Windows

How do I ... tweak performance with Vista Services Optimizer?

The Vista Service Optimizer is a tool that can diagnose your machine and offer up suggestions for eking out more performance. Jack Wallen takes a look at this tool to see how well it works.

For many, Microsoft Windows Vista is plagued with performance issues. Most point the finger of performance degradation to Aero, but Aero is not alone in misusing hardware resources. There are so many possible tweaks and tune-ups that it would take hours of research and downtime to get the best possible performance from your machine. There is an alternative.

The Vista Services Optimizer is a tool that can diagnose your machine and offer suggestions for eking out more performance. Whether you want to handle the task manually or have the Service Optimizer take care of it automatically, this tool might be just the solution for a sluggish Vista machine. Let's take a look and see how well it works.

This blog post is also available in PDF format in a TechRepublic download.

Getting and installing

The executable binary can be found on Download.com. Once that file is downloaded, you simply have to undertake the standard Windows installation procedure and double-click the file. There is one thing you will want to pay close attention to: where the executable is installed.

Upon first installation I assumed it would create an entry in the Start menu. It didn't. After much digging I finally found the executable in C:\Program Files\Smart PC Utilities\Vista Services Optimizer. You could create a shortcut to that file on your desktop or elsewhere if you feel it necessary.

Once you have located the executable, double-click it to open up the main window. Of course this is Vista, and VSO is going to want to access the network, so you're going to have to allow the program to access the network before it will start up.

The main window (Figure A) gives you an instant idea of how your machine is performing.

Figure A

A quick glance is all you need to see how well Vista is using your CPU.
The first thing you might want to do is run a Service Diagnostic exam. When you run this you are examining performance and security. You will need to select Sharing options (if your computer is sharing files and if it has an network connection) as well as specify attached hardware, firewall options, and current compatibility issues. Figure B highlights these configuration options.

Figure B

The diagnostic tools will use these options as criteria for the scan.

Once you have made these selections, click the Start Diagnostics button to begin the examination. What is surprising is that the results are instant. This, of course, indicates the diagnostics isn't actually a scan that is run on your machine but results issued based on the criteria you select. The results will be in the form of suggestion that will help to make your Vista installation much more efficient. You may or may not act upon them, but they will at least give you an idea where to begin.

From that point there are two actions you should look at: Manual Tuneup or Automatic Tuneup.

Manual Tuneup

The Manual Tuneup (Figure C) allows you to specify what to change for your tune-up. Under the Manual Tuneup there are four tabs:
  • Performance Tuneup
  • Security Tuneup
  • Network Tuneup, and
  • Tuneup Report

The Performance tab is the tab that will bring about the biggest boost to performance. But that does not mean you should neglect the other tabs. The Security tab will allow you to go as far as disabling all the Microsoft Windows Security features (such as Firewall and Defender).

Figure C

Hover your mouse over each option for a full description.

Automatic Tuneup

The Automatic Tuneup option (Figure D) requires you to answer only a few simple questions that relate to how you use your computer. Based on these answers, Vista Services Optimizer will tune Vista to perform best for your needs.

Figure D

The automatic tuneup is a much easier tune-up but not as complete.

Once you have selected the type of tune-up you want and configured any options, click the Apply Changes to begin the tune-up.

A typically tune-up will take only a minute or so. Once the tune-up is complete, you will receive a detailed report of what was done, and then Vista Services Optimizer will request a restart of Windows to complete the process. Go ahead with this reboot.

Once I completed my tune-up (a manual tune-up where I disabled a number of the Windows security and optimization tools), I noticed quite a bit of improvement with Vista. My average CPU usage dropped from 23 percent to around 12 percent --  a fairly marked improvement.

Final thoughts

The Vista Services Optimizer is certainly worth your time. You get positive results from a free tool, and anything that can make Vista more usable is worth the price of admission.

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About

Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website getjackd.net.

14 comments
ray_kirkwood
ray_kirkwood

Vista Services Optimizer seems to have disappeared. I get a broken link reply when I try to download it.

NetropolisII
NetropolisII

Nifty utility. Helped streamline services on my Vista Ultimate 64bit system. Seems to boot a tad bit faster also.

Ron_007
Ron_007

It took a lot of clicking on the download site, but I was able to download without "joining". I was able to install it on vista business 32, but the app does not draw correctly. Parts of the app are outside of the visible window and cannot be scrolled up for viewing. ker-plop, uninstall!

Marshallman
Marshallman

went to page for downloading, and it was not allowing any downloads

Gigabytez69
Gigabytez69

This download link does not work. I would like to see what this prg does but the software is not downloadable from the MediaFire website that the product webpage suggests for download from.

georgelawlor16
georgelawlor16

If it is a free download Then make it so. This download page simply wanted me to register, to join, to jump through their hoops. No Thanks! I Googled the Vista Services Optimizer and found another site where the down load was actually FREE!!!

djpotter7
djpotter7

I have to agree in part. I followed the directions, which seemed simple enough and never reached a download site that actually allowed me to download the software. The review of the software sounded promising but I was disappointed. If someone knows exactly how to get to the download please advise. I would like to share this with my Educational Technology students.

Jaqui
Jaqui

a problem with ANOTHER SITE'S practices. you should take it up with the site that actually has the download.

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