Optimizing Windows 2000 and Windows XP for Audio
System Performance Tweaks – Stuff to Do After Installing
By Daniel Keller

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Editor's Note: This article is excerpted from a comprehensive guide called "Optimizing Windows 2000 and Windows XP for Audio," written by TASCAM Senior Product Specialist Daniel Keller. Although the guide walks users through the entire process of setting up a PC for audio use, from choosing a Windows OS to installing and formatting it, we've elected to feature the sections outlining how a Windows 2000/XP computer can be tuned for maximum audio performance after the OS is installed. These adjustments and tweaks will boost the performance of new or existing Windows 2000/XP audio systems, by instructing the computer to give priority to audio functions over non-essential Windows features.

If you're setting up a new system, the entire guide is highly recommended; go to TASCAM's web site at this address: http://www.tascam.com/products/computer_recording/W2k_XP_Optimize.pdf.

An earlier document written by TASCAM Product Specialist Dave Casey focuses on Windows 98 and Windows ME audio optimization, and is available at this address: http://www.tascam.com/support/faq/pc_optimize/index.php.

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Windows Messenger
One of the ‘features’ of XP is the deeper integration of Windows Messenger. While Messenger may be useful for on-line communication, it’s a real resource hog; we recommend disabling it for audio use. To do this, right-click on its icon in the task tray and select 'open'. (If an animated assistant pops up just cancel it…..we’ll deal with getting rid of those later.) Now go to the “Tools” menu and select “Options/Preferences”, and uncheck 'Run this program when windows starts'. This will deactivate automatic startup, preventing Messenger from loading automatically again next time you log on to Windows XP.

Display properties
While pretty photos and animated graphics are fun, they also contribute to bogging down your lean mean audio machine. And in keeping with Microsoft’s tradition of making looks a high priority, those fancy visuals are programmed to take processing priority away from what we consider important, processing audio. Disabling those effects is a good idea unless you don’t mind a pretty drop-down menu causing a frustrating dropout or audio glitch.

If you feel you must have a picture on your desktop, bear in mind that doing so requires Active Desktop to be activated; those cute animated GIFs suck up even more resources.

To zap those fancy visuals, right-click on your desktop and select 'Properties'. First select the ‘Desktop’ tab; select “(None)” in the Background field to remove the background.

Now disable visual effects. Select the “Appearance” tab, click the Effects button and disable "Use transition effects…". It's also a good idea to disable "Show window contents while dragging".

Now select the “Settings” tab. Set your display color quality to 16Bit. Setting it to a higher (24 or 32 bit) depth detracts from audio performance since Windows will need to allocate more resources to screen redraws.

Next select the ‘Screen Saver’ tab. Screen savers generally tend to kick in when you least want them to; we recommend choosing None. On the same page, select your monitor power saving options. Windows usually defaults to relatively short times of inactivity before shutting off your monitor and hard disk and activating hibernate mode. We recommend deactivating hibernate mode (set to Never). In fact, in most cases it’s best to set all the energy saving functions to 'always on'.

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