012: Windows Vista - a Second Look

In light of Windows XP sunsetting in April 2014, I'm giving Windows Vista a second look.   Many of my customers buy refurbished business class PC's, and the majority of them are branded with Windows Vista Business COA stickers.   Vista has a sunset date of April 17, 2017.  This buys you time so you don't necessarily have to upgrade to Windows 7, which adds about $150 to your refurbished PC.  Vista Business seems inherently more stable than Vista Home Premium.  However, part of Vista Home Premium's instability and troubleprone history relates to its environment - the Home user attracts more viruses, malware, and software overload than a typical business user.  Therefore I consider Vista Home Premium a "lost cause," though some of the speed-up tips here may be helpful for the home user.

Some things I do to improve upon the of Vista performance:

Consider disabling Superfetch.  There's admittedly a lot of controversy over the merits of doing this.  Since it is relatively painless to enable and disable (through the Services panel) feel free to experiment to see if it helps your specific situation.  One thought - since Superfetch tries to "guess" what program you run, and you have say a 5400 rpm laptop hard drive, the hard drive is saturated due to constant head seeking; so is the cache benefit worth the slowdown in the disk channel?  Maybe not, unless if you have an SSD, Hybrid, or 7200 rpm hard drive.

Why disabling Superfetch to improve performance is a myth:

Turn off Remote Differential Compression, especially if there are no other Windows Vista/7 PC's in the environment.

Turn off Tablet PC support.  Unfortunately this also turns off Snipping Tools, which is helpful for some users.  If you do not have a touch screen or tablet pc there is no benefit, other than the Snipping Tools.
What Snipping Tool Does:

TCP/IP Tuning if you use the Ethernet Lan (wired network connection), of special interest are the TCP Offload functions.

Hide Dotnet framework updates that I do not need, they will not install, and you will have fewer Windows updates.  I normally disable Dotnet Framework 4.0, sometimes Dotnet Framework 3.5. If you use software that uses Dotnet Framework, unfortunately you have to install it.  For example, Quickbooks 2012 requires Dotnet Framework 4.0.  I believe the Dotnet Framework and its endless patches cancerous to the PC, due to installation and operational issues which often arise.  

Change the Restore Points maximum size.  Instead of System Restore gobbling up to 15% of your hard drive, change it to 1 or 2 gigabytes maximum. Vista's System Restore has had a dubious reputation of frequently failing so minimize its capacity, it may actually help it.

Consider turning off user account control (I know, this is a bad idea in general), and install Erunt to make daily registry backups.  This will help since System Restore is broken most of the time, and it gives you a backup set of Windows Registries.  The alternative of leaving it on will cause ERUNT's automatic registry backup at power-on fail to do its backup, however you could launch it "on demand" which will create an elevation prompt, however you have to remind yourself to do this.

Consider using an Advanced Format Hard Drive, or an SSD.  If working on a laptop, definitely go with a 7200 rpm hard drive (or SSD), not a 5400 rpm (Advanced Format magnetic platter laptop hard drives aren't on the horizon, yet).   While you could try to image from an old hard drive, and using a sector alignment tool.  However, I find fresh installs, allowing Vista to partition the blank drive (don't partition/format from XP) provide a speedier user experience.  This is because Vista/Win7 takes advantage of the advanced format capabilities, which helps in the performance department. If you can load from a Vista DVD that has Sp1 or Sp2 slipstreamed, as advanced format was introduced in Service Pack 1.

Consider lighter weight security software, such as PrevX, instead of a signature based product, such as McAfee or Norton.  You could combine it with Malware Bytes paid product, with TCP/IP blocking of bad websites (the remaining active features disabled).

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