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Author Topic: Windows performance tips in one spot  (Read 9932 times)

seedling

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Windows performance tips in one spot
« on: October 17, 2007, 07:52:24 PM »
Hey all,

I realise that most, if not all, of us know about the tips posted on this site:

http://9tutorials.co...an-never-before.html

But it sure is nice to revisit some of these tweaks when things start acting strange.  As always proceed with caution and know what you're doing before you undertake any of the advise on the above page (especially with regards to shutting down services).

« Last Edit: October 17, 2007, 07:58:49 PM by mouser »

Lashiec

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Re: Windows performance tips in one spot
« Reply #1 on: October 17, 2007, 07:58:39 PM »
Ugh... some of them actually do something, some others... well... I know certain someone who is going to get crazy about those, and one in particular ;D

Ralf Maximus

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Re: Windows performance tips in one spot
« Reply #2 on: October 17, 2007, 09:27:10 PM »
Tip #1: Buy a faster computer.

That's what it always boils down to, right?  And the one you want ALWAYS costs $3000.

f0dder

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Re: Windows performance tips in one spot
« Reply #3 on: October 18, 2007, 04:27:05 AM »
Ugh... some of them actually do something, some others... well... I know certain someone who is going to get crazy about those, and one in particular ;D
* f0dder waves :P

EDIT: here's the list ;)

"DISABLE INDEXING SERVICES" - good idea if you don't need it. Mainly to avoid the harddrive access, though.

"OPTIMISE DISPLAY SETTINGS" - not something that gains you a lot on even rather dated hardware, it's more of a subjective preference thing.

"DISABLE PERFORMANCE COUNTERS" - yeah sure, if you want programs randomly breaking, without really gaining anything.

"SPEEDUP FOLDER BROWSING" - I do this, it can indeed help a bit when browsing network shares... especially if there's a lot of computers in your workgroup.

"IMPROVE MEMORY USAGE" - mjah. You used to be able to get a lot of performance by tweaking the cache settings on Win9x, but I dunno about NT. "LargeSystemCache" if you have the RAM and aren't using ATI video drivers, but those "free up RAM" apps are snake oil.

"OPTIMISE YOUR INTERNET CONNECTION" - never been able to feel performance increase by this, but perhaps it works on dialup connections?

"OPTIMISE YOUR PAGEFILE" - everybody has an opinion on this, and most people are wrong :). Simply monitor your pagefile usage doing the work you usually do, and see how often it's actually used. Set a somewhat-higher minimum limit (to avoid fragmentation), and don't set a max settting (to avoid running out of paging space). Or get enough RAM and disable the pagefile completely.

"RUN BOOTVIS - IMPROVE BOOT TIMES" - never played with it myself, but Microsoft claims it's only really meant as a tracing tool, and that XP does optimization itself.

"REMOVE THE DESKTOP PICTURE" - heh.

"REMOVE FONTS FOR SPEED" - true, don't keep a gazillion fonts installed that you don't need - add/remove additional fonts as needed.

"DISABLE UNNECESSARY SERVICES" - good advice, but be careful what you disable... not sure everything on his list is a good idea for everybody.

"TURN OFF SYSTEM RESTORE" - dunno if this is good advice for regular people. I personally don't use system restore, I tend to do reinstalls instead. But it's been a nice thing when fixing other people's computers.

"DEFRAGMENT YOUR PAGEFILE" - no, don't defragment it, make sure it never gets fragmented... it's all about setting a high minimum size. Heck, even with yesterdays harddrives, how much is 2 gigabytes?

"SPEEDUP FOLDER ACCESS - DISABLE LAST ACCESS UPDATE" - indeed. Especially if you often search through your entire drive, not using an indexed searcher, this is noticable. And how many people need "last-accessed" timestamp? (This doesn't turn off last-modified, which is useful).

"DISABLE SYSTEM SOUNDS" - heh.

"IMPROVE BOOT TIMES" - *shrug*. As far as I've been tell, most boottime is spent in device initialization, rather than disk I/O. Moving from a slow disk to a 10k rpm raptor drive did speed up booting a bit, but not very much (application loading times are another matter, though :)).

"IMPROVE SWAPFILE PERFORMANCE" - sure, if you're running Win9x. This has no effect on NT.

"MAKE YOUR MENUS LOAD FASTER" - heh.

"MAKE PROGRAMS LOAD FASTER" - /prefetch:1? Heh.

"IMPROVE XP SHUTDOWN SPEED" - bad idea blindly applying this advice... some applications take a bit of time to shut down, yeah... and some of those applications are actually doing useful stuff, like flushing data to disk, whatever. Sounds like a goooood idea to kill those off after very short timeouts?

"SPEED UP BOOT TIMES I" - eh, "checking temp and history folders" on startup? Never seen windows do that. And the tip uses hardcoded folders, which is bad - if you really want to do this, use "%HOMEPATH%\Local Settings\History", %TEMP% and %TMP%.

"SPEED UP BOOT TIMES II" - doesn't save you much time, but sure.

"SPEED UP BOOT TIMES III" - bad advice to give generically, I can imagine the horror if end-users start doing this on corporate networks (not that people should have admin privileges on corporate networks, but...). And it's not like DHCP takes much time unless you're on a really badly configured network.

"FREE UP MEMORY" - no, no, no and NO! Snake oil, and can actually degrade performance.

"ENSURE XP IS USING DMA MODE" - yep. Sometimes XP reverts to PIO mode though, which indicates either that a drive is dying, or that you've been using very scratched optical media. Google for "xp reverts to pio". Iirc 2k defaulted to PIO mode for optical drives, btw.

"ADD CORRECT NETWORK CARD SETTINGS" - the 'advanced' tab has device-specific settings. My device doesn't have a "connection type" setting, go figure. Some NICs have settings that it makes sense to tweak, others don't.

"REMOVE ANNOYING DELETE CONFIRMATION MESSAGES" - not good advice for end-users, and not a speedup.

"DISABLE PREFETCH ON LOW MEMORY SYSTEMS" - buy more memory, it's cheap :)
- carpe noctem
« Last Edit: October 18, 2007, 05:09:28 AM by f0dder »

Ralf Maximus

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Re: Windows performance tips in one spot
« Reply #4 on: October 18, 2007, 11:45:29 AM »
Quote
"OPTIMISE YOUR PAGEFILE" - everybody has an opinion on this, and most people are wrong smiley. Simply monitor your pagefile usage doing the work you usually do, and see how often it's actually used. Set a somewhat-higher minimum limit (to avoid fragmentation), and don't set a max settting (to avoid running out of paging space).

One thing that made a beeg difference for me: allowing Windows to create multiple page files on separate harddrives.  It's tempting to pick your fastest drive and use that (disabling all others) but after I let Windows handle it I ended up with four pagefiles and less thrashing.

Quote
Or get enough RAM and disable the pagefile completely.

No matter how much RAM you have, some (older?) software malfunctions if there is no pagefile, generating messages like "low on virtual memory".  Do this with one with caution.

Quote
Moving from a slow disk to a 10k rpm raptor drive did speed up booting a bit, but not very much (application loading times are another matter, though smiley).

Fun fact: A slower drive can actually EXCEED the seek performance of a 10K drive if it is partitioned properly.  The idea is that by creating a small partition the maximum seek distance the drive's head must move is reduced, resulting in smaller random seek times.  Google "half stroking" or "quarter stroking" for relevant articles on the technique.

Of course, if you're lucky enough to have a 10K Raptor, half-stroking will boost its performance, keeping the lead. :-)  Better yet, RAID a pair of 10K's together and half-stroke the array.  (Really!  This works; I've done it.)

Gosh, that sounds pornographic.

f0dder

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Re: Windows performance tips in one spot
« Reply #5 on: October 18, 2007, 05:09:59 PM »
Quote from: Ralf Maximus
One thing that made a beeg difference for me: allowing Windows to create multiple page files on separate harddrives.  It's tempting to pick your fastest drive and use that (disabling all others) but after I let Windows handle it I ended up with four pagefiles and less thrashing.
Good idea, although you have to keep your pagefiles on separate physical drives, not partitions.

Quote from: Ralf Maximus
No matter how much RAM you have, some (older?) software malfunctions if there is no pagefile, generating messages like "low on virtual memory".  Do this with one with caution.
I haven't experienced that myself, but I did find that a few apps were too memory hungry for their own good back when I "only" had 1gig. But it could very well happen, probable cause would be bad use of memory mapped files, and I certainly wouldn't recommend no-pagefile on less than 1gig.

Quote from: Ralf Maximus
Gosh, that sounds pornographic.
BIG grin :D

Half-stroking sounds like an interesting idea, I'm not sure if it makes much of a difference if you keep your partitions (and the MFTs!) defragmented, though? I do have my 74gig raptor partitioned: 16gig for windows+apps, 4gig for source/docs, 50gig for things like games, "scratchpad", etc.

Putting two raptors in raid-stripe would certainly fly, but I'm not a fan of striping. A mirror would be nice as well, unless your raid controller is so retarded it doesn't do read-striping (hello, nForce4).
- carpe noctem
« Last Edit: October 18, 2007, 05:11:36 PM by f0dder »

tomos

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Re: Windows performance tips in one spot
« Reply #6 on: October 19, 2007, 04:24:42 AM »
One thing that made a beeg difference for me: allowing Windows to create multiple page files on separate harddrives.  It's tempting to pick your fastest drive and use that (disabling all others) but after I let Windows handle it I ended up with four pagefiles and less thrashing.

I've just ried that cause I having some trouble with an older app sometimes (Freehand 9) -
it can't start first attempt after a reboot, starts then on second attempt but has lost it's preferences.

Previously I had Pagefile on first partition (FAT32) of second harddrive,
now:
gave windows minimum pagefile of 50mb on C
still has 3GB page file on second hdd as described above
& "system managed size" on TWO other partitions.

Was very surprised to see it has created a 1.99GB paging file on each of those extra partitions
What's going on there I wonder - Freehand started perfectly this time though  :-\  :D

EDIT: PS have 2GB memory, intel dualcore
Tom
« Last Edit: October 19, 2007, 04:27:24 AM by tomos »

Ralf Maximus

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Re: Windows performance tips in one spot
« Reply #7 on: October 19, 2007, 08:09:24 AM »
Quote
Half-stroking sounds like an interesting idea, I'm not sure if it makes much of a difference if you keep your partitions (and the MFTs!) defragmented, though? I do have my 74gig raptor partitioned: 16gig for windows+apps, 4gig for source/docs, 50gig for things like games, "scratchpad", etc.

You are correct.  As the drive gets fuller (more full?) this half-stroking business pays less and less of a dividend as the head moves farther afield.  Fragmentation accelerates this effect.

And partitioning a big drive up like you have is the way to go (IMHO) but if more than one partition is accessed simultaneously any half-stroking benefits are lost.

In my case, I have a pair of 500MB 7200RPM drives RAIDed together (RAID 0) via a PCi controller made by SII.  It's broken up into two partitions: one gigantic 900GB block for storing media & backups, and the other a 50GB block set up for temp files and miscellaneous transitory things.  I have my Windows temp file located there, as well as a 2GB pagefile.

In this case, so long as I'm not spooling MP3s or a movie from the big partition, the read-head stays entirely in the small partition, travelling only a wee distance.  Call it: 1/10th stroking.

This sounds wonderful in theory, but I'm not sure the experiment is working as intended.  For instance, I usually *am* listening to music or watching a movie while I work, so the big partition gets accessed often.

Also, I have a huge-ass amount of RAM devoted to file caching (SuperCache II) so the software is mediating disk access and (I think) evening out the physical accesses.  I mean, some temporary file operations generate NO disk activity, where I would expect to hear the drive going nuts.

I'm not sure the juice is worth the squeeze, though now that it's all set up I'm loathe to rip it all apart and redo it.  It's definitely the fastest drive setup I've had so far, and love it -- but I think I could have chosen the partition sizes at random and gotten similar results.

Oh, and the punch line: the two 500GB 7200 RPM drives (RAID 0) replaced an aging pair of 35GB Raptors (RAID 0).  I can detect no difference in performance or responsiveness, though HDTune seems to think the new array is slower.

tomos

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Re: Windows performance tips in one spot
« Reply #8 on: October 19, 2007, 10:35:17 AM »
One thing that made a beeg difference for me: allowing Windows to create multiple page files on separate harddrives.  It's tempting to pick your fastest drive and use that (disabling all others) but after I let Windows handle it I ended up with four pagefiles and less thrashing.

I've just tried that
....
Was very surprised to see it has created a 1.99GB paging file on each of those extra partitions
What's going on there I wonder

Ralph
would you be able to say how the pagefiles on your system are? (sizewise I mean :P*)
thanks, tom

* EDIT: well, anywise really
Tom

Ralf Maximus

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Re: Windows performance tips in one spot
« Reply #9 on: October 19, 2007, 11:34:07 AM »
Sure.  I just checked and found TWO (not four) page files.  Dunno why there aren't four anymore -- there used to be four when I first built the rig out.  Maybe Windows decided it didn't need the other two?

Drive C: 4989MB
Drive F: 3326MB

This is on a Dell Optiplex GX620 with 4GB physical RAM (3.25GB visible to Windows).

Oh, and with Firefox, Thunderbird, VS6, 1.5GB allocated to disk cache, and a few other small things running this is what my memory usage looks like:
« Last Edit: October 19, 2007, 11:36:21 AM by Ralf Maximus »

tomos

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Re: Windows performance tips in one spot
« Reply #10 on: October 19, 2007, 12:36:28 PM »
thanks Ralph -
I was suprised it makes such large paging files
but if it's doing the same on your system I wont worry bout it!
Tom

Ralf Maximus

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Re: Windows performance tips in one spot
« Reply #11 on: October 19, 2007, 01:36:03 PM »
Theoretically Windows wants the paging file to be 1.5 x physical RAM, so by my calculations mine are in the ballpark.  I was surprised that EVERY paging file was that big -- not the sum total of all paging files.

Ah, mysterious Windows.

Lashiec

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Re: Windows performance tips in one spot
« Reply #12 on: October 19, 2007, 01:48:19 PM »
For games like Supreme Commander, which sometimes surpass the maximum virtual address space allocated to each app, a big page file is worth it (at least to hold other applications :D)

Also, do not be so surprised about the little speed differences between the Raptors and the new HDDs, companies really improved performance with 7200 rpm disks along these years (if not, they would have move to 10K rpm disks long ago), it's not only rotation speed you know. But I wonder if they could beat a pair of 15K rpm Maxtor Atlas... of course, those would cost as much as a new powerful computer ;D
« Last Edit: October 19, 2007, 09:30:39 PM by Lashiec »

f0dder

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Re: Windows performance tips in one spot
« Reply #13 on: October 19, 2007, 06:38:16 PM »
The thing you get from the 10k raptors are smaller/faster seek time - transfer-rate wise, regular 7200rpm drives are just as fast (and some are even faster) these days.

For my next system, I want to set up intel raid matrix - it's really sweet that it can do BOTH mirror and stripe on the same two disks (big mirror for storage, smaller stripe for disk-intensive operations).
- carpe noctem

dantheman

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Re: Windows performance tips in one spot
« Reply #14 on: November 05, 2007, 04:27:52 AM »
f0dder,

It would be neat if you could post a page with a green, yellow or red light next to that list of items suggested for speed enhancements. Sounds like a drug deal here.  :P

In reference to one of my previous posts here (is XP SP2 necessary?) i've decided to simply avoid installing SP2 and disable System Restore. Talk about speed!   :Thmbsup:


f0dder

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Re: Windows performance tips in one spot
« Reply #15 on: November 05, 2007, 08:22:09 AM »
It would be neat if you could post a page with a green, yellow or red light next to that list of items suggested for speed enhancements. Sounds like a drug deal here.  :P
Sounds like too much work ;)

In reference to one of my previous posts here (is XP SP2 necessary?) i've decided to simply avoid installing SP2 and disable System Restore. Talk about speed!   :Thmbsup:
Humm, dunno if you feel a speed hit going from XP vanilla -> SP2 - perhaps startup time, but that doesn't worry me too much. I wouldn't run pre-SP2 though, the firewall is nice, and you'll want the security updates. If you're on really old hardware, you'll be better off with win2k anyway.
- carpe noctem

dantheman

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Re: Windows performance tips in one spot
« Reply #16 on: November 05, 2007, 09:28:02 AM »
For security issues, I have AVG AV and Firewall Network Edition enabled, Firefox and Opera as main browsers.
I don't work for a bank, so i don't see the need for IE7 and all those security updates.

Start up time may be a bit slower with SP2 and i agree with you, it's not a really big issue but when i have more than one program running or other users want to logon, then slughiness is more noticeable.

app103

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Re: Windows performance tips in one spot
« Reply #17 on: November 08, 2007, 01:06:36 AM »
Here are a few things I rarely ever see mentioned on speed tips sites but from my experience with messing around on other people's computers to fix their stuff when things go wrong, too many people do not know these:

1. If you want to speed things up a lot when browsing folders in Explorer, use list or details view. It's much faster than waiting for a bunch of thumbnails to load.

If you need to switch to thumbnail view for any reason, don't forget to switch it back to list or details before leaving that folder. It will make a big speed difference the next time you visit that folder.

2. You are better off sorting your files into folders with some sort of organization system rather than having a few 1000 files in a single folder. The list will show in Explorer a lot faster when it doesn't have to show a gazillion files.

If you don't believe me, try opening a folder containing 3000 text files and compare the time it takes to load as opposed to a folder with 150 files.

3. Don't use a home page in your browser. Your browser will open much faster if you have your home page set to "about:blank".

4. Use the proper resolution for your desktop based on the size of your monitor screen. Just because your graphics card can display at higher resolutions doesn't mean you should use the highest it is capable of. (This one tip can speed up your machine a lot!)