Windows Vista Tips & Tricks
Tips, tricks and tools for optimizing performance under Windows Vista while ensuring that you're taking full advantage of Windows Vista's advanced security features.
by Forrest Stroud and Joseph Moran
Check Your System's Heath
Does your system feel a bit out of sorts? See what might be wrong with it by running a system health report. You can get one by accessing Control Panel > System and Maintenance > Performance Information > Tools, and then clicking the Advanced tools link.
When you click Generate a system heath report, after about a minute or so Vista will display a comprehensive list of issues that might be negatively affecting your system, including missing hardware drivers or software (e.g. anti-virus) or things like high usage of system resources like CPU, RAM, or disk space. You can save the reports to track your system's performance over time.
Expert Tip: To generate this report automatically from a command line, enter perfmon /report.
Enable Parental Controls
Vista's Parental Control feature also lets you view account and Internet activity reports, including info on not just what was blocked, but also sites successfully visited and files downloaded. And unlike router logs, these reports don't disappear when the system is shut off or restarted.
Despite its name, Vista Parental Controls' value certainly isn't limited to family use. Small business owners may also find Parental Controls useful in restricting their employees' access to certain sites and for monitoring Internet activity on a company computer.
Force Secure Account Login
For an extra later of security, you can force users to press Ctrl-Alt-Delete before they can log in. To do this, run netcplwiz, click the Advanced tab, and put a check next to Require users to press Ctrl+Alt+Delete.
Turn Off User Account Control
Although it's not recommended from a security standpoint, you can eliminate the nagging dialogs by disabling the UAC feature for a given account. Just go to Control Panel > User Accounts and Family Safety > User Accounts and click Turn User Account Control on or off. Don't think you can simply escape the UAC nagging without any repercussions, though; if you use tools like Windows OneCare Live, you can expect to receive frequent nags to turn the UAC alerts back on or risk compromised security.
Check Your Memory
You can use Windows Vista's Memory Diagnostics Tool to run a memory test that's far more comprehensive than the POST test done when the system boots. The only catch is that the test can only be run before Windows loads, so when you launch the Memory Diagnostic Tool you'll have the choice to restart the system immediately or have the test run the next time you restart.
Give Your System a Boost
When you pop one of the aforementioned memory devices into a Vista system, one of the choices offered by the AutoPlay menu will be Speed up my System using Windows ReadyBoost. When you select it, you'll be taken to the device's Properties page where you can specify how much of the device's available storage you want to allocate to ReadyBoost (Vista will recommend an amount to use, and you don't necessarily need to use the device's entire capacity). You can safely remove the device at any time, since ReadyBoost doesn't use it for critical system data.
Getting Older Programs to Run in Vista
To run a particular application in compatibility mode, right-click the program's icon, click Properties, and select the Compatibility tab. After you put a check next to Run this program in compatibility mode, you'll be able to select a specific version of Windows (including XP Service Pack 2) that you want Vista to emulate when running the program.
Resize Disk Partitions Without Data Loss
Quick Configuration on Notebooks
From here you can also conveniently put the notebook into presentation mode, which will do things like disable standby/hibernate modes (as well as disable the screen saver) and set the speakers predefined volume.
Do Your Drivers Speak Vista?
Our partner site Vista drivers for a variety of hardware tools. You can also check the harware vendor's Website to ensure you're using the latest Windows Vista-certified driver for your equipment.
Does Your Software Speak Vista?
An app that carries the Certified for Windows Vista logo has passed a rigorous testing program on computers that are running Windows Vista that focuses on four core areas: reliability, security, compatibility with Windows Vista and future operating systems, and installation and removal.
The Works with Windows Vista logo applies to a less stringent certification program and is used for existing software programs that have met Microsoft's guidelines for Windows Vista compatibility.
Microsoft has an extensive list of applications that have earned either the Certified for Windows Vista or Works with Windows Vista logo available on this Vista Software compatibility page.
Want More from Vista?
Microsoft's Windows Vista Team Blog is the first place to look for continued Vista developments and new technology and software releases such as Sliverlight and Windows Media Player on Firefox.
Adapted from winplanet.com.
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