By: The Button Man
Hardware wise, you should now be slightly less in the dark about what you
should expect from your computer. So, the next stage is preparing Windows.
The Windows 9x series isn't exactly the most efficient operating systems of
all time. One of their worst crimes is in the area of memory management.
The Windows 9x series just isn't very good at handling it. So it's an
ideal area to kick off with.
First, defrag your hard drive. Yeah, it takes ages, but do it.
If you can, disable virtual memory altogether before you do this.
However, I'd only recommend doing this if you have at least 128MB RAM.
Second, set up your virtual memory. This is gonna require some hard
drive space, so if you don't have less than 1GB to spare, you may well
wish to skip this bit by. Windows sets itself up to handle virtual
memory itself. What this leads to is an expanding and contracting
swap file, which gets fragmented (because your hard drive is fragmented),
and seriously slows things down.
To set your virtual memory, right Click "My Computer," select the
"Performance" tab, and select "Virtual Memory." Stop windows from handling
virtual memory. Choose your fastest
hard drive, and then set the amount of virtual memory you want.
However, here's the trick: set the maximum and the minimum to the same
amount. This creates a permament swap file, of a set size, on your fastest
hard drive. Once permanent, Windows won't touch it again, so if you
managed to get it in a non-fragmented section of hard drive space, you'll
have sped things up to no end.
Finally, if you have Norton Utilities, go to to the "Optimize Performance"
tab, and launch the Norton Optimization Wizard. Let it optimize your swap
file. What this does is shift the swap file to the outer sectors of the
hard drive, leading to (for a number of technical reasons to do with
sector density and arm movement) faster access. Also, always use Norton
Defrag - it's so much better than Windows Defrag.
Ok, so a lot of you are already familiar with the above instructions, and
some won't be bothered to do them. So why have I mentioned it? It's almost
inevitable that your
swap file will be used during play. This could be for reasons such as
low system RAM availability, or too little video RAM for texture storage.
And all this slows down your game. So optimizing the swap file is vital
for good performance. For reference, I have 256MB RAM, and a 500MB
permanent swap file on the outer rim of my fastest drive. Sweet.
There's much more that you can do for general system performance
improvement. Virtual memory is always worth explaining, because so
many people seem to leave Windows managing it - obviously an error.
Briefly, here are more things you can do to improve performance: