Vista was one of Microsoft’s most disappointing operating systems in recent years. However, according to Wikipedia, approximately 8.37% of computer users still use Windows Vista as of April 2012. That’s only a few percentage points behind all Mac operating systems combined, although it lags far behind Windows 7’s 39% and Windows XP’s 26%.

If you want to get the most out of your Windows Vista-based computer, then you need to learn how to speed up your PC. Today, we’re going to show you some free tips that will help you do just that.

Disable Windows features you don’t use

This tip rings true for every Windows operating system ever made. By disabling extra Windows features, you can squeeze quite a bit of extra performance out of your system.

Go to your Start menu and find the Control Panel. Select Programs and then click on Turn Windows Features On and Off. From this menu, you’ll see all sorts of things that you don’t really need to use. For example, we’re betting most of you don’t use your Windows Vista computer as a tablet PC, so you can safely disable the Tablet PC Optional Components folder. Uncheck the box beside that folder to disable it, as well as any other applications that you think you don’t need (like Windows Meeting Space)

If you’re unsure of what each Windows feature does, then you can always Google it to find out more.

Looking for a free RAM upgrade? Try ReadyBoost instead

Most PC users know that a RAM upgrade can significantly improve their system’s performance. While RAM is cheap (generally under $50 for a good upgrade package), many people want to avoid spending any money on their computers. People like that can use a new feature in Windows Vista called ReadyBoost.

ReadyBoost effectively uses a flash drive as an extra source of memory. While it’s not as fast as RAM itself, it should be faster than your hard drive’s PageFile (which your computer also uses as a secondary source of memory).

To access ReadyBoost, plug in a USB stick and go to your Start menu. Search for services in the search field and find ReadyBoost in the list of commands that appear. Then, click on the Startup type drop-down menu and choose Enabled.

Disable startup services

Windows Vista’s startup can be notoriously slow. This is often due to the number of programs you have installed on your system. To reduce the number of programs that boot whenever your computer starts up, go to your Start menu and type in msconfig. Select the Startup tab and pick and choose which programs you actually use.

You might have old messaging programs in this list that you never use any more, or resource-hogging antivirus applications. By unchecking a few of these, you should be able to reduce your startup time by a noticeable amount of time.

Use vLite or PC Cleaner Pro to finalize the cleanup process

Once you’ve followed the tips listed above and performed basic PC maintenance tasks (like cleaning out malware and defragmenting your hard drive), you may want to turn to more advanced solutions.

A program called vLite can strip out many of Vista’s unnecessary applications, like Windows Mail and Windows Media Player. This noticeably improves performance while reducing the amount of hard drive space that Vista needs to use.

Meanwhile, PC Cleaner Pro provides a fantastic performance upgrade for your PC – all for less than the price of a new stick of RAM. It scans hundreds of areas of your computer for any sort of optimization problem and then alerts you when there are changes to be made.

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