How-to : Optimize Your Windows Part I

Before i switched to Mac back in 2009, i was a full-time Windows user all the way back to high-school. Those were the years of hardcore gaming, tweaking and optimizing every single corner from my rig to squeeze out every little drop of performance. And not to mention, once as a source of income. But since i decided to retire from supporting Windows (professionally), i am going to share few of many tweaks to optimize your Windows experience.

Note : This is first part of two series. Read the second part here.

Proceed at your own risks, and best to start with backing up your data first. I’m assuming you’re running on fresh install of Windows, but if you’re happy with current setup and just want to follow along, make sure you know what you’re doing.

1. Perform BIOS/UEFI updates.

For Desktop : Find the right updates according to your motherboard model.

For Laptop : Find the right updates according to your laptop model.

These BIOS/UEFI updates from manufacturer usually fixed system stability issues, which is why i’d make it the first priority before i went to anything else. Aside stability and once in a while performance fixed as well, usually they tends to enable latest hardware support (such as processor) on current-gen system by simply performing BIOS/UEFI updates.

Link : Asus

Link : Gigabyte

Link : MSI

Link : Asrock

Link : Acer

Link : Dell

Link : Toshiba

Link : HP

2. Keeping up with hardware drivers.

Tips : Find the right drivers according to your hardware chipset, not manufacturer. (Example, download NVIDIA Driver from NVIDIA’s web instead of Asus’s for their graphic cards)

A device driver is a software that controls a particular type of device that is attached to your system. Without it, your Windows won’t be able to use it at all or won’t be able to use it effectively. By keeping it up to date, you will be received new features, performance improvement and stability fixed from manufacturer.

Link : Intel

Link : NVIDIA Download

Link : AMD Download

Link : Realtek

Link : Broadcom

Link : Creative

3. Windows Update is a must.

Tips : Install Service Pack first before running Windows Update. It will reduce amount of updates to be downloaded.

I cannot stress this enough - be sure to turn on Windows Update! If you’re using illegal copies of Windows, try to save up some money to buy an original copy. If you can’t, there’s a ‘workaround’ to enable updates without breaking out your Windows with Windows Genuine Program. These updates for what its worth, patches every single vulnerabilities issues as well as improving stability at the same time. So you’re obligatory to enable it since Windows still has the largest installed base for threats.

Link : Windows Service Pack & Update Center

4. Stop buying anti-virus.

Tips : Avast! Free Edition is free with registration for personal use. Its the best antivirus that won’t cost you a nickel and won’t even slowdown your system.

Forget about installing AVG, having it installed is as much as good as not having it at all. Gone are the day where you’d need to pay for antivirus. If you somehow still looking for alternative, Microsoft Security Essentials offer a better protection at the same zero price.

Link : Avast! Free Antivirus

Link : Microsoft Security Essentials

5. There’s only one thing that Internet Explorer (IE) does the best.

Tips : Forget about this if you’re working with Malaysia’s governments - they are optimized for IE. Some even required you to enable ActiveX.

And that one thing is - downloading another browser. Be it Google Chrome or Firefox, you’re welcome to use anything that you like. Even Opera or perhaps if you like Chrome but has certain privacy concerns, you might want to download Chromium instead.

Link : Google Chrome

Link : Mozilla Firefox

Link : Opera

Link : Chromium

Link : Safari

5. Install Smart Defrag.

Tips : You might want to turn off built-in Defragmentation schedule. You can skip this step if you’re on SSD.

Disk fragmentation is a major cause of slowing down your computer over the time. If you notice it takes forever to launch an app, then you’re having disk fragmentation. Instead of doing it manually, leave to Smart Defrag to perform defragmentation automatically. Make sure to switch on automatic defrag mode first.

Link : Smart Defrag

6. Clean up your Windows.

Tips : Built-in Disk Cleanup is good enough to recover plenty of disk space due to those updates and Service Pack installation. Be careful not to compress old files on Windows XP.

Once you done with all those updates, you might want to reclaim back those valuable space due to unused leftover files. On Windows 8, just search for Disk Cleanup, and make sure to run it as Administrator mode to clean system files. Windows XP/7, you can pretty much go to Start > All Programs > Accessories > Disk Cleanup, right click and Run as administrator to perform the cleanup.

That’s all for now. I hope you will be able to enjoy a better system based on this guide. I’m going to cover in more detail on second part of this series. Stay tuned.

Posted February 24, 2014

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