Windows Tweaks - Installation and On-The-Fly

Windows Tweaks - Installation and On-The-Fly

Postby NatVac on 28 Sep 2008 00:44

This is a topic for tweaking your Windows. There are sites devoted to this, so this is primarily for some quick customization for lowering the demand of Windows on your computing and gaming experience.

For example: Did you know that ReadyBoost might be slowing down your games? Try disabling it if you have Vista -- some game files might be moved to the flash memory in a form not suitable for swap speed.

nLite Installation Disk for Fast Reinstallation:

This topic was prompted by a discussion started in the 100 Rads Bar by silverpower:

silverpower wrote:Hey, NatVac, mind detailing some of your nLite tweaks? The frustrating thing about nLite is that it's nearly impossible to use with my Dell OEM disk, and I rather like not having to activate or any dumb shit like that. I'm about to reinstall Windows and could really use some help on this front, because XP is a tad heavier than I'd like. I really wish I could run Win2K, but Source games are broken on it - Win2K was pretty much their only decent workstation OS, as far as I'm concerned. Only annoying thing is that it doesn't recognize dual-head on mobile setups properly, but you can't have everything...

I have been using nLite 1.0 Final even though there are later versions. I use Nero Express to burn the CD even though this support is available in later versions of nLite. Note: nLite is for XP, vLite is for Vista.

I remove the usual crud: unused drivers, keyboards, etc. I disable indexing and a lot of Windows stuff that I don't need. I also tweak certain install files to avoid loading installation support that is not used, but this is an ongoing project that hasn't had much attention lately.

I pretweak the drivers for the custom devices that are not supported by default in Windows. While some CAB files from certain driver installs can be used as is, you can navigate in nLite to extracted directories that contain .INF files and it will import them. You can also import hotfixes so that you install the ones you want and not the ones you don't.

The above is a must. It means that you can boot at 1280x1024, say, with your video driver pre-installed and mostly configured for your system according to your preferences. You should have all the drivers you need for your system (video, LAN, sound, whatever you use). This is also a good place to put in the DirectX updates, for example. I use nLite Add-On Maker to create installation .CAB files as needed.

My setup is configured for unattended install. I don't use the network config support because I could never get it to work -- I instead use a custom batch file that invokes netsh to set a static IP address, something that most folks don't need but I do for security reasons.

There is a source directory you specify for nLite that contains the possibly-tweaked contents of your Windows installation disk. Mine is called WinXPSP3, but you can have it be anything you wish. Under that directory I have the following:

$OEM$\$$\Drivers\ > contains Startup.cmd and custom stuff
$OEM$\$Docs\All Users\
$OEM$\$Docs\All Users\Desktop\ > special desktop shortcuts can be preconfigured
I386\ > several subdirs created by nLite
Support\ > you can customize this for your own tools

In nLite's Last Session.ini file under [GuiRunOnce] I have this one line:


In $OEM$\$$\Drivers\, that batch file contains the following:
Code: Select all
echo Restoring desktop and documents...
call F:\CDriveBackup\RestoreDesktopAndDocs.bat
echo Restoring registry...
call F:\CDriveBackup\Configure%COMPUTERNAME%.bat
echo Setting IP address...
call F:\CDriveBackup\Set%COMPUTERNAME%IP.bat

This is the heart of my fast re-install. I have several logical drives set up on that PC. I reformat the Windows partition on C: each time during reinstallation. Windows will execute this batch file, which loads registry settings for the applications and games that I use. There is no need to reinstall any games.

%COMPUTERNAME% is set in nLite; you can find it in Last Session_u.ini along with your CD key, user name, admin password and a bunch of other stuff that you should never post on the internet, and other useful install configuration items like timezone and workgroup name.

Over time I can post the specific files to configure my Windows installation for default settings that I like.

My gaming computer uses IDE instead of SATA; there are newer motherboards that support reading from SATA directly but older ones require some driver tweaks to incorporate SATA support on install.

If you have any specific questions on this or related matters, please ask.

Maybe fatrap can chime in with observations on the OEM stuff. I understand that Windows updates have been slowly removing the "activation" of certain OEM licenses.
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Postby ket on 28 Sep 2008 13:25

Don't forget about services.msc ;)
Mobo: Asrock Z77 Extreme6
CPU: Intel i5 3570k @ 4.5GHz 1.18v (actual)
RAM: 2x4GB G.Skill Ripjaws @ 2133MHz 10-11-10-25 1T
GPU: VTX3D HD7970 3GB @ 1125MHz / 6600MHz
Sound: Asus Xonar DX 7.1 PCI-E
HDD: 2TB Seagate Barracuda, Sata3 64MB Cache
Opticals: 2x Sony Optiarc DVD-RW
PSU: Corsair 850w HX
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Postby Clay65 on 01 Oct 2008 14:52

Another really nice boost for "dated PC" could be using
"Windows MicroXP 0.82" (SP3 inside)

AM Usage On First Installation ........... 39 Mb
Handles ................................... 2229
Threads ................................... 157
Processes ................................. 15

Entire Install Size ....................... 205Mb

Documents and settings folder size ........ 3.19 Mb
Program Files folder size ................. 2.79 Mb
WINDOWS folder size ....................... 199 Mb

Files In System32 ......................... 815


You can still install and run just about all the programs and games
that you can run on a normal installation of XP. There is a text file
in the eXPerience folder on the desktop that has a list of programs
that work and includes some that don't work (not many). Even Office
2007 installs on this version of Windows

Up to now, there has not been one single report of any game not
working on MicroXP. Gaming is what this edition of Windows is all
about, it gives better benchmarks than any other version of
Windows I have ever tested.

At last - MicroXP now has the ability to browse your local network.
All you need to know is the computer name of the computer you want
to connect to and thats about it, just right click My Computer and
choose Map Network Drive. All computers can see each other even
if every computer in the network is running this MicroXP.

This installation already includes a basic web browser called
Browzar that uses a few core files left from Internet
Explorer. No, Internet Explorer is not included, but select
files included in this installation that come from Internet
Explorer are vital to running Windows. Its also Internet Explorer
related files that allow you to open CHM files, which you can do
in this edition of Windows. This Browzar web browser is only here
so you can at least get online and download Firefox, Opera, Netscape
or whatever browser you want. This not only saves space on this CD,
but you get to choose what web browser you want to use and you get
the latest version not an old and possibly insecure version. Flash
v9.0.124.0 for Firefox and Opera is included, so Google Video and
YouTube work straight away in whichever browser you install.

If you install Opera or Firefox web browser(s) in this special
MicroXP edition of Windows, you can go visit YouTube or Google
Video without even having to install Flash Player. You can just
watch the videos right away.

I tried it only through a VMWare install, but it looks like performance and speed are damn fast , and, even if nLite is not so hard to use, it's surely eaiser for a lot of people to have a "ready-to-go" ISO with most of the useless services removed od disabled.

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Postby ket on 02 Oct 2008 11:10

Can we have an example of regular XP vs. this microXP? Pretty please? :D
Mobo: Asrock Z77 Extreme6
CPU: Intel i5 3570k @ 4.5GHz 1.18v (actual)
RAM: 2x4GB G.Skill Ripjaws @ 2133MHz 10-11-10-25 1T
GPU: VTX3D HD7970 3GB @ 1125MHz / 6600MHz
Sound: Asus Xonar DX 7.1 PCI-E
HDD: 2TB Seagate Barracuda, Sata3 64MB Cache
Opticals: 2x Sony Optiarc DVD-RW
PSU: Corsair 850w HX
Case: Zalman Z11

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Postby Clay65 on 02 Oct 2008 14:34

ket wrote:Can we have an example of regular XP vs. this microXP? Pretty please? :D

Sry, i didn't find anything around the WEB... and my only test was an emulation of MicroXP on an AMD 1200 PC with
256 MB RAM (my daddy puter), and it run pretty good.

I don't think that you should be interested in it... as i told it's a "Super-tiny" XP made for "dated PC"
(Alloc. Memory Usage == 39 MB), and i really think that it's pretty useless for owner of "Uber-PC" like you ... :rr: ,
even if having only 15 processes running at startup is surely good.
It's even better, IMHO, of the "XP Gamer Edition" that you can easily find with a couple of google search.
Anyway, both of them have a lot of services removed, so that it could happen that in newer PCs you could have
a problem... maybe with a program... maybe with a device...

NLite is surely very good, and its pros are that you can really "personalize" your XP install making a
Full Unattended procedure, but if you wanna cut out some services, you really NEED TO KNOW WHAT YOU'RE DOING,
cause not all of them can be safely removed or disabled, and that could be a real for people that do not have a

What i'm using actually it's a release made by an Italian guy some months ago (and he did also the Portugues
and English version of it, btw), and i can only suggest all of you to give it a try.
(It's running surely as good as the previous "NLited" version i did by myself)
I've not found till now any problem with it, and even if it has a "Vista-like" visualization, it's "eating"
much less memory than a standard XP-SP3.

It's name is: "Windows Ice XP 3.01 Reloaded"

You can find that version (and lots of others) here :

All of us, sooner or later, need a fresh install of XP...
So i suggest you to d/l it and to make your ICEXP CD, and when the "damn time" to reinstall will come, you're ready...

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Postby Kanyhalos on 02 Oct 2008 18:43

Sorry, offtopic, but what means "on-the-fly" ? :D
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Postby NatVac on 05 Oct 2008 08:37

Good question, Kanyhalos. "On the fly" means "as you go", while everything is already in motion (for example: Windows already installed).

In this case, while you can use nLite/vLite to tweak your Windows for future installations, you can use services.msc as ket mentioned to tweak existing installations "on the fly". (Good tip, ket!)

My non-nLited Internet/work box has 16 basic processes running at idle, plus a proxy filter, a system monitor, and a UDP task that listens on the local network to my telephone call screener. I primarily used an earlier version of BlackViper's tips to determine which services to run automatically and which to disable or set to manual. Even then, what Clay65 said still applies: You need to know what you are doing.*

I used nLite on my gaming PC's install disk to preselect the services for installation, and to set the mode they use. Interestingly enough, Clay65, I have 17 idle tasks total on the gaming PC, and two of those aren't needed: The sound manager for the on-board sound (it's actually good enough for gaming, but I've not yet removed the sound manager from the install) and the video card background service (nvsvc32.exe) with right-mouse-button and systray support.

If I didn't like to know what is going on and have the ability to make my own changes if needed, I'd definitely use an optimized install like the one you suggest, Clay65. Thanks for the tip!

Side note: It took service pack 2 to get me to move to Windows XP. I am not yet comfortable with Vista and XP SP3 enough to install them on my boxes. I didn't like my brief experience with Vista, which seemed tailored to new computer users. It was frustrating to find that the tools I wanted most often were moved down a few menu layers, if available at all. (Yes, I know this can be tweaked -- but that's another steep learning curve...)

*The nice thing about services.msc is that you can usually undo what you've done. But an install disk might be useless if a mistake is made. An early goof of mine: I accidentally left off a feature that enabled the recognition of USB flash drives when plugged into the computer. But it is no big deal to re-install with my setup, so that was an easy fix: Check a checkbox, rebuild the ISO and create another CD.
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Postby audioave10 on 15 Nov 2008 07:46

With my more limited knowledge, I seem to have settled in with XP SP3
and am quite happy with it and have 19 services running. I also used
advice from Black Viper.
"Let the Zone take me if I am"
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Postby EggChen on 15 Nov 2008 14:13

God I wish I had known about that black viper site....

I previously spent many an hour turning off services to try and get better performance, then found that I could not install programmes or connect to the web...

Through much trial and error I got to 17 processes as well, and everything working that I needed.

Dreading to think what I will see in Vista on first boot.
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