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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.

Theres lots of debate as to how to best configure Windows paging file, but unless you consistently run tons of applications a run out of physical and virtual memory, Microsofts recommended paging file size should be fine. The recommended size of the paging file is going to vary based on how much memory is installed in your system; in our Eee PC, which had 2GB of RAM, the recommended size for the paging file was 2039MB. By default, Windows will start with a smaller paging file and scale it up on the fly if necessary. By manually specifying the paging file size, Windows will no longer have to dynamically manage the file and the recommended amount will always be available.

To specify the paging file size in Windows 8, select the Custom Size: radio button in the middle of the Virtual Memory control panel and then input the recommended paging file size in megabytes (listed at the bottom of the window) in both the Initial Size and Maximum Size fields. Then click the Set button, click OK, and the click OK to close the Performance Options window. Click OK in the System Properties window as well, then restart the computer if necessary. However, as noted earlier, you really don't have to do this.

Disable unnecessary items

To further optimize Windows 8 on older hardware, we recommend disabling as many unnecessary startup items and services as possible, disabling any unused hardware, and turning off any nonessential Live Tiles.

Turning off Live Tiles couldnt be any easier. On the Start Screen, simply right-click on any Live Tile and select the option to turn it off. By default, Windows 8 launches with the Sports, Travel, Finance, News, Mail, Bing and Weather live tiles all active. If there are any you can live without, disable them to prevent Windows 8 from constantly fetching data and updating them.

There probably arent many hardware components that can be disabled, but by doing so Windows will boot faster and with more available memory because the components driver wont be initialized. There are two ways of disabling hardwarevia the system BIOS or in Device Manager. The BIOS method is preferred because the component wont even be recognized by Windows, which will prevent its drivers from loading at all. The exact procedure is going to vary from system to system, but typically youll have to press F2 or DEL when your system is first powered up to enter the BIOS and then navigate to the Integrated Peripherals section where items can then be disabled. To disable hardware components via Device Manager, 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 in the System control panel click on Device Manger. When the Device Manger window opens, click on any arrow next to a hardware group to expand the list, and the right-click on an item youd like to disable and select Disable from the context menu. On our system, we disabled the wired network controller since we were using Wi-Fi and also a Bluetooth controller. Many systems still have BIOS entries for serial ports (RS-232); this can usually be disabled as well.


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