Organizing Windows for Performance

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Getting Up to Speed

When I started this project, it was supposed to be fairly quick and simple. It was essentially an offshoot of some intense benchmark evaluations I am performing, and was intended just as a follow up to my earlier article on Organizing Your Windows System with performance numbers to show why the organization presented there (two IBM drives with all data files on the second drive) was beneficial for more than just ease of maintenance. However during my testing of different hard drive models to compare performance, I made a dumb mistake that exposed a major performance issue. Those who work with Windows 2000 regularly likely already know this information, but it was quite a shock to me, as I have not been doing much hardware testing for the past year or so.

The two main drive models I used for this test are the IBM 75GXP (45GB) UDMA/100 and the Western Digital WD36400 (6.4GB) UDMA/33. This is where the ‘problem’ started, and highlighted the performance issue. When installing the Windows system on the Western Digital drive, I failed to install the Service Pack 2 updates. I only realized this is because of the severe performance hit experienced when running the WD drive, and the fact that performance got worse when the IBM drive was used as the data drive. This was completely contrary to what I expected to see, so I had to stop and take a hard look at my setup. While investigating, I was reminded of an issue Bill Campbell had raised in an article he wrote earlier this year. However, this one seemed to be a bit different. In his tests, he saw that the WD drive was shown as running in PIO mode and all other drives were shown as UDMA, but in mine the WD drive was shown to be operating in UDMA mode while the IBM drive was showing PIO mode. In checking with the Microsoft Knowledgebase, I found two articles relating to the situation that seemed to be an exact match for what I was seeing: this one and this one.

At first, I figured that the PIO mode was only a display error, and the IBM drive was actually running in UDMA mode, as the articles suggested. But this still left me wondering why performance was so bad with this configuration. That was when I discovered that I had forgotten to install the service pack 2. After applying this update, both drives were shown as running in UDMA mode, and the resulting benchmarks confirmed it. Therefore, it is obvious that there was a major performance bug in Windows 2000 that SP2 corrected which is much worse than MS has indicated in their articles. Since this article is not about comparing Windows versions, I will simply provide the two sets of benchmark numbers for the base Windows 2000 and SP2 in the table at the end of the article for readers to compare for themselves.

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