System Disk Sizes and Performance

fishpond.jpgTo get more blog postings happening, I will start with small mini-five series postings. Seems I’m most productive when I have to deliver material. This first series is about computer systems and performance concerning audio productions. I will use the MacOSX system as the basis, as I work with it every day, even developing applications for it, but many of these topics cover the Windows system, as well.

First about the system disk and available disk space. The main operating system is using the hard disk to page out and in pieces of memory, this is called virtual memory paging. When you start an application, a lot of memory objects are created, and they all can’t fit into memory. So what the system does it to look when one of those memory blocks was accessed, if it was long time ago it is moved over to the hard disk. When this memory object is suddenly needed, it’s loaded back in.

Now, this means that there’s a lot of disk activity happening. If there’s more real memory, there’s less need to page out the memory pages (as they are called), or paged back in. So if you add more RAM, then things are faster.

Secondly, if the main disk is very full, it will take longer and longer to find disk sectors that could fit various pages. So the second rule is to never let the system hard disk get too full. My own rule is never to let it have less than 10Gb free space.

You could use Omnidisksweeper and similar tools to find what files and folders on the system disk use most disk space, and either delete them or move them to another hard disk. More in the next installment about this one.

2 Comments:

  1. Hi Kent! Firstly, I want to say how impressed I am with your site, as I see you have dedicated an ENORMUS amount of time to it!! I’m an Ableton live/Cubase user, and I have picked up a lot by reading the articles you have written. My studio is similar to yours, but I have a question for you that you may be able to briefly help me with… (i’m sure you’re VERY busy, and if you don’t have the time to respond, i totally understand-

    I have a Mac Pro as well, in which it came with 1GB of memory. When I purchased it, I had 4GB of memory installed on top of that. For some reason, when i click on “about this mac,” it says that i only have 1 GB of memory that is currently working. Ive looked further in the system profiler, and it says the same thing. I was told by apple care that the added memory most probably needed to be taken out and re-set. Well, with me not being savvy in that area, I took my mac pro to the apple store in which its under warranty. I explained what was going on to the apple genius, and when i picked up my computer the following day, he told me that everything was fine- that they didnt have to do anything to the added memory, as it appeared fine to them in their diagnostics. When i got home, I went to “about this mac” again, and it said that i had 5GB of memory like i was supposed to. Well, for some weird reason not 3 days later, it is back to saying that it only recognises 1GB again. I have tried everything that I know to do, including repairing possible messed-up permissions, etc. Would you possibly be able to point me in any direction that might help me resolve this? Again, I completely understand if you’re busy and cant respond- but I thought id give it a shot since your fantastic articles clearly show your intelligence with all of this!!

    Thx for taking the time to read this, and keep up the great work with your site!

    Chris G.

  2. I would indeed suspect problems with the additional 4Gb purchased. This is not how it should behave. If you click on About this Mac, More info… and select Memory, do you see the DIMMs listed in this panel? If not they are not recognized by the system.

    It might be a long-short to take them out and re-insert them, even if I would suspect problems with the actual memory units. They should be DDR2 FB-DIMM 667Mhz units.

    Anyway, hopefully you get this sorted out as 5Gb is nice with a MacPro, 1Gb is not.

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