» » » Windows Vista Optimizations: Windows Device Manager

By: Hugo Luis Alberto Repetto Posted date: April 07, 2009 Comments: 0

Windows Device Manager - Onboard sound card disabled
Note that if you disable another sound card, Windows will often then automatically assign your connected device as the Windows “default device” for all sound playback.

This means that many audio applications such as Windows Media Player and iTunes, or games will route their sound to your Line 6 device, which may or may not be what you want for playing CDs, DVDs or games.

The audio capabilities of TonePort, PODxt and POD X3 are likely much higher quality than your on-board or add-on sound card, but Line 6 devices do not support some features such as MIDI playback, 5.1 surround output, or accelerated 3D audio for games. If you need these features, then it is best to set a sound card that does for the Windows default playback device, or specifically for the applications with these requirements. You can, however,
avoid Windows system sounds playing through your Line 6 device independently of the Windows default playback device assignment – see the next section.
Turn Off Windows System Sounds
These little dings and beeps can be handy alerts, but not very pleasant to hear blaring at high volume, especially if they are assigned to play through your TonePort as the default Windows playback device.

To turn them off, go to Control Panel > Sound > Sounds tab. Choose No Sounds as the Sound
Scheme. You can also uncheck the Play Windows Startup sound if you want to also disable it. Click OK to exit the dialog. You can always come back here and turn the sounds back on if you really miss them.

The Sound dialog - setting the Scheme to No Sounds
Turn Off Visual Effects
By default, Vista 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. Go to Control Panel > System and choose Advanced system settings from the Tasks list. In the Advanced tab, click on the top-most Settings button within the Performance section. In the Visual Effects tab, select the Adjust for best performance option to turn of all Visual Effects. Alternatively, you can keep only the individual Visual Effects checked that you want if you prefer to have things look a bit prettier. Click the OK button to exit.

The Visual Effects settings

Disable the Remote Assistance Option
Some technical support systems may ask you to keep this service active, but if this is not the case for you, then you can disable it. Go to Control Panel > System and choose Remote settings from the Tasks list. In the Remote tab, uncheck the option for Allow Remote Assistance invitations to be sent from this computer. In the lower portion of the dialog, you can also choose Don’t allow connections to this computer.

Turn Automatic Updates Off
Windows updates are actually highly recommended by Microsoft, and indeed many are for security enhancements and offer critical fixes. But you may prefer to set the Automatic Updates feature off and check manually at the Windows Update web site for your updates to avoid this service kicking in while you are tending to audio processes. Go to Control Panel > Windows Update and choose Change settings from the Tasks list. Select Never check for updates to turn this feature off. If you do choose to turn this option off, then be sure to check manually on the Microsoft Windows Update site for critical updates on a regular basis.

Note - Another option to consider is to simply disconnect from the Internet altogether when doing audio recording work - this way you can leave Automatic Updates on the recommended “automatic” setting and not need to worry about it trying to download or install updates while you are doing critical audio work.

Processor Scheduling
Some audio applications recommend setting the Processor Scheduling setting to “Background
Services” rather than the Vista default of “Programs”. Others claim it can be detrimental to
processing, so evaluate its advantages on your system. Go to Control Panel > System and choose
Advanced system settings from the Tasks list. In the Advanced Tab, click the Settings button in
the Performance section. In the Performance Options dialog’s Advanced tab, set the Processor
Scheduling to Background Services.

Set Virtual Memory to a Fixed Size
Windows uses a section of your hard drive as a “paging file” for storing and retrieving immediate data when your RAM is filled. It can help to make this file a fixed size rather than let Windows dynamically resize it. Note that changing this setting will require you to restart your computer. To make this change, go to Control Panel > System and choose Advanced system settings from the Tasks list. In the Advanced Tab, click the Settings button in the Performance section. In the Performance Options dialog’s Advanced tab, click the Change button within the Virtual Memory section. Uncheck the Automatically manage paging file size for all drives option, then choose Custom size. You can then type in new Initial size and Maximum size values.

It is typically recommended to use a value that is 1.5 to 2 times the amount of your PC’s total RAM and enter this same value in to BOTH fields so that it maintains a fixed file size. Click the Set button, and then OK to close the dialog. Restart your computer when prompted for the changes to take effect.

The Virtual Memory dialog - A Custom paging file created on the C drive
Enable DMA Mode for All IDE Hard Disk Drives

Note - This tip is only for IDE type hard disks. The latest PCs often now come with Serial ATA (SATA) interface controllers and hard disks for which this Device Manager setting change is not applicable.

Check to make sure the transfer mode for your IDE hard disk drive(s) is set to the DMA mode,
otherwise the disk access speed will be poor. Note that the Line 6 Monkey utility will check for this and warn you within the Compatibility tab window if any hard disk is not set to DMA mode (see the previous Line 6 Monkey Compatibility Test chapter for details).

Go to Control Panel > Device Manager. Expand the entry labeled IDE ATA/ATAPI controllers.
Right click on the first ATA Channel item in the sub-list and select Properties from the context
menu. In the ATA Channel 0 Properties dialog, go to the Advanced Settings tab. Make sure the
Enable DMA box is checked. Click OK when done. Now repeat the above steps by right-clicking on each ATA Channel 0 and each ATA Channel 1 item within the IDE ATA /ATAPI controllers sublist to make sure all are set to DMA mode. You may need to restart your computer if you change any DMA settings for them to take effect.

Checking the IDE Transfer Mode - DMA is enabled
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 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 Properties from the context menu. In the Taskbar and
Start menu Properties dialog, select the Notification Area tab. Uncheck the Hide inactive icons

Taskbar and Start Menu Properties - configuring the Taskbar to show the active program icons
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 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, click on the Window Start button and type in msconfig in the Search field. In the System Configuration dialog, go to the Startup tab. All checked items here are set to start running when you boot Windows.

If some of these are not necessary, you can uncheck them - for example, the Windows Sidebar and Welcome Center items are nice conveniences, but can be disabled here to free up some resources.

When you install new software applications and hardware, you’ll often see more items get added here that will be checked and loaded automatically on Windows startup. Often these items can be disabled as well.

Note that some of these startup items will likely be important security utilities, such as Anti-Virus software, which you probably never want to surf the Internet without. You should probably keep these items checked unless they are causing problems with playback or recording.
You will need to restart your computer for changes in this dialog to take effect.

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.
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