Locating the File System Properties sheet
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Inside Microsoft Windows 95
Published February 1997
Have you ever accessed the File System Properties sheet, shown in Figure A, and wondered if you could improve your system's performance by changing the setting for the Typical role of this machine option? In this article, we'll look at each of this option's three settings and discuss what they mean and in what situations they can improve system performance.
Figure A: The File System Properties sheet lets you improve your system's performance in certain situations.
Before we get started, let's take a moment to explain how you access the File System Properties sheet. This properties sheet is nested within the System utility. To access it, open Control Panel and double-click the System icon. Then, select the Performance tab and click the File System… button near the bottom of the tab. At this point, you'll see the File System Properties sheet we showed you in Figure A.
On This Page
As you can infer from their names—Desktop Computer, Mobile or docking system, and Network server—the settings in the Typical role of this machine dropdown list allow you to control file and disk performance based on how you use your PC. Specifically, these settings let you adjust the disk-caching components of Windows 95's 32-bit file access driver, or VFAT (Virtual File Allocation Table), as it's commonly called. Let's take a closer look.
The Desktop computer setting, which is the default, is designed for individual, non-networked systems as well as for systems acting as network clients. The setting works best on systems that have more than the minimum amount of memory. The Desktop computer setting, which uses approximately 10 KB of memory, configures the VFAT to allocate enough memory to record the 32 most recently accessed folders and the 677 most recently accessed files.
Mobile or docking system
The Mobile or docking system setting improves the performance of systems with a limited amount of memory and battery power. While this setting may seem more appropriate for a laptop computer, you can use it to improve performance on any desktop PC with a minimum amount of memory (4 MB to 8 MB). The Mobile or docking system setting configures the VFAT to allocate enough memory to record the 16 most recently accessed folders and the 337 most recently accessed files. This setting uses approximately 5 KB of memory.
The Network server setting is designed for systems acting as file and printer sharing servers in peer-to-peer networks. This is the optimal setting for systems with 16 MB to 32 MB of memory that experience a high amount of disk access. The Network server setting configures the VFAT to allocate enough memory to record the 64 most recently accessed folders and the 2,729 most recently accessed files. The setting consumes approximately 40 KB of memory.
The cache components
As we mentioned, these settings let you adjust specific disk-caching components of Windows 95's VFAT. There are actually five of these components, and WIN95 stores all of them in the Registry. Without getting too technical, let's take a closer look at how changing the Typical role of this machine setting affects these components.
The first component, called PathCache, stores the locations of the most recently accessed folders. Adjusting this portion of the cache to match the typical role of the system improves performance by reducing the number of times the file system must look for folders by searching the FAT (File Allocation Table) on your hard disk.
The NameCache component stores the locations of the most recently accessed filenames. Adjusting this component in conjunction with PathCache improves performance by configuring the cache so that the VFAT never has to search the hard disk for the location of cached file names.
The last three components—whose names are BufferIdleTimeout, BufferAgeTimeout, and VolumeIdleTimeout—actually work so closely together that separating them is difficult. Basically, these three components control the time between when your system posts changes to files and folders in the cache and when it writes such changes to your hard disk.
The article entitled "Choosing Your Machine's Role for Optimum Performance" was originally published in Inside Microsoft Windows 95, February 1997. Copyright © 1997, The Cobb Group, 9420 Bunson Parkway, Louisville, KY 40220. All rights reserved. For subscription information, call the Cobb Group at 1-800-223-8720.
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