While most people never change settings on their computers, there are times when it is very helpful to be able to turn off or disable a particular program, service, or setting in Windows 7 or Windows 8. For example, over the past few years as an IT professional, there have been There are many cases where it has been proven to be very beneficial to disable the firewall in Windows, disable the pop-up blocker in IE, or disable the autoplay / autoplay feature for the CD / DVD drive.
Disabling items like regedit, task manager, hardware devices, cookies, etc. should only be done if there are other people using your computer and you want to prevent them from accessing system settings. Disabling items such as System Restore, MSN Messenger, and startup programs can help conserve computer resources. However, disabling System Restore without knowing what it is used for and not having another backup would not be a good idea. So only disable items if you are sure you want to disable them!
Disable Windows Firewall
You can turn off Windows Firewall in Windows 7 / 8.1 by going to Control Panel and opening the Windows Firewall dialog box. In Windows 8, you need to right-click on the fake Start button and select Control Panel. You will now see a link on the left that says Turn Windows Firewall on or off.
You will immediately notice that there are settings to turn the firewall on and off for both public and private networks. This is really useful because you can turn off the firewall on a private secure network like your home network, but make sure that whenever you connect to a public network like free Wi-Fi at the airport, the firewall stays on and protects your computer.
Again, you should always keep the firewall on for both networks, but that assumes that you know what you are doing and want to turn it off for a specific reason.
Disable Popup Blocker in IE
Sometimes IE blocks a valid popup, or you may have another third party popup blocker that you want to use instead of IE, so you can disable it by clicking on the settings icon in the upper right corner, which looks like a little gear.
Click on the “Privacy” tab and uncheck “Enable Pop-up Blocker”.
If you just want to allow access to a few sites that you know are safe, but still block the rest, you can click the Settings button and add those sites from which you want to always allow pop-ups.
Disable cookies in IE
This time, you’ll click the Advanced button under the Settings heading at the top.
Finally, check the “Override automatic cookie handling” option and select “Accept”, “Block” or “Prompt” for first-party and third-party cookies. First party cookies are set by the website you are currently visiting, and third party cookies are set by a different website than the one you are visiting.
On my Windows 8 laptop, I never used the hibernation feature, so I was happy to disable it and free up precious hard drive space. To disable hibernation in Windows 7 and Windows 8, you can run a command at the command prompt to delete the hibernation file.
Check out my previous post on disabling Windows hibernation for a complete guide.
Disable system restore
System Restore is a built-in Windows feature that allows you to take snapshots of the operating system at specific points in time, for example, before installing a new driver or application. If something goes wrong and your computer shows blue screens, etc., you can go to System Restore and restore the operating system to a previous state when it was still working. If you want to disable it, first click the Start button, type System Restore, and then click Create a restore point.
Then click the drive you want to turn off System Restore on and click the Configure button. Personally, I’d better leave System Restore enabled for your C drive (or whatever drive Windows is installed on) and turn it off for all other drives or partitions.
In the Recovery Options section, you can select the Disable System Protection radio button to disable System Restore.
You can also adjust the amount of space used on the system recovery drive and delete all restore points on the system if you want.
Disable AutoPlay / AutoPlay for CD / DVD drives
I usually like to disable the autoplay feature because it annoys me very much when it automatically pops up asking what I want to do with a CD that I might just want to access through another program, etc. Also, you you never know what kind of virus might be on a CD written by someone, which will then be launched automatically after enabling autorun.
You can disable autoplay by going to control panel and clicking the autoplay icon.
Here you will see many settings that you can change. You have two options: either disable autorun completely by unchecking the “Use autorun for all media and devices” checkbox at the top, or change the settings for the specific device or media for which you want to disable it.
Disable wireless connection
Sometimes, disabling the wireless connection can be helpful if you are using a laptop and are connected to a wired network. If you are already connected and your wireless network is trying to connect too, this can be problematic and annoying.
You can turn off the wireless connection in Windows by going to Control Panel and clicking Network and Sharing Center. Then click the “Change adapter settings” link in the left menu.
You will see several connections, perhaps called wireless network connection or local area connection. Just right-click the adapter and select Disable.
Disable User Account Control
In Windows, User Account Control is a built-in security feature that helps prevent unauthorized or rogue programs from running on your system without your permission. If you want to disable UAC in Windows 7, just open Control Panel, click on User Accounts, and then click on Change User Account Control Settings.
Move the slider down to Never Notify and you’re done.
In Windows 8, things are a little different. Setting UAC to Never notify does not actually disable UAC entirely. Read my post on How UAC works in Windows 8 to find out how to properly disable it.
Disable Aero Theme
You can very easily disable the Aero theme in Windows 7 and Windows 8 by right-clicking on the desktop and choosing Personalize. Here you will see the Aero themes, and then at the bottom you will see the main themes, even the classic Windows theme, which will make your computer look like Windows 2000 again.
So, these are just some of the basic Windows features that you can turn off in Windows. There are many more things you can disable, but the ones listed above are the features that my clients ask me to disable the most on their computers. If you need to disable something else on Windows, please leave a comment and let me know. Enjoy!