Back in the day, it was common to apply dozens of tweaks to Windows XP to get things just the way you wanted and to significantly improve performance. Are there equivalent tweaks for the modern incarnations of Windows?

Today’s Question & Answer session comes to us courtesy of SuperUser—a subdivision of Stack Exchange, a community-driven grouping of Q&A web sites.

The Question

SuperUser reader Anonymous Coward wants to tweak his Windows 7 installation:

I remember there were guides for Windows XP on all of the unnecessary services and things that you could turn off in a default install to make the system a bit more ‘snappy’.

Is there such a guide for Windows 7? Suggestions?

We remember all too well the laundry list of tweaks necessary to really make Windows XP use an enjoyable and snappy experience.

The Answer

SuperUser contributor Factor Mystic offers some solid (and stern) advice:

By and large the rule of thumb for Windows 7 is: Don’t Overtweak Anything. Seriously. Just leave the services on and don’t try to turn off things you don’t think you need. Microsoft Engineers have spent more time thinking about optimizing the system than you have, and the best you’ll ever be able to do is save a few megabytes of memory at the cost of hard to diagnose technical issues down the road when you’ve forgotten what you turned off and why.

The system is quite good enough as it is; it’s not 1998 any more.

Hands down, the only serious problems we’ve had with Windows 7 (and its descendant Windows 8) have centered on mucking around with tweaks and then later forgetting the changes we’ve made (e.g. why won’t X app work the way it is supposed to?! Oh right, we disabled a helper app a few months ago.) So the moral of the story is: Windows is pretty great right out of the box these days, but if you’re going to poke around disabling apps, making registry changes, and otherwise customizing your experience, make sure to keep a simple text log so you can look back and see the changes you’ve made.

Have something to add to the explanation? Sound off in the the comments. Want to read more answers from other tech-savvy Stack Exchange users? Check out the full discussion thread here.



Profile Photo for Jason Fitzpatrick Jason Fitzpatrick
Jason Fitzpatrick is the Senior Smart Home Editor at How-To Geek. He has over a decade of experience in publishing and has authored thousands of articles at How-To Geek, Review Geek, LifeSavvy, and Lifehacker. Jason served as Lifehacker's Weekend Editor before he joined How-To Geek.
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