Windows 8 Netbook performance tweaks

Right off the bat, Windows 8 will make your netbook perform better than Windows 7. The interface responds better, your netbook will boot faster and apps will start faster. Even so, you might want to squeeze every last bit of performance out of your low-voltage machine.

There are several ways to speed up your netbook:

Disable the Aero Theme

By disabling the Aero Theme you will lose some eye candy and nice-looking features like transparency, but it will make your netbook more responsive.

  1. Move your mouse to the bottom left point of the screen and right-click
  2. In the menu that appears, click ‘Control Panel’
  3. Select ‘Change the Theme’ (Under the Appearance and Personalization header)
  4. Select the ‘Windows Basic’ theme.
  5. After the theme has changed you can close the control panel

Windows 8 Theme settings

Adjust performance settings

By default, Windows chooses the settings for you, based on your computer performance. However, i haven’t seen a single windows installation that automatically disabled more than a few of these options. Manually disabling some eye-candy will speed up your netbook a little more.

  1. Move your mouse to the bottom left point of the screen and right-clickWindows 8 Adjust Performance
  2. In the menu that appears, click ‘System’
  3. In the left side of the screen, select ‘advanced system settings’
  4. In the field ‘performance’ that appears, click ‘settings’
  5. In the ‘visual effects’ tab that opens, click ‘Adjust for best performance’ (instead of this option you can choose what features you want to disable, the more you disable, the more performance you’ll gain.)
  6. Click ok and close the control panel


Disable System Sounds

As you might know, Windows plays different sounds at several occasions when using your netbook, and every beep or swoosh means a small sound-file is read from your hard drive/memory and your CPU is utilised. Disabling sounds will free up these resources.

  1. Move your mouse to the bottom left point of the screen and right-click
  2. In the menu that appears, click ‘Control Panel’
  3. In the Control Panel click ‘Hardware and Sounds’
  4. Select ‘Change System Sounds’
  5. In the drop down menu ‘Sound Scheme’ select ‘no sounds’ and click OK

Disable startup programs

By default there might be a few programs that windows starts when you start your netbook, some of these programs might not be necessary at all.

  1. Move your mouse to the bottom left point of the screen and right-click
  2. In the menu that appears, click ‘Task Manager’
  3. Select the tab ‘startup’
  4. Click the program you don’t want to start-up when windows starts. (If the list is empty, you don’t have to do anything, just close the screen)
  5. Click on ‘disable’
  6. Close this screen, the program has been disabled.

Disable Windows Search

Windows Search is constantly indexing your files to be able to quickly provide you with a list of search results when you search your computer. While this saves time the moment you are searching, it is constantly using system resources in the background.

  1. Move your mouse to the bottom left point of the screen and right-click
  2. In the menu that appears, click ‘Run’
  3. A box appears, in the text field, type ‘services.msc’ and click ‘OK’
  4. A new screen will appear with a long list of services.
  5. Scroll down untill you see the ‘Windows Search’ service and double-click it
  6. At ‘startup type’ select ‘disabled’ in the drop-down menu
  7. Click ‘Stop’ to stop the service.
  8. Click OK and close the services screen.

Disable Windows 8 Search

Disable System Restore (VSS)

Windows is constantly writing copies of files that are deleted/modified on the hard drive so you can recover these files later in case of a crash or human mistake. This Volume Shadow copy Service takes up quite some hard drive performance so it is best to disable this functionality. Disabling VSS is also a best practice if your netbook, notebook or pc has a SSD hard drive, since this additional read/write activity will wear out the SSD faster. Please be aware that this disables the windows recovery functionality, so you should pay some more attention to your backups.

  1. Move your mouse to the bottom left point of the screen and right-click
  2. In the menu that appears, click ‘System’
  3. In the left side of the screen, select ‘System Protection’
  4. In the screen that opens, select your hard drive; most likely the one with the ‘(C:) (System)’ behind it.
  5. Click Configure
  6. Select ‘Disable System Protection’ and click OK
  7. In the warning screen that pops up, click ‘Yes’

Uninstall unused programs

Especially when your netbooks comes pre-installed with Windows 8, chances are that the manufacturer installed software you might never use. Deleting these programs makes sure you don’t waste your storage space. When these programs are auto-starting by default you’ll also free up memory space and CPU capacity since they won’t start themselves anymore.

  1. Move your mouse to the bottom left point of the screen and right-click
  2. In the menu that appears, click ‘Control Panel’
  3. In the Control Panel, select ‘uninstall a program’
  4. A list of installed programs will appear, select the program you want to remove, and click the ‘uninstall’ button.
  5. If you’re not sure what a program does, do not remove it, it might be used by another program, app or service.

General Best Practices

When it comes to fine tuning performance of any Windows device there are some best practices.

Keep your windows up-to-date with the latest Microsoft Updates

Microsoft will release updates on a regular basis that fixes bugs, add functionality and improve security and performance. It’s recommended to enable automatic updates so you don’t have to worry about these things.

Keep your windows virus and malware free.

Make sure your pc is not infected by a virus or malware, there are some good tools available for free. Microsoft has its own solution.
Update: Windows 8 has it’s own anti-malware built in, security essentials is not supported. Just keep your windows up to date and make sure you keep your windows defender updated with the latest definitions. I’ll write an future post about the several 3rd party anti-malware solutions.

Install the latest device drivers.

To make sure your netbooks works correctly, install the latest drivers provided by your system builder. The manufacturers website will most likely have an area where these drivers are available.

Always make sure your netbook is properly backupped.

Not realy a performance tweak, but just plain simple common sense, make sure you backup your netbook on a regular basis. With a proper Windows 8 online backup solution you’re sure all your data is safe, even when your netbook isn’t.

Do you have more tips to speed up your netbook? Please comment below.



12 thoughts on “Windows 8 Netbook performance tweaks

  1. Pingback: Installing Windows 8 Consumer preview on Sony Vaio Netbook | Bart Surminski's Blog over Tech/IT/Reizen/Gadgets

  2. If you have a ‘Pinetrail’ N4xx’ or ‘N5xx’ Atom cpu that will support 2GB of memory, toss out the !GB installed by the manufacturer and spend $10-15 on a 2GB upgrade. Secondly, Windows 8 is very, very aware of SSD drives, so spend abot $60-70 on a 60GB SSD and turn your sluggish netbook into a nippy low-cost “Ultrabook type of portable. No, you will not be able to edit HD video, but it will play oh so smoothly on your el-cheapo ultra-netbook! Both upgrades are easy to do in minutes with some netbook manufacturers, e.g. Lenovo, even having videos on how to how to your own netbook so if you watch a couple of videos on how it is done, you will soon get the idea about building a Windows 8 ultra-netbook.

    • You’re absolutely right, adding a SSD and upgrading memory gives a huge performance increase. Since this is not possible on our test netbooks (on-board SSD and mem) I didn’t include it in the article. Good remark!

  3. I have been plugging away all day loading programs onto my “Ultra-netbook” (60 GB SSD and 2GB memory running Windows 8 consumer preview edition) and so I simply overlooked a malor advantage over Windows 7 Starter edition, i.e. my $26 external DVD drive just plain old fashioned works. Windows 7 Starter edition did not have DVD drivers and so it could only read CDROM’s on external optical drives! How arrogantly dumb. It was necessary to install DVD drivers to read or write DVDs but not with W8CPE.

    Nice, very nice indeed,

    No doubt the manufacturers of SSD drives, RAM and external DVD drives will appreciate my comments but I suspect that Ultrabook manufacturers may not be so happy to hear that a well specced Atom netbook is far cheaper and just as useable for basic Ultrabook tasks.

    The slightly extra weight of the netbook is nicely counter-balanced by the additional weight in your wallet that comes from not having to spend a grand upwards on an Ultrabook to do what your ultra-netbook could do!

  4. In some aspects, Windows 8 makes a netbook perform like a Win 7 ultrabook, making a well configured netbook a worthy road-companion with a lot of bang for your buck. But it wouldn’t surprise me if ultrabooks got a performance bump too, making ultrabooks light and portable workstations.

  5. The more I use my netbook, the more impressed I am with its speed. If Windows 8 sells for the reported introductory price of $40, then I shall snap it up even though it not intended to be used on netbooks with a 1024 x 600 screen. The registry hack to allow Windows 8 to work does ‘squash’ the screen but when it comes to bang for buck, with a now $89 128GB SSD available, it is a compelling hardware/OS combo.

  6. Pingback: Install Windows 8 on a Netbook | Windows 8 Netbook

    • PROOF: Check out the picture in the blog at No, the picture is not a fake! Anyone who modifies a netbook to similar specs’ should achieve the same results. A single core Intel Atom N455 is running at just 1 GHz whilst running Windows 8. Note that the Atom CPU is idling at 2% whilst running both Task Manager and StarDock’s beta version of its (bound to be popular) Start Button utility.

      My netbook is a Lenovo S10-3 that has a bog standard N455 CPU but the memory has been upgraded to 2GB from the original 1GB. The original 250 GB 5,400 rpm hard drive has been replaced with a Patriot Pyro 60 GB SATA 3 SSD which reduces boot-up times to just seconds even on this supposedly weak processor.

      One tricky bit in the running of Windows 8 on a netbook is a (relatively simple) registry hack that allows netbooks to emulation a 1064 x 728 screen resolution in order to run the new Metro programs.

      The StarDock Start Button utility gives you the basic features of the normal Windows Start Button, including the Metro Apps’ and so you get the best of both world’s, i.e. the newest Microsoft operating system running on older hardware that has at least 1GB of memory and a clock speed of at least 1GHz.

      If Windows 8 is not launched in October with a Start Button, as standard then you can probably expect the SP1 upgrade to include it because StartDock and others will make a fortune out of Windows 8 by providing one!

  7. Pingback: 6 Ways to speed up Internet Explorer 10 | Windows 8 Netbook

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