Stripping down windows 7 for HTPC

spacemanc

Active Member
Has anyone got any experience or pointers for stripping down windows 7 to an absolute minimum? I will be using my new HTPC with a DVB-S2 card using mediaportal and also maybe xbmc - it will also be networked storage for my media files.

I've bought an SSD for a fast start up, but I want to know what I can deactivate in windows for as fast a start up time as possible. Theres plenty of guides on the web for improving times, but I can't seem to find any aimed at HTPC's.
 

nick8571

Novice Member
The consensus I've seen is that where "tuning" Win 7 is concerned, "leave it alone" is by far the best policy - disabling services will result in minimal or nonexistent performance benefits, and you're quite likely to break something for no good reason.

If startup times are a main concern, you might want to consider using sleep (S3) mode rather than powering down completely, although unless you're restarting several times a day, it's unlikely to be a major issue either way.
 

paulktreg

Active Member
I can't see start up times being an issue with an SSD?

... and I'm with Nick, leave things well alone because the gains aren't that great.
 

spacemanc

Active Member
I can't see start up times being an issue with an SSD?

I'm expecting fast times, but still every little helps! Even a couple of seconds shaved off would be well worth it imo. I owned a couple of free sat boxes and the start up times were a joke - I understand that Sky get around this by have a "fake" standby mode, where really the boxes are on constantly.

Remember its not just the windows time, its also mediaportal launching and the DVB cards doing their things, so as the system will be used for HTPC and literally nothing else, then surely theres a few things I can do without which will speed things up a little?
 

nick8571

Novice Member
Windows will learn your usage patterns over time, and it should prefetch and cache the applications you use most, so you'll gain performance improvements that way. And as I suggested, you could use sleep mode if you're really bothered about a few seconds here or there starting up, unless you begrudge the three or four watts you'll be consuming leaving the system on standby.

Really, the idea of ripping things out in an effort to speed the system up doesn't have much credibility any more, and it was an overrated pastime to begin with, even with Windows XP. Just don't install shedloads of unnecessary third-party apps and you'll be fine. :)
 

bryanchicken

Novice Member
i've always turned off prefetch and superfetch for ssds. They don't actually make any difference and causes unnecessary writes to the disk.
The fetching stuff just moves the most regularly accessed files to the parts of the disk that can be accessed quickest. This isn't an issue with ssds.

This is the stuff i do for my win7 ssd system:
The SSD Optimization Guide - The SSD Review
There are a couple of tweaks to speed the boot up further in there
 

flashp

Active Member
Nick8571 has given all the right answers IMO. Don't try and fix it till you know it's broken. When you have it ready to be set up I bet you'll be so preoccupied with it you'll forget about everything else!
 

steford

Active Member
I go with performance settings adjusted for best performance - as you never see Windows who cares if it looks like a w2k box? I stop services I don't need following Black Viper's guide. Don't go crazy and nothing will break - if it looks like you might need it - leave it running. As others have said Win7 seems to do a good job as it is so using the likes of Nlite etc, whilst good for XP, seems excessive.
 

robbo100

Well-known Member
It takes me less than 4 seconds to wake MediaPortal from S3, after which the system works straight away.

I wouldn't worry!
 

WheresMyArtisan

Novice Member
There's always hibernate if you're only using it now and then - it still uses zero power while off.

Mine just resumes from S3 standby (in I'd guess 2 or 3 seconds). It uses next to nothing while in standby (I've measured it). I've also found that 7, unlike XP and Vista, never needs a restart - it doesn't seem to fill its memory with junk while it's running.

I'd agree with others - leave it alone, don't install crap or anti virus, and set the Windows desktop settings to the most basic possible, no wallpaper - just a black background.

I'd like a minimal system with MC and nothing else, but MS didn't design it that way.
 

spacemanc

Active Member
OK thanks for the advice guys - and yes, from personal experience I realise that trying to be too clever turning things off, can end in tears!

4 seconds start up would be amazing and I'd be happy with that, but I'll have to wait and see what I get from my system. I'm going to be using a motherboard with the ATI HD 4250 IGP - do you guys use the ATI catalyst control centre software on your HTPCs? On my gaming PC, that seems to be really slow to start up, though I can do other things while its loading. It does have quite a few settings for video, but from what I see all those settings are already in mediaportal? It has been handy in the past for multiple displays, but this system will just be connected to a single TV.

I stop services I don't need following Black Viper's guide. Don't go crazy and nothing will break - if it looks like you might need it - leave it running.

I presume you mean this :

Black Viper's Website

damn you've tempted me to break my new PC now :laugh: - just kidding, but I'll certainly have a look at it though, because I've been looking for an easy explanation to Windows services and that site seems perfect.
 
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steford

Active Member
OK thanks for the advice guys - and yes, from personal experience I realise that trying to be too clever turning things off, can end in tears!

4 seconds start up would be amazing and I'd be happy with that, but I'll have to wait and see what I get from my system. I'm going to be using a motherboard with the ATI HD 4250 IGP - do you guys use the ATI catalyst control centre software on your HTPCs? On my gaming PC, that seems to be really slow to start up, though I can do other things while its loading. It does have quite a few settings for video, but from what I see all those settings are already in mediaportal? It has been handy in the past for multiple displays, but this system will just be connected to a single TV.



I presume you mean this :

Black Viper's Website

damn you've tempted me to break my new PC now :laugh: - just kidding, but I'll certainly have a look at it though, because I've been looking for an easy explanation to Windows services and that site seems perfect.

I've used this guide for XP and Win7 for years and never broken anything. Only issue I remember is adding a Bluetooth USB and it not working. Tried drivers, updates, new hardware etc etc. Eventually remembered I'd switched the BT service off. Black Viper lists quite comprehensively which can be killed and how it differs from default settings.
 

PAH

Novice Member
i've always turned off prefetch and superfetch for ssds. They don't actually make any difference and causes unnecessary writes to the disk.
The fetching stuff just moves the most regularly accessed files to the parts of the disk that can be accessed quickest. This isn't an issue with ssds.

I was under the impression that it loaded them into ram, which is still faster than SSD, so may be worthwhile if you've lots of ram.

Apparently W7 is supposed to turn them off automatically if the SSD is deemed fast enough, but doesn't if you have a mechanical hard drive installed.

So the advice seems a little contradictory and maybe best leaving for Windows to decide? :rolleyes:

This is the stuff i do for my win7 ssd system:
The SSD Optimization Guide - The SSD Review
There are a couple of tweaks to speed the boot up further in there

Handy guide. The msconfig tweak to disable the GUI boot (stops the splash screen from appearing) to shave off 2 or 3 seconds seems worthwhile in the context of this thread.
 

bryanchicken

Novice Member
I was under the impression that it loaded them into ram, which is still faster than SSD, so may be worthwhile if you've lots of ram.

It does, but it also tries to optimise boot times by arranging files used at bootup into a defragmented sequential read, which is fastest for mechanical HDD.
This is bad for SSDs which use random scattering to even the writes to the disk.

Thats how i understand it anyway, i haven't read how Win7 changed it from Vista, but i can't imagine it was too substantial.

There is a staff member over at OCZ that is recommending exactly the same optimisations as the link i provided:
http://www.ocztechnologyforum.com/forum/showthread.php?43525-speeding-up-vista-with-Core



Also, i know with mine that Windows doesn't actually recognise the drive as an SSD when installing. Its meant to turn off defrag if its an SSD but doesn't. So i do those optimisations as i'm pretty sure Windows hasn't done any of them automagically. If yours is recognised as an SSD straight off i'd be more convinced Windows is doing the best for your hardware. Hope that last bit actually makes sense!
 
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