3.3. Optimization Best Practices

There are many simple steps that you take to optimize your system for best performance. Some components that you can make changes to include virtual memory, hard drives, printers, scanners, system services, running processes, and temporary files. After you make changes to the components, you can use Task Manager and System Monitor to see whether your changes had any effect on system performance.

3.3.1. Virtual memory

Virtual memory uses both RAM and hard drive space to create a memory pool. The hard drive space used is called a paging file; in Windows, the filename is pagefile.sys. Access to the paging file is much slower than access to RAM, so the paging file is used for information that is accessed less often. The default paging file size is 1.5 times the amount of RAM in your computer. To improve performance, you should not set this any larger than it really needs to be. You can find out what your maximum size should be by running your system for several days of typical or hard use and then checking your peak usage in Task Manager or System Monitor. Set your paging file size between 1.25 times to 1.5 times your peak paging-file usage. To see how to gather your memory usage data using Task Manager or System Monitor, review the "Using Monitoring Tools" section earlier in this chapter; to see how to change the size of your paging file read Book V, Chapter 2; and to get an overview of how virtual memory works, read Book V, Chapter 6.

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