Last year at the AVSIM Convention in Denver there was several free issues of the August 2004 Computer Pilot Magazine. I picked one up and in it has a great article by Robert Ferraro for setting up you computer for maximum performance with flight sim. No way can I post the whole article but here are a few of his tips.

1. C:\Drive - This will hold all of the program files and applications such as Word, Excel, Photoshop and whatever else is a launched application.
2. D:\Drive - This will hold all the data files – spreadsheets, Word documents, pictures, sound files and anything else that is considered data i.e. files that change.
3. E:\Drive - This holds MS Flight Simulator only along with any add-ons.

With this setup the hard drive will not fragment as quickly as if they were on the same partition. The smaller partitions will have faster access. This setup will give you anywhere from 10% to 100% faster hard drive access than having it all on one partition.

The file system used for formatting. Use NTFS over FAT. This will give you optimum cluster size. You can convert FAT to NTFS in Windows 2000 and Windows XP but unless this is on a clean hard drive you will be limited the FAT cluster size.

Another feature when using NTFS deals with Last File Access Time Stamping. This will write a few bytes to the File Table each time a file was accessed with a date and time stamp. This slows down NTFS file access. By default this is turned ON. You can turn it OFF by this procedure.

1. Ensure you have backed up important data.
2. Freshly reboot your system.
3. After your system starts, disable any antivirus software and close all programs.
4. Go to a Command Prompt (Start=>Programs=>Command Prompt) and issue the following command:


5. You won’t see anything happen but will get a command prompt on the next line. The command has done its thing!
6. Reboot your system – from this point, you will see significantly improved hard drive performance.
7. In case you want to turn back on again at any time, simple re-issue the command and replace the 1 with a 0 (zero)

Another recommendation is upgrading or adding RAM memory. The absolute minimum memory size should be 512Mb. One Gig or better is an ideal minimum to aim for. More RAM increases system performance and the bottom line is that is what you are trying to achieve.

Next would be improving memory usage. Windows XP will conserve/reserve memory for other applications. This can waste a lot of good free memory. The more RAM available for caching the faster the system will perform. Memory usage can be changed in Windows Control Panel by doing the following.

1. Reboot the system
2. When Windows is done loading, go to the Control Panel.
3. Select System.
4. Select the Advanced Tab.
5. Select Settings under the Performance dialog.
6. Select the Advanced Tab.
7. Change the Memory Usage from Programs to System Cache.
8. Select Apply and then restart your system.

An important note, defragging a hard drive can increase hard drive access performance by up to 100% or more so defrag often.

I hope a few of these tips from Robert will help simmers in their system performance. My FS computer has had these changes made. I cannot confirm the improvement in the system since I built the system with these changes.

Thanks to Robert Ferraro’s article in Computer Pilot Magazine.