I was just reading How to speed up Windows Vista on tech.msn.com, written by Scott Dunn of PC World, and it got me thinking about what I do to get a more responsive system (anything to shorten those build+test cycles!)
1. I have a USB drive for Windows ReadyBoost. This one really makes a difference - when I need to repurpose the drive for something, I usually want to get it back as soon as possible.
2. Rather than disabling the Windows Sidebar, I've actually written a bunch of small gadgets that make me more productive. I have a little count-down thing that uses the speech automation API to remind when I need to interrupt myself for something; a very dense mini-app-launcher; and one that keeps track of the next bus I should take to get home (better for the environment than driving, you see). And a couple of others that haven't done so well (I also have a local HTML page with lots of scripting as my homepage, for Internet-related stuff). Sure, it's one extra process, but it more than makes up for it in productivity.
3. The defrag options are fine for me, but I guess your mileage may vary. I never found it to be a problem.
4. I carefully tweak the settings for Instant Search. There are parts of my disk that I never want to index - like large source trees that get updated all the time. And yet there are others that I desperately want to have available - I have daily OneNote work notes that have saved me many many times and are super-helpful.
5. Other things I've played with are visual settings (themes, 'extras' like pointer shadows or window resizing and so forth). To be honest, I keep going back and forth from one end to the spectrum to another, depending on how I'm feeling - sometimes I want every CPU cycle, sometimes I really feel I should be treating myself to the gorgeous UI Windows Vista has.
Well, those are the ones that come to mind. Tweak, personalize & enjoy!
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