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I'm one of very few people at my company who does graphic work, and I do quite a lot of it. Headquarters doesn't quite get that graphics work requires different hardware than, for example, sales work, which is pretty much email/Excel/Powerpoint/web browser and that's it. So they give everybody the same low-end rental PCs to work on.

This was tolerable when we were all on XP.

Recently I got "upgraded" to a new computer, which happens every two years or so as leases expire. The catch: the new PC had the same Core 2 Duo processor that the previous one did, less RAM, it runs Windows 7 instead of XP, and all the Creative Suite applications have been upgraded from CS3 to CS5! I am the first in my office to get 7.

So now I am in a situation where I have the slowest machine in the office, yet I have to do the most demanding work. I got them to OK 2 more gigabytes of RAM, and I hoped that would solve the issues, but it just isn't helping that much at all. I actually have to reboot every day after lunch because the machine stops responding after wake if you leave it asleep for too long.

I am currently talking to Information Systems to see if I can get a capable machine, but it does not bode well for me. Can anyone share any performance optimizations for Win7 that I might be able to use?

Thank you very much in advance! SS

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migrated from serverfault.com Aug 12 '11 at 5:47

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4 Answers

Since you can't benchmark your own computer, unless you have admin privileges, we'll have to make do. Just like anything in business, you have to gather support and build a business case.

I'll give my side of the story. If one of my users came to me with your story, I would ask some of the following questions:

  1. What error do you see that forces you to reboot after lunch?
  2. When does it slow down? During loading? Recomposition?
  3. What is your ideal machine? What is your solution?

Now, if this was my user, I would just hook up a Performance and Resource monitor and watch his/her machine go through its daily interactions and look for spikes in available resources.

For you, they may or may not do this. So the burden of building a business case falls on your shoulders.

I'd talk to others who do similar work at other companies. Hit up a graphics design website. List your machine specs, what software is running on it as best as you can. You can get a list of software running on your machine in the control panel.

Using that list of software and hardware components, ask what they are working on.

It isn't enough to identify a problem. Nail down the cause. Is it processor? Memory? Disk speed? Network? Then present your solution. The second part is especially important as this would tell me the user did their homework and isn't just complaining on a whim. It would also tell me this isn't just one of those "Hey I saw you walking by and wanted to express my feelings."

Information allows me to help you build your case or send your case to the appropriate channels. No information just means another assignment on my growing todo list. . .

I hope that helps. I have no idea about your technical background so this may or may not be over your head. So ask for clarifications.

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More info would be useful - What sort of things seem slow, general PC usage, or big apps like CS5? Do you have admin rights?

It might be worth checking the hard drive in the machine. If its some ancient 5400rpm IDE drive, then it could be what's slowing you down.

** Drivers **

This will require admin rights. Make sure your device drivers are up to date! If your computer freezes if its left asleep too long, a driver is probably not working properly. Possibly the display driver needs updating, for instance.

** ReadyBoost **

You can plug in a USB flash drive and Windows will use it as a cache, which can be useful in situations when you don't have much RAM. If you've just got an extra 2GB (I'm guessing you're now at 4GB?) then ReadyBoost probably isn't going to be of much benefit to you, but if you have a spare USB flash drive, then its a case of "why not?".

** Power Profiles **

Set your computer to use the "High Performance" power profile. There are a few subtle differences between the profiles that aren't able to be modified by end users. There's also things like link state power management that can stuff up computers when they're waking up from sleeping. Switching to High Performance disables all power saving features. Its unlikely to speed up your machine much (if at all), but it might fix the freezing issue.

** Turn off Search Indexing **

This requires admin rights.

Type "Indexing Options" into the Start Menu, and press enter. From there, you can click the modify button and remove locations from the index. Indexing is supposed to occur in the background, but with a slow HDD it might make your PC chug a lot.

** If you're feeling brave **

If you're technically minded, and don't mind the risk of blowing things up (tell IT its faulty and get a new one?) then you could try disabling useless services and startup apps. I won't go into detail on how to do that, because if you don't know how, then you'll probably disable the wrong service and it'll stop working. I can't say what is good to disable either, since a lot of it depends on what you do, and how your company manage their PCs.

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I think you should try to explain that when working with CS5, which is quite demanding, you are not going to cut it with your current desktop.

Request if you can have a quadcore and maybe a low end gpu with cuda aswell. In this way Adobe's applications will use more of the gpu than completely stressing the cpu. Also check you have a 7200 rpm disk in there, with less ram you will swap more, a fast hard drive is preferable.

Otherwise :

  • defrag your harddrive weekly
  • use CCleaner to clean up unused files and correct the registry
  • in your start menu, type "msconfig", switch to startup tab and deselect any program you are sure off you do not use or do not need on startup
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You can use Task Manager to see what makes machine slow. If over 85-90% of you memory is in use when machine is slow, you're low on physical memory. Add "Page Faults Delta" to Task Manager columns and watch that - if you see lots of page faults occur when machine is very slow, it's swapping heavily, and thus you again need more memory.

If CPU is the bottleneck, you see one or many of the cores running at full tilt when machine is under heavy low.

You can also try to experiment with different memory amount values in Photoshop etc settings. Photoshop does the "swapping" itself, to control it in more precise manner. If you give too high setting to Photoshop, OS ends up swapping instead of Photoshop and Photoshop slows down. If you give too low setting to Photoshop it tries to restrict it's memory usage too much and thus again slows down.

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