Archive for May, 2009
As is often the case, technologies that are designed to make tasks faster sometimes end up slowing things down. Remote Differential Compression (RDC) seems to be one of these technologies, but fortunately, it can be disabled. RDC is designed to manage the efficient transfer of large amounts of data between computers. RDC is actually designed to minimize the amount of data that needs to be transferred via the network for files that may get transferred multiple times. Unfortunately, if both computers don’t use RDC or if there are large changes to the data files between transfers, having the service turned on can actually reduce data transfer speeds.
To turn RDC off (it’s turned on by default), open the Control Panel and choose Uninstall A Program from the Program option. From the Tasks pane on the left side of the window, choose Turn Windows features on or off. Scroll down to Remote Differential Compression and deselect it by clicking on it. Select OK.
Turning this feature off isn’t going to be the difference between night and day, but it should make Windows Vista perform better on certain types of tasks, file copying and transferring being the primary one.
Another configuration change that may speed up your network performance is disabling TCP/IP auto-tuning. You’ll want to look at this adjustment if you have consistently poor performance when accessing the Internet or using Internet applications like e-mail or Web browsers. “Poor performance” includes Web pages that don’t load or seem to get stuck when loading, email messages that don’t download, or slow message and Web page retrieval.
Disabling TCP/IP auto-tuning may or may not solve your problem, but it’s worth a try and turning it off will only cause Windows to revert to a standard operating mode. (In case you haven’t guessed, TCP/IP auto-tuning is another non-standard implementation!) You’ll need administrator privileges on your computer to disable auto-tuning. As the administrator, enter the following string:
netsh interface tcp set global autotuning=disabled
As I said, disabling autotuning may or may not solve your problem, but this is one of those “no harm done” efforts, and it’s certainly worth a try if nothing else has worked.
To re-enable TCP/IP auto-tuning, from the administrator’s account enter
netsh interface tcp set global autotuning=normal
Photo Credit: Thomas Merton, via Flickr
Memory Shortage Can Cause Performance Problems
Ideally, a new computer and the latest version of the operating system should perform exceptionally well, provided that you have a sufficient amount of RAM loaded into the computer. If you economized by not upgrading your memory from the bare minimum, you may come to regret that decision as you begin to add files and programs to your computer.
No real harm done, here. You can easily add (or have someone add) memory to your computer if the performance of your system is intolerably slow. Adding memory is usually an exercise in mathematics. Sometimes you can simply add more memory. Other times, you need to take out the memory in the computer and replace it with a new package. Whether or not you can reuse the existing memory depends upon how many memory slots your computer has, and whether or not any slots are open. Always follow the manufacturer’s recommendations on memory, and don’t mix memory sizes.
Some is good, but more is not always better. By design, your computer has a maximum amount of RAM it can address. Don’t exceed this limit; your computer won’t work if you do. Your owner’s manual or the manufacturer’s Web site should be able to help you determine the maximum amount of memory your computer can handle.
You should consider a memory upgrade if:
A. You have the minimum recommended memory installed in the computer. The minimum recommendation is meant to tell you how much RAM your computer needs to run the operating system. You’ll need additional memory to run your applications.
B. Your hard drive is constantly working while you’re running applications. This is a sign that your computer is using hard disk space to compensate for needed RAM.
C. You run computationally intensive programs. These include programs with a lot of graphics, programs that create graphics, and those that help you draw, lay out or design things. If you use your computer to run graphics-intensive games, you’ll want to have as much memory as possible.
.D. Your computer acts as a server for other programs. If your computer is responding to requests from other computers – even if only on a home network – you may need more memory to accommodate the server processes.
Photo Credit: Charlene Wood
Computers are all about making work easier, and helping users to work smarter. Without a doubt, one of the complaints I hear most often is that a user’s computer performance is slow. There’s no apparent reason for it, but the computer is definitely slower today than it was the day it came out of the box.
Sometimes, the computer really has slowed down and I can find an explanation for the slow performance. The solution might better regular maintenance, including disk defragmentation and monitoring of the file system. It might be an upgrade to the computer’s RAM or graphics processing. It might be careful monitoring of system processes and applications that “steal” processor time or computer memory space. It might even be corrupted files, viruses or other malware.
Faster User May Be Cause Of Slower Computer Performance
Sometimes, I can’t find an explanation of why the computer suddenly seems slower. The performance indicators I use don’t detect a problem, the file systems is in good shape, the memory and CPU usages are where they should be and there are no detectable malware or virus infections that might cause the computer to slow down.
In those cases, I assume (maybe unfairly) that the problem isn’t that the computer has slowed down as much as it is that the user has gotten faster! Newer users tend to miss the fact that they’re developing proficiency with the computer. Proficiency sometimes means that users improve their computer skills, making it seem as though the computer is slowing down when in reality, they’re just getting more comfortable with the computer.
Assuming that your computer is working well, you can increase your own performance by incorporating a few shortcuts into the way you use your computer. Shortcuts, especially those that start an application you use regularly, or get you to a point in the file system that you visit frequently, can help you make better use of the time you spend at the computer. Windows Vista also allows you to customize your computer with shortcuts that automate routine tasks.
To get to the applications you use regularly, try adding these to the Quick Launch menu in Windows Vista. Quick Launch icons are found to the right of the Start Button at the bottom of the screen. This menu can help you get right to work. To add an application to the Quick Launch menu, you can either drag it from the its location in the Programs menu to the Quick Launch bar, or you can right click on the application and choose Add to Quick Launch from the contextual menu. If the Add to Quick Launch isn’t visible on the contextual menu, hold down the Shift key while right-clicking on the program you want to add. The Add to Quick Launch option should become visible in the contextual menu.
Photo Credit: WellsLogan1194, via Flickr
Performance Monitor Can Trace Problems Over Time
In terms of performance, Microsoft has a set of tools, one of which I discussed last week, the Event Viewer. The Event Viewer isn’t the only performance monitoring tool in Windows Vista, however. You can also get valuable information on the state of your OS through the Reliability and Performance Monitor – also included with Windows Vista.
The Reliability and Performance Monitor skims data from system logs, as well as real-time monitoring, to determine whether a computer is having difficulty. The Reliability and Performance monitor isn’t foolproof, but it will provide additional, up-to-date information on performance issues that may be developing, or that your computer is experiencing consistently.
To run the Reliability and Performance Monitor, enter perfmon into the Run box in Windows Vista. Once the application loads, it will provide Resource View, a performance display that tracks the current operational state of the computer. You can look individually at the Performance Monitor or the Reliability Monitor and set up checkpoints that will help you track your computer’s performance over time.
In general terms, performance measures the speed at which the computer operates. Reliability measures the computer’s ability to perform as it is configured to. Reliability Monitor also keeps track of the stability of the operating system, and keeps track of specific events that could affect the way your computer operates. Reliability Monitor is a good resource to use if you begin to experience problems.
The Reliability Monitor also creates a numerical score for the computer, which can change over time. A decline in the reliability score could indicate that the computer is experiencing problems with recent system updates, application installations or removals, and even problems that might arise from the computer’s hardware. Since Reliability Monitor tracks by date, you can quickly determine when problems started to occur and what events took place immediately before and after specific changes you’ve made.
Performance Monitor and Reliability Monitor enable you to create reports and even provide report templates to help you track the information that’s most important to you. Combined with other monitoring tools available in Windows Vista, the Performance Monitor can help you keep your computer in top condition.
Shutdown Problems Can Be Temporary
In theory, once a process is running, it should run normally. Sometimes, however, things go wrong. A process doesn’t shut down properly or gets hung up. Some programs that are not designed properly may have “memory leaks.” These “zombie” processes and memory leaks can take up valuable CPU cycles or consume a continuously growing amount of your computer’s available memory. Both of these things can slow system performance to a crawl or can hang your computer completely.
Even when you shut your computer down regularly, you may notice delays in the shutdown process. Some shutdown slowdowns are absolutely normal. Windows Vista and older versions of the Windows operating systems download and install updates at shutdown, and during this process, a slow shutdown is to be expected.
Slow shutdowns can also occur as the result of hung applications and other processes that cannot shut down normally. These problems are usually temporary and often resolve on their own. The computer may issue an error message asking for help when it gets stuck. If an application routinely crashes on shutdown, however, this could be a symptom of a larger problem.
Driver issues can also cause slow shutdown problems. Check often for driver updates and install updated drivers when you find them. Driver Detective can keep track of your drivers and download updates automatically.
If your shutdowns are chronically slow, check the Event Viewer to see what your computer is running. You may be surprised by what you find! To run the Event Viewer, choose the Run command and enter eventvwr.msc in the box.
When the Event Viewer is running, choose Applications and Services > Microsoft > Windows > Diagnostics – Performance > Operational. The Event Viewer will show a list of critical events and warnings that are issued at various points during the computer’s operation, and will specifically identify troublesome events that occur at shutdown. Take a close look at these Shutdown Performance Monitoring events. The warning information will often identify the processes that are causing shutdown delays. A little extra detective work on these slow spots will help you resolve these issues.
Photo Credit: Cindy Siegle
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