Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Windows XP Performance tweaks

I’ve been trying to do some tweaks to my laptop’s performance. Found some very nice stuff here. The most interesting to me was how to speed up folder access – it makes a real difference with heavy folders.

In the same spirit – I recently got an incredible USB flash drive. It’s the 2GB Lexar JumpDrive Lightning. It’s an amazing piece of technology. It’s wrapped in a stylish stainless steel case, has a built-in support for password-protected secure area and is really lightning fast. I mean REALLY fast!!! It’s so much faster than a good hard-drive – even working in the secured area of the drive (which is where most of my stuff is stored). It’s got only one (rather small) liability, which is that you can only format it to FAT (no FAT32 and certainly no NTFS), which I detest. But the speed, the speed, the speed, the good software that comes with it, the lifetime warranty, the sustainable case and of course the speed covers for this annoyance.

So I was thinking – well, I could spare half a GB on my flash disk and use it for system paging, maybe this could give my OS a boost? Unfortunately, until now I haven’t been able to set this to work. For some reason, when I define a page file on the flash disk (fixed size), everything seems fine - I’m told to reboot for the changes to take effect, but when I do, the page file is not created on the flash disk (although according to the configuration it should be there). Go figure…

9 comments:

Ayende Rahien said...

This makes perfect sense, actually.
Paging is a hard core OS task, and you're trying to put it on a removable disk. What is Windows to do when/if you'll pull it out of the computer? All the paging file info is gone, and when an app will request a page that was on that file, there isn't anything that windows can do.
Worse, that app can be Windows itself.

Ilan Assayag said...

I thought of that, but for some reason I was hoping Windows would give me the credit of not doing stupid things. I, on my part, would be aware that the whole system would crash if I were stupid enough to unplug the USB.
BTW, I've read recently (I don't remember where) that Microsoft are working with some HW vendors to start manufacturing Flash-based hard drives. These drives would be dedicated to the page-file, providing much faster paging.

Anonymous said...

What is your Lexar Lightning 2GB thumb drive formatted as? I formatted mine with NTFS and noticed that small file transfers are way faster than when I had it formatted as FAT32. Without it being in NTFS, I found it unbearably slow for transferring a large number of small files. NTFS mode however was like turbo charging it.

Ilan Assayag said...

Both my drives (public and secure) are formatted as FAT. HOW DID YOU MANAGE TO FORMAT IT AS NTFS ???
From the JumpDrive Lightning software, they only give you the option to format it as FAT (not even FAT32), and from the Windows' Disk Management application, the secure drive is not formattable. So how did you do that ??????

Anonymous said...

Go to Device Manager and set the policy of the USB Stick device to "Optimize for Performance". After you do this, go back to formatting your usb drive and this time you will see NTFS as an option.

Let me know if that speeds up your Lexar. It sped mine up quite a bit and it makes me wonder why people think it is fast when it's operating in FAT because to me, operating in FAT32 is so much slower.

Ilan Assayag said...

Are you refering to the secured or the unsecured drive? Most of my data is on the SECURED drive, and I can't do anything to it from the Disk Manager (it's considered write-protected by the OS). And from their JumpDrive software, only FAT is available (although I did the change you suggested on Device Mngr).
This is really anoying, because I have many small files on that drive, so I end up wasting several hundred MBs only because it's on FAT.
As for speed - I have a SanDisk Cruzer 512MB and the difference in speed is enormous (in favor of the Lexar). You may want to try formatting it to FAT instead of FAT32 - I read somewhere about another Lexar drive that FAT was 20-30% faster than FAT32 (assuming your drive is up to 2GB).
I've sent an email to Lexar support - maybe they'll be able to tell me how I can format it in NTFS (although I seem to remember having read somewhere that only FAT is supported - hope I'm wrong).

Ilan Assayag said...

I got a reply from Lexar. They say that "The secure partition could not format with NTFS File system. Because the secure partition file system has been created by the Lightning Application Software".
So according to Lexar's support, I could format the public partition to whatever I wish, but the secured must remain in FAT. Since I'm keeping most of my data on the secured partition, I'm stuck with FAT.

Anonymous said...

I see. I guess the speed is still better on the Lightning compared to other drives using FAT. I'm not using a secure partition which is why I have formatted the drive using NTFS. File transfers are noticeably faster for me than when I had it formatted to FAT32 or even FAT.

Nonetheless, it's a good drive. I like it better than the SanDisk Titanium.

One thing I wanted to ask you. Are you also having a hard time removing the cap after snapping it in place? I find it awfully difficult to remove the cap once I have it snapped on. I hear it gets looser over time, but I got annoyed and have stopped using the cap altogether.

Ilan Assayag said...

Well you hit the second (and last) weak spot of this drive IMHO. The cap gets looser over time, but that's not necessarily a good thing - now when I connect the drive, I can't leave the cap attached to the other end, because then it falls off (almost lost it a few times). It's a shame they didn't think of it up-front, there are so many ways to do this better...