My tweak tips to make Vista snappier (and to work better with audio recording).
These tips might apply to Windows 7 as well.
Note1: When I write “control panel”, I mean in the “classic view”.
Note2: Sometimes I mention something called the “administrative tools”. I have added this menu to the start menu by right clicking the windows taskbar, select properties->start menu->customize. Here you can add “administrative tools” to the start menu.
First, here are some tips to make Vista run smooth for everyday use :
Use a rather lightweight antivirus program, for example Avast.
Disable Windows Defender (one virus protector is enough for me, and this will also minimize the number of updates with Windows Update)
Don’t use Windows Media Player. It keeps track of your media library and sometimes runs in the background without your knowing. I don’t know if I’ve managed to keep it from starting at all, in any case, I have removed all media from the folder it keeps track of and that helps. There are other better free media players out there like VLC and Winamp.
Control panel ->Indexing options: Set it to only include the folders you need to search fast. You can also disable it completely in Services (read further down).
Control panel->Power Options->Change plan settings. Change advanced settings. Here, make sure your CPU always runs at 100% frequency (when connected to power). On many laptops, your CPU will sometimes just run at half of the speed.
Control panel->system->Advanced system settings->performance: Here you can try out different settings to see if it affects your performance. I have disabled all of the animations in the user interface. That makes it feel a lot snappier.
Set Windows Update to never do anything automatically, I want control over when my system starts to take resources and possibly wants to restart.
Don’t use Internet Explorer. Anything else is faster. My own favourite is Firefox.
Run Administrative tools->System configuration. (See note 2 above). In both Startup and Services, go through the entries, search for them on the internet and try to decide which you really need. In Startup, I have disabled 12 entries, and in Services I have disabled 5.
Buy more and faster memory (you should have at least 2GB). Also note that if you have different kinds of memory modules, the order in which they are installed can affect the performance. If you have shared memory for the graphics, the graphics performance can also be affected. Run the benchmark test for your performance index number to see how your changes affect the performance (available under Control panel->System).
In case you have some technical knowhow, then you can upgrade your processor for a better one (preferably a cheap second had CPU like I did). It’s simpler that you think. If upgrading from Vista to Windows 7 is your option, a second hand CPU will most likely give you a much bigger performance boost for less money. (It’s a matter of finding your motherboard’s specifications on the internet, finding a faster cpu that will work according those specs and reading up on the net on how to install it and what you need.)
You probably know that there are various cpu meters you can have in the windows sidebar, but they won’t tell you what process (or program) that is using the cpu. If your cpu meter starts to show that something is going on and you want to know what happens, here are two tips: Right click the windows taskbar, select the Task Manager. Press the “processes” tab. Press “show processes from all users”. Now you can see the current cpu usage of all different programs. The other thing you can do is to start “administrative tools -> reliability and performance monitor” ; now click on “CPU”, here you will see the average cpu usage of the processes that uses most cpu time.
You can also reach these two tools from control panel->performance information and tools->advanced system settings.
Real time performance
Now, here are changes for better performance of time critical real time applications, for example ASIO audio recording:
Turn off all programs (except for your time critical application of course). Turn of all programs you maybe not think of, for example the Windows Sidebar, MSN Messenger, Skype, any email client etc.
Control panel->Device Manager. Find your network card and disable it. This means that no programs will reach the internet and start to download updates or whatever.
Disable the run time protection of your antivirus. As you just blocked all network traffic and just will run ONE program, not much is going to happen to your safety.
Even though disk defragmentation only takes place when the computer is idle and then only runs as a low priority task, it could be a good idea to check when the next defragmentation is scheduled. All programs->Utilities->System tools-> Disk Defragmenter
When you are done with your time critical session, turn these things back as they were or to your liking.
Free tools on the net
DPC Latency Checker is a tool to see if your computer is suited for real time recording. In a graph, you will notice any latency spikes. You can use this tool while turning of different things on your computer to see if your latency gets better.
Latency Test Utility is a tool to measure your real latency! Your ASIO buffers don’t say everything; further delay is introduced by your A/D and D/A converters. Connect your analogue output to one of your analogue inputs and start the program. With an ASIO buffer of 5.8ms (256 samples), I’m getting a round-trip latency of 12.8ms. With a buffer of 2.9ms (128 samples), I’m getting a total latency of 7.0ms. But then I’m getting audio dropouts if I scroll around a lot with the graphics, so I prefer the 256 samples setting with my Maya44-mk2 card.