Things I do to increase Windows drive performance
Everyone knows how much I love to play with and micro-optimize codes when programming. But what little tricks do I do to help with Windows drive performance on my computers/laptops?
As a precursor, with all of these modifications I do to Windows 10, I have not bench marked nor actually tested any of them to see how much, if at all, there’s actual speed increases, drive bottleneck reductions, and the likes. I’ve also never taken any “before” vs “after” stats other than I do know that before I did any of these changes, my Windows 10 machines would also seem to have mysterious pauses here and there. We’ve all experienced those. Where you double-click and Windows sits there a few seconds like it’s asking, “Sorry. I missed that. What did you do again?” Then several moments later Windows Explorer finally opens up, or the application actually starts running, or the drive-usage-light stops flickering between off and on.
With that long winded disclaimer out of the way, let’s get started with some simple tricks I use to help my Windows 10 machines purr right along.
Creating and using a Ram Disk
Did you know that your RAM is approximately 200 times faster than your HDD and at least 100 times faster than your SSD?
RAM Disk Software is a type of application that temporarily converts your RAM into a secondary storage device
This means you can retrieve the data stored in RAM at incredible speeds as compared to that stored on your hard disk.
Here is a site that bench marked Ram Disk speeds. There’s at least 11 to choose from!
After installing ram disk software, I like to have separate sub-folders created within the ram drive (if the software allows it):
Generally I create individual folders for:
- I have almost all web-browsers redirect their caches to the ram disk.
- any programs that allow me to set a default download location I redirect here
- Skype and Teams Cache
- These two write quite a bit of data to cache, which I personally find pointless. So again, redirected straight to my ram disk
- All my Windows “Temp” and “tmp” Environment variables are redirected here, both for the system and individual users.
- Any other programs like Vegas Pro, Adobe, etc, that allow users to configure “scratch” disks
- Again straight to my ram drive.
- Microsoft Teams
- Video Editing software with ‘scratch’ or ‘temporary rendered files’ locations
- Adobe Products
Most of the computers I have today I’ve installed at least 32GB memory, and generally allocate 6-8GB of that for ram disk usage; if you have a machine with 16GB memory, a 2-4GB ram disk is a good size to start with.
Redirect Windows Search Indexing to a second drive
If you have the luxury of a second physical (not just logical) drive in your computer, moving the Windows Search Index to store the database on the second drive should help reduce any bottlenecks your primary Windows drive may be encountering, and increase your Windows drive performance.
This is because every time a file that is indexed is created, modified, or deleted, windows has to update it’s index database. This could potentially involve a significant amount of read/write operations on your primary drive while you’re still trying to do other things like run programs, view pages on the web, or whatever.
And drives only have a certain amount of bandwidth they can handle due to their drive interface. So why clog up your primary drive’s bandwidth with all those side operations going on?
By default, the search index data files are stored in the:
folder. To change it through Windows Control Panel, follow these steps.
On this computer, my search index location has been relocated to a second, lesser used SSD drive:
Redirect Windows “TEMP” and “TMP” environment variables to a second drive (or ram disk)
Have you ever looked in your C:\Windows\Temp folder and discovered the ‘mess’ that’s in there? Or how about your user profile temp folder? Usually located in a place similar to the following:
C:\Users\ [your windows login id] \AppData\Local\temp
Windows is constantly reading/writing files in the temp folders. To make matters worse, it doesn’t perform any sort of nice ‘clean up’ process when it’s done with those files.
Windows isn’t the only guilty party here either. Lots of software packages write files to the ‘temp’ folders but don’t place nicely by cleaning up after themselves.
With all that reading/writing, your primary drive is going to be kept plenty busy! Along with that, your drive’s bandwidth is going to get clogged with a smaller capacity to deliver data when it actually needs to.
What I like to do to increase my Windows drive performance is to relocate all those temp environment variables to my ram disk – not only will read/writes perform significantly faster, it also keeps your primary drive free and when you restart your machine, all the files in the temp folder are GONE. Like, how easy is that? You don’t have to worry about any disk cleanups or maintenance! Win-win!
If you don’t have a ram disk, then I would relocate those temp folders to a secondary physical drive.
Move your browser cache file locations
Microsoft Edge. Google Chrome. Mozilla Firefox.
They’re big culprits when it comes to writing all sorts of data to your primary drive. Cache files, cookies, site preferences, histories, and other miscellaneous data.
While some data is pertinent, other data isn’t. For example, cached files. With today’s internet speeds, who cares if the browser has to go out and download a few more 100kb files than it otherwise would if they were cached locally?
What I prefer to do is relocate all the browser’s cache locations also to a second physical drive, or (preferably) to my ram disk again for the same reasons as above.
Cache Relocator is for you if you don’t know where or how to relocate your browser cache files.
Here’s mine all set up and configured with everything now using my ram disk as the cache location:
Other ‘guilty’ parties should be moved
There are a lot of other software programs whose temp, scratch disk locations, or other related folders can and should be relocated from the primary drive to a secondary drive (ram disk, ssd, hdd, whatever). These include, but are not limited to:
That’s it for now. A small start to tweaking your system, which will help it to run more efficiently with less bottlenecks on your primary windows drive.
Have any other suggestions? I’d love to read them in the comments below!