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Posted: May 26, 2000
Written By: Keith "Farrel" McClellan
Hard drive and memory tweaks are by far the most abundant type in the most recent release of Microsoft's business oriented OS. This is mainly because Windows 2000 is designed with performance in mind. This performance, however, is specifically aimed at a networking environment and as such includes many features that aren't needed unless you are running a networking server. So, in this guide, we are going to axe all of those extra processes, as well as enabling a few other tweaks to enhance performance.
Before we get into that, however, I'd like to give mad props to the guys over at Ars Technica for their pioneering work on tweaking Windows NT 4.0. Their tweaks gave me an excellent springboard for this particular tweak guide, and honestly, I'm not sure if I would have known where to start without their info. I’d also like to point out that several of these tweaks won’t function properly unless you are in Administrator mode when implementing them – so log back in as the Admin already, would you?
Write Behind Caching
This is a simple setting that needs to be enabled for each individual hard drive in your system. As the name implies, this setting tells the computer to cache all of the disk writing operations to that particular drive. Basically, this means that a certain amount of what is being written to the disk is actually being stored in the RAM and isn't written to the disk until either the cache starts overflowing (in which case it starts writing from the bottom of the cache) or the computer is shut down. While enabling this setting increases performance significantly, it is important to mention that if your computer isn't shut down properly, there is a chance that the information isn't properly written to the disk, in which case it will be lost. This really isn't a big deal on your average desktop, but if you are running an important server and you don't have a UPS, it might be a problem.
To enable write caching, go into the Device Manager (it is a new feature for the NT code base, but Win9x users should be familiar with it) and select the properties for the disk you want to enable the feature on. Go to the disk properties tab and enable the setting, and then restart your computer at your leisure.
Direct Memory Access
DMA, in all of its flavors, is vastly superior to the PIO data transfer method to which most computers default. For those of you who are not familiar with DMA and what is does, DMA (or UDMA) is the process in which a hard drive can transfer data directly to the system RAM with minimal involvement of the processor. When the computer is using the standard PIO mode, the processor has to direct the hard drive's every move, which is detrimental to performance.