My parents recently replaced one of their four-year-old computers with a new Acer laptop that runs Vista. But they only got 1GB of RAM on the new machine (2GB or more is optimal for Vista). They think the computer is fast, because it's so much better than their old clunker. But it can't even match the speed of my two-year-old Dell, which runs on XP. So I went searching for some online tutorials about improving Vista's performance. I found a couple that even my parents could understand.

This video from PC World offers easy-to-understand instructions and, best of all, it has animated screen shots that will show you exactly what to do.

Laptop Magazine offers 11 really good tips, not just for speeding up Vista but for making it easier to navigate. For example, you can switch to the classic XP start menu. You can also disable pop-ups and improve your laptop's battery life.

Dennis O'Reilly at CNET offers three easy ways to boost Vista's performance: turn off Aero, the pretty but sluggish interface; turn off the desktop search function (you can always use Google's desktop search instead); and disable a bunch of the programs that start automatically when the computer boots up. He explains them in very simple terms.

For people more advanced, technologically, than my parents, this article from TechRepublic has some very specific advice and is much more complicated. But it also has helpful screen shots. So if you're willing to dive in and decode some tech-speak, it's definitely worth a look. The site also offers a PDF version you can easily print out.

Have you found any good ways to boost Vista's performance?