Fastest Boot drive?

Silencing hard drives, optical drives and other storage devices

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Post by Eunos » Tue Sep 12, 2006 12:34 am

hmsrolst wrote:
Eunos wrote:Just be warned, I had an i-RAM...
I noticed the past tense. How come you no longer have one?
It had a lot of novelty value at first, but as soon as I needed some cash I sold it quick smart. There wasn't much noticable difference for what I used it for. It's only big enough for an OS and a few programs (not temp files which could benefit the most) and in general hard drives aren't that big a performance bottleneck for OS/programs anyway.

Nonetheless I'm all for solid state drives and I hope they progress to a point where I can reconsider.

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Post by Aris » Tue Sep 12, 2006 4:44 am

i'm just getting frustraited is all.

i do all those things you mentioned. i always use fresh clean installs of winxp sp2. i normally only have the obligitory 3 icons on my desktop (my computer, network neighborhood, recycle bin), and just use the links under the start menue or in the quicklaunch bar. i rarely download fluff software, and dont install/uninstall stuff very often. i typically dont even update software unless the update is going to give me some sort of functionality i need. my startup menue is always empty. im a nazi about programs running in the background, and do all i can to verify the absolute minimum processes are running at all times. I even went so far as to look for registry hacks to try and get the "safely remove hardware" icon from the system tray removed.

i do typically have multiple programs i'm using up at once. iTunes is almost always running, so is norton antivirus. I typically have at least 1 firefox window open, sometimes 2 or 3, and always with multiple tabs in each one. I use a program called "ventrilo" often while im playing world of warcraft.

my biggest issue's really are just while im playing games, and i'm alt tab'd out of the game. i timed it last night, and it took 15seconds from the time i clicked the firefox icon in the quicklaunch bar, to the time i was able to input a url into the address bar while i had world of warcraft, and iTunes minimized in the background.

when the game isnt running, its not an issue. things pop up quickly without me noticing anything.

While a new cpu/motherboard may be less expensive, to my wife its a "new computer". so while i may actually spend more for a solid state disk drive, i can get her to believe its a necissary component upgrade and not a whole new system.

and lastly, its somthing new ive never personally worked with that always peaked my interest. Theres alot of projects in my past that while they didnt last, they gave me alot of information so i know how stuff works better. like my watercooling rig that only lasted 3 months before i went back to air cooling for good, or my obsession for window cases and neon lights that ended up getting covered up so i could sleep at night. while they may look like failures to some, for me it was money well spent on experiences that i was able to gain usefull information from.

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Post by Cerb » Tue Sep 12, 2006 10:07 am

I have no idea why it takes so lon when alt-tabbed out of a game, unless you've really not got enough RAM. I rarely have to wait even 5 seconds when doing that on Windows excepted, of course--and that's when it does have to swap from the HDD (and if that's happening for more than a second or so when alt-tabbing from games, you've not got enough RAM for the game and likely its graphics settings). For starting FF, FI, it should just swap in that chunk of Explorer, start loading Firefox, free some RAM and preemptively swap some back to the HDD, and you should be in business.

It seems like there's got to be something else there hogging CPU time or memory pages. It's possible Norton is being bad (FI, let's say it's swapping out, and scanning files involved for FF as FF starts up--ouch! I know if I don't exclude that stuff when using Avast! it bogs app startups down), but I don't know for sure, as I haven't used it in a couple years. I also don't know how things like texture memory show up, if at all, with perfmon (er, in task manager). One thing you could try in that regard is uninstalling Norton, and trying (with proper exception rules) AVG or Avast! for a few weeks, and see if there's any difference. Or be brave and remove Norton without replacing it and see if there's a positive change.

You can certainly go and spend some money on this stuff, but when dealing with swapping memory, especially coming back in, multitasking, etc., there's software overhead involved that typically dwarfs the storage performance itself (remember, this is Windows).

Be aware that if you were not asking this for Windows, a faster storage solution would be a good way to go, as Linux and FreeBSD (likely others, too) do a much better job (and Linux has some tweakability, too) at effectively and efficiently managing swap, such that (a) there wouldn't be as much trouble to begin with, and (b) a faster drive really would mean a difference in swap performance you could feel.

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Post by jackylman » Tue Sep 12, 2006 2:35 pm

Aris, what are your swap file settings?

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Post by Aris » Tue Sep 12, 2006 2:42 pm

jackylman wrote:Aris, what are your swap file settings?
idunno, so it must be default setttings

the norton antivirus point may be it. Though i really wouldnt feel safe with anything else. Its what we use at work (im in the us air force), and norton has a program for military members where we get it for free.

how exactly would i change norton to not scan certain things to make desktop processes faster in this circumstance without causing data integrity risk through virul means

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Post by highlandsun » Tue Sep 12, 2006 3:07 pm

Bah. I had a bunch of my passwords stolen by a trojan a couple years ago, despite having an up to date copy of Norton running. I use Avast now, and that's free too.

Avast doesn't slow down the system anywhere near as badly as Norton did...

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Post by Cerb » Tue Sep 12, 2006 8:06 pm

I lost my main filesystem to a trojan that killed Norton's shield (I have a feeling corrupting NTFS was a bad side effect, not the intention), and moved to Avast! It can slow things like mail and web down by scanning everything FF or TB try to do (scan incoming mail, then scan the inox file as its modified, FI--same for browser cache), but there's a list of paths to exclude in the scanner's settings, and it's fine after doing that.

I've also now fixed three XP boxes which had a virus/worm/whatever disabling Norton's realtime shield. Being so popular and big (big as in a giant piece of complex software that they can't change a lot on short notice) can cause its own problems.

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Post by paapaa » Tue Sep 12, 2006 11:40 pm

There is also Antivir, a free and powerful antivirus program. It did very well in a recent comparison:

You can get it here:

I have also heard that Norton is a resource hog - haven't tested though. It also didn't do very well in this comparison.

If it takes 15 seconds to Alt-Tab from your game, you must have a serious problem and it definitely sounds like the computer is swapping. You should check your memory and swap usage just after you have Alt-Tabbed to the desktop and opened Firefox. That would tell us more. If you are swapping, then an i-Ram won't solve anything.

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Post by Aris » Thu Sep 14, 2006 6:35 am

Well i uninstalled norton and installed antivir.

Havnt really been playing alot of games lately to notice any improvment, but it did seem alot more streamlined when i installed it.

How do i check my swap file settings, and what should they be set to?

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Post by green » Fri Sep 15, 2006 4:59 pm

Aris wrote:Well i uninstalled norton and installed antivir.

Havnt really been playing alot of games lately to notice any improvment, but it did seem alot more streamlined when i installed it.

How do i check my swap file settings, and what should they be set to?
i'm surprised that you've done occassional optimization stuff for 3 years but not encountered how to fix the size of your page file
i'd ask whether you're using a standard/custom theme or if it's classic? have you turned off windows sounds? and system restore? did you do the reg tweak not to page the kernel? or the one to stop updating ntfs last access time on files? have you tried nLite? and a regcleaner?

either way:

My Computer -> Properties -> Advanced -> Performance - Settings
Visual Effects -> Adjust for best performance
Advanced -> Virtual Memory -> Change
Set it to 1-2gb as min and max
if you've got a 2nd drive to use as dump space put it on that

Norton has a stigma. Having norton on your computer slows it down by 27.3%. even if it isn't installed :p
i'd recommend Nod32, BitDefender or Kaspersky for a paid solution
there's also anti-virus shield or something from AOL that's based on Kaspersky which is free
either way if you set your virus scanner to scan everything that's accessed then it's going to slow everything down.

also check your firefox settings
if your history is long reduce it. i've seen people set it to 999 days. the and it's 47mb making it take longer to load as firefox has the 'url auto-complete' stuff
also reduce cache size. half the time you'll wanna see the most recent stuff anyway. i did the whole "don't check for newer copies" thing and it was stupid. i hit referesh everytime i went to a page. only download newest per session.

as for WoW if there's a lot of people on screen when you've switched out it's still a bit of processing in the background.

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Post by ecto » Fri Sep 15, 2006 5:54 pm

Aris, maybe you should also check the WoW forums to see if there are other WoW users with the same kind of desktop lag problems, and what they did about it.

Sorry if this post is duplicate/erroneous, I just skimmed through the thread.

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Post by stun321 » Sat Sep 23, 2006 5:17 pm

Aris... did you think of disabling virtual memory? If you really do have 2 gigs of ram, that should be the only thing you can do to speed up your boot/load time for any and all programs including windows.

Buying an SSD is not only unneccessary for your configuration, you will be misserable with it because beside the ability for the drive to do multi-addressing very quickly, once it gets to memory, it will be just as slow as it was previously... you just need to tweek your software to reduce latency in you HD... I would give tips, but seeing what you said to others that pointed towards that direction... I will keep my oppinions in that matter to myself

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Post by stun321 » Sat Sep 23, 2006 5:27 pm

K... I don't know what the rest of you are talking about, but if he is doing serious file swapping... THAT IS THE ONLY THING AN SSD OR I-RAM WILL SOLVE. And yes, your boot-up problem can be formulated as a file swapping problem depending on how Windows handles ram allocation at startup. Also, think about a second drive that will hold all programs while your primary drive runs windows exclusively... this the optimally speedy and most secure way to speed up

File swapping is strictly a drive latency issue and usually has very little to do with the bandwidth of the drive's bus or the system in general.

BTW... upon first XP install, after I disabled virtual ram, I got a bootup time (from the press of power button to login screen) of 8 seconds flat on an older 7200RPM drive with 10gigs... of course its size does affect access time but hey what the heck :)

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Post by lm » Sun Sep 24, 2006 5:15 am

Running an anti-virus software all the time is not necessary to be safe from viruses, if the system is otherwise made safe.

This means:

- properly configured firewall, either software or physical or isp-side
- properly configured operating system (disable unnecessary services etc)
- not using IE and outlook, and having the replacements properly configured
- not acting stupid (blindly clicking yes on any dialog boxes, opening spam email attachments etc)
- not installing software that has or might have spyware
- not downloading software from sources that can't be trusted
- having your software and operating system up to date, especially on security/critical updates

One option to easily fullfill these goals is to use a good distribution of linux, but it is very much doable on windows as well.

Also you could set the anti-virus to scan the whole system once a day at some time of day when you are not using it.

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Post by CA_Steve » Sun Sep 24, 2006 7:34 am

Some comments from another WoW player. With a Barton 2800, 1GB of dual channel memory and a 6600GT vid card, alt-tabbing can also be slow for me.

- WoW has a memory leak when you are alt-tabbed out of the game. It's better than it was, BUT, if you alt-tab a bunch of times, the game becomes an idle memory godzilla. After a fair bit of play, I notice a lot of HDD grinding between zones and when going through IF and other high pop places. I've considered adding more RAM to cut down on disk swap (as I think that's what's going on).

iTunes on my platform is a resource hog when ripping CD's. Playing tunes, it's not too bad. Ripping and playing WoW at the same time wouldn't work well at all.

I haven't tried playing w/ and w/o Norton active to see if it speeds up.

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Post by dhanson865 » Sun Sep 24, 2006 9:22 am

Also if you desktop resolution is different than your game resolution the video card and CPU have to swap a lot of data and a CRT/LCD might take time to adjust.

If your game and windows resolutions match exactly (inlcuing color depth and refresh rate) then the alt tab out of the game will go noticably faster.
Last edited by dhanson865 on Sun Oct 08, 2006 3:10 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Post by hapveg » Thu Sep 28, 2006 5:10 am

Can't remember where I read it, but a couple of months ago I read some tests done with boots speeds, comparing before and after times with various installed programs.

The two worst offenders were Norton and 1,000 fonts, either roughly doubled the boot time.

You mentioned Dreamweaver... do you have a large collection of fonts?

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Post by hapveg » Sat Sep 30, 2006 5:31 pm

Reinstalled my system twice recently (long story), but I noticed something partially related to this post:

It's not scientific, but I usually count the times that the winXP boot logo cycles left to right whenever I install new software.

With my system carefully stripped of unneeded services, and a bunch of utilities and drivers installed my system, it was booting before the 1st cycle had ended, anywhere between about a third of the way through to nearly the end (4 spinpoints in raid 0).

The last thing I installed were the sound drivers (SoundMax v5.10.01.4570, HD Audio for P5B Deluxe, 20MB installation file) and the boot time increased to about 7 cycles.

I've tested 3 times, uninstalled the drivers and retested, the SoundMax drivers increase my windows loadtime by ~1400%, and I can't hear any drive I/O during the delay.

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Post by Terje » Sat Sep 30, 2006 11:39 pm

highlandsun wrote:Well, you've probably hit a wall, sure, but it's Windows, not the hardware. I have 2GB of RAM in my laptop, and running Windows XP 1.5GB is usually free, even with a dozen apps open. The problem is that the Windows memory manager is pretty much allergic to RAM. It continuously runs thru memory and pages out anything it can, even though there's no particular memory pressure on the system. A good memory manager would only force things out of memory when some other apps are requesting more memory than is currently available, but the Windows memory manager isn't a good one.

As long as you're tied to Windows, you're going to see slow response, no matter how much RAM you install or how fast your hard drives are.
Try to disable the pagefile entirely if you have enough memory. It helps.

I also regard Readyboost in Vista as something of a workaround for the aggressive pageout/dynamic disk cache in Windows XP. It does actually seem to help as well if you have a very fast memory key.

I use it now with a 2GB 25MB/sec memory key and it does make even a fast system with 4GB memory noticably more snappy although probably not at level that the i-ram would.

More relevant for this forum however, readyboost tries to offload only random access and not large sequential transfers, it also reduces HD noise as it reduces disk seeks.

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Post by Mats » Sun Oct 01, 2006 6:28 am

mysh wrote:
jackylman wrote:- Look in the registry to see all of the programs that are running at startup
Or, rather than looking in the registry yourself, use CodeStuff Starter ( This is a fantastic tool that collects all the items that will be run at startup in one place, and allows you to just disable them, rather than necessarily deleting them outright. Very handy.
Sounds like you're describing MSConfig, so I really can't see your point...

Samsung SSD 32 GB review. I can't see any price, but it doesn't matter because I can't afford it anyway.

Can somebody recommend a program that displays everything that the RAM is used for, and not only what the task manager lists?

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Post by Le_Gritche » Sun Oct 01, 2006 9:22 am

Mats wrote:Can somebody recommend a program that displays everything that the RAM is used for, and not only what the task manager lists?
You can use two things that I know of : Windows Service Manager and the Task Manager in console mode (to get additional options).

Service Manager : open the "Start" menu, choose "run..." and type "services.msc" (without the ""). Validate.
You get the list of windows services running. Some can't be shut down, other can be, depending on your computer usage.
You can find a lot of info about that on the web, most guides are pretty conservative in what they advise you to keep running. I have been far more drastic without any problem (that I know of, at least).

Task Manager : open the "Start" menu, choose "run..." and type "" (without the ""). Validate. ("command" or barely "cmd" do open the exact same thing)
Now in the newly opened window, type "tasklist" then press "enter". You get the exact same thing than the windows based Task Manager, except that you can use parameters to get options here. Type tasklist/? to get the help menu on all the options.

Basically, the only two useful options in your case are /m and /svc.
tasklist/m will list every .dll currently in use by your system.
tasklist/svc will tell you what is running exactly under the svchost.exe processes.
In the end it's the exact same thing than with the Windows Services Manager, except that "System Event Notification" will be called just SENS here. You also get the PID (process identifier) associated to every process, so you can then check the memory usage associated to these different services back in Task Manager. (For exemple to tell how much memory you freed by closing a specific Windows service)

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Post by Mats » Sun Oct 01, 2006 12:09 pm

Thanks for your help! I was aware of the Services and I've done some changes there. tasklist was new to me though.

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