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A Nonny Moose

Keeping a Computer Fit to Run SC4

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Hi fellow members,

Well, from the number of questions we are getting lately, I think it is time to remind everyone that there are some steps you can take to maintain your Windows operating system to speed things up and make it less likely that you will have a crash to desktop.

1. Don't allow the accumulation of exception reports. They are generally useless and you get one every time you get a CTD. Clean that folder out before you do your weekly disk maintenance.

2. Once a week, at least, run Disk Cleanup. This program is accessed by opening My Computer, right click on the disk drive icon for the disk with the game and/or your city files, and ask for properties. If you have never done this, run it overnight. The system needs to be not doing anything else while this runs. It is important to leave the box to think itself though this without running a browser or something because it is working over your entire file system. When it finishes you will find yourself looking at a set of choices on what to delete. You should think about this, and drop nearly all of it.

3. After you have run Disk Cleanup, on the same properties page you will also find a button labelled Defragment Disk. This also needs to run at least once a week on a quiet system. No cheating. Start it up and go out for a run. This program will do its level best to consolidate all the file fragments that are created by the file system when you try to write a file in old space that the file doesn't fit anymore. NTFS creates an overflow area (an extent) each time this happens, writes as much as it can on the original space and the rest on the new extent or extents. As time goes on, there get to be more and more extents and they get smaller and smaller as the disk space gets checker-boarded. Eventually, things will start to fall off the control table and you will start to lose disk space (hopefully empty disk space). This program, if it hasn't been run in a long time, could easily take overnight.

4. If you have any reason to suspect that your disk space is less than it should be, run CHKDSK. This can only be scheduled because it cannot run while Windows is operating. It will be flagged to run, then the next time you do a cold boot, it will run before Windows is loaded. This checks the file system tables and does its best to recover any lost space. This is a drastic thing, and you should only run it if you think things are not right. This is also scheduled from the disk properties pages.

Items 2 through 4 will take a very long time when run for the first time on most machines. There is no point in sitting in front of the machine watching while they run. It is like watching paint dry. It would be more productive to round up and herd the neighbourhood feline population. If the machine is a lap top, be sure the power adaptor is plugged in and you are on mains power.

Why is this necessary?

NTFS, the Windows file system, does not clean itself up while it runs. Why is a good question that can only be answered by the marching morons at Redwood, WA where this is maintained.

For those of you with some computer savvy, you know you can get products that will do this on a scheduled basis and may even run in the background. All well and good, but be careful.

If you think about running SC4 and what happens when you save a city, you can see that if you've done much with the city since the last save the file will be much larger than it was. This is the cause of many extra extents on the disk drives.

Because of the problems with CTDs, we should all do frequent saves, and more fragmentation will result. So be prepared to take your computer off line and run maintenance while you are sleeping or have gone out without it, and won't be back for several hours.

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Great, I'll have to keep this in my favorites...I go through phases of diligence cleaning up my computer, but then lapse and things go to hell. Seems my computer has been overall lagging a little. Definitely time for a cleanup.

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All good advice and should be done on any windows OS on a regular basis. I also found it helpful that on systems with lower RAM, to reduce CTD that it helps if you go to task manager before playing SC4 and end any processes that are not necessary. However, only do this if you know what you are doing. Ending the wrong process will basically end you computing session.

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This is very helpful Moose, thanks. I definitely didn't know about the exception reports building up like that. I had about 20 since I started playing a month ago.

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  • Original Poster
  • Always know what your applications are cluttering up your disk space with. When you install an application you should be sure you know where it went on your disk and what resources it uses.

    Too many people use their computers like refrigerators, and use them without knowing enough about the works. Sorry, but is is not that simple, but it is not very hard to learn either. A number of people make a lot of money because users don't do minimal maintenance on their computer disk space. It is kind of like not changing the oil in your car. It is not rocket science.

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