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How to optimize Windows 8 on old hardware

Marco Chiappetta | Oct. 24, 2012
Microsoft has made a point of advertising the performance enhancements and optimizations being made to Windows 8. Although Windows 7 was well received and typically offered better performance and stability than its much-maligned predecessor, Windows Vista, Microsoft had some loftier goals in mind for the jump to Windows 8.

Another free tool available at, CCleaner, can also come in handy when optimizing a system. Not only does CCleaner do a good job of augmenting Windows built-in Disk Cleanup utility to better clean out junk files and reclaim disk space, but it has easy-to-use options for cleaning out startup items too. On a fresh installation of Windows 8, the removal of unnecessary startup items is less important, but if youre upgrading a system thats already running an older version of Windows, all of the junk thats polluted the original OS will migrate to the Windows 8 upgrade, so all of the unnecessary junk should be cleaned out.

Here's what we did for our aging Asus Eee PC: First, install Windows 8 to a freshly formatted drive. Next, update the OS and install any patches and drivers available from Microsoft Update. Check the websites of your major component manufacturers (your graphics card, monitor, etc.) and install the latest drivers, then download and install CCleaner from Piriform's website (mentioned earlier). If you're using a standard hard drive (not an SSD), you should also download and install Defraggler. Finally, run Windows built-in Disk Cleanup tool and CCleaner. If you have a hard drive  run Defraggler and defrag the disk for optimum performance; we didn't need to do this since our eeePC is now running an SSD.

Make some changes

After installing the OS and cleaning up any junk leftover from the installation and update procedures, we move on to tweaking some of Windows 8s settings to better suit our aged PC. Our first stop was the Advanced System Settings menu, where we can alter the OS virtual memory settings and visual options.To get to the Advanced System Settings in Windows 8, switch to Desktop mode, click the Libraries shortcut in the taskbar, and then right-click on Computer. In the resulting context menu, select Properties, and the System control panel will open. Click on Advanced System Settings in the left pane of the window and the System Properties control panel will open. Click on the Advanced tab, and then click on the Settings button in the Performance section at the top to open the Performance Options control panel. Once open, click on the Visual Effects tab at the top and then tick the "Adjust For Best Performance" option and hit Apply. If there is a particular visual effect youd prefer to leave enabled, you can individually select it here, but the more options that are disabled the better your PC's performance will be.

While the Performance Options control panel is still open, click on the Advanced tab at the top and on the resulting menu click on the Change button in the Virtual Memory section.


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