Checking the IDE Transfer Mode
Disable the Indexing Service
Unless you are using the Windows Search function very often to find files on your computer, then this
service is yet another you might consider disabling. This service basically runs through and catalogs
items on your hard disks and makes the Windows Search function more efficient , but it can cause
some random “slow-downs” and high CPU usage when it kicks in. If you are using your PC mostly for
audio work and keep your projects well organized, then you’ll likely know where most things are all
the time anyway! To disable this service, go to the Control Panel and select Administrator Tools and
then Services. In the Name column of the Services dialog, find and double-click on the one titled
Indexing Service to launch its Properties. In the Startup type drop-down, choose Disabled. Click OK
You can of course come back to the Services at any time and set this back to Manual if you want to
allow the Indexing Service to be re-activated again.
Exit All Unnecessary Applications
This follows common sense – to free up more resources you should of course avoid running other
programs as much as possible when running GearBox. But many Windows programs and utilities are
often set to launch automatically when you start your system and you may not even know it. One way
to look for these is in the Windows Taskbar, but first you may need to change a setting to see them
Right click on the Start button and select the Taskbar tab. Uncheck the Hide inactive icons
checkbox. You will now likely see several little icons on the Taskbar, at the lower right of your screen,
next to your clock. Most utility applications that start with Windows will display a little icon here.
You should know what it is you are accessing before shutting one of these off – usually hovering over
the icon for a moment will show a tooltip informing you what utility it is. If it is one you do not need,
often you can right click on the icon and choose Exit. The utility will again start next time you reboot
your machine. Or, for more advanced Windows XP users, you can try using the System Configuration
Utility (see next tip).
Disable Startup Programs with the System Configuration Utility
It is not recommended you use this utility unless you are familiar with the Windows XP operating
system – seek the help of a technician if needed. To access the System Configuration Utility, go to
Start > Run and type in msconfig, and then go to the Startup tab. All checked items here are set
to start running when you boot your Windows. If some of these are not necessary, you can uncheck
them. Note that some of these will likely be important security utilities, such as Anti-Virus software,
which you probably never want to surf the Internet without. You will need to restart your computer for
changes in this dialog to take effect.
Tip - Sometimes the name or path displayed for each Startup item isn’t very telling as to what the application
actually is. You can often find out, as well as obtain some details that can help you decide if you should
uncheck it or not, by doing a Google Internet search using the .exe filename.
Internet and Network Connections
You’ll likely want your PC to be able to connect to the Internet or perhaps a network, but some
users find that having a connection active while using audio applications causes glitches or drop-outs,
especially if using a wireless connection or USB wireless network card. One thing you can try is to
disconnect from the Internet/network while using your audio applications if you find that it is causing
some interference. Likewise, during the times that you are not connected, you should not need to
have Internet/Networking utilities running, such as Windows Firewall, Anti-Virus and Anti-Spyware,
networking utilities, etc. It is not recommended that you exit these services while connected to the
Internet, since they are necessary security measures.
Disable Windows System Restore
This can be a helpful system tool to have running, since it regularly makes backups of important
Windows system files and drivers, and allows you to switch to the backed-up version in case of problems.
But this service comes at some costs - the use of a significant amount of disk space, CPU usage and
the disk access it needs when it kicks in. If you see no problems with it active, then leave it on. But
if you need to solve audio problems and want to try turning it off, then you can access it in Control
Panel > System > System Restore Tab. You can choose Turn off system restore for all partitions to
completely disable it. Or, if you have more than one hard disk partition, one compromise is to keep
active for only your C: partition, and disable all other partitions. Click on the OK button and restart
your computer for the setting to take effect.
Display & Power Settings
The following items are all accessed within the Windows Control Panel:
Turn off the Screen Saver
You likely do not want a screen saver kicking in during the middle of your perfect take when recording.
To turn this off, go to Control Panel > Display and select the Screen Saver tab and choose None for
the Screen Saver option.
Turn Off Visual Effects
By default, WinXP has numerous Visual Effects active. These do make the interface look pretty, but
also utilize resources. You can toggle many of these on/off individually, or one easy tweak is just to turn
all off within the Performance Options dialog. Go to the Control Panel > System > Advanced tab >
Settings button, and then choose the Visual Effects tab in the Performance Options dialog. Select
the Adjust for best performance option. Optionally, you can check only the individual display options
here to turn them on if you think some are sufficiently visually stimulating to not do without. Click
the OK button when done.
The Visual Effects settings - “Best performance” option selected
Remove Background Picture
Having a high resolution photo or rotating slide show will use some resources – setting this to a plain,
boring color will be a little less demanding, and maybe keep you focused on your music instead! To
change this, go to Control Panel > Display > Desktop Tab, and for the background picture select
Turn Off Power Schemes
There is probably no reason for your audio PC components to ever need to power down when the
system is plugged in (although if you have a laptop, then this can conserve the battery). To avoid this
from happening, go to Control Panel > Power Options, and in the Power Schemes tab, set each
of the following items to Never within the Plugged In column; Monitor, Hard Discs, and System
Turn Off Hibernation
There is likely no need for your audio PC to ever automatically go to “sleep” on you, and this ties up a
significant amount of hard disk space. To disable this feature, go to Control Panel > Power Options,
and in the Hibernation tab, uncheck the option for Enable Hibernation.
There are several recommended routine maintenance tasks you should perform to keep your system in
top form for audio work…
Backup Your Data
Yes, you have heard it before, but it is easy to keep putting off the chore of backing up all that audio
data. Invest in a DVD burner or external hard drive backup system if you can afford it. Losing audio
data can be costly and extremely negative to the creative process. There are also “drive imaging”
software applications you can buy that will allow you to back up your entire computer’s contents
– data, programs and all – and completely restore your computer back to the last backed-up state in
minutes in case of failure.
Your PC accumulates lots of little temporary files and trash over time, so it’s a good thing to clean
house once in a while. Go to Start > Programs > Accessories > System Tools and choose the Disk
Cleanup utility for this. This can be run individually for each hard disk partition.
Defragment Your Hard Disks
An important practice to follow for audio is to regularly run a defragmenting application on all your
hard drive partitions, especially your audio partition, to allow more streamlined disk access. Many
3rd party companies produce defragmenting applications, but Windows XP already includes Disk
Defragmenter, which works pretty well (albeit a bit slower than 3rd party ones you can buy). To run
Disk Defragmenter, go to Start > Programs > System Tools. If you first click the Analyze button, it
will tell you if your disk needs to be defragmented.
Windows Disk Defragmenter
To follow are a number of settings changes for optimizing Windows® Vista® specifically for improved
performance with audio software. It is worth mentioning once again... it is a really good idea to do a
complete backup of your system and data before making any of these system changes so that you
can restore your system to its previous state if any problems are encountered!
Making System Tweaks in Vista
First a bit of information about accessing system settings in Windows Vista...
To be able to access many of the system settings, you’ll need to be logged in to Vista with a user account
that has full Administrator permissions. Please check your Windows Help if you need to learn about
User Accounts and permissions.
The Windows Control Panel
Many of the following settings we’ll be covering here are accessed in the Windows Control Panel.
You can access the Control Panel by clicking the Windows Start button - you’ll see that you can click
on Control Panel here to display the menu of all Control Panel items.
Accessing the Windows Control Panel menu from the Start button
User Account Control
The new User Account Control (UAC) feature in Vista is what keeps prompting you for permission
to do configure system settings and access some areas and programs. UAC is a security measure, but it
can also be really annoying when trying to do system tweaks, such as many of the ones listed in this
document. Keep in mind, Microsoft implemented UAC to prevent tampering with important settings,
and you could expose some security vulnerabilities disabling it, but if you prefer to disable it you can
do so. It is also possible to enable UAC again, should you just want to disable it temporarily. Note that
you will have to reboot for this setting change to take effect.
Go to Control Panel > Administrative Tools and select the System Configuration utility from the
list of tools. Select the Continue button in the prompt (ironically, this prompt asking you to continue
is launched by the UAC service!) In the System Configuration dialog, select the Tools tab. Scroll
down and find the Disable UAC item - select it and then click the Launch button to execute the
command to disable it. If you are left with an open black-background command dialog, close it when
the command completes. Select OK in the System Config dialog to exit when done. Restart your
computer for the change to take effect.
Performance Information and Tools
The following instructions in this document take you to various settings dialogs in Vista to make the
necessary tweaks. But one handy dialog where you can alternatively get to lots of Vista settings is the
Performance Information and Tools, which you can select from the Control Panel menu. As it’s
name suggests, this dialog also displays performance ratings for your system, as well as some tips and
info on how to improve overall performance.
Disable Your Onboard or Add-in Sound Card
When using Line 6 USB hardware as your sound card device for recording and playback in GearBox
and other audio applications, you may not need to have another sound card enabled. In some cases
you may even encounter a hardware conflict with some “onboard” and/or add-in sound cards such as
SoundBlaster Live! or OEM cards. The best solution is to simply disable any unnecessary, additional
sound card within Windows Device Manager.
Go to Control Panel > Device Manager. Click the + symbol to the left of Sound to expand it.
This should show your Line 6 USB device (if connected) as well as any other audio device currently
available on your computer. Now right-click on your onboard sound card device (often listed here as
High Definition Audio Device or other generic name), SoundBlaster Live!, or other sound card device
that is not in use, and choose Disable. Click Yes when it prompts you if you really want to disable the
device. The device will then appear in the list with a little downward arrow icon to show it is disabled.
You can come back to Device Manager any time, right click on the disabled device and choose Enable
to enable it again.