PDA

View Full Version : Optimizing Windows XP for Audio *a sticky in the making??*


Amberience
04-25-2007, 01:38 AM
This is a collection of links from a thread not too far back, but I thought it would be useful.

http://www.musicxp.net/index.php
http://www.tweakxp.com/

MusicXP is a good site for tuning tips.
TweakXP is a good utility to help you tune Windows for audio, but be careful, you can fuck up your current Windows installation if you don't know what you're doing.


http://www.audioforums.com/resources/windows-xp-optimization.html

A really nice list of tweaks I found via Google.

http://killerz-tech.net/forum/lofiversion/index.php/t743.html

http://www.tascam.com/Products/US-428/W2k_XP_Optimize.pdf

Thanks to the peeps who posted this in one of the Vista threads. Can this become a sticky, useful information for all I'm sure.

Amberience
04-25-2007, 01:40 AM
btw: A lot of these guides recommend turning off system restore. If you want my advice, don't turn system restore off.

Instead.. as soon as all your software is installed, and all your drivers, and you've got Windows in a basic usable state, to the point where you could fire up Reaper and record....

THEN set a system restore point. You can get back to that clean quick setup very easily. You need not format for ages with this tip.

And really.. system restore doesn't use much CPU, certainly not enough to worry about.

DarkStar
04-25-2007, 09:12 AM
I'd keep System Restore on too.

But reduce the amount of disk space it uses to a reasonable amount (I think the default is 12% of your disk).

Also, every so often, when you are sure you don't want to do a Restore, turn it off (to clear out all the old Restore points), turn it on again, create a new Restore point.

I had not done this for a while but when I did I got back over 3Gb of disk space!

bullshark
04-25-2007, 05:23 PM
I've found Ghosting the drive faster and more reliable than system restore, in fact the few times I used system restore it messed up my system worst than the problem I was trying to solve so now it's turned off. I use Ghost 2003 on floppy, take 12 minutes to completely restore a boot drive to a pristine fresh install states, with all my programs installed and configured and nothing is running for nothing when I'm using Window. If you keep your personal data, like OE mail folder, sampler files and such, on a separate drive or partition you don't even have to copy or backup anything before ghosting back. My 2.

echosystm
04-26-2007, 03:27 AM
I'm a computer technician *puffs chest out*

:P

System restore does more harm than good, you shouldn't really use it.It's messy. If your computer ever gets bad enough to warrant a system restore, you should just reinstall.

As said before, ghost is a much better option.

Anyway, you don't need to do much to optimise Windows really. Definately do not use programs like nLite. Windows is so tightly intergrated, you can't really RIP (lets face it, its a dirty way of doing it) things out of it and expect all to be rosy! This is what I do:

1. Disable indexing
2. Disable themes
3. Set a fixed pagefile size (stops fragmentation)
4. Disable quick user switching
5. Disable secondary logon
6. Disable remote assistance
7. Disable system restore
8. Set visual appearance to best performance
... etc.
... etc.
Just disable any services/features you dont use. Also, run msconfig to turn off any startup stuff you don't need running.

MOST importantly... DO NOT run Windows Update.
Ok, that sounds like a death trap, but if you're using Firefox with Noscript, Media Player Classic, Kaspersky IS, etc. you should only run updates when they fix a problem you need fixed. Windows doesn't take updates well and will usually cause it to run like a 90 year old man. I reinstall Windows every 6 months or so just because I'm a perfectionist. At every reinstall, I use a copy of the XP cd with all the new updates slipstreamed.

Amberience
04-26-2007, 05:42 AM
Yeah. Shit, I own Windows XP home. But it is SP1. I found that by the time I upgraded to SP2 and installed updates, it was running ... er.. walking like an old man.

So I downloaded WinXP Home SP2. So basically the same updates and the same tuning tips I was using before, and its running a LOT better than WinXP Home without SP2 included on the disc.

Go figure.

Diogenes
04-26-2007, 07:22 AM
Do yourself a favor. Setup dual-boot on your PC. Install XP all fresh and new in it's own partition along with your DAW apps, drivers etc... Optimize that install according to musicxp.net's tweaks. Don't install network support on the DAW partition. Keep the net surfin' on the "general" boot partition. Once you have your DAW partition up and smokin' use Ghost or Acronis Trueimage or whatever to image that partition. Now if something craps on you, you can set your DAW partition right as new in about 5 minutes. Oh yeah, keep your samples, impulses, and audio files on another drive.

Works for me. I haven't had to reinstall XP on my DAW partition in two years and it's still running very fine. My general use XP install is another story... it's due for a wipe job. :D

D

Amberience
04-26-2007, 08:10 AM
Do yourself a favor. Setup dual-boot on your PC. Install XP all fresh and new in it's own partition along with your DAW apps, drivers etc... Optimize that install according to musicxp.net's tweaks. Don't install network support on the DAW partition. Keep the net surfin' on the "general" boot partition. Once you have your DAW partition up and smokin' use Ghost or Acronis Trueimage or whatever to image that partition. Now if something craps on you, you can set your DAW partition right as new in about 5 minutes. Oh yeah, keep your samples, impulses, and audio files on another drive.

Works for me. I haven't had to reinstall XP on my DAW partition in two years and it's still running very fine. My general use XP install is another story... it's due for a wipe job. :D

D

That's a well good idea! I have the space too.

How do I setup a dual boot?

*strokes chin*

RedStone
04-26-2007, 04:33 PM
some experiential tips I've picked up along the way ...

Don't run high speed internet on your DAW
DONT defragment your audio files ... all of that interleaving in stereo wave files will be kissed bye-bye when you do

disable all internet, antivirus and firewalls when using your DAW and get rid of as many processes as you can. Even set up a different profile that only loads what you want, and not 1 bye more.

you can disable services, but really - if you have more than 1gb of RAM, who cares. If not, then get more RAM, or for a few hundred bucks more, a new computer ;)

I think all of that is more to save the hardware than *gain speed* - if your cpu can't handle your mixes, then it just can't handle and it's time to upgrade to a dual core ;) (I'm being slightly sarcastic - but I have a Pentium M, and it can't handle many of my bigger, or more complex mixes)

Diogenes
04-26-2007, 06:43 PM
That's a well good idea! I have the space too.

How do I setup a dual boot?

*strokes chin*

All you need is your XP install CD. I used Partition Magic to set mine up, but if you Google 'Dual boot Windows XP', you'll find all kinds of info on how to do it with just the XP CD. I didn't know that first time around...

D

cAPSLOCK
04-26-2007, 07:14 PM
Heres another vote against System Restore.. for the most part.

Here is where I DO use it.

If I am ever installing something I feel might be risky I will turn it on just temporarily, and then once I am sure I am ok, or have removed the software it's back off.

Here's an example.

I need Pro Tools since I run a commercial studio. But I do NOT like PACE.

So when someone brings me a project done in PT I will:

1. Turn on System Restore
2. Install Porktools
3. Consolodate tracks for Sonar or Reaper
4. Restore to before Porktools install.
5. Turn off System Restore.

For that its pretty cool.

cAPS

scottdru
04-27-2007, 12:48 AM
Some excellent articles (by Martin Walker) on PC and Win XP tweaks:

http://www.soundonsound.com/sos/jul06/articles/pcmusician_0706.htm

http://www.soundonsound.com/sos/sep06/articles/pcmusician_0906.htm

http://www.soundonsound.com/sos/oct06/articles/pcmusician_1006.htm

List of the whole series (excellent resource!):

http://www.soundonsound.com/search?section=%2F&Keyword=PC+Musician

scottdru
04-27-2007, 12:57 AM
Do yourself a favor. Setup dual-boot on your PC. Install XP all fresh and new in it's own partition along with your DAW apps, drivers etc... Optimize that install according to musicxp.net's tweaks. Don't install network support on the DAW partition. Keep the net surfin' on the "general" boot partition.


Enthusiastically seconded!

I can run everything with so much more stability on my DAW partition than it will run on my general use partition, which is usually a bit of a mess because of Internet stuff and all the extra applications, etc. I install on my general use partition that I would NEVER need (or want) on my DAW partition!


Once you have your DAW partition up and smokin' use Ghost or Acronis Trueimage or whatever to image that partition. Now if something craps on you, you can set your DAW partition right as new in about 5 minutes. Oh yeah, keep your samples, impulses, and audio files on another drive.

I've done exactly the same . . . man . . . I'm here to tell ya . . . that has saved my bacon a number of times over the years!

And you don't have to reauthorise all your plugs, reload drivers, redo all your tweaks, etc. You can literally be back up and running within minutes.

I actually do the same with my general use partition. I get a good, stable base system, and then I ghost it, so I don't have to do everything from scratch when it's time to do some serious spring cleaning.

manning1
04-27-2007, 05:46 AM
all the optimisation of xp triks are good ...but in my experience working with xp on various systems....
lets not forget the importance of haveing lots of memory room in a pc as well as fast hard drives. with fat caches.
hi performance hard drives/memory/processors i believe will make more impact than tweaking.

MikeLacey
06-14-2007, 06:58 AM
quote RedStone - "DONT defragment your audio files ... all of that interleaving in stereo wave files will be kissed bye-bye when you do"?

Ok. How does that work then?

happymonkey
06-14-2007, 09:47 AM
quote RedStone - "DONT defragment your audio files ... all of that interleaving in stereo wave files will be kissed bye-bye when you do"?

I seriously doubt the validity of that statement. I defrag on a regular basis and have never had a problem. To support this, I thought I'd do a quick Google search and found the following document from Digidesign:

http://akmedia.digidesign.com/support/docs/driveguide_30782.pdf

Look at page 3. If there was any negative outcome to defragging an audio drive, I really doubt that they'd be giving you instructions on how to do it. I mean, seriously.....

My only recommendation would be to use a 3rd party defragger instead of the one that comes with windows. I've had really good luck with O&O Defrag which can be found here:

http://www.oo-software.com/home/en/products/oodefrag/

It's much faster than the stock program and and has way more options. It will even run in the background while you're doing other tasks. Not that I'd recommend recording or doing any other disk heavy operations while this is running, but at least it doesn't freak out and start over when your screen saver comes on or your antivirus checks for updates.

As a side note, I have high speed internet on my DAW with a 3rd party firewall. I like to be able to update the OS and other programs without having to shuffle a thumb drive back and forth. I also have the network active because, again, I like to be able to get to files easily. As long as you're not using your DAW for surfing or trolling for p0rn and only visit reputable sites when you do go online (like M$ updates for instance), you shouldn't have any problems and probably don't need to have an antivirus program installed at all.

hm

scottdru
06-14-2007, 10:33 PM
If you record all of your audio, midi and project files to a dedicated partition on a separate hard drive from your system, you'll probably find that there generally won't be much need to defrag your that partition frequently. That's been my experience anyway.

From what I understand (at least according to some people whose knowledge and advice I tend to respect), I believe that most DAWs (at least Cubase, anyway) have their own internal file management system that optimises the way files are written to disk and the location, etc. The problem then comes in when you are also writing documents and various other types of files from any number of other types of applications that may not be optimising the writing/placement in in the ways that audio applications need to be optimised, and it's those kinds of things that really tend to frag your HD.

I'm happy to be corrected if I'm totally talking out my ass on this one . . . but this is the understanding I have about this from past research.

Mick
06-19-2007, 10:26 AM
DONT defragment your audio files ... all of that interleaving in stereo wave files will be kissed bye-bye when you do

This statement is incorrect. Interleaving refers to the way that multi-channel data is stored within the WAV file.

Defrag software has no comprehension of file contents.

norbury brook
06-19-2007, 01:50 PM
Xp doesnt need much tweaking with systems now having powerful cpu's and lots of ram. All you need to do is

1:Change Processor Scheduling to 'Background Services'

2:Switch Off Power Schemes

and 3; turn off system sounds.


thats it,all the other stuff makes NO or practically NO DIFFERENCE :D

All that tweaking was for windows 98 etc and for when RAM was at a premium,not needed nowadays.


MC

user1
06-19-2007, 02:38 PM
This statement is incorrect. Interleaving refers to the way that multi-channel data is stored within the WAV file.

Defrag software has no comprehension of file contents.

Exactly. The original poster was incorrect.

Interleaving takes (oversimplified example) stereo L and R information and writes it in a file as LRLRLRLRLR (within the file) as opposed to LLLLLRRRRR.

Defragging either file does not reorder file contents. Defragging simply reorders the bits on your drive so they are contiguous (or according to some other algorithm).

So to continue the example, your file:
LRLRLRLRLR -> fragmented -> L__RRR___L____L____RR______LL
LLLLLRRRRR -> fragmented -> L__RRR___L____L____RR______LL
(e.g. the point being both can fragment equally)
(although I'm oversimplifying because "L" and "R" would be much bigger than the fundamental unit of the storage medium)

Dstruct
06-19-2007, 03:08 PM
but reaper doesn't use interleaved files. what the guy meant was:

say you arm two tracks in reaper. those get recorded as

1212121212 on your harddisk (1=track1, 2=track2)


defragging makes it

1111122222

(i think)

and that's actually bad when reading those files at the same time!

user1
06-19-2007, 06:51 PM
Well, he said

"DONT defragment your audio files ... all of that interleaving in stereo wave files will be kissed bye-bye when you do"

so he was talking about stereo wave files.

Second, I can't imagine a scenario where you run your computer so close to the edge (and having to make a large number of assumptions that lead to the computer reading faster from two files that are "interleaved on the disk" (and I'm making that term up for that use), that such would be necessary.

You'd need a perfectly clear hard disk, assume the computer doesn't buffer to memory, assume it reads faster from interleaved data (meaning it reads fastest the way it writes, which is not often the case, often writes skip across the disk so they match the spin RPM, or across write heads, etc.), and then assume you are recording enough tracks such that if there is a small increase in speed for such reads, you need it.

That's a lot of assumptions. I just don't think, even if that is what he meant, that it a practical worry.

MikeLacey
06-20-2007, 04:45 AM
Hi Dandruf,

That's not what defragging does really.

Let's say that there are 10 blocks in a file - the best way to store those blocks would be in a single strip, with no gaps, from 1 to 10

1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10

If windows has enough space, that's exactly what it does - so far so good.

The problem comes when some program wants to extend a file like that - and there isn't enough room because of some other file that's been created. You then get something like this.

1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10,A,B,C,D,E,11,12,13,14,F,G,H,I ,15,16,17

This is obviously a Bad Thing where performance is important.

Defragmenting those two files will give you something like this.

1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10,11,12,13,14,15,16,17,A,B,C,D, E,F,G,H,I

where each of the files is in a nice, easily read, continuous strip on the disk. This happy state of affairs lasts precisely until the next time the file is extended...

MikeLacey
06-20-2007, 04:53 AM
Ok... And I spent 5 minutes writing that and then realised Dandruf is talking about multiple files.... So some of my comments don't really fit then.

I'd still suggest though that contiguously is the way you want to store files - the O/S will read the files more efficiently (in general) if they are contiguous.

kitekrazy
08-03-2008, 02:13 PM
btw: A lot of these guides recommend turning off system restore. If you want my advice, don't turn system restore off.

Instead.. as soon as all your software is installed, and all your drivers, and you've got Windows in a basic usable state, to the point where you could fire up Reaper and record....

THEN set a system restore point. You can get back to that clean quick setup very easily. You need not format for ages with this tip.

And really.. system restore doesn't use much CPU, certainly not enough to worry about.

I've found system restore bogs down a computer with 3 hard drives running.
I keep system restore off. When I install something I usually put it back on in case I need to roll back.

MusicXP.net is now a paid site.

I'm looking for something that's more current and free. Most tweaks listed on sites are from single core CPUs and IDE drives, 1 gig of RAM.

I don't think I've maxed out a system with 2 gigs of RAM yet.