Settings

CAUTION: The following guide includes discarding of some of the “security” features, including Windows Security Center! The advice is given on the assumption that you should be safe enough if you secure your Internet browser (e.g. by adding Avast and uBlock extensions to Chrome/Chromium – let me stress that I’m talking about Internet browser extensions here, not about any antivirus program running in the system!), and more importantly, that you act reasonably (which means not clicking on suspicious things on the Internet and, obviously, not launching any unknown *exe files, etc.).
Every step stated below has been long tested and proven to be perfectly all right in my case, however, I take no responsibility for any issues you might experience. Proceed only at your own risk!
As far as security is concerned, I’m not a fan of any anti-viruses or anti-whatever’s. All they do is slow down performance, most often a great deal, while not protecting you when you need it anyway. Having Windows firewall running should be enough to provide some degree of security while not having a great impact on performance at the same time.

 

You should have already disabled Windows Update if you’ve gone through the Installation section but here is the step again just for the record:

 Disable Windows Update:
Step #1:
Win+R (Windows key + R): services.msc –> Windows Update –> Right click and choose Stop –> Double click and choose Disabled –> Apply –> OK.

Step #2 (Windows Pro only):
Win+R: gpedit.msc –> Computer Configuration –> Administrative Templates –> Windows Components –> Windows Update (at the bottom) –> Configure Automatic Updates –> • Disabled –> Apply –> OK.


Once all the drivers are installed it’s best to start with setting up your preferred input method and a few more individual settings right away before you go ahead with advanced performance settings:

 Set up the keyboard (input method) that suits you. Example:
Control Panel (Win+R: control / or just press Windows key and start typing “con…”) –> Clock, Language, and Region –> Language -–> Options (the small blue wording on the right side) –> Add an input method –> Czech (QWERTZ) in my case –> (I prefer having just one, non-switchable keyboard so I go ahead with removing the second one:) Add –> US/English: Remove –> Save.

 Set up your time zone. Example, (modify according to your individual needs:):
Win + I –> Time & Language –> Date & time –> Time zone: Prague in my case.
Scroll down to –> Change date and time formats –> First day of week: Monday in my case.
(The time zone should be already set up correctly if you have chosen your local “Time and currency format” during the installation.)
Win + I –> Time & Language –> Date & time –> Set time automatically: On.
(The automatic time should be on by default but make sure it is. Strange though it may sound, depending on the system configuration and settings the time may be messed up sometimes despite the time zone and everything else being set up correctly.)

 Shut down your PC by just pressing the power button:
1. Right click on battery icon in system tray and select Power Options –> (left pane) Choose what the power buttons do –> When I press the power button –> (Choose what you prefer, e.g.) Shut down | Shut down –> Save changes.

Note: I have no idea why but my work laptop does not shut down when you press the power button and just goes to sleep instead. In order to fix that I had to do the following and I guess you can do that on any system just to make sure it really shuts down by pressing the power button:

2. Right click on battery icon in system tray and select Power Options –> (left pane) Choose what the power buttons do –> Change settings that are currently unavailable –> Uncheck Sleep –> Save changes. (Note: You won’t be able to put your computer to sleep if you do so. The option will disappear from shut down menu.)

 Never turn off the display:
(You might want your PC to never go to sleep ’cause sleeping can interrupt some ongoing operations.)
Right click on battery icon in system tray and select Power Options –> (left pane) Change when the computer sleeps –>
Turn off the display: Never | Never
Put the computer to sleep: Never | Never

 

Now, when the basics are all set up, let’s take care of performance:

Switch to Maximum performance in power plan settings:
(In previous Windows releases, you could just switch to • High performance in Power Options –> Show additional plans.)
Now, there’s just Balanced plan by default and you need to either create an additional one or make adjustments directly to the Balanced plan:
Right click on the battery icon in system tray –> Power Options –> Change plan settings –> Change advanced power settings –> Intel(R) Graphics Settings (or whatever graphics you’re using) –> Intel(R) Graphics Power Plan:
On battery: Maximum Performance
Plugged in: Maximum Performance

Disable Virus & threat protection:
Win+I: Update & Security –> Windows Security –> Virus & threat protection –> Manage settings –> Turn everything OFF
Win+R: regedit –> Yes –>
Computer\HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Policies\Microsoft\Windows Defender
DisableAntiSpyware –> Value data: 0

Get rid of the ‘The Publisher Could Not Be Verified’ message:
Win+R: gpedit.msc –> User Configuration –> Administrative Templates –> Windows Components –> Attachment Manager –> Inclusion list for moderate risk file types –> • Enabled –> Specify moderate risk extensions: .exe –> Apply –> OK.

 Remove Microsoft OneDrive:
(Just skip if you’re going to remove OneDrive completely:)
1. Right click on the cloud tray icon –> Settings –> Settings –> Uncheck Start OneDrive
Right click on the cloud tray icon and click on Exit –> Close OneDrive.

2. Go to Programs and Features by typing appwiz.cpl into the run box (Win+R) or just go to Control Panel (press Win key + start typing “co…” and click on Control Panel) –> Programs: Uninstall a program –> and uninstall OneDrive, or preferably, use Geek Uninstaller*:

*Download Geek Uninstaller Free (ZIP version).
In Windows File Explorer click on “View” from the top menu and then tick “Hidden items”.
Copy the downloaded zip file (geek.zip) to %localappdata% (C:\Users\Username\AppData\Local) and then right click on it and choose Extract all… from the Explorer context menu.
On the following dialog confirm by hitting the “Extract” button. A new folder will be created with the executable file inside.
Delete the zip from the Local folder and launch the geek.exe file, (you can add a shortcut to your Desktop). Confirm Yes on the dialog that will pop up.
In Geek Uninstaller right click on Microsoft OneDrive and choose Uninstall…
After a few seconds there will a window appear with some additional folders selected, (that is the reason why I prefer using Geek Uninstaller over Windows built-in Programs and Features because you can clean the leftovers that would otherwise remain in your system).
Now, just click on the “Finish” button and then on Close.
You can now close Geek Uninstaller.


3. Remove OneDrive from File Explorer Navigation Pane Folder Tree: Win+R: regedit –> Yes –> Ctrl+F: System.IsPinnedToNameSpaceTree –> Value data: 0. (It will disappear immediately.)

Note: You can as well use Geek Uninstaller to remove Driver Booster had you installed it in previous steps.

 Disable all programs and utilities from Startup:
Task Manager (Ctrl+Shift+Esc) –> More details –> Startup tab –> Disable EVERYTHING by right clicking the respective item and choosing Disable. Examples:
Delayed launcher – Disable
hkcmd Module – Disable
igfxTray Module – Disable
persistence Module – Disable
Catalyst Control Center – Disable (Can be launched from Desktop whenever needed.)
Radeon Settings: Host Application – Disable
Synaptics TouchPad… – Disable
Windows Defender notification icon – Disable
+ (If installed) Adobe Updater Startup Utility – Disable
+ (If installed) Java Update Scheduler – Disable
etc.

 If you encounter anything in Task Manager –> Startup list that should not be there at all, like a leftover of some uninstalled app etc., you can remove it completely by removing it from the following registry location:
Win+R: regedit –> Insert the following path into the top address bar:
Computer\HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Run

 Set up privacy options:
Win+I –> Privacy –> General –> Under Change privacy options –> Turn off everything, (there are 4 switches there).
Win+I –> Privacy –> Camera –> Camera –> Off.
(Note: If you expect that this will prevent your camera from broadcasting your face throughout the world then you’re wrong. This Windows setting does actually nothing. You need to disable respective “Imaging Devices” in Device Manager in order to make sure that you’re not being spied on. Or, even better, just turn the Cam off directly in BIOS: System Configuration –> Built-In Device Options –> Untick “Integrated Camera”. Once disabled in BIOS, it will not be listed in Device Manager anymore. Those who want to be 100% sure have no option but to physically cover up their webcam with tape or something.)
Win+I –> Privacy –> (scroll down) Feedback & diagnostics –> Feedback frequency: Windows should ask for my feedback: Never. (There’s actually no point in doing this ’cause it immediately turns itself back on to “Automatically”.)
Win+I –> Privacy –> (scroll down) Background apps –> Background Apps: Let apps run in the background: Off. (This will turn off / grey out everything listed below).

 Disable Bluetooth:
(Skip if you’re going to disable it directly in Device Manager:)
1. Win+I –> Devices –> Bluetooth & other devices –> Off.
2. Go to Device Manager –> Bluetooth –> Right click on Generic Bluetooth Adapter and select Disable device –> Confirm Yes (That will prevent Bluetooth driver from loading at startup.)
(You can do the same for any other device you don’t use, for instance: Imaging devices –> Webcam.)

 Turn off transparency effects:
(Note: Windows needs to be activated by now!)
Win+I –> Personalization –> Colors –> Colors –> More options: Transparency effects: Off.
(In previous Windows builds:)
Win+I –> Personalization –> Colors –> (scroll down) Make Start, taskbar and action center transparent –> Off.

 Disable background picture on the sign-in screen:
While still in Win+I –> Personalization –> Lock screen –> Show lock screen background picture on the sign-in screen: Off.

 Turn off visual effects:
Win+R: sysdm.cpl (or right click on Start button –> System –> System info –> Advanced system settings) –> Advanced tab –> (Performance) –> Settings… –> Visual Effects:
Animate controls and elements inside windows (Uncheck)
Animate windows when minimizing and maximizing (Uncheck)
Animations in the taskbar (Uncheck)
• Enable Peek (Leave checked)
Fade or slide menus into view (Uncheck)
Fade or slide ToolTips into view (Uncheck)
Fade out menu items after clicking (Uncheck)
Save taskbar thumbnail previews (Leave unchecked)
Show shadows under mouse pointer (Leave unchecked)
Show shadows under windows (Uncheck)
• Show thumbnails instead of icons (Leave checked)
• Show translucent selection rectangle (Leave checked)
• Show window contents while dragging (Leave checked)
Slide open combo boxes (Uncheck)
• Smooth edges of screen fonts (Leave checked)
• Smooth-scroll list boxes (Leave checked)
Use drop shadows… (Uncheck)

 Disable SmartScreen:
(Still needs to be done if you want to get rid of annoying warning messages.)
Win+R: gpedit.msc –> Computer Configuration –> Administrative Templates –> Windows Components –> File Explorer –> Configure Windows Defender SmartScreen –> • Disabled (No restart needed.)

 Turn off Windows Defender:
Step #1:
Win+I –> Update & Security –> Windows Defender –> Click on “Open Windows Defender Antivirus” (Previously “Open Windows Defender Security Center”, and more previously “Turn on Windows Defender Antivirus”). –> Then click on the gear icon in the very bottom left corner. –> Here you can turn off notifications for both Windows Defender Antivirus and Windows Defender Firewall. (Confirm Yes.) –> Click on Virus & threat protection settings. –> Turn off everything. (Every time confirm Yes).
In previous Windows releases it was simply just:
Win+I –> Update & security –> Windows Defender –> Turn off everything.

Step #2 (Disable SmartScreen):
Win+I –> Update & Security –> Windows Defender –> Click on “Open Windows Defender Antivirus” (Previously “Open Windows Defender Security Center”, and more previously “Turn on Windows Defender Antivirus”). –> Then click on the App & browser control icon in the left column –> Check apps and files: Off –> SmartScreen for Microsoft Edge: Off –> SmartScreen for Windows Store apps: Off –> Just close the window.

Step #3 (Disable Windows Defender Security Center Service):
(The service cannot be disabled in services.msc. You must do it in registry:)
Win+R: regedit –>
Computer\HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Services\SecurityHealthService –> Double click on Start and change Value data to 4.
Should you encounter any restrictions preventing you from editing the respective registry key, download and use ExecTI to run the “regedit.exe” app as TrustedInstaller. Here’s a detailed description.

Step #4 (You need to do this to prevent Real-time protection from starting over):
Win+R: gpedit.msc –> Computer Configuration –> Administrative Templates –> Windows Components –> Windows Defender Antivirus –> Turn off Windows Defender Antivirus –> • Enabled –> Apply –> OK. (No worries, you are actually turning this off by “enabling” this module.)
(Note: You will notice there are several other folders and modules related to Windows Defender in Local Group Policy Editor, such as Win. Def. Application Guard, Exploit Guard, Security Center and SmartScreen, but those are just additional configuration settings that you can ignore.)
In previous Windows releases it was simply just:
Win+R: gpedit.msc –> Computer Configuration –> Administrative Templates –> Windows Components –> Windows Defender –> Turn off Windows Defender –> • Enabled.

Step #5:
Restart.

 Turn off security messages:
Win+I –> System –> Notifications & actions (Win+R: ms-settings:notifications) –> Get notifications from these senders: Security and Maintenance: Off.
(Previous Windows releases): Win+I –> System –> Notifications & actions –> Notifications: Show app notifications: Off.
Control Panel (Win+R: control / or just press Windows key and start typing “con…”) –> System and Security  –> Security and Maintenance –> (left pane) Change Security and Maintenance settings –> Security messages: Turn off everything under the Security messages section only. (Leave the Maintenance messages as they are.)

Get Rid of the “Publisher Could Not Be Verified” Messages:
Win+R: gpedit.msc
Go to User Configuration –> Administrative Templates –> Windows Components –> Attachment Manager.
Open the ‘Inclusion list for moderate risk file types’ setting
Set the policy to Enabled, then add
.exe;.bat
or any other file extensions you might need to the Specify high risk extensions box. (No restart needed.)
[Source]

 Turn off Security Center:
(Make sure you have turned off Security messages in the previous step.)
1. Turn off the icon first: Right click on taskbar –> (Taskbar) settings –> (scroll down) Turn system icons on or off –> Action Center: Off. (Once here, you can as well turn off Location if you don’t use it.)
2. Win+R: gpedit.msc –> User Configuration (not Computer) –> Administrative Templates –> Start Menu and Taskbar –> Remove Notifications and Action Center (in the lower part, it’s not in alphabetical order) –> • Enabled –> Apply –> OK.
3. Win+R: services.msc –> Security Center –> Right click and choose Stop –> Double click –> Startup type: Choose Disabled –> Apply –> OK.
4. Download Take Ownership Menu Hacks from here [source]. (No need to unpack.) Double click Add Take Ownership to Context menu –> Run –> Yes –> Yes –> OK.
5. Go to C:\Windows\System32 and right click on both the ActionCenter.dll and ActionCenterCPL.dll and select Take Ownership –> Yes.
6. Rename the files e.g. to ActionCenter.dll.bak and ActionCenterCPL.dll.bak –> Confirm Continue –> Yes.

If File Explorer or Desktop Does Not Auto Refresh
Here’s how to solve the problem.

 Turn off People:
Right click on taskbar –> (Taskbar) settings –> (scroll down) People: Turn off the first switch, (the other two will automatically turn off as well).

Turn off tips and tricks:
(The option is already off by default as of newer Windows releases. Seemingly unimportant but this is to prevent Runtime Broker from using too much resource!)
Win+I –> System –> Notifications & actions –> (scroll down) Get tips, tricks and suggestions as you use Windows: Off.

 Remove Windows Media Player and Internet Explorer:
Win+R: appwiz.cpl (or go to Control Panel –> Programs: Uninstall a program / Programs and Features) –> (left pane) Turn Windows features on or off –> Untick Internet Explorer 11 (Yes) and Media Features (Windows Media Player) –>
(Note: Once you’re here you can as well disable some other features listed for instance in this article. However, you will find some of them already disabled or removed by default in newer Windows releases. There’s no need to disable Remote Differential Compression API Support, you can keep it on, the claim that it can speed up transfers is a myth.)
–> Yes –> OK –> Restart now.
It will say: “Configuring (Working on) updates…” even if you have Windows Update disabled – don’t worry.

 Disable System Restore:
Control Panel (Win+R: control) –> System and Security –> System –> (left pane) System protection –> System Protection tab –> Make sure you have selected Local Disk (C:) –> Click on Configure… –> Tick • Disable system protection (The slider below should be already all the way to the left = 1%) –> (In addition, you can delete all restore points by clicking on Delete –> Continue –> Close) –> Apply –> Yes –> OK –> OK.

 Disable Automatic Maintenance:
Win+R: regedit –> Yes –> Paste in the top address bar:
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\Schedule\Maintenance
Right click anywhere in the area on the right side –> New –> DWORD (32-bit) (Even if your architecture is 64-bit!) Value: MaintenanceDisabled –> Value data: 1

 Improve shutdown performance:
Win+R: regedit –> Yes –> Do not use Ctrl+F, it would return a different item of the same name! Paste the following path to the navigation bar:
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\
Then in the right panel: WaitToKillServiceTimeout –> Value data: 0 (= no delay), (5000 = 5 seconds.)

 Reduce startup time by minimizing the app startup time delay:
1. Win+R: regedit
2. Go to: Computer\HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer
3. Right click the Explorer key in the left pane and select New –> Key, type Serialize to name the key and press Enter.
4. Right-click the Serialize key in the left pane and select New –> DWORD (32-bit) Value, give it a name: StartupDelayInMSec.
5. The value is set to 0 by default, change it to 3.

 Reduce mouse hover time and menu show delay:
1. Win+R: regedit
2. Go to: Computer\HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Control Panel\Mouse
3. Double click on MouseHoverTime and change Value data to 10.
4. Go to: Computer\HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Control Panel\Desktop
5. Double click on MenuShowDelay and change Value data to 10.

 Assign number of processors in msconfig boot options:
Win+R: msconfig –> Boot –> Advanced options… –> Check Number of processors: Choose the highest number possible –> Apply (Do not restart yet…)

 Disable all non-Microsoft services in msconfig:
Win+R: msconfig –> Services –> Check Hide all Microsoft services –> Click on Disable all (non-Microsoft services) –> Apply (Do not restart yet…)

 Reduce the boot delay timeout value:
Win+R: msconfig –> Boot tab –> Timeout: The value is set to 30 seconds, change it to 10. –> Apply –> OK –> Restart.
(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.)

 Hide Cortana box from taskbar:
(This is to save some resource.)
Right click on taskbar –> Search (previously Cortana) –> Hidden. (The option to type from Start will not be affected.)

Turn off additional Cortana options:
(The settings have been changed as of newer Windows releases.)
Left click on Start button (or just hit Win key) –> Start typing “cor…” –> Select Cortana & Search settings –> Turn off everything. (There were a few more options in previous Windows releases, then there was just one, and now there’s nothing at all.)

 Turn off Cortana*:
(*This step is no longer recommended if you’re running the Redstone Windows version or later because it results in the Start menu being completely unavailable! Skip this if you have Windows released after March 19, 2017. Btw, Cortana can be quite handy when it comes to searching for Windows components etc.)

Win+R: gpedit.msc –> Computer Configuration –> Administrative Templates –> Windows Components –> Search –> Allow Cortana –> • Disabled
Download kill-searchui from here [source]
Unpack and run as admin (important) kill-searchui.bat – this will rename the Cortana folder in C:\Windows\SystemApps to Microsoft.Windows.Cortana_cw5n1h2txyewy.000
(If it doesn’t work, restart and try again.)

 Disable unnecessary Windows services:
Caution: Do not do this in your workplace or if you’re not the owner of the PC in question!
The following step will, among other things, disable Windows Search. You will still be able to search through Windows files, but the searching itself will be a bit slower due to the indexing being disabled. If you don’t search for files on your hard disk too often it’s still better to discard indexing along with a few other features in exchange for an overall better performance.
Also, you should not disable Print Spooler if you have a printer connected to your PC. In such case, once you’re done with the following step, go to Win+R: services.msc and set the Print Spooler configuration back to its default which is “Automatic”.
Note: The previous version of the batch file included disabling of Security Accounts Manager (SamSs) which is something that could get you into trouble. That’s why it’s been removed from the latest version.
I also needed to remove Touch Keyboard and Handwriting Panel Service (TabletInputService) from the list because disabling of that service now prevents comfortable searching through Windows by just typing letters over Start menu.

Download a batch file from here. –> Extract it from the zip. –> Right click and run as administrator. (Important, otherwise it will not work.) –> Windows may show a dialog saying “Windows protected your PC”. In such case click on “More info” at the end of the sentence at the top and then click on “Run anyway”. –> Confirm Yes. –> Press any key to run the batch. –> Then press any key to exit Command Prompt. –> You must restart the PC. (If you want to see which services in particular have been disabled, just open the batch file in Notepad.)

A couple notes:
I have read about each service included in this list and been long running my PC without any issues while they’ve been completely disabled. I believe they can be considered unnecessary on most machines. However, there may occur special circumstances under which some of these services may be needed.
If you happen to run into any trouble you can always use this batch file to revert all these changes and set the selected services back to their default configuration. (Note: The second batch file will only revert the configuration of those Windows services disabled by the first batch file, not all of them.)
If you would just like to check what are the current statuses / configuration settings of the selected unnecessary Windows services then you can use this file.
You can find detailed information on all Windows services along with some recommendations e.g. on this website.
1. Services like Remote Registry or Routing and Remote Access are already disabled by default for security reasons in newer Windows versions but again, it’s OK, the batch file will not change anything in those cases.
2. You obviously won’t find AMD External Events Utility among the services if you use a different graphics card but that doesn’t matter, it will be simply skipped.

 You can configure each service manually either in services.msc or in the following location in registry: HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Services\

• Automatic (Delayed Start): Start = 2 + DelayedAutostart = 1

• Automatic: Start = 2
• Manual: Start = 3
• Disabled: Start = 4
If DelatedAutostart is not there, then it will be the same as it being set to 0 (zero).

  Remove Windows Store:
Use Geek Uninstaller (downloaded in one of the previous steps).
Run –> Menu –> View –> Tick Windows Store Apps.
Scroll down, right click on Store and choose Uninstall… When a window pops up with the leftovers, leave all the boxes checked and click Finish –> Close.
You can repeat the same for Store Purchase App.
(There are quite a few other things you could remove – e.g. Mail, Xbox components and many others – those, however, don’t have an impact on performance.)

 Disable Runtime (Time) Broker in registry:
(It’s a performance killer that cannot be disabled via services.msc.)
Win+R: regedit –> Yes.
(Ctrl+F will not serve since you’re looking for a folder.) Paste the following path into the top address bar:
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Services\TimeBrokerSvc
Start –> Value data: 4 –> OK. (4 means disabled, 3 is Manual which is default and 2 is Automatic startup.)

Note: The main instance of RuntimeBroker.exe will still be running in the background because it is necessary and required by certain Windows features, such as Start menu, taskbar or even Microsoft Edge. Therefore it’s not recommended to kill it for good by renaming RuntimeBroker.exe in C:\Windows\System32 if there’s not a specific reason to do that. (More info here.)

 Don’t show used files and folders in Quick access:
(May slow down or even prevent launching Windows File Explorer.)
Open File Explorer (Win+E) –> Right click on Quick access in the left pane –> Options –> General tab:
• Open File Explorer to: This PC.
• Privacy –> Click on the Clear button to clear File Explorer history –> Untick both the following options:
Show recently used files in Quick access
Show frequently used folders in Quick access
Click on Apply –> OK.
[Info]

 Turn off indexing for local drive:
(Note: Even if you have Windows Search disabled you can still turn off indexing for a hard drive as well as external drive. If you rarely need to search for files, it’s a worthwhile trade-off in return for faster performance overall.)
1. Close all programs –> Win+E –> This PC –> Right click on Local Disk (C:) –> Properties –> General –> Uncheck the box Allow files on this drive to have contents indexed… –> Apply –> Choose Apply changes to drive C:\, subfolders and files (otherwise it’s going to still index everything on the drive) –> Apply –> Continue –> OK –> Ignore All (If you get Error Applying Attributes along the way, just go ahead and click Ignore All because it’s probably just system files that are currently in use.) –> (The procedure will take about 4 minutes on a fresh Windows installation.)
2. If you have indexing enabled for your external drive you can apply the same procedure. (Just note that it can take quite long!)

 Speed up / maximize transfers for any connected USB disk drives:
Device Manager –> Disk drives –> Right click on particular connected device (e.g. Kingston DataTraveler 3.0 USB) –> Properties –> Policies tab –> Tick • Better performance –> OK.
Note: You will then always have to use the Safely Remove Hardware notification icon in system tray to disconnect the device safely!
(Write caching is on by default for your internal HDD in newer Windows releases so there’s no need to bother.)

 Make sure the Maximum Performance is selected in Advanced power settings:
(In case you happen not to be running High performance power plan or if you messed up with the settings.)
Right click on the battery icon –> Power Options –> Change plan settings –> Change advanced power settings –> … Graphics Settings –> … Graphics Power Plan –> Plugged in: Maximum Performance.

 Make sure that the fast startup option is on:
(You don’t need to worry if you have just installed a fresh Windows 10 system since the option is on by default. However, that’s not necessarily the case if you have upgraded.)
Right click on the battery icon –> Power Options –> Change what the power buttons do –> Now, under Shutdown settings in the lower part there are several options grayed out. If you can see that the Turn on fast startup option is ticked then everything is fine. If not, click on “Change settings that are currently unavailable” on the top and make sure you have checked the option. That’s it.

 Disable Ultra-Low Power State (crucial if you have a laptop with dual / crossfire graphics):
(Note: The following step needs to be redone every time any of the graphics card drivers have been installed or updated!)
Win+R: regedit –> Ctrl+F: EnableUlps –> Change value data to 0. –> Again: Ctrl+F: EnableUlps –> Find ANOTHER instance of EnableUlps in registry (ignore / skip EnableUlps_NA) –> And again: EnableUlps –> Change value data to 0. –> Restart.

(Here’s one of the online discussions on the topic.)

 Maximize performance in AMD Catalyst Control Center (If you have a laptop with AMD graphics):
(Note: Even if you have the High performance power plan chosen already in Power Options it’s not yet switched to Maximize performance in AMD Graphics Global Settings unless you do so manually.)
Right click on Desktop –> Configure Switchable Graphics –> Switchable Graphics Global Settings –> Plugged In: Maximize Performance –> Apply.

 Disable Additional power-savings (AMD dual graphics only):
(The setting should be available if you have disabled ULPS in the previous step. If you don’t see the option at all just try to check it out later.)
Right-click on Desktop –> Configure Switchable Graphics –> (at the very bottom) Switchable Graphics Global Settings –> Uncheck “Allow additional power-savings” –> Apply –> Close.

 Disable Hotkey features in AMD Catalyst Control Center (AMD graphics only):
Right click on Desktop –> Graphics Properties –> Preferences (top right corner) –> Hotkeys… –> Uncheck Enable Hotkeys feature.

 

If you have applied all the above settings you should now be able to sense the lightness. The way Windows is responding to your commands should now be way different to how sluggish the default system was before. It’s a pleasure to move around in such a snappy environment. Go ahead with tweaking the system according to your individual needs, installing some lightweight, open-source apps and enjoy a Light Flavor of Windows.

 

If you know of anything that might improve Windows performance, don’t hesitate to share your tips in the comments section.

 

OPTIONAL TWEAKS

 Audio Setup:
(If you’re mainly concerned with audio / music quality and if you’re using external speakers or quality headphones.
UPDATE: Things are evolving and I came to the conclusion that it’s better to stick to the 48000 Hz sample rate (which is the Windows default setting) if you’re mostly operating in a digital world to minimize unnecessary oversampling.
Audios in all videos are at 48 kHz. When you play music on YouTube it’s almost always an .opus format which is at 48 kHz. The same goes for Soundcloud that switched to .opuses a few years back. If you run the sound in your audio player on your PC through ASIO driver you don’t need to worry about sample rates as you’re going to get the bit perfect playback anyway.
So the 44.1 kHz really makes sense for CD’s only. Some thoughts on the matter.)

• Install ASIO4ALL. (Do not install ReWuschel, nor Off-Line Settings.)

• Right click on the speaker icon in taskbar –> Sounds –> Playback tab –> Speakers / your current device –> Properties –> Advanced –> change Windows default format to 24 bit, 48000 Hz (Studio Quality). (See further explanation on sample rates below.)
• Right click on the speaker icon in taskbar –> Sounds –> Playback tab –> Speakers / your current device –> Properties –> Enhancements –> Tick Disable all enhancements! (Else there is a bass boost on by default which is supposed to be a compensation for crappy speakers on laptops. It boosts all frequencies below 80 Hz by 6 dB if not set otherwise.)
• Right click on the speaker icon in taskbar –> Sounds –> Sounds tab –> Sound Scheme: No Sounds –> Apply –> OK. (This will turn off all system sounds in Windows.)
• Go to Control Panel –> System and Security –> System –> Advanced system settings (on the left) –> Advanced tab –> Performance: Click on the Settings… button –> Advanced tab –> Change / Adjust for best performance of • Background services.
• Make sure you have Maximum Performance set up in current Windows Power Plan.
(Source)

• Set up all apps tied to AUDIO to use ASIO driver.
WASAPI is supposed to work even better (than ASIO) on Windows (as it’s the official Microsoft replacement for ASIO), however, in my particular case, ASIO works without any issues whereas with WASAPI I can hear some clicks and noises, especially with Push mode. Event mode is better but still, not as clean as ASIO.

• Set up all apps tied to VIDEO to use Built-in WASAPI Audio Renderer.
(There exists a Multichannel ASIO Renderer but I personally experienced issues with it, like distortion or echo, so I don’t use it.)

Please note: Using ASIO (or WASAPI) means that your player can switch sample rates on the fly, but also prevents other apps from using the soundcard at the same time, and sometimes may require restarting other apps (or in Chrome or Firefox, usually just refreshing the page) to get sound working again once the  ASIO- (or WASAPI-) using app has stopped.
Almost all music is 44100 Hz. (High-res music can be 96000 Hz or more.) Almost all movies (DVD/Bluray) are 48000 Hz. Resampling from 44100 to 48000 or vice versa should not be performed. Even sox which has the best resampler ever made cannot handle this without audible defects / some quality loss. So ideally the output sample rate should be the same as your source.
The bit depth can be increased without any quality loss, so this should always be at the highest value (usually 24-bit). It lets you play 24-bit audio and doesn’t impact audio quality (unlike sample rate changes) and Windows’s resampler takes advantage of it when available.
(Source)

 

Extend the Lock Screen Timeout:
1. Win+R: regedit –> Yes –> Go to:
Computer\HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\Power\PowerSettings\7516b95f-f776-4464-8c53-06167f40cc99\8EC4B3A5-6868-48c2-BE75-4F3044BE88A7
–> Double click Attributes –> Change Value data from 1 to 2.
2. Power Options (right click on battery icon) –> Change plan settings –> Change advanced power settings –> Display –> Console lock display off timeout: On battery / Plugged in (Type in for how many minutes you wish the monitor to stick around before it switches off.)
[Source]

 If you’re annoyed by autocorrecting misspelled words (in apps like Skype etc.):
Win+I –> Devices –> Typing –> Autocorrect misspelled words: Off.

 Always show all icons in tray:
(This will spare you one click every time you’re disconnecting USB drives.)
Right click on taskbar –> (Taskbar) settings –> (Scroll a bit lower) Select which icons appear on the taskbar –> Always show all icons in the notification area: On.

 Disable the annoying “ding” sound whenever changing volume:
Right click on sound icon in system tray –> Sounds –> Sounds –> Program events: Select “Default Beep” –> From the Sounds: drop-down menu below select (None) (at the very top) –> OK.

 Disable permission confirmations for admin:
Control Panel (Just press Windows key and start typing “con…” and hit Enter) –> User Accounts –> User Accounts –> Change User Account Control settings –> (Drag the slider all the way down) Never Notify –> OK –> Yes.

 Unpin all Live Tiles from Start menu:
Start button –> Start menu… Right click on each tile one by one and select Unpin from Start. (Start menu will shrink automatically.)

 Remove image wallpaper:
(Even such details can save little resources and drop by drop they actually amount to a not negligible relief for the system.)
Right click on Desktop –> Personalize –> Background: Solid color.

 Hide Task View button:
Right click on taskbar –> Uncheck Show Task View button.

 Hide People button:
(No need if you have turned off People in Taskbar settings as mentioned above.)

Right click on taskbar –> Uncheck Show People button.

 Remove all unnecessary icons from taskbar:
Right click on the Mail icon, Store icon etc. in taskbar –> Unpin from taskbar.

 Choose dark mode or different Windows (accent) color if you like to:
Win+I –> Personalization –> Colors –> Choose your default app mode • Dark.
Win+I –> Personalization –> Colors –> Windows colors: • Color of your choice.

 Remove Take Ownership from context menu:
(If you added the option in previous step you can now just clean it up if you don’t further use it.)
Take Ownership Menu Hacks –> (No need to unpack.) Double click on Remove Take Ownership from Context Menu (Default).reg –> Yes –> OK.

 Add folders to Start menu:
(Strictly individual but I guess it’s quite handy to have direct access to these folders should you later don’t forget about it and actually utilize it.)
Win+I –> Personalization –> Start –> (Scroll down to) Choose which folders appear on Start –> Turn on: • Documents  • Downloads  • Music  • Pictures  • Videos

 Increase volume:
(This is only when you have issues with poor volume on laptops. Make sure the step is not causing some unwanted distortion of sound.)
Right click on sound icon in system tray –> Sounds –> Playback –> Right click on Speakers –> Properties –> Enhancements –> Check • Loudness Equalization –> OK –> OK.

 Clean up unnecessary files:
Win+E –> This PC –> Right click on Local Disk (C:) –> Properties –> (General tab) –> Click on Disk Cleanup –> Check all the boxes –> OK –> Delete Files –> OK.
(Make sure that the files have actually been removed. If not, rinse & repeat.)

 

 Tip 1: If you want to delete recently opened items:
Win+I –> Personalization –> Start –> Show recently opened items in Jump Lists on Start or the taskbar: Just turn the switch off and back on – all the recent items / shortcuts will be deleted.

Note: If you want to remove the Jump Lists manually – they are stored in the following (hidden) location:
%APPDATA%\Microsoft\Windows\Recent\AutomaticDestinations
(Be careful though as by doing so you will also remove any custom shortcuts from Windows Explorer Quick access.)

 Tip 2: If you want to do some cleaning you can delete content of the following folders:
C:\Windows\Temp
Win+R: temp
C:\Users\%username%\AppData\Local\Temp
Win+R: %temp%
C:\Windows\Prefetch
Win+R: prefetch

C:\Users\%username%\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Windows\Recent

C:\ProgramData\Microsoft\Windows\WER\ReportArchive
C:\Users\%username%\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Windows\INetCache\IE (*See the note below.)

You can go carefully through the subfolders in the below location and delete the shortcuts to anything that is no longer being in use on your system. However, it’s better to leave this task up to a cleaning program. Do not remove anything you’re not sure about as you can corrupt your shortcuts easily.
C:\Users\%username%\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Quick Launch\User Pinned\ImplicitAppShortcuts

Also, you can delete all the .log.old, .tmp.tmp.LOG1 and .tmp.LOG2 files wherever they are. You can most likely find some in the 3 folders listed below. (Obviously, do not remove any other file types except for those mentioned!)
C:\Windows
C:\Windows\security\logs
C:\Windows\debug

You can also delete the files the name of which begins with thumbcache_… in the below folder. (Note: Windows may not allow you to delete all of them so just click on Skip if the dialog appears.)
C:\Users\%username%\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Windows\Explorer

*In order to see the files in the \INetCache\IE folder you must go to File Explorer Options first (hit Windows key, start typing “fold…” and click on Show hidden files and folders) and then uncheck Hide protected operating system files –> Yes –> Apply. (It’s not enough to just check Hidden items in Explorer View menu.) I guess you will not like a ghost desktop.ini file defacing your Desktop so you might want to hide protected files back again.
You’ll need to provide administrator permission to delete some files or folders (confirm Continue on additional window). If you happen to encounter any files that can’t be deleted at all just skip them in the dialog window.

Of course, you can as well use a dedicated tool to do the job, such as Glary Utilities Portable, which will provide you with additional option to fix registry entries.

If you want to sweep out even more, use BleachBit Portable, just leave the following 2 boxes unticked:
○ System: Free disk space (Takes ages.)
○ Windows Explorer: Recent documents list (Messes up with Quick access favorites in WE.**)

**If it does happen and you have already messed up the Quick access menu in Windows Explorer, more specifically, if you can’t, for the life of you, remove some item, such as OneDrive, from there, then just go to:
%APPDATA%\Microsoft\Windows\Recent\AutomaticDestinations
Remove everything from there and configure Quick access to your liking again.

 Tip 3: If you wonder how to search for a part of a string containing brackets in Windows Explorer, here’s a solution:
name:~”*(whatever)*”

 Complete List of Environment Variables in Windows 10:
Link 1
Link 2
Link 3

Frequently used:
%AppData% = C:\Users\{username}\AppData\Roaming
%LocalAppData% = C:\Users\{username}\AppData\Local
%UserProfile%\Documents = C:\Users\{username}\Documents

 

Go on to the next section: NETWORK

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