In the Forums...
Posted: October 7, 2000
Written By: Keith "Farrel" McClellan
It's amazing to me sometimes how the stupid, small, and seemingly innocuous settings within Windows can make some of the biggest differences within the system. Add one line to the system.ini file here, or one key to the registry there, and boom, the computer comes to life with speed previously unknown to the user. In this guide, my intention is so show you some of these simple and seemingly innocuous settings, in hopes that you won't overlook them in your system's configuration as 'unimportant' as I know many people do - as well as at the same time educate you as to what exactly these unimportant settings do to speed up your system.
Drivers and WindowsUpdate
There are two very simple ways of increasing the speed of your computer - download new drivers for your hardware, and install any updates available for Windows from Microsoft. By keeping your system up to date on drivers and patches for the OS, you are increasing speed (because many new drivers and patches include speed enhancements) and are also nipping bugs in the butt, giving your system greater potential uptime (it's more stable, damnit!). And we all know how much crashing computers annoy us. And even though I say this in every guide I write, I thought I'd mention it again for newcomers and old hats alike - only because it is so easy to overlook when performance tuning a computer system. You can access WindowsUpdate here, and if you are having trouble finding drivers for your hardware, windrivers.com just might be able to help you out.
The system.ini file has several possible configuration opportunities that can be easily overlooked as simple and unimportant. Who would think that a simple text string, like 'ConservativeSwapfileUsage=1' would have such an extreme effect on the overall speed of the system. What is even more amazing is that this same setting has different effects on the computer depending on the version of Windows you are using. All of the following settings should be placed in their respective places within the System.ini as noted.
ConservativeSwapfileUsage=1 - This setting has different meanings depending on which version of Win9x you are using. It wasn't even introduced as a setting until Windows 98 came out, so don't bother with this one if you are still running Win95. If you are running Win98 or 98SE, this setting will force the computer to use the swap file in a "conservative" way, which in other words is the same way as Windows 95 did. If you are running on Windows Me (this is one of the big speed tweaks for WinMe, particularly if you have more than 128 Mb of RAM), this setting will tell Windows not to use the swapfile at all until all of the RAM is used. After all of the RAM is used, the computer will push off the most infrequently used data to the swap file. This setting goes under the [386Enh] section.