Performance Options in Windows 7

Windows 7 has a number of performance parameters that allows you to adjust visual effects or specify whether the system is adjusted for best performance of applications or background services. From the Performance Options snap-in you can configure the virtual memory (page file) settings and Data Execution Prevention (DEP). To access these parameters from Control Panel\All Control Panel Items\Performance Information and Tools\Advanced Tools click Adjust the appearance and performance of Windows. Otherwise, you can type Performance Options in the Start search text box, click Performance Information and Tools, click Advanced tools and finally click Adjust the appearance and performance of Windows.

The available tabs and options within Performance Options are related to Visual Effects, Advanced settings and Data Execution Prevention.

There are three visual effects preset configurations which allow you to adjust either for best appearance or for best performance, or let Windows choose the best configuration for your computer. The last visual effect configuration option is customizable and you can control 18 different preferences. For instance, whether shadows are displayed under screen icons or under the mouse pointer, remove animations and other visual effects which may render your computer sluggish.

On the Advanced tab, you can adjust for the best performance of programs or background services. This setting allocates more processor resources to either foreground applications that you may be running or background services such as, a web server service running in the background. For typical workstation usage, it is recommended to set best performance for programs.  On the same tab, you can adjust page file settings. The page file is an area of disk space that can be used as paged virtual memory when running memory intensive applications. If your system RAM is not adequate to cope with the demands of applications then you can adjust memory settings manually. However, the default setting which automatically manage the page file size is normally sufficient.

The Data Execution Prevention tab provides a security feature that can help prevent damage to your computer from viruses and other security threats. Computer programs set aside a portion of your computer’s memory for data, and another portion for instructions that your programs use. Hackers can try to trick programs into running (also known as executing) harmful data placed in your computer’s memory as if it were instructions. This could allow a hacker to take control of your computer. DEP can help protect your computer by monitoring your programs to make sure that they use computer memory safely. If DEP notices a program trying to run instructions from the portion of memory used for data, DEP closes the program and notifies you.

Note: If you want to turn off DEP for a program you trust, first check to see if the software publisher has made a DEP-compatible version of the program or made an update available before you change any DEP settings. If an update or DEP-compatible version is available, it is recommended to install it and leave DEP turned on.