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Spring Clearance

Part 3 of PC optimization guide.

Welcome to the third and final part of our PC Optimization series. We began two days ago in the 12/18 edition of inSync so if you didn’t catch it the last two days you should go back and review. We continue with tip #10 today.

10) Limit your VCACHE (Vcache is just Microsoft’s disk caching system, which came into use as of Windows 95):
Go to START MENU, RUN, type NOTEPAD C:WINDOWSSYSTEM.INI and press Enter.
Scroll down about half way through the document to [Vcache]. It will probably not have anything directly under it.

Add these two lines:

MaxFileCache=8192
MinFileCache=8192

Then close Notepad and it will ask if you want to save changes. Click Yes.

11) Motherboard Concerns
The chipset on your motherboard can be as important as the actual processor. Intel chips are recommended because we’ve found the most consistent support of them among DAW manufacturers. If you have a VIA chipset on your motherboard (VIA makes chipsets for both Athlon and Intel PIII/Celeron systems), you may want to try downloading the 4-in-1 drivers, which include updates for Windows at http://www.viatech.com/. If you’re unsure which chipset your motherboard has, you can either look inside for AMD, VIA, SIS, or Intel on the large chips or go into Device Manager (Right-click MY COMPUTER, select PROPERTIES, DEVICE MANAGER) and check what type of USB controller you have. This will tell you what type of motherboard you have.

12) Reducing Video Hardware Acceleration may help on a few computers.Right-click MY COMPUTER, select PROPERTIES. Click the PERFORMANCE tab, then click the Graphics button. Hardware acceleration has 4 options. More than likely yours will be at Full. This is usually fine, but sometimes some systems will run better if this setting is either on NONE or the first notch (Basic). Try one or both of these settings, and if it doesn’t help, you can set it back up to Full.

13) Parallel port MIDI interfaces – (No need to follow these if you don’t have a midi device on your printer port).
Parallel port interfaces require several extra setup steps to get them working properly. The Parallel port mode in the BIOS must be set to EPP (default is ECP.) See step #1 for steps to get into the BIOS. It is known that many Soundblaster cards will share the parallel port IRQ without telling you. Right-click MY COMPUTER, then select PROPERTIES.

14) Legacy SoundBlaster emulation:
Select the DEVICE MANAGER tab, and look for Creative Misc. Devices.
If found, double-click anything that says Legacy Emulation, and checkmark the Disable. Hit OK.
If not found, check in your Sound, Video, and Game controllers for anything that says Legacy Emulation or Legacy Audio and disable that.

15) Make sure your video card is AGP (brown slot), not PCI (white slot). The AGP bus on a PC is separate from the PCI, and therefore will not bog down the PCI bus that runs the hard drive, audio cards, and other devices.

16) Other things to try if these don’t help (not necessary if your system works now):
a) Disable read caching. In DEVICE MANAGER go to PERFORMANCE, FILE SYSTEM, lower READ-AHEAD OPTIMIZATION to none.
b) Disable write-behind caching. In the same place, go to the TROUBLESHOOTING tab, Disable WRITE-BEHIND CACHING and SYSTEM RESTORE (if on WinME).
If these two settings don’t help, you should probably re-enable them because the system does run a bit smoother with them enabled.

So that’s it for now. These settings have been tried and tested, and are known to solve most problems. Some more tips are to:
* Limit the programs installed on the computer to as few as possible. If at all possible, limit use of this computer to audio.
* Defrag your hard drives regularly (depending on use). We recommend purchasing a system utility to do this such as Norton because it is faster and does a better job.
* Use a separate hard drive for audio (7200-RPM minimum)
* If you’re getting clicking in audio, try adjusting the buffer size of your audio card in its control panel. Usually increasing the buffer size will reduce pops, but sometimes reducing the size will also. Try both. A smaller buffer size will also decrease latency, but put more of a burden on the CPU.
* Make sure if you’re recording FROM a digital source to your computer, you have word clock on the audio card set to external: S/PDIF, ADAT, TDIF, Word clock, or whatever source from where you are recording.
* Always remember to back up your audio, even if it is only onto another hard drive in the system.

We’d like to give special thanks to Gary Brenner of Apogee Electronics for his help in compiling these tips.

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