Managing your computer's performance

Windows allocates resources according to its settings and manages devices accordingly. You can, however, change the way Windows uses processor time and computer memory to improve performance. You can also adjust the settings for your computers visual effects.

Managing processor time

System processing is managed by Windows, which can allocate tasks between processors, as well as manage multiple processes on a single processor. However, you can set Windows to allocate more processor time to the program you are currently running. This can result in faster program response time. Or, if you have background programs, such as printing or disk backup that you want to run while you work, you can have Windows share processor resources equally between background and foreground programs

Managing computer memory

When your computer is running low on RAM and more is needed immediately, Windows uses hard drive space to simulate system RAM. This is known as virtual memory, and is often called the paging file This is similar to the UNIX swapfile. The default size of the virtual memory pagefile (named pagefile.sys) created during installation is 1.5 times the amount of RAM on your computer.

You can optimize virtual memory use by dividing the space between multiple drives and removing it from slower or heavily accessed drives. To best optimize your virtual memory space, divide it among as many physical hard drives as possible. When selecting drives, keep the following guidelines in mind:

Try to avoid having a pagefile on the same drive as the system files.

Avoid putting a pagefile on a fault-tolerant drive, such as a mirrored volume or a RAID-5 volume Pagefiles don't need fault-tolerance, and some fault-tolerant systems suffer from slow data writes because they write data to multiple locations.

Don't place multiple pagefiles on different partitions on the same physical disk drive.

You can choose to optimize your computer's memory usage. If you use your computer primarily as a workstation, rather than as a server, you can have more memory devoted to your programs. Your programs will work faster and your system cache size will be the default size that came with Windows XP. You can also specify to set aside more computer memory for a larger system cache, If your computer is used primarily as a server, or if you use programs that require a larger cache.

Changing visual effects

Windows provides several options to set the visual effects of your computer. For example, you can choose to show shadows under menus, giving them a 3-D look. You can tell Windows to display the entire contents of a window while you move it on your screen. To make large text more readable, you can choose to display the smooth edges of screen fonts. You can also enable the Web view in your folders, which will display a list of hyperlinked tasks and information on the left side of the folder window. Windows provides options for enabling all of the settings (for best appearance), or none of the settings (for best computer performance). You can also restore the original default settings.

Change the performance of foreground and background programs

Change the size of the virtual memory paging file

System Properties overview

Display links to common tasks in folders

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