Windows 10 guide for IT administrators
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Windows 10 is a highly configurable operating system, much like its predecessor Windows 8.1. Making the system run extra fast is as easy as tweaking a few settings and adding some hardware and memory.
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Maximizing the amount of physical RAM makes a dramatic difference in Windows 10 performance. A 32-bit system running Windows can accommodate up to 4 GB of RAM, and a 64-bit system can handle 128 GB -- or much more, depending on the version of Windows 10 you install and your computer's motherboard.
Memory modules are inexpensive, so consider installing the maximum RAM on a 32-bit system and at least 16 GB on a 64-bit system for everyday use. You should also buy the fastest RAM that the system will support -- check the computer's manufacturer specifications.
Minimize the paging file
The Windows paging file, or pagefile, supports system crash dumps and enables the system to use physical RAM more efficiently by writing some file content to disk if the main memory is near capacity. On most Windows 10 systems with 8 GB of RAM or more, the OS manages the size of the paging file nicely. 2.5 GB is typical on 16 GB systems, and 5 GB on 32 GB systems.
However, the more memory installed, the smaller the paging file you need because it's unlikely the computer will use all its memory at one time. That means you can reduce the size of the paging file. To minimize the paging file, follow these steps:
1. Open System Properties. Right-click the Start menu, select System and then click Change Settings, or use the Control Panel.
2. In the System Properties dialog box, on the Advanced tab, click the Settings button in the Performance section.
3. In the Performance Options dialog box, on the Advanced tab, click the Change button in the Virtual Memory section.
4. In the Virtual Memory dialog box, jot down the minimum allowed, recommended and currently allocated paging file sizes in the last section. Then, uncheck the box that says Automatically manage paging file size for all drives. If more than one drive appears in the available drives list, click your system drive -- the one on which Windows is installed, which is usually C:.
5. Click Custom Size, and then type values into the Initial Size (MB) and Maximum Size (MB) boxes, making the maximum size 1 GB (1,000 MB) or up to 4 GB (4,000 MB), depending on the amount of installed RAM.
6. Click Set, then OK.
After these steps, close all open dialog boxes and restart your computer.
Better yet, if you have multiple physical drives -- not just multiple partitions of a single drive -- you can increase system speed by splitting the paging file across two drives. Allocate about 300 MB of the paging file to the system drive, select the second drive in the Virtual Memory dialog box, set the initial size and maximum size values and click Set.
Use an SSD
Other Windows 10 tweaks include using a solid-state drive (SSD) for the system/boot drive, rather than an ordinary hard drive. This can dramatically reduce startup time. Then add a second SSD for Intel Rapid Start. The size of the second drive can be smaller than the first. However, if you want to move the paging and hibernation files to the second drive, as well as other potential files, find a drive with a capacity of 120 GB or larger.
Disable visual effects in the UI
Although animations and shadows make the user interface look great, they use quite a bit of CPU and memory resources. To turn off these features, open System Properties. In the System Properties dialog box, on the Advanced tab, click the Settings button in the Performance section. On the Visual Effects tab, you can uncheck all the options highlighted in green -- Figure 1.
Get rid of unneeded services
Other Windows 10 tweaks such as turning off unneeded system services can also improve overall Windows 10 performance. Some services you can safely disable are ASP.NET State Service, Portable Device Enumerator Service and Windows Media Player Network Sharing Service, to name a few. Click here for a more comprehensive list.
To disable services, open the Services console by entering services.msc in the Run box -- right-click the Start menu button and select Run. In the Services console, right-click the service you want to turn off and select Properties. In the properties dialog box, click the Stop button and then select Disabled from the Startup Type drop-down list -- Figure 2.
Be sure to disable one service at a time, reboot the computer and use it for a while before disabling another service. If something goes haywire, you'll know which service to enable again without much fuss.
Manage Windows startup entries
Whittling down the programs that launch automatically when Windows starts can get you from the power-off state, or a restart, to the Windows desktop much more quickly. To manage Windows startup programs, open the Task Manager and click the Startup tab. Select programs you don't want to launch automatically and click Disable.
Windows 10 also has a built-in internet lookup for process names, which makes it easy to decide which to leave enabled and what to disable. To use it, right-click any entry and select Search Online. The default browser opens with a list of results for that particular program.
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At Windows startup, apps that are loaded from the Startup folder are delayed to allow the system to load its processes first, which keeps things orderly and makes for a speedier experience. However, you can reduce startup time even more by minimizing the app startup time delay, which requires a Windows Registry edit:
- Open the Registry Editor (regedit.exe).
- Drill down to the following registry key: HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\Serialize
Editor's note: If the Serialize key does not exist, create it. Click the Explorer key in the left pane, select Edit > New > Key from the menu bar, type Serialize to name the key and press Enter.
- Create a new DWORD value called StartupDelayInMSec and with a value of 0. To create the DWORD value, right-click the Serialize key in the left pane and select New > DWORD (32-bit) Value. The value is set to 0 by default -- Figure 3.
- Exit the Registry Editor.
Once you reboot, you should notice that the computer starts up faster than before the tweak.
Reduce the boot delay timeout value
The boot delay timeout value is set to 30 seconds by default. Reducing the value to 10 seconds still leaves enough time to get into Safe Mode if needed, or you can use msconfig to force Safe Mode on the next reboot.
To change the timeout value, enter msconfig in the Run box. In the System Configuration dialog box, on the Boot tab, change the Timeout value to 10 and click OK.
If you implement all these Windows 10 tweaks for reducing startup times and increasing memory, you should notice a much faster operating system. Even a few of the recommendations will earn you a more responsive and enjoyable computing experience.
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