Windows Vista Optimization

A few months ago I upgraded an older PC with Microsoft’s newest Operating System (OS) called Windows Vista (Home Premimum Edition). My older PC has 256MB of dedicated video memory, 1GB of RAM, and a 2.4GHz Intel Processor. Vista ran very sluggish and gets unresponsive with a few browsers tabs open and couple of programs running, so I became frustrated. There is something good found in everything, so I was dedicated to make this OS purr. The irony was that I was also contributing sections to a new Windows Vista Technician’s User Guide. The design applications to write my sections of the manual ran so slow on Vista, I had to figure it out. The following information applies to Windows Vista Home Premium, Business, and Ultimate editions.

Here are some ideas and tricks that I used to optimize Windows Vista:

  • Minimizing and Maximizing Windows
    Once you start using Vista, you will notice there is animation sequence that happens as you minimize and maximize a window or vice versa. It makes the transition look smooth but takes up 100% of your processor to accomplish the task. The animation has to process, allocate memory, execute it, and then the window reacts. This sluggish response to just moving between windows becomes annoying with just a few windows open. Stopping this animation will be the biggest noticeable change you can make.

    Follow these steps to stop the animation:

    1. Select the Start Button, enter “SystemPropertiesPerformance” into
      the Start Search Box, and press Enter
    2. On the Visual Effects tab, uncheck Animate Windows When Minimizing/Maximizing
    3. Select OK to apply the settings

  • Window Transparency
    The windows in Vista are transparent around the top edges to accomplish a 3D experience as you notice whats behind the window. The effect works and looks great although it takes up RAM and processing power to update the transparency effect as things change.

    Follow these steps to turn off window transparency:

    1. Right-click on the Desktop and select Personalize
    2. Select Windows Color And Appearance
    3. Uncheck Enable Transparency
    4. Select OK to apply the settings

  • Windows Vista Services
    There are services that run in the background that process data, user actions, and protect the stability of the PC. Some of these are just not needed. On a new install almost all of them are installed and running. You can safely stop some services that will free up system resources. Follow the procedures at your own risk and only disable services that you actually don’t need.

    Here are few services that you can safely disable:

    1. Windows Defender
    2. Tablet PC Input Service
    3. Telephony (if you are not using your dial-up modem)
    4. Parental Controls
    5. WLAN AutoConfig (if you are not using wireless)
    6. Routing and Remote Access

Follow these steps to disable a service:

    1. Select the Start Button, enter “Services” into the Start Search Box, and press Enter
    2. Right-click on a Service to disable and select Properties
    3. Under Startup Type, select Disabled
    4. Select OK to apply the settings

Passive Packet Capturing

User A to User B packet data traffic can be monitored through a HUB by User C using a “receive‑only” Ethernet cable.

On the HUB end of the cable, there is a loop between TX and RX to activate the HUB port. Any traffic through the HUB will now include this port in the broadcasts.

User C taps onto the loop by its receive pins.

Once the connections are made to the HUB, User C will receive all packets that flow through the HUB, but User C will not transmit any packets towards the HUB (no DHCP requests and no ARP requests).

The NIC on User C is in promiscuous mode capturing all incoming packets only.

Using a receive-only Ethernet cable in this configuration allows for the ability to passively capture packets, while not actively being a part of the network.

Network administrators can actively test for devices in promiscuous mode, monitor for DHCP and ARP requests, and review MAC tables to determine the presence of a packet analysis tool.