Casual Vista use on mobile PCs


Fujitsu_lenovoThere have been many accounts describing how mobile PC users have tweaked Vista to get better performance out of lower-end components and to maximize battery life.  I have done those myself on the Fujitsu P1610 with very good results.  I am in an unusual situation that sees me using multiple devices running Vista.  I have used as many as 5 Vista devices at one time and my everyday working gear has me running both the Lenovo ThinkPad x61 and the Fujitsu.  Tag teaming the two Tablets has led me to the realization that Vista doesn’t like casual usage, rather it performs better if you use just one machine all the time.  Why do I say that?

I like to switch between the two Tablets depending on what I am going to be doing that day.  The ThinkPad is the workhorse and has been my primary machine for a couple of months.  The Fujitsu is my go-to mobile warrior when I need to go lean and mean for short bursts.  I have noticed since I first started using Vista that if a device has not been used for a while that it runs pretty slowly at first.  Maybe it’s catching up on OS housekeeping under the hood, maybe it’s jealous of the other devices, I really don’t know.  I have been switching back and forth among different devices for so long now that I think I can safely state that Vista doesn’t like casual usage.

I recently tested that theory by leaving the ThinkPad in the dock and just carrying the Fuji with me.  I have been using only the Fuji for the past 3 days and the experience has been enlightening.  Prior to this whenever I would first pick up the Fuji out of the dock when it had been sitting for a while I would find Vista to be very sluggish.  Standby and Resume would take a long time and the system would be using the disk a lot, slowing everything down.  When I started my recent experiment of using just the Fuji I saw the same thing at first, sluggish performance, disk activity high, slow Standby/ Resume. It kind of surprised me because I never felt the Fuji was that slow when I was using only it as my main computer.  I watched it closely and realized that deep into the first day the little Fuji was running just as well as ever.  Standby/ resume times were snappy and the overall performance of the device was nice.  Over the next two days I never experienced sluggish performance again.

This led me to try the opposite approach and shelve the Fuji and go back to the Lenovo.  Not surprisingly at this point, I noticed the exact same phenomenon.  The ThinkPad was much slower than when I was using it predominantly, and this malaise lasted about a day.  It’s just like the Fuji in my experiment, after a few hours of doing who knows what in the background, Vista got caught up and then worked fine without hesitation or undo sweating.  This leads me to firmly believe that Vista is written to be used on a single machine which will be on most of the time.  Take it down for a day and it’s like it is catching up on all the little things it does invisibly over time. 

Has anyone else noticed this?  If so have you been able to make any deductions over the real cause or especially how to minimize this affect?  I switch machines all the time and I have to admit it is annoying until it settles down.


Dave Beauvais

Have you guys ever looked at the Task Scheduler in Windows Vista? Unlike in WinXP, Microsoft has a large number of pre-defined tasks that run when the system is idle, at defined intervals, and so on. Some can wake the machine to run (I only found one with that option set), others run only when a network connection is present, and many stop when the machine is running on battery or if you start using the the machine.

A lot of the seemingly random disk activity you’re seeing is very likely related to some of these tasks. Windows Defender kinda does its own thing, and strangely none of its tasks appear in the Task Scheduler on my systems despite having a section for them.

There are tons of “triggers” in the Vista Task Scheduler that can execute tasks based on all kinds of system events. Details about the new Task Scheduler from MS TechNet site:

My work style and habits permit me to leave my notebook on and idle for a couple hours every day, so I’ve never seen any of the performance issues mentioned here. Sleep/resume always takes less than five seconds, startup and shutdown are speedy, and apps open very quickly. I’ve got a 1.73 GHz Pentium M with 2 GB RAM and Windows Vista Enterprise using BitLocker disk encryption.


This problem has also been posted on the GBM forum as hard disk thrasing and whining of the tablet pc fan at start up. It seems there are several programs competing with each other when starting up from hibernation and sleep mode. Turning off superfetch, windows aero, shadow copying and virtual memory among others seems to improve the start-up and decrease the ‘harddrive thrashing’.

It is my impression the microsoft put a lot of background operating software in all windows OS that is always hungry for more installations of software and saving of files. This continues till there is but 15% of remaining harddrive memory and the threatened virtual memory springs to life and your harddrive tends to crash more often.

Keep me posted on new solutions to this problem.


I have a P1610 and have followed this site and its suggestions for quite a while. I have found very little improvement in Vista running on the P1610, it sucks any way you look at it. I’ve tried turning off superfetch, etc etc and sometimes it does run snappy, but VERY OFTEN during the day it will go into those disk thrashing sessions that can last minutes and occasionally lasts over 10 minutes. Just going into or out of standby can be a 10 minute process, and add another 5-10 minutes for omnipass fingerprint logon to initialize, I dont have any hair left as it’s all been torn out.

Additionally stuff that should take half a second to do takes like 30 seconds or more, especially disk activities like opening files, viewing pictures, or opening RAM greedy programs like Adobe photoshop.

Finally in frustration I started dual booting back to XP. For a while I believed it was the P1610’s hardware that sucked, but in a XP environment it flies along pretty speedily, complete night and day from Vista. It’s amazing to start up from standby in an instant, and have omnipass start up instantly as well.

I still keep Vista on the partition for dual booting in the hope that one of these days (or years) MS will release service pack 1 and that will magically solve all the problems, but I just dont see that happening. I find myself in my XP boot 99% of the time andhave already migrated most of my programs back to XP.

Of course maybe someone will come out with that 2gb sodimm also, but that seems like a very slim hope.


I’ve also found that my p1610 is a little lacklustre if I pick it up after a few days of not using it. I agree with Jack and one of the main culprits is Windows Defender. I don’t know why it can’t tell that the PC hasn’t been used at all but it will warn me that a scan hasn’t been run for days and attempt to resolve the problem. This is using up resources when it really should just know that a scan hasn’t been run because the PC hasn’t been used and that as a result there is nothing to worry about.

Other programs also seem to funny checks when your PC starts up but not at other times. For instance, Logitechs Setpoint software assumes that the only time it should check for updates is when your PC starts rather than later on. It would be nice if these things could wait a while to avoid them all happening at once upon startup.


Has to be SuperFetch. You can solve most of the sluggishness you have experienced by turning off that service. Then you won’t need to wait two days for the machine to become useful again !

Mickey Segal

I noticed such a problem with XP and found that it went away when I created a power setting that left the computer on while docked. I find the same with Vista.

Benjamin Ries

You poor guy, unable to keep all your devices happy at once. Sounds like the right problem to have :P


I think I will try this as well. I go back and forth between the SonyUX280 and a p1610 and I have noticed they are sluggish to boot up.

I have experienced HIGH CPU activity and IE and Desktop Manager are the highest. Is anyone else experiencing this?

Jack Shainsky

This is a common problem of many wide used programs, which are not optimized for mobile environment. Among many antivirus programs I’ve tested, only one had a setting that prevent it from starting scheduled scan on battery power, the same goes for defrag programs, Windows Update and so on. So starting a tablet after several days of sleep causes it immediately to connect to Windows/Antivirus/Antispam update sites and use 100% CPU for a while.

This becomes a real problem, because usually mobile device users don’t leave them working, so the poor devices don’t get the idle time all those antiviruses, updates and other backgroun applications need for supporting themselves, and they start competing for resources with your foreground applications right when you need your Tablet to be fast and ready.

Warner Crocker

I agree 100% with your theory, jk. I’ve seen it in my usage as well, especially going back and forth between multiple UMPCs. Vista doesn’t like casual use, instead it wants a real commitment.


Well, I don’t have any Vista machines so I can’t comment. I don’t think I have that problem with my XP or XP tablet devices. I can say that I can switch on my Mac after days or even weeks and it’s just as peppy as ever. I can’t wait until Apple releases a tablet device…

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