Friday, 19 August 2011

Tweaking the Operating System.

This blog is a part of a blog on Optimizing CPU Performance, found here.

Other than the OS?: When we boot our computer, it's not just the OS which is loading, in fact it’s just the beginning; a host of drivers and programs load in the background simultaneously. Although we can't do much about the drivers, but we can surely filter out which services we want to load at start-up. This can be done using the 'msconfig' command.

It's recommended that you don't mess around with the Microsoft services and leave out the anti- virus services to start-up. Also, stopping these services doesn't delete/uninstall them; they can be started whenever the need may be. This has to be THE best way in my opinion to speed up the boot-up time. I only allow AVG to start up.

Linux users can use Boot-Up Manager.

Change boot preferences: Although not a part of the OS, BIOS can also be used to speed up the boot time. Usually, the first place a system looks for a bootable device is the Floppy/CD-DVD drive and then moves onto the hard disk, if nothing is detected in the former drives. For daily use, this unnecessary search adds 1-2 seconds in the boot-up time.

You can access the BIOS (Esc, F12, Del key etc) and configure the settings such that the first preference is the hard disk. Since there are many different BIOS' around, there isn't a universal tutorial for it. So, go 'Learn-it-Yourself'!

Update Drivers: Drivers can be thought of as codes which help the OS interact with different components of the computer; ex Graphics Card. Keeping these drivers up to date can optimize the interaction. By default, Windows automatically checks for any new driver updates, but in case it isn't automated, you can turn it on.

Ubuntu is cool, so you don’t need to worry about updating them as most drivers come pre-installed and are automatically updated. If there are (rarely) any drivers you want to update, here’s how.

Visual Appeal: If speed of the ultimate importance, then you can give up on the stylish and glossy looks of your OS. Disabling the visual effects, removing unnecessary fonts and disabling desktop backgrounds (and even screen savers) can give a SLIGHT boost to the performance and boot-up time. Beware though; your Windows can go from looking like this, to this !

The default visual effects in Ubuntu are pretty minimal and don’t need much tweaking.

Indexing: Windows is very smart when it comes to saving our time on the tasks that we perform over and over again. An example of that is that it keeps track of the regular and common searches we do within our computer. To optimize future searches, it uses service known as Windows Search Indexing. This indexing of files consumes processing power, and if you don't use the Windows search regularly, it’s better to turn it off.

Use more Power! : It might go slightly against the whole ‘go-green’ drive, but I would rather sit in an AC-less room using a faster laptop than the other way around. So, using the ‘High-Performance’ option in the Power Plans (Control Panel -> Power Options) will, well, do as the name suggests. It works great if your laptop is connected to a power supply.

You can do the same in Ubuntu, System > Preferences > Power Management.

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