This article describes some basic steps to 'tune' your system for optimal performance.

Tuning is all about getting rid of unneeded services, processes and programs that put a burden on the system and slow things down.

Before you start tuning, make sure your BIOS version is up to date. If not, flash your BIOS first. Remember to turn off the CPU C-State and EIST in the BIOS as the first tuning step.

After you have installed the Win8 OS, the first step is to install all available updates. Once that is done, the next step is to start your machine and then - from the start page - right click anywhere on the interface, so All Apps appear. You can then unpin any Apps from the Start page and uninstall what you don't need. Then delete any fonts you don't need from the C:\Windows\Fonts directory. They only occupy disk space. Next is to set your folder preferences to your liking. I prefer to have system and hidden files shown, but you have to decide that yourself. Next step is to use the CMD.exe command line to change attributes of all files and directories you may want to access and modify. Note that a lot of files will show: 'Access denied'. You can correct that partly by modifying the user properties under the security tab and having 'inheritance' on, so it propagates through the directories. This is a bit of a hassle, but I have not yet found an easy way to resolve this. You have to run CMD.exe as an Administrator.

What is nice about Windows 8, is that Godmode still works as it did under Windows 7. This is a very handy utility to access and change almost any Windows property in an easy manner. Just create a folder called:

GodMode.{ED7BA470-8E54-465E-825C-99712043E01C}

and you can easily access and modify even more settings than are available from the Control Panel.

Page File

Once you have removed the Apps you don't need, and cleaned up the disk by removing all those License.txt and Readme First.txt files or whatever they are called, setup your static page file on the boot drive. Windows 8 insists on using a page file on the boot disk to create a memory or crash dump, so it will be created even if you have another page file on a different drive. The suggested size of this static page-file is such that the sum of installed RAM plus the size of the page-file is at least 48 GB. So for a 16 GB RAM machine, the pagefile should be set to 32 GB. For a 32 GB RAM machine, it can be set to 16 GB and for a 64 GB RAM machine it should be set to at least 1 GB. More than 1 GB page-file on a 64 GB machine is not really necessary, since PR is hard pressed to use more than 26 GB of memory in my experience. For AE it may be worth to increase the page-file to something larger than 1 GB on 64 GB machines,

Next go to the power options and set 'Put the computer to sleep' to Never. Then move on to the 'Change advanced power settings' and select what fits your purpose, but here are my settings:

 If you haven't done this already, remove the 'hyberfil.sys' file by doing the follwing:

Go to cmd.exe as administrator and from the command prompt type in:
"powercfg.exe -h off" without the quotes and press enter. Then exit.

That removes a huge file from your boot disk and reclaims up to nearly 64 GB of space, depending on your system. If you don't know whether that huge file still exists on your boot drive, you can't simply go to the root directory of your boot drive, because Windows automatically hides OS system files from showing up in a directory listing. You first need to change the folder options from either Godmode or Control Panel and uncheck the default tick box here:

On a reasonably clean system, your boot disk may now look like this:

Now that the basic steps have been taken, it is time to continue with optimizing the services running. Start with visiting the BlackViper Windows 8 Service configuration. Everything not needed can be set to either 'manual' or 'disabled'. Manual has the advantage that if the service is ever needed in the future, it will be turned on automatically, something not possible when using disabled.

Next make sure that in Disk Management on all your disks, indexing and compression are turned off. Right click on My Computer, select Manage and then select Disk Management. Select a disk, right click and select Properties and make sure that both tick boxes at the bottom of the window are cleared. Repeat that for all your volumes. Note that the space on this volume is with Windows 8.1 Enterprise Edition, a 2 GB page-file and the full Adobe CS6 Master Collection, various plug-ins like the complete Red Giant Looks and Colorista collection, all Pixelan plug-ins and a lot of tools and the humongeous HP printer utilities.

I also disable the Windows default 'Last Access Time Stamp', since I don't need it and it can enhance performance when disabled.

You can adjust Visual Effects under the Performance Options to your liking. In my case, I have only turned on 'Smooth edges of screen fonts'. Everything else is turned off.

The next step depends on your disk setup and the nature of your boot disk. I have 5 volumes of which three are SSD's. Due to technological limitations of NAND memory, SSD's have limited write cycles and once that limit has been reached, the SSD is dead. For that reason I have chosen to set the Windows environment variables to the second SSD, in order to spread the writes of the OS across both SSD's. Right click on My Computer, select Advanced System Settings and then click on the Environment Variables box at the bottom of the window. I changed TEMP and TMP to point to a directory on my D: drive.

Before you go any further, defrag your disk and reboot.

Now run CCleaner (http://www.piriform.com/) and select Tools/Startup. Disable all programs that are not needed when editing. That reduces background processes and memory usage, making editing more snappy. Next select Cleaner and analyze Windows for unneeded files and then Run Cleaner to get rid of those files. Now go to Registry and Scan for Issues. If there are issues, press Fix selected issues to get rid of registry errors. Now clean up your boot disk using Disk Cleanup, go to More Options, select Clean up ... System Restore and Shadow Copies, press OK and Delete Files. Defrag your boot disk again and reboot.

Installing CS6 or CC is pretty straightforward. Install and activate. However if you are stretched for disk space, there are a number of time consuming and error prone steps to take, in order to free several GB's of unwanted and unnecessary files from the installation, only because of the lacking quality of the install process. I have been complaining about this to Adobe for ages, but nothing is done about it, at least not yet.

Every Adobe application, whether it is Photoshop, Encore, After Effects, Premiere Pro, etc. insists on installing EULA files in up to 40 languages, dictionaries in various languages you may never need, and a lot of other crap. In the Master collection it amounts to over 2 GB in more than 2300 files that are not needed. I have requested a simpler approach, where only one set of EULA are stored in a Common directory and only in the language of the program, the OS language and possibly the locale and forget about the rest, instead of replicating this info all over the place.  What can you do about this?

Manual labour

For each and every Adobe application, check directories called '32', AMT, Legal, LMResources, dict, Dictionaries, OBLRes, eula and Support Files, including sub-directories for any language file you do not want. These may include Afghan, Chinese, Arabic, Finnish, Korean, Armenian, Czech, Russian, Latvian and so on.

It is tedious work and you have to be careful not to delete a language you may need, but if you have done this, like I did, you free up at least 2 GB of space on your disk. I know Adobe will frown on this approach, but at the moment this is the only way to circumvent all the crap that the installer creates and regain the sometimes sorely needed space.

Remember to check both the 'Program Files/Adobe' directory and the 'Program Files (x86)/Adobe' directory for applications like Audition, Dreamweaver, Fireworks, Illustrator, and the like.

What have you achieved by these steps?

  • Removed unnecessary Windows crap, freeing up disk-space.
  • Created a static page-file on the boot disk, reducing overhead and fragmentation of the page-file.
  • Turned off power-saving modes and hibernation, freeing up to 64 GB of disk space.
  • Turned off GUI enhancements, reducing video overhead.
  • Turned off indexing and compression on all volumes, improving disk performance.
  • Turned off unneeded services and processes, freeing up memory and reducing overhead.
  • Freed up more than 2 GB of disk space by removing Adobe crap not needed.

These are a number of basic steps every editor should take to improve the snappy feeling of the system. Do not forget that every system gets polluted over time, so you need to clean up at some interval. It is like a garage sale.

Another important thing is to reduce pollution on your system on a regular basis. Every system gathers pollution over time. It leaves traces of updates, installations, event log files and other unneeded stuff on your system, occupying precious space and slowing down the system. What should you do about this?

How to minimize pollution?

Every system that is in use, gathers crap over time. When you update Windows on patch Tuesday, when you update any drivers, when you install new programs, even when you use the system without updating anything, you will still gather a lot of stuff that causes a deterioration of performance and occupies unneeded disk space. For that reason it is advisable to clean up your system on a regular basis, at least once per month. It is so simple, but people often forget this and are surprised that their system slows down in due time. Well, this is easily remedied. I can't guarantee you will get the same performance when you unpacked the new system, but it will definitely improve performance by following these simple steps.

Step 1: Clean up the Event Logs.

Right click on 'My Computer' and select Manage and navigate to Event Viewer and Windows Logs, like this:

If your logs are around equal in size to the ones shown above, there is no need to worry, but generally these files tend to grow in time and can occupy large amounts of disk space. If that is the case, then you better clear those logs, by doing the following:

I personally only Clear the logs and do not save them. Do this specifically for the Application and System Logs. It can save a lot of disk space.

Step 2: File cleaning, duplicate removal and registry cleaning

Once this is done, go to CCleaner (https://www.piriform.com/ccleaner) and really do consider the Pro version if you don't have it yet. It is a small price to pay and it can help enormously to reduce disk space. It can detect more superfluous files and it can manage your user accounts. I compared the free version and the Pro version and it helped me in this case to save more than 100 MB of space in my user profile, and over 62 MB on the file clean-up. Start CCleaner with the File Analyzer:

and run Cleaner. This also shows how many 'housekeeping' tasks the OS performs while editing. It should be no surprise with all these tasks going on under the hood, that the boot disk should only be used for OS & programs, not for anything else.

Next go to 'Tools', 'File Finder' and delete all duplicate files. Nvidia is rather notorious in leaving a lot of duplicate files in the Installation directory and you can save lots of space by deleting these. However, they are not alone in this field. Now the next step is to go to 'Registry' and run 'Scan for issues'. If it looks like this, there is no need to worry:

but often you will find some issues. Fix them now.

Step 3: Disk Cleanup

Once you have done this, go to the next phase. Click on 'My Computer' and then right click on your boot drive. Select 'Properties' and then 'Disk Cleanup'. In the window that appears, select "More Options', like this:

and click 'Clean up ...' and OK. That will remove all previous restore points and shadow copies but the last and saves extra disk space.

For the adventurous

If you want to go the last mile, there is another interesting road to take. Go to your user profile, for instance using a utility like Treesize Professional. It will show you how that directory can grow to ridiculous proportions. Again Nvidia and other applications (for instance RedGiant MBLooks) can take up huge amounts of space on your disk by inflating the user profile. If you are diligent about this, you can recover lots of disk space and lower the size of the user profile by far more than 100 MB. In order to avoid messing up my own user profile, I rename directories in the user proifile, like C:\Users\<username>\AppData\Local\NVIDIA\NvBackend to something like C:\Users\<username>\AppData\Local\NVIDIA\NvBackend-crap to see if everything still works as it should. But I have managed to shave off significant amounts of disk space in this way. Maybe interesting for you too. However, don't expect miracles. Here is what happened to me in 18 months time, but admittedly, I added several programs in that time, so it is not all due to pollution.

 It demonstrates again, that a boot disk for OS & programs does not need to be bigger than 120 GB, even if you have a 32 GB page-file and have multiple versions of Adobe software (Master Collection CSx and CC for instance) installed. Of course, if you skipped the part on the Manual Labour, you will end up with multiple instances of 2+ GB of Adobe crap for each version, eating up your disk space, due to the lousy installer software.

A demonstration of 'Tuning' and how it impacts performance

Bill Gehrke recently acquired a new laptop, for which he submitted his results in the PPBM6 benchmark after 'tuning'. His system specs can be found in his .speccy file. However, he also tested with the unaltered, untuned version as he received this laptop and the results are way different before tuning than after. Let me tell you what he encountered.

Here are the results that Bill gathered on day one.
"428","360","78","730", Premiere Version:, 7.2.1.4  Original received condition, Total 866,  8 GB RAM, 5400rpm 1TB, as received.
 
Now his results have improved to:
 "75","345","57","732", Premiere Version:, 7.2.1.4 after 'tuning', Total 477, 24 GB RAM, 2 x Samsung 840 Pro SSD, as modified.
 
 
 
Let's go through each of these results to show you how 'tuning your system' can help tremendously.
 
  • Killing or disabling the number of running services and processes helped to shave off seconds on each test.
  • Exchanging the single 5400 RPM disk for two Samsung 840 Pro SSD's caused his disk test score to go down from 428 to 75 seconds, almost 6 times faster. That is a huge gain and shows that a single disk just is not enough.
  • Increasing memory from 8 GB to 24 GB helped to improve the H.264 test score to decrease from 360 to 345 seconds, only a slight improvement because the CPU was not affected.
  • The increase in memory pays off nicely in the MPEG2-DVD test, which uses the GPU and CPU both. There the additional memory helps to improve the latencies between RAM and VRAM, causing a drop in test times from 78 to 57 seconds, more than 35% improvement. Of course, overclocking the VRAM by around 50% helps a lot too.
  • Overall the improvement in performance was more than 80% over a standard configuration by applying minor adjustments in the system.