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Miscellaneous Windows Vista Tweaks
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Posted on February 28th, 2007
Windows Vista
Increase max IE7 downloads

Internet Explorer 7 only allows you to download two files from the same server at a time.  This is not a software limit but rather a limit imposed based on the web standard. Since this is simply a software setting, it can be modified and you can increase the limit to something much high such as 10.  Follow the steps below to increase your max downloads from the same server:

1) Click on the Start Button and type in Regedit.

2) When Registry Editor loads navigate through HKEY_CURRENT_USER, Software, Microsoft, Windows, CurrentVersion and Internet Settings.

3) Right click on MaxConnectionsPerServer and select Modify. Set the decimal value to something greater than 2.

4) Right click on MaxConnectionsPer1_0Server and select Modify. Set the decimal value to something greater than 2.

5) Reboot.

Quick aero speed tip

The transparent glass in Windows Vista computer can look very nice. However, on some computers that have underpowered video adapters will see a performance hit when running the transparent glass effect.  One way to speed up Windows Vista and still get the benefits of aero, such as flip 3D and taskbar thumbnails, is to disable glass transparency.

1) Click on the desktop and select Personalize.

2) Select Windows Color and Appearance.

3) Uncheck Enable Transparency.

Enhance SATA disk performance

Do you have a SATA disk drive in your computer? If so, you can squeeze a little more performance out of your hard disk.  This speeds up the performance of your hard disk by enhancing write caching. However, if your computer is not connected to a battery backup and you loose power you have a increased risk for data loss or corruption. If you have a laptop your chances are data loss or corruption are dramatically less since your laptop battery will kick on if your power source is lost. Let's get started:

1) Click on the Start Button and key in Device Manager and hit Enter.

2) Expand Disk Drives.

3) Right click on your hard drive and select Properties.

4) On the Policies tab, check Enable advanced performance.

5) Hit OK and close Device Manager.

Boost your performance with ReadyBoost

Windows Vista has many new features that are designed to help older computers run Windows Vista better.  One of those features and the topic of this tweak is called ReadyBoost.  ReadyBoost helps your computer by giving it more high-speed memory.  If your computer is running low on RAM then it has to kick a lot of applications out of high-speed physical memory to the paging file on your hard drive.  This usually results in a big hit in performance and increased activity on your hard drive. ReadyBoost helps this situation by giving Windows an alternative to having to stick data into the slow paging file on your hard drive. Instead, ReadyBoost uses a USB storage device that is faster than a hard disk. This results in a performance boost because Windows will have a high speed alternative than using the slow paging file on your hard drive.

In order for ReadyBoost to work, it requires a USB storage device that meets minimum performance and space requirements:

The device must be at least 64 MB
The device must be USB 2.0
It has to be able to read at 3.5 MB/s
It has to be able to write at 2.5 MB/s
If you are unsure if your USB storage device meets these requirements, just give it a try anyways. To get started using ReadyBoost, follow these steps:

1) Plug in USB storage device.
2) Go to Computer and right click on the removable storage device and select Properties.
3) If your device is compatible, you will see a ReadyBoost tab. Click on that.
4) Select Use this device and select the amount of space on it you want to dedicate for the ReadyBoost system file.
5) Click OK and you are finished.

Advanced Windows Firewall: Turn on outbound filtering

Windows Vista includes a two-way firewall that has outbound filtering disabled by default. Why? The best explanation that I got was that it was too complicated for end-users to use so they had that feature turned off as well as hidden.  In fact, it is hidden so well that many users may think that the two-way firewall was yet another feature that was pulled from the final product.  While that is true for other features the two-way firewall made it into the final product, you just need to know how to find it.

To get started, just click on the Start Button and key in wf.msc and hit Enter. This will bring up the comprehensive Windows Firewall with Advanced Security management interface.  Here you will be able to configure rules for incoming as well as outgoing connections.

Make sure that you set the default action for outbound connections from allow to block.  Otherwise the outbound firewall will be useless because it will allow all connections.  This can be done from the Windows Firewall Properties link found on the main screen of the management interface.

Disable UAC (User Account Control)

Had enough of the constant UAC Authorization pop-up boxes? And given up trying to tweak UAC? There is a easy way to disable user account control so that you never have to deal with the approvals and requests for consent ever again. Just follow these steps below:

1) Click on the Start Button and go to the Control Panel.
2) In the Control Panel search box, search for "disable uac".
3) Click on Turn User Account Control (UAC) on or off.
4) Uncheck Use User Account Control (UAC) to help protect your computer.
5) Hit OK.

Speed up Start Menu Search

When a users enters text in the search box on the start panel Windows automatically searches the file index as well.  The file index includes all of the searchable files on your hard drive and can be quite large.  One way to speed up searching through your start menu applications is to narrow the scope of the search so that it does not include hard drive files.

Prevent Start Menu Searches from searching the File index:

1. Open Registry Editor (regedit).

2. Navigate through HKEY_CURRENT_USER, Software, Microsoft, Windows, CurrentVersion, Explorer and finally Advanced.

3. Find and right click on Start_SearchFiles and select Modify.

4. Set the Value to 0

5. Restart the Explorer.exe process or just reboot your computer.

Disable pop-up balloon tips
Tired of pop-up tips showing up all over the interface? With group policy editor, you can easily stop them from showing up for good.

Start up the group policy editor by clicking on the start button and keying in gpedit.msc and pressing Enter.
Expand User Configuration, Administrative Templates and Start Menu and Taskbar.

Select Remove Balloon Tips on Start Menu items, right click on it and select Properties.
Select Enable and hit OK.

Close Group Policy Editor and you are finished.

USB Storage & Windows Vista ReadyBoost
Windows Vista has a new performance feature called ReadyBoost. This feature enables the use of a USB storage device instead of the slow paging file on your hard disk when you're low on physical memory (RAM). The logic is simple - the USB storage device is faster than your hard disk drive.

In order for ReadyBoost to work in Windows Vista, your USB storage device must meet the following requirements:
- the device must have at least 64MB storage.
- the device must be USB 2.0 compliant.
- the device must have a minimum read speed of 3.5 MB/s.
- the device must have a minimum write speed of 2.5 MB/s.

Follow these steps to enable ReadyBoost:
1. Plug in USB storage device.
2. Go to Computer, right-click on the removable storage device and select Properties.
3. Click on the ReadyBoost tab.
4. Select Use This Device and set the amount of space to use for the system file.
5. Click OK.

Clean Install Windows Vista With Upgrade DVDs

Traditionally, you are required to have a previous installation of Windows before you can upgrade, e.g. have Windows XP on your system before using Windows Vista Upgrade DVDs.
What if you have ALREADY upgraded to Windows Vista but are having system issues that require formating and re-installing Windows? Paul Thurrot proposed this hack that lets you install a Windows Vista Upgrade, without needing to re-install Windows XP first:

1. Boot from the Windows Vista Upgrade DVD and begin the setup program.

2. When prompted to enter your product key, DO NOT enter it. Click "Next" and proceed with setup - this will install Windows Vista as a 30-day trial.

3. When prompted, select the edition of Windows Vista which you have purchased and continue with the setup.

4. Once setup has been completed and you have been brought to the desktop for the first time, run the install program from within Windows Vista.

5. This time, type in your product key when prompted.

6. When asked whether to perform an Upgrade or Custom (advanced) install, choose Custom (advanced) to perform a clean install of Windows Vista.
(Yes! This means that you will have to install Windows Vista for a second time)

7. Once setup has completed for the second time, you should be able to activate Windows Vista normally. You can also delete the Windows.old directory which contains information from the first Windows Vista installation.

This means that all Windows Vista upgrade DVDs can be used as full retail DVDs. However, this is an illegal approach and you are going against Windows Vista's Eula should you install an upgrade without owning a previous version of Windows as specified by Microsoft.
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