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How-To Geek on Lifehacker: Debunking Windows Performance Tweaking Myths

image As a tech writer, one of my biggest pet peeves is the plethora of bad advice littered across almost every web site dedicated to system tweaking. Besides the tweaks that simply don’t work, some of them will actually cause your computer to run even slower—or worse.

In my latest article on Lifehacker, I examined some of the most offensive myths out there regarding PC performance tweaking, and debunk them once and for all:

  • Disabling QoS to Free Up 20% of Bandwidth
  • Make Vista Use Multiple Cores to Speed Up Boot Time
  • Clearing Out Windows Prefetch for Faster Startup
  • Cleaning the Registry Improves Performance
  • Clear Memory by Processing Idle Tasks
  • Clean, Defrag and Boost Your RAM With SnakeOil Memory Optimizer
  • Disabling Shadow Copy/System Restore Improves Performance
  • Enable SuperFetch in Windows XP
  • Disabling Services to Speed Up the Computer

If you are a system tweaker, I absolutely recommend reading through the article.

Debunking Common Windows Performance Tweaking Myths – lifehacker.com

In case you missed some of my other posts over there, you can also read them here:

Note that I’m only writing part-time over there, and all of you, my awesome subscribers, still come first.

Lowell Heddings, better known online as the How-To Geek, spends all his free time bringing you fresh geekery on a daily basis. You can follow him on if you'd like.

  • Published 08/5/08

Comments (8)

  1. Insomnic

    I liked the article. Good information.
    Some of the comments proved how pervasive these myths can be.

  2. Nicola.Lamonaca

    Very amazing post, guy. I would really like if I could translate it in italian on my blog. It talks about technology.
    ps: of course credits are all yours! ;)

    Best regards, Nicola.Lamonaca

  3. Gordy

    Following this “Tweaking Myths’ article, I found that in the past with a slow machine, I was fodder for many applications. New, Fast Dell has shown they’ve all been unneccesary. Thank you for writing it. I’ve cleaned up some settings.
    Question is this, why are some of those ‘registry booster’ products, etc advertised on your website? Over time, I found that Uniblue wasn’t worth it, none of their main apps. Waisted $80 when I couldn’t afford it for ‘perceived’ gain.
    Thanks, Gordy (for whom you put the Task Manager in the Startup folder for us!)

  4. The Geek

    @Gordy:

    You are welcome to email me if you want to discuss the Uniblue thing a little more, but the short answer is: RegistryBooster is not a -bad- product, since it cleans the registry without killing your computer, and can solve some problems caused by uninstalling crap software (in my experience)… it also has registry backup capability, etc.

    I’ve never recommended it as a performance boosting application, and you’ll notice I don’t advertise their other products, as I don’t like them.

    Also, I don’t actually control the idiotic ads that show up on Google Adsense (trust me, I’ve tried but worthless registry cleaner ads keep showing back up). Sadly, I need to make money somehow to pay the bills, and they are the only one that pays less terribly than everything else. I just try to make sure I don’t clutter up the content area with advertisements, no popup ads, etc, and I block any google ad I see for bad products. (Google, if you are reading this, please fix your tools so I can control ads better)

  5. Michael

    Funny, UniBlue Registry Cleaner is right on the right side of the page that suggests not using them to boost speed…..

    Heh…

  6. The Geek

    @Michael

    Yeah, a little ironic perhaps, but at least I’m being honest with my opinions =)

  7. JH

    Defrag memory lol, that’s one I hadn’t heard of. The fact that people actually fall for this sort of thing is seriously BAD.

  8. Ms Hanson

    Accidentally downloaded one of those advertised products (from someone else’s site), where it looked like the right button in the right place…as an emerging techie, it took me weeks to track down the viral demon. Tech support, once they discovered I didn’t actually purchase their product, left me adrift. Only leaping out of bed at 1 AM and charging the ‘puter when another “update” announced itself helped me track the recurring infestation to Scheduler in Windows, where it kept giving birth to endless generations of new malignant spawn.

    Thanks to The Geek and kindred spirits for helping me exorcise the evil crapware from my machines!

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