The System utility in the Windows Control Panel allows all users to view basic system information, access tools, and configure advanced system settings.
To access the System utility, as shown in Figure 1, use the following path:
Start > Control Panel > System
You access the various settings by clicking the links.
When a user clicks the link for the Device Manager, the Device Manager utility will open. When one of the other links is clicked, the System Properties utility appears with the following tabs:
- Computer Name - View or modify the name and workgroup settings for a computer, as well as change the domain or workgroup.
- Hardware - Access the Device Manager or adjust the device installation settings.
- Advanced - Configure settings for performance, user profiles, startup, and recovery.
- System Protection - Access System restore and configure protection settings.
- Remote - Adjust settings for Remote Assistance and Remote Desktop.
To enhance the performance of the OS, you can change some of the settings that your computer uses, such as virtual memory configuration settings, as shown in Figure 2. The OS uses virtual memory when a computer does not have enough RAM available to run a program. If enough RAM is not available, virtual memory moves data from the RAM and places it in a paging file on the hard drive. A paging file is a place where data is stored until enough RAM is available to process the data. This process is much slower than accessing the RAM directly. If a computer has a small amount of RAM, consider purchasing additional RAM to reduce paging.
To view the virtual memory setting in Windows 7, use the following path:
Start > Control Panel > System > Advanced system settings > Performance > Settings button > Advanced > Change
In Windows Vista, use the following path:
Start > Control Panel > System > Advanced system settings > Continue > Advanced tab > Performance area > Settings button > Advanced > Change
In Windows XP, use the following path:
Start > Control Panel > System > Advanced > Performance area > Settings button > Advanced tab > Change
If a user is unable to install more RAM, they can use an external flash device and Windows ReadyBoost in order to enhance performance in Windows 7 and Windows Vista. Windows ReadyBoost enables the OS to treat an external flash device, such as a USB thumb drive, as hard drive cache when there is not enough RAM available. To activate Windows ReadyBoost, a user must insert a flash device and use the following path:
Start > Computer > Right-click the desired external flash device > Select Properties > Click the ReadyBoost tab
Once ReadyBoost has been activated for the desired device, a user must determine how much space on the device will be reserved as cache. A minimum of 256 MB must be selected, with a maximum of 4GB for FAT32 file systems and 32GB on NTFS file systems.