Tweak for Speed

Preconditions

A couple of things before we dive into tweaking:

  1. You absolutely must not connect to the Internet unless you have taken care of Windows Update. Otherwise it can mess up with your drivers and cause all sorts of issues. If you're goal is full control and a clean system, make sure you pacify Windows Update before anything else (see further below).
  2. Most of the following steps can only be completed if you have an Administrator account.
  3. Many of the following tweaks take advantage of Group Policy Editor. If you're on Windows Home, you'll need to resurrect this tool first because it's not available out of the box. The very next paragraph explains how to do that.
  4. The instructions described on this page are based on Windows 10 (basically both Home and Pro), version 21H1, but they will apply to or should look similar on other Windows releases as well. See this note if you've already been lured into Windows 11.
  5. Tweaks marked with an asterisk (*) don't need to be made if you're running Windows installed from my Light Flavor ISO as they have already been implemented.

Enable Group Policy Editor

This only concerns Windows Home. Skip this step if you're running Windows Pro.

  • Press (Windows key) + R → type 'cmd' and hit Ctrl + Shift + Enter to run Command Prompt App as administrator → copy the command from the snippet below and paste it in the program, (you can use right click for pasting). Note that you must use traditional Command Prompt for this, not the Windows PowerShell.
FOR %F IN (“%SystemRoot%\servicing\Packages\Microsoft-Windows-GroupPolicy-ClientTools-Package~*.mum”) DO (
DISM /Online /NoRestart /Add-Package:”%F”
)
FOR %F IN (“%SystemRoot%\servicing\Packages\Microsoft-Windows-GroupPolicy-ClientExtensions-Package~*.mum”) DO (
DISM /Online /NoRestart /Add-Package:”%F”
)

Disable Drivers Download*

  • Press (Windows key) + R → type 'control' and hit Enter to enter Control Panel → System and Security → System → Advanced system settings → Hardware tab → Device Installation Settings → • No → Save changes

Disable Windows Update

  • + R: gpedit.msc → Computer Configuration → Administrative Templates → Windows Components → Windows Update:
  • Configure Automatic Updates: • Disabled
  • Specify intranet Microsoft update service location: • Enabled… → Set the intranet update service for detecting updates: http:\\neverupdatewindows10.com
    Set the intranet statistics server: http:\\neverupdatewindows10.com
  • Remove access to use all Windows Update features: • Enabled
  • Do not connect to any Windows Update Internet locations: • Enabled
  • Do not include drivers with Windows Updates: • Enabled

We're not done yet. This evil is not so easy to get rid of. We'll have to take a bit more drastic measures now and it'll get a bit more complicated.

When you go to C:\Windows\System32\ you'll find these two guys that must be pacified and put to rest:

  1. wuaueng.dll
  2. wuauclt.exe

First off, you need to 'unlock' them for editing. The .dll can be 'unlocked' more easily using the Take-Ownership-Menu-Hacks tool. Just download the tool, double click the 'Add Take Ownership to Context menu.reg' and confirm 'Yes'. Then right click the wuaueng.dll file and choose 'Take Ownership'.

But the .exe is a tough one. You'll need to remove the default permissions manually. You can find a detailed instruction on how to do that in this article.

Now, when they're both unlocked, just rename them to something else, say:

  1. wuaueng.dll.bak
  2. wuauclt.exe.bak
  • Restart.

Note that by doing that you won't be able to use the service at all, not even temporarily, unless you change the names of the files and revert the settings back to where they were.

Only now can you safely connect to the Internet, install all drivers, etc. If you happen to find yourself in a situation where you need to reinstall display drivers, use DDU to uninstall the old ones.

Configure BIOS

Let's not forget about BIOS. We can now go there again and make a couple of adjustments.

  • BIOS (F2 on Lenovo) → Security → Secure Boot → Enabled (It's one of the rare security features that doesn't do any harm. Keeping this disabled would not yield any benefits. It would not speed up the boot time or anything like that. So, let's turn it back on and forget about it.)
  • BIOS → Boot → USB Boot → Disabled (This is unnecessary and only needed during the system installation or if you want to boot another system from USB.)

Turn Off Indexing

This is best to be done right after a fresh system installation, as long as there are not many files on your hard drive. It's because the more files there are stored on your internal drive, the more time the process will take.

  • This PC → Local Disk (Usually C:) → Properties → General → Untick 'Allow files on this drive to have contents indexed…' → Apply → • Apply to C, subfolders and files → OK → Continue → Ignore All

I would turn the indexing off also on all external drives you're going to use very often. Follow the same procedure.

Switch to the Best Performance

On some of the newer machines, there's no longer the option to choose or create another power plan. Not even through the Command Prompt. You're stuck with the default Balanced one. But that's not a big deal because when you look closely into the advanced settings of that plan, you'll notice there's really nothing that could be adjusted to improve performance in any way. So, all you can do in such case, is the following:

  • Left click the battery icon in system tray and drag the slider all the way to the right where it says 'Best performance'.

Enable Hardware Acceleration*

  • Right click anywhere on Desktop → Display settings → (Scroll all the way down and click on) Graphics settings → Hardware-accelerated GPU scheduling: • On (The change requires restart to take effect.)

Turn Off Transparency Effects

  • + I → Personalization → Colors → Transparency effects: • Off

Turn Off Visual Effects

  • + I → System → About → Advanced system settings → Advanced → Performance: Settings… → Visual Effects: Untick everything except:
    Show thumbnails instead of icons
    Smooth edges of screen fonts

Turn Off UAC*

Turn this off even if you're not going to use local server.

  • + R: control → User Accounts → User Accounts → Change User Account Control settings → Never notify (Turn the slider all the way down) → OK → Yes

If you ever happen to encounter a nasty, red message that says 'This app has been blocked for your protection', you will need to disable the UAC in registry:

  • + R: regedit →
    Computer\HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Policies\System
    Double click EnableLUA and change Value data to: 0
    Then you must restart the machine.

Turn Off UAC Notifications

  • + R: control → System and Security → Security and Maintenance → Change Security and Maintenance settings (left pane) → Security messages: Untick User Account Control

Disable Windows Security Notification Icon*

  • + I → Apps → Startup → Disable Windows Security notification icon

Disable Action Center Icon*

  • Right click on taskbar → Taskbar settings → Turn system icons on or off → Action Center → • Off

Disable Privacy Options

  • + I → Privacy → General → Turn off everything

Disable Background Apps

  • + I → Privacy → Background apps → Let apps run… → • Disable

Uninstall Unused Apps*

  • + I → Apps → Apps & features → Uninstall Microsoft OneDrive, Skype, etc.

Unpin All Tiles From Start Menu

  • Start menu → Right click the icons one by one and select Unpin.

Hide Unused Utilities From Taskbar*

  • Right click on taskbar →
    • Untick Show Cortana button
    • Untick Show Task View button
    • Search → Hidden
  • Unpin all programs you don’t use and pin just those you use very often.

Disable Windows Defender*

  • + I → Update & Security → Windows Security → Virus & threat protection → Virus & threat protection settings: Manage settings → Tamper Protection: • Off (This is necessary otherwise the Real-time protection gets enabled back again upon the next restart.)

Optionally, while here, you can disable both the Cloud-delivered protection and Automatic sample submission as well.

  • Right click Start menu button → Windows PowerShell (Admin) → Paste the following command:
REG ADD "HKLM\SOFTWARE\Policies\Microsoft\Windows Defender\Real-Time Protection" /v DisableRealtimeMonitoring /t REG_DWORD /d 1 /f
  • Restart.

If you need to turn it back on for some reason, use the following command:

REG DELETE "HKLM\SOFTWARE\Policies\Microsoft\Windows Defender\Real-Time Protection" /v DisableRealtimeMonitoring

Disable Virus Notifications*

  • + I → Update & Security → Windows Security → Virus & threat protection → Virus & threat protection settings: Manage settings → Notifications: Change notification settings → Virus & threat protection notifications → • Off

Turn Off Security Center

This is the same story as with the two guys we've talked about in Windows Update section. Same location, two other files that just need to be unlocked for editing and renamed.

So again, go to C:\Windows\System32\ and look for these two villains:

  1. ActionCenter.dll
  2. ActionCenterCPL.dll

Unlock them both using the Take-Ownership-Menu-Hacks tool and just rename them to, say:

  1. ActionCenter.dll.bak
  2. ActionCenterCPL.dll.bak
  • Restart.

Disable SmartScreen

  • + I → Update & Security → Windows Security → Apps & browser control → Reputation-based protection: Reputation-based protection settings → Check apps and files: • Off
  • + R: gpedit.msc → Computer Configuration –> Administrative Templates → Windows Components → File Explorer → Configure Windows Defender SmartScreen → • Disabled (No restart needed.)

Disable Cortana

  • + R: gpedit.msc → Computer Configuration → Administrative Templates → Windows Components → Search →
  • Allow Cloud Search → • Disabled
  • Allow Cortana → • Disabled
  • Allow Cortana above lock screen → • Disabled
  • Allow Cortana Page in OOBE on an AAD account → • Disabled
  • Allow search and Cortana to use location → • Disabled

Minimize Telemetry

  • + R: gpedit.msc → Computer Configuration → Administrative Templates → Windows Components → Data Collection and Preview Builds → Allow Telemetry → • Enable 0 – Security [Enterprise Only]

Remove Windows Features*

  • + I → Apps → Programs and Features (on the right) → Turn Windows features on or off → Untick:
  • Internet Explorer 11 → Yes
  • Media Features
  • Microsoft Print to PDF
  • Microsoft XPS Document Writer
  • Print and Document Services
  • Remote Differential Compression API Support
  • Windows PowerShell 2.0
  • Work Folders Client
  • Click OK → Restart now

Disable Useless Windows Services*

Download this batch file. Right click on it and choose 'Run as administrator'. Then just press any key. This will disable 40 Windows services you're most probably never going to use so it should mostly be safe to disable them and free up some resources that way. Press any key one more again and restart your computer.

The list has been made according to Black Viper's 'Safe for LAPTOP or TABLET' configuration. Just for the record, the same adjustments overlap with both the 'Safe for DESKTOP' and 'Tweaked for DESKTOP' configurations as well.

Disable Privacy and Maintenance Tasks

By far the easiest way to disable all tasks listed below at once is to use this batch file. Again, download, right click and choose 'Run as administrator'. And you're done. 

Here's a manual way of doing the same thing, just for the record: 

  • + R: taskschd.msc → Task Scheduler Library → Microsoft → Windows → Select the given category and then right click all associated tasks and choose Disable:
  • Application Experience
  • Autochk
  • CloudExperienceHost
  • Customer Experience Improvement Program
  • DiskDiagnostic
  • DiskFootprint
  • Feedback → Siuf
  • File History
  • Location
  • Management → Provisioning
  • Maps
  • Mobile Broadband Accounts
  • Power Efficiency Diagnostic
  • RemoteAssistance
  • RetailDemo
  • Shell
  • Windows Error Reporting
  • Windows Media Sharing
  • Work Folders

Disable All Programs From Startup

  • Ctrl + Shift + Esc → (More details) → Startup → Right click them all one by one and choose Disabled. (This also applies to things like Realtek HD Audio, etc. No worries, the audio driver itself will be working fine without it.)

Turn Off Game Mode*

Game Mode is said to have very little to no effect on gaming performance and it may only be useful on low-end systems. It's safer to turn it off to prevent any issues it may cause.

  • + I → Gaming → Game Mode → Game Mode: • Off

While you're here you can as well disable the Xbox Game Bar though it doesn't directly affect performance.

Disable Splash Screen at Startup

  • + R: msconfig → Boot tab → Tick No GUI boot

Turn Off Scaling for Apps

This is to prevent your screen from flickering if Windows happens to try to 'fix' apps that may appear blurry if they don't match screen resolution.

  • Right click anywhere on desktop → Display settings → Scale and layout: Advanced scaling settings → Let Windows try to fix apps so they’re not blurry: • Off

Never Put Computer to Sleep

This is important because, by default, Windows will put your PC to sleep after 10 minutes of inactivity (or 4 minutes if you're on battery) when on the Balanced power plan. Which means that, ridiculous as it may sound, you may not be able to finish an action if it takes longer than that. The operation will be paused and, depending on the program in question, it's not guaranteed that you'll manage to resume it.

  • Right click the battery icon in system tray → Power Options → Change when computer sleeps → Put the computer to sleep:
    On battery: 1 hour
    Plugged in: Never

The Windows Search application takes up a little too much resource to my taste so I prefer disabling it altogether. However, you should not do this if you want to utilize this feature. Once you have disabled the app, you won't be able to quick jump to certain Windows features or settings by typing their names on hitting the Start button. I'm quite used to the 'Run' box / + R method of jumping to things like Control Panel, Command Prompt, etc., so I don't really need this running in the background. The good thing is that searching for files or folders via the search box in Windows File Explorer won't be affected and will still perform well. So, to me personally, this is a win-win. But again, your mileage may vary.

  • Ctrl + Shift + Esc (to open Task Manager) → Processes tab → Scroll down and find 'Search' (blue icon) → Right click and choose 'End task'. → The process will immediately appear back in the list so you'll need to repeat this 6 times to kill it for good. → Once it's not coming back anymore, do the following:
  • Go to C:\Windows\SystemApps\ → Right click on
    Microsoft.Windows.Search_cw5n1h2txyewy
    and use the Take-Ownership-Menu-Hacks tool to Take Ownership over the folder. → Now, just rename the folder, say, by appending a word 'backup' to it. So you'll get something like this:
    Microsoft.Windows.Search_cw5n1h2txyewy.backup
    That's it.

Turn Off Windows Sounds

  • Right click the sound icon in system tray → Sounds → Sounds → Sound Scheme: No Sounds

Optimize Performance for Audio

This tweak is only relevant if you want to optimize your system for audio experience. Otherwise, you should ignore this.

A comprehensive guide on the topic can be found in this article.

The most notable tweak to keep in mind is that, in order to get the most performance from audio gear, it is best to set your processor to handle background services first, because audio drivers run in the background, and not as separate programs.

  • + I → System → About → Advanced system settings (on the right) → Advanced → Performance: Settings… → Advanced: • Background services

Delete Temporary Files

You can delete everything you'll find in the following folders:

  • %LocalAppData%\Temp = + R: %temp%
  • C:\Windows\Temp = + R: temp
  • C:\Windows\Prefetch = + R: prefetch

You can also do the following:

  • + I → System → Storage → Temporary files → Click 'Remove files'

Congratulations. You have now completed the basic setup and can start enjoying a Light Flavor of Windows.

Useful Variables

VariablePath
%AppData%C:\Users\{user}\AppData\Roaming
%LocalAppData%C:\Users\{user}\AppData\Local
shell:startupC:\Users\{user}\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\Programs\Startup

© 2022 | Built with by Pavel Patloch