How to fix three "broken" features of Vista

February 25, 2008

How to fix three "broken" features of Vista Certain problems with Vista won’t be fixed by service packs or by updates but rather were actually part of the design.  Users got used to XP and the way XP did things but Vista does some things differently.  To help get your sanity back here are three things you can do to make Vista more amiable.

First, let’s tackle UAC.  Vista’s UAC enables account controls which requires you to specify program actions when they need elevated permissions.  The problem is that almost every action in Vista will require such.  This can be turned off while still leaving the more important virtualization protection in place.

There are two ways to do this, by using native commands in Vista which is a 6-step process and should be avoided by everyone unless you want to create “Local Security Policy” specifically for that.  I can’t recommend doing so.  Instead, download Tweak UAC which will allow you to painlessly enable quiet mode.

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This disables all those annoying “elevate permissions” dialogs but leaves the virtualization mode in place.  Some programs may still require admin level access and to give it that you will need to right click on the program and select “Run as administrator.”

UAC Quiet mode still requires you to have an Administrator account, it will only work on those types of accounts.  Standard users, even with Tweak UAC installed, will not be able to perform admin level tasks.

Note, that Security Center will tell you UAC is off when the quiet mode is enabled.  To make sure that it is working, see if Virtualization is listed as enabled in the Task Manager for some or most of your running tasks.  To check, start the Task Manager, select View then Columns and check the Virtualization option.  You may have to restart for UAC quiet mode to be properly enabled.

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Second, get faster disk performance.  This will only work if you have a SATA hard drive.  Windows Vista can use additional write caching, in which, data will be written to RAM before it is written to the hard drive.  It’s not that it makes your disks faster but gives the illusion of such but utilizing RAM first.

Microsoft has turned this feature off by default because using this mode can lead to increased data loss.  If you’re not using a laptop and have a desktop without an auxiliary power source then it’s best to leave it off.

To enable this mode go to the Device Manager.  Click the “plus” sign next to “Disk Drives” and right click the first device in the list (this is likely your boot drive).  Go to “Properties” and under the “Policies” tab and check the “Enable advanced performance” option.

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Third and last but certainly not least, the other common complaint in Vista.  Network file performance is lacking in the operating system.  It seems the system designed to improve it actually makes it slower on current networks.

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To correct this you will need to type “cmd” (without the quotes), then right click it and select “Run as Administrator.”  Type the following at the prompt: netsh int tcp set global autotuninglevel=disabled

According to Techtree that will disable “Vista’s “Auto Tuning” - a smart feature that reacts to changes in the network by tuning the receive packet size.”  It’s designed to improve network performance but in most cases, slow it down.  It can be enabled again by typing: netsh int tcp set global autotuninglevel=normal

Some of these seem simple enough but placing UAC in quiet mode and enabling the drive performance feature are probably more important to most people.

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25 Responses to “How to fix three "broken" features of Vista”

  1. Taliseian:

    Just curious, is the last tweak about “Auto Tuning” needed when running SP1?

  2. Wowexec:

    These suggestions are pure garbage!
    They could increase the potential risk of your pc (not disable UAC) and decrease the global level of performance (not disable the autotune tcp feature).

  3. hoopskier:

    “almost every action in Vista” ??? What the heck do you DO all day?! I very rarely see any UAC prompts.

  4. Ken:

    I refuse to spend a bunch of time at the command prompt typing incomprehensible commands. Modern OS’es shouldn’t need this.

  5. Vista Fan:

    Wow guys! A couple of suggestions are just that, suggestions. Back off and have a cup of coffee before you write in. Especially when you’re apparently working with some sort of deficit (Ken)

  6. Norm Renshaw:

    Thanks for the network tweak. Don’t really use Vista much anymore. Linux is more tastey. Think open source.

  7. Bill Gates:

    You didn’t “fix” anything.

    1. You made Vista less secure.
    2. You increased the chance off data loss.
    3. You disabled performance enhancements because off a small percentage of cases where the feature decreased performance.

  8. Buster:

    Shame on you, and shame on promoting crap

  9. Matt:

    What the heck are you doing that causes the UAC so often? Or are your applications that poorly written? I know… it’s more popular to bash Vista today. Everyone complained for Microsoft to lock down the OS, so they did and now the poorly written applications show.

  10. Jonathan Schlaffer:

    @”Bill Gates”
    1. It’s not less secure. UAC is still enabled for anyone without an admin account. It is pointless for the administrator to have UAC operating in its normal mode. The virtualization feature of UAC is still operating, that is more important than its authorization dialogs.

    2. The chance of data loss is not increased for desktops plugged in to a UPS nor for laptops. As I said, no one else should use it, the performance increase is worth it provided those conditions are met.

    3. It decreases performance more than it helps. It varies, though.

    And lastly, you don’t have to do these things, but UAC is broken and frankly it makes more sense to use its quiet mode, the system is still more secure than if it were completely turned off, it’s just most people don’t realize the virtualization feature is working…

    Also, it’s not like I’m forcing these things down your throat, it’s optional, use them, don’t use them, it’s a free country.

  11. Matt:

    Matt, some of us have legacy programs/games. That says it all.

  12. Brandon Paddock:

    Jonathan –

    1) It DOES make Windows significantly less secure. It’s better than disabling UAC entirely, but far from as good as keeping its normal behavior. Those dialogs are there for a reason – to prevent applications from running with Admin privileges when you don’t want them to. If an application running as a non-admin is exploited, you’ve made it far easier for the malicious code that was injected to spawn elevated processes without the user knowing about it.

    2) Most machines won’t even let you change this setting. If yours does, well, it’s up to you to determine if it’s worth the added risk of not committing data to the disk as often.

    3) This is just stupid. If the auto-tuning logic didn’t provide a benefit, it wouldn’t be there. You don’t really think we’d ship something “designed to improve network performance but in most cases slows it down.”

  13. Matt:

    What games? I have yet to run accross one that requires a UAC. As for legacy apps in the home that is also a sign maybe it is time to upgrade or better yet change to one that has programmers that know what they are doing.

  14. Jonathan Schlaffer:

    @Brandon

    1) UAC is annoying to no end, running msconfig requires it, running computer management requires it and doing almost anything of importance in the control panel requires it. People will get used to clicking through those dialogs and some malware may try to take advantage of that by providing false UAC boxes. For me, for part of my job, it’s better for me to have the damn thing off. I suspect other users may feel the same and having the quiet mode is better than having it off completely. How many times do I have to say that standard users will still need to go through it so nothing much has changed.

    2) Machines with a SATA hard drive, will. Who doesn’t have a PC with a SATA hard drive?

    3) I hope you aren’t talking about Microsoft in which case I would almost expect them to ship something that provides no benefit whatsoever. WHAT RISK??? As long as its a laptop or desktop with UPS… how many times am I going to have to say that?!

  15. Matt:

    Jonathan what user needs to be messing with msconfig or any of the items in the control panel on a daily basis? If you a network admin do you leave servers unloock and the server room unlocked? For that matter do you leave your home front door unlock because it is anoying to have to keep unlocking it? And again what games give a UAC other than at the install?

  16. Jonathan Schlaffer:

    I don’t know, maybe someone who wants to configure startup items and get rid of all the flotsam. Every time an update is issued for iTunes and Quicktime, both get added to the startup items, again. So, I need msconfig to disable them. It also helps to check it from time to time to see if there’s anything in there I don’t need. Anyone who tweaks their system… basically. Who doesn’t?

    I’m always installing and uninstalling software, that is after all, part of my job, to try things out. UAC usually gets in the way of that.

    Oh and let’s not forget all the UAC dialogs you’ll get when deleting or modifying certain files, annoying.

    The UAC features of Vista, namely, the security dialogs, are annoying. I know what I’m doing, I don’t need it, maybe “Joe user” does but for me, it’s just in the way. Maybe for others too and I thought some would like to know that there is an option instead of just shutting it down completely.

    I don’t know what games need UAC (that was not my argument) but every time you install a program, there it is, which is unnecessary.

    Of course, I want to install the software you bloody thing, go away!

    Then, maybe I just do more admin stuff than the average user and it’s just in the way for me, more so than you.

    You seem to think this was written only for the average user, it wasn’t. I’ve explained myself in different ways over and over and I’m getting tired of doing so. If that isn’t clear enough, I have no idea how to make it so.

  17. Mike:

    Wow, this comment section is full of idiots the likes of which I’ve rarely seen.

    1) UAC doesn’t provide any true security. The users it is designed to “protect” will just click through without even thinking about it, just like they’ve always done.

    2) My data, my risk. I’ll decide if I want this feature or not. I use Linux, anyway, so I don’t give a shit.

    3) Vista’s networking performance is horrible, and disabling autotuning definitely helps in every scenario I’ve tested so far at work. (About 100 PCs, 30 different file servers, yada yada.)

    Again, wow, this comment section is filled with brain-damaged nudibranchs who probably learned to tie their shoes when they were 25.

    Wowexec, hoopskier, Ken, Bill Gates, et. al, I am talking to you. Idiots.

  18. Justin:

    Until I read Mike’s comment I thought I found the only site that didn’t have any sane visitors. It seems a bunch of Microsoft fan boys who really have no idea what goes on in the real world are sad that their beloved company is getting bad reviews. I find all of these tips useful… but I wouldn’t need them if I wasn’t locked into Vista on my laptop. I don’t really want to go out and spend more money to get another copy of XP Pro when Vista should be better.

    Thank you for these tips.

  19. Cyberpyr8:

    Thanks for the tweaks. These are ones I have not seen.

    As far as the comments here, I am a big boy and know what I should and shouldn’t be installing. For people like myself that can make that choice, I would rather not have UAC popping up. Yes it isn’t warning us that the pop up blocker from that web page is trying to install malware, but I don’t click on it in the first place.

    The article very clearly states that the disk tweak isn’t for everyone. Proceed with caution.

    And whoever thinks that Microsoft ALWAYS ships first version products without some problems needs to contact me about a bridge I would like to sell them….

    For you that are complaining, let your system run slower! I would rather see some of the shortcomings of Vista be tweaked to run better.

    Jonathan thanks again.

  20. hdave:

    I say ‘Thanks for the tweaks’ as well! UAC is a frequent annoyance. This is a free country and I will configure my system to suit myself.

  21. RayM:

    WinCleaner UAC Swith is a new program that I found yesterday. Works well and looks good too.

  22. De:

    the thing yu said about the device manager well instead of having the grey symbol next to it it has a yellow triange with an ! inside. and no DVDs or CD’s will play. i was wondering if yu would know how to fix it. ive only had my computer for 3 days

  23. Luke:

    this is all just this ONE lesson learned…
    don’t
    feed
    the
    TROLLS :)

  24. Bob:

    Thanks for this great little article it gives straight to the point and easy to follow options to try and fix some of vistas problems …Vista is crap we all know it so does Microsoft thats why windows 7 is fantastic it happens in cycles look at windows ME …but apart from that some of you guys sound like your in bed with Bill Gates …this world needs people to shoot holes in things, try new things, modify and tweek things other wise nothing would ever get better !! keep it up nice article I really enjoyed it and have made all these changes is there any way of turning off the network profile thing as it continues to think my protected network is a public one ..which kills the internet !!!

  25. Michael:

    Thumbs up to Jonathan for posting some USEFUL tips. I’ll chime in with my 2-cents: stop bashing Jonathan – he makes some useful information available, and it’s an OPTION to use his information. Also, thumbs up to Mike and Justin. While I, too, use Linux on my own systems, I do have to deal with many customer systems (over 400 in fact) that have Vista or 7 on their systems (the poor souls). Jonathan’s tips help make Vista a more user-friendly experience and they do help people. It’s a shame that so many self-proclaimed MCSP “experts” think that UAC is a good thing. Here’s the specific question to all the complainers here: If UAC is so good, then explain WITH SPECIFIC DETAILS (not just “because it is”) why so many people STILL get viruses on their computers when UAC is supposed to make unauthorized changes impossible (or at least difficult). The answer, whether you like it or not, is exactly as Mike said above: UAC does NOT provide any serious system protection to Vista; it just gets in the way – and it is does so with such persistence that most users turn it off out of sheer exasperation. Today’s viruses and malware bypass any UAC prompts anyway, so what’s the point? That UAC can even BE bypassed without user approval is the most compelling argument for it’s uselessness. So, do we all just go on clicking “allow” like good little sheep? I think not. If, for some reason, you still disagree and think that Jonathan’s tips are a security risk, then go pick up a good book – you shouldn’t be using a computer anyway. Thank-you Jonathan, for sharing some useful tips with the community.

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