Fine Tune Windows 7 on Netbooks

Published in multiple categories by Steve Sinchak with 209,822 views

According to a report by DisplayBank in 2008 over 14.9 million netbooks were sold with that number expected to almost double in 2009. Netbooks have become a great secondary PC when you want a very portable and low cost way to do basic computing. Many ship with Windows XP home edition but that is just not as fun and helpful to use as Windows 7. 

Like many of you I loaded Windows 7 on my netbook and it performed just OK.  It provided a huge performance improvement over Windows Vista but was not as snappy as I wanted.  The key to speeding up Windows 7 on a netbook with limited resources is to turn off and disable features that you don’t need. After all, it’s a netbook and there are many Windows components that will never be used. Additionally, disabling un-needed components will extend your battery life since fewer processes will be using the CPU running in the background.

Fine Tune Visual Settings

The Windows 7 eye candy is the main cause of GUI slowness. While my netbook has a decent graphics card that can display Aero Glass it can be choppy at times. Follow these steps to improve the performance of the interface:

Click on the Start Button and type in adjust the appearance and hit Enter. This will load the Visual Effects performance options.

On this screen I suggest disabling the following settings by removing the check:

  • Animate controls and elements inside windows
  • Animate windows when minimizing and maximizing
  • Enable transparent glass 
  • Fade or slide menus into view
  • Fade or slide ToolTips into view
  • Fade out menu items after clicking
  • Show shadows under windows (this may be worth the performance hit for some)
  • show thumbnails instead of icons
  • show translucent selection rectangle 
  • Show window contents while dragging
  • Slide open combo boxes

Click OK when you are finished.

Remove Startup Programs

Nothing wastes resources more is startup programs that you don’t need. Click on the Start Button and type in msconfig and hit Enter.

When the System Configuration utility is loaded click on the Startup tab.

Remove the check next to any applications you don’t need and click OK.

Disable Services

Now it’s time to trim the Windows services running in the background of your computer.

Click on the Start Button and type in services.msc and hit Enter. 

When the Services management console is shown you can stop and disable services by selecting the service, right clicking and selecting Properties. Then change the Startup type to Disabled and hit the Stop button. Finally click OK to return to the Services management console.

I recommend disabling the following services on a netbook:

  • Block Level Backup Engine Service
  • Bonjour Service (from iTunes) 
  • Certificate Propagation
  • Group Policy Client (if not on domain) 
  • HomeGroup Listener
  • HomeGroup Provider
  • Offline Files
  • Portable Device Enumerator Service
  • Security Center*
  • Software Protection (make sure you activate Windows first) 
  • SSDP Discovery
  • Windows Defender*
  • Windows Media Player Network Sharing Service
  • Windows Search

Keep in mind that if you use any of these services or applications that depend on them they will no longer function. E.g. if you are a homegroup user don’t disable the Homegroup Provider.

* Make sure you use other security software if you disable these services.

Install More RAM

There is really no good substitute to having plenty of ram in a computer. You can use ReadyBoost but with memory prices so cheap why not just buy more. I purchased a 2GB chip for my netbook for $16 (hopefully the mail-in rebate will come through).

The popular Intel Atom processor netbooks use the Mobile Intel 945GSE Express Chipset that has a max of 2GB of ram supported. The amount of expansion slots or if your netbook even has one depends on the vendor and model of your netbook.

I suggest picking up a 2GB stick of PC2-5300 DDR2 at 667 Mhz on a 200 pin SO-DIMM. That is the type of memory required for the Mobile Intel 945GSE Express Chipset.

Installing is simple. Lenovo even has a video for the Ideapad S10.

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Nice work Thanks

Posted by silverfoxdk on 5 years ago

Posted by azs on 5 years ago

Turning off Software Protection can disable Windows license and gives possible warning...
Posted by grad on 5 years ago

No point adding more RAM to improve performance as Windows 7 will treat it as a cache for applications you rarely ever use rather than foreground apps that required ad-hoc. I speak from years of frustration with superfetch in Vista to Windows 7 with a sluggish and slow desktop as a consequence. Stay with XP at all costs!
Posted by Spazzie on 4 years ago

Grad, True and it will also prevent you from activating your computer if it is not activated. But once its activated...

Spazzie, I don't think your observations of RAM on Vista carry over to Windows 7. Superfetch works differently in win7. Take a look at the cache chart here for some proof: Also, if superfetch on Vista is causing you problems why not just turn it off?
Posted by Steve Sinchak on 4 years ago

Cut my reboot time almost in half, even though I couldn't disable a lot of the services because I actually use them. But all around, thanks so much for the tips!
Posted by tjsalis on 4 years ago

Most of these tweaks won't do much. The visual effects you speak of, for example, do little to help overall performance as they usually only apply when working with windows, and they all perform fine anyway.
Disabling services is usually a no-no, as they perform critical functions and can cause subtle errors which you have no idea why they happen. Most of the services are Manual, meaning they are rarely, if ever, used. And if they are, it's because they're needed. The WMP share service and Windows Search (at least the former) I might agree should be disabled, because they are resource hoggers.
Posted by Anonymous on 4 years ago

Anonymous, I disagree. I was able to improve the performance on my Lenovo S10 with these tips. The visual settings helped a lot because the graphics chip is not very powerful and disabling services helped as well. I would say that disabling services is only a "no-no" for beginner users that don't have good troubleshooting skills. Yes, disabling some services can cause problems if you use those features but any damage is fully reversible by enabling the service again while troubleshooting issues so I think its worth a try.
Posted by Steve Sinchak on 4 years ago

Don't insatll these tweaks
Posted by Anonymous on 4 years ago

Small memory footprint systems may also encounter problems with SuperFetch, even on Windows 7. I recommend turning off the SuperFetch service on Windows 7 systems with 1GB of RAM or less, along with the updates above. Also, slower and lower memory systems will also benefit from turning off the Windows Indexing functionality, which can be turned off in the Windows features control panel.
Posted by Kevin on 4 years ago


On my netbook, Asus T91MT, your recommendations helped a lot. I implemented all visual settings and diabled a lot of star-up nonsense. I did not disable security center, windows search and homegroup services. Still the difference is remarable. Thanks a lot.

Posted by Tom on 4 years ago

@ Anon,

You don't have to install the tweaks, just change the settings within your windows.
Posted by Kakynologyst on 4 years ago

Use Ubuntu on your net book. Also, Use the Gnome GUI. I'm using a Toshiba NB305 and Ubuntu Netbook 10.04 works great. Deselecting the processes above work as well with windows 7 but I suggest trying Ubuntu.
Posted by Pernelli on 3 years ago

These tweak DO help, some more than others. I have an Acer Aspire One with only 1 GB or ram and a single core 1.6ghz, so i need all the power i can get.

I only disabled 2 things, Win Defender and WMP Sharing, everything else was set to Manual to avoid running into errors.

My install is a CLEAN fully updated win 7, not one single added software (literally, nothing). Before these tweaks, and some more found on other sites, Windows was using ~550 MB or ram directly after boot, after all these changes it was only using ~390, and the CPU utilization dropped an average of about 10%.

@ Pernelli,
I AM an Ubuntu fan, but i found Win7 worked faster and smoother on my Netbook than Ubuntu 10.10 Netbook Remix.
Posted by DarkScorpion on 3 years ago

dont disable Software Protection. as soon as i did, windows put a watermark on my desktop tellin me my copy wasnt legit. not a big deal, but annoying to see on your wallpaper.
Posted by jim on 3 years ago

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