[ Go to 2,001 Tips Table of Contents ]

2,001 Tips


Tweak Your System with Wintune

Use the WINDOWS Magazine Test and Tune-up Kit to make your system run faster and more reliably. Wintune tests your system and analyzes the configuration to find ways to improve performance. Version 2.0 is for Windows 3.x and Windows for Workgroups 3.x. Wintune 95 is for Windows 95.

Where Is Wintune?

You can download Wintune at no charge from our Web site (http://www.winmag.com), our CompuServe forum (GO WINMAG) or our America Online forum (keyword WINMAG). You can also get Wintune from the WinMag CD-ROM (call 800-654-4200 to subscribe or buy a copy at your local newsstand). Check out the frequently asked questions (FAQ) file and our discussion forums on CompuServe or AOL.

Help Wintune Help You

The first time you run Wintune, it will ask you for a description of your system. This information is used when you save your test results into Wintune's database, and it helps Wintune determine whether certain tips are appropriate for your situation. For example, if you indicate your system is a notebook PC, Wintune won't show tips that apply only to desktop PCs.

Better Save than Sorry

Before you start tuning your system, make sure you can get back to your original configuration in case something goes wrong. Locate a DOS boot diskette in case you need it. Then copy your system configuration files to a safe place; they'll easily fit on a floppy disk. At minimum, make a backup of CONFIG.SYS, AUTOEXEC.BAT, SYSTEM.INI and WIN.INI. If you plan to do major tune-ups such as defragmenting your hard disk, it's a good idea to do a complete backup of the whole disk.

Run Wintune Alone

If you are running other applications while Wintune does its diagnostics, the results may not be correct since apps often use CPU time. Close down all other apps before starting Wintune's tests. Sometimes applications in your Startup folder, such as real-time virus protection, can affect performance. You may want to disable these applications temporarily and run Wintune to see what impact they have on overall system performance.

Whose Fault Is It?

During Wintune's video test, you may get one of Windows' dreaded General Protection Fault error messages. This is usually because the video driver in your system is not working properly. To test this, try running Windows and Wintune using the standard VGA driver (640x480x16 colors). If everything works fine that way, then it's a driver problem. Contact the system vendor or video board maker to see if they have updated drivers on their Web sites or ftp sites available for download.

Compare Your System to Others

Is your system performing normally? The easiest way to find out is to compare it to similarly configured systems. Both versions of Wintune let you select systems from a database and compare their results to your own. If your results are within 10 percent or so of those in the database, then performance is probably fine.

Throw Back the Little Ones

Systems with similar components generally perform in the same range. For example, all 133MHz Pentium systems will get the same CPU score within about 10 percent of each other. If your system is in the range for its type and speed, don't worry about minor variations. Even if another system is five percent faster, you'd never notice that while running applications.

More RAM Is Better

If you're running Windows with less than 16MB of RAM, now is the time to add more memory. Prices have plummeted in the past year, so an upgrade to 16MB will probably cost you less than $100. Try Wintune before and after you upgrade, and you'll be amazed at the difference.

More RAM Is Slower??

On a few very old Gateway and Packard Bell 486 systems, you may find that adding memory actually makes the system slower due to a hardware bug. Most commonly, these systems have a Phoenix BIOS version 1.01 and were sold with 4MB of RAM. Readers have reported mixed luck getting BIOS upgrades to solve the problems. Given the age of these PCs, the best solution is probably to start fresh with a new Pentium system.

Try Different Video Resolutions

Vendors sometimes concentrate on optimizing specific resolutions or color depths. Run Wintune with a variety of video resolutions and color depths to see which give you the best performance. Also, video vendors are constantly updating drivers; it's unlikely you're running the latest drivers, even if you bought your system a month ago. Check out the vendor's Web site or online support forums for updates.

Use the Help File

Wintune's Help file doesn't contain directions on how to use Wintune. It's actually a treasure trove of information about PCs, Windows and tuning your system. Browse through the Help file, especially if Wintune has given you performance tips you don't understand. In many cases, you'll find the answer will be there.

Tune the Slowest Subsystem

If your system has several weak points, concentrate on the tips Wintune gives you, or the subsystem (disk, video, CPU) that lags farthest behind comparable systems in the database. One exception: If your problem is low cached-disk performance, check for CPU and memory subsystem problems first. Cached disk speed is so dependent on CPU and memory performance that fixing problems in those areas will eliminate any disk problem.

[ Go to 2,001 Tips Table of Contents ]