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Optimizing your Music & Audio PC (Part 2)
Written by Scott R. Garrigus - © 2005, Scott R. Garrigus. All Rights Reserved.
This article is a continuation of Optimizing Your Music & Audio PC (Part 1).

TYPICAL ROLE OF THIS PC
(WinXP users can skip this one) Iím not sure if any significant performance increase is provided by this Windows change, but Iíve made the change on my system none-the-less. Supposedly, by Ďtellingí Windows how your PC will be used determines the priority of hard drive access. So by specifying your PC as a Network Server, Windows will give hard drive access a higher priority. Hereís how to do it:

1) Right-click My Computer and choose Properties.
2) Click on the Performance tab and then on the File System button.
3) Click on the Hard Disk tab.
4) Choose Network Server for the Typical Role Of This Computer parameter.
5) Click OK.

LIMIT VIRTUAL MEMORY
Windows uses a swap file on your hard drive when it doesnít have enough physical memory to run its operations. Usually, the size of the swap file is changed on-the-fly, which can cause excess disk access (a definite no-no on an audio PC). So to specify an exact size for the swap file (thus stopping the on-the-fly resizing and providing better audio performance), do the following:

1) (WinXP users choose Start first) Right-click on My Computer and choose Properties.
2) Click on the Performance tab and then on the Virtual Memory button. (WinXP users click on the Advanced tab, then click on the Settings button in the Performance section, then click the Advanced tab, and finally click the Change button in the Virtual Memory section)
3) Choose the Let Me Specify My Own Virtual Memory Settings option. (WinXP users choose the Custom Size option)
4) In the Hard Disk drop-down list, choose a location for the virtual memory swap file. This should be the same drive on which you have Windows installed. You probably won't have to change this setting. (WinXP users can skip step 4)
5) For the Minimum and Maximum parameters enter the same value. The value should be anywhere from 2 to 4 times the amount of physical memory you have installed in your computer. Try going with 2 times at first. The higher the number you use the more disk space you need for the swap file. For example, if you have 128MB of memory installed in your computer, you can try a value of 256 for both the Minimum and Maximum parameters. (WinXP users enter values for the Initial Size and Maximum Size parameters accordingly)
6) Click OK.
7) Click Yes. (WinXP users can skip step 7)

CRACK DOWN ON FILE CACHING
(WinXP users can skip this one) In an attempt to make reading and writing disk drive data more efficient, Windows uses a cache to store some disk data in RAM. Unfortunately, this doesnít work well at all for audio data, and can actually cause problems. So to limit the file caching, do the following:

1) In Windows, choose Start > Run.
2) Type SYSEDIT in the Open field, and click OK to open the System Configuration Editor.
3) Click on the Window showing the SYSTEM.INI file.
4) Scroll down to find the section labeled [vcache].
5) Directly beneath the [vcache] heading type the following:
MaxFileCache=8192
MinFileCache=8192
6) Choose File > Exit to close the System Configuration Editor, and choose YES if asked to save changes.

OTHER BASIC TWEAKS
There are a few other basic Windows parameters you can adjust to make things run more smoothly. One such thing is the system sounds. You really donít need them, and they can be distracting when working with audio and music. To disable them, do the following (see below for WinXP):

1) Choose Start > Settings > Control Panel.
2) Double-click the Sounds applet.
3) In the Sounds Properties dialog box, choose No Sounds in the Schemes drop-down list.
4) Click OK.

WinXP users do the following:

1) Choose Start > Control Panel.
2) Click the Sounds, Speech, and Audio Devices category.
3) Under Pick A Task, choose Change The Sound Scheme.
4) In the Sound Scheme drop-down list, choose No Sounds.
5) Click OK.

Other nuisances you donít need are the various Windows effects and the Active Desktop. To disable these, do the following (see below for WinXP):

1) Right-click on the Windows Desktop and choose Properties.
2) Click on the Effects tab.
3) Deactivate all the options in this dialog box.
4) Click on the Web tab.
5) Deactivate the View My Active Desktop As A Web Page option.
6) Click OK.

WinXP users do the following:

1) Choose Start. Then right-click on My Computer and choose Properties.
2) Click the Advanced tab.
3) Click the Settings button in the Performance section.
4) Under the Visual Effects tab, choose the Adjust For Best Performance option.
5) Click OK.

For more information: Optimizing Your Music & Audio PC (Part 1)


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