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Photoshop slowdown on XP

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  • Photoshop slowdown on XP

    I've got a problem with processing large files in Photoshop that is driving me crazy. Here's the details:

    System: P4 2.53GHz 1G RAM running Windows XP Pro SP1

    Hard disk #1 partitions:
    C: 7G (system files)
    P: 5G (programs)
    S: 3G (Photoshop scratch)
    M: 3G (mail files)
    L: 2G (downloads)
    F: 38G (user files

    Hard disk #2 partitions:
    W: 2G (Windows swap - static file size)
    K: 50G (backup)
    X: 5G (shared files on network)

    All partitions are NTFS except for the X: partition.

    Photoshop version 7.0. Number of cache levels=4 and Use cache for histograms is checked. Maximum memory used by PS is 75% (698MB). History states=30. As you can see above, I've got the PS scratch directory on a different disk than my Windows swap file.

    The problem occurs when I'm working with large image files (which I have been a lot lately - around 150Mb.) The PS scratch file gets very large very quickly when I do a lot of manipulations or have a bunch of layers in my image files. Everything seems to run smoothly until the PS scratch file crosses the 1G filesize - then things grind to a halt! A rotation that may take 30 seconds before the scratch file size reaches 1G, will take 3-5+ minutes when the file size becomes larger than 1G. And if the scratch file starts out close to 1G, everything seems to run smoothly until the 1G limit is reached, then things slow down. (I.e., the progress bar stops moving.)

    When I bring up the Windows Task Manager and try to figure out what's happening, it looks like PS is getting almost no CPU time and the task manager is getting lots of it. PS will get little spurts of time - I can tell when the I/O writes increase, but often the I/O writes number stays the same for seconds at a time. I don't know if this is normal or not. Also, PS will have spurts of page faults (usually at the same time the I/O writes number is increasing) then nothing for a while. During this time, a "Not Responding" message appears in the PS title bar. But, if I walk away and let it do it's thing for 5 minutes or so, it eventually clears up and finishes the task. (That is, until I want to perform another function - then it crawls to a halt again.) Also during this time, the mouse pointer usually has jerky movement and the whole system is very, very sluggish.

    I've tried shutting down all other programs (including NAV) and it doesn't make a difference. I've tried Edit>Purge>All after the scratch file crosses the 1G threshold, but that makes no difference for subsequent functions either.

    Can anyone give me a clue as to what I might be missing/misunderstanding here? It has become very painful to work on large files. It seems like just four operations on a large file and the 1G threshold has been reached with the scratch file. My only option (other than waiting 3-5 minutes for each subsequent operation to complete) is to save everything, shut down PS and start over. Ugh!

    I know that Microsoft recently released a patch that severely hampers performance on some XP-SP1 systems, but I have NOT downloaded that patch to my system and the problem has been occuring for quite a while - it's just that in the past week, I've been working on larger files so it has become more urgent that I find a fix for this.

    Thanks for any wisdom you might be able to share,

  • #2
    Hi Jeanie, sorry you are having problems. I am not sure exactly what you are seeing but I have experienced similar problems with large files though my problems happen more often when I am scanning large images using Silverfast AI. But the same thing will happen when I am working on large files but not as often as you seem be experiencing. I suspect that this is a Windows problem and not PS 7. PS 7 hands off it's I/O to Windows and it is hard to see in task manager. I believe that this problem is I/O related and not a processor slow down. Obviously you would see the problem in task manager if it were related to the processor being maxed-out.

    My configuration is different than yours. I do not use seperate partitions on my drives. I have an 80 Gig raid 0 C: drive and a 60 Gig D: drive. I have a Gig of RAM and allow PS to use only 50%. In fact most of the PS configuration is default except that I use the second drive as the scratch disk. And, I don't regularly defrag my drives, but I should.

    Its a long shot but you might try reducing the RAM you allow PS to have. Possibly you are starving Windows of RAM when you are handling large files? Windows is doing a lot when the I/O is called for and it might be reverting to the swap file sooner than it should.

    I plan on adding more RAM to my system. Windows XP Pro is a RAM HOG! The more you give it the happer it is, and you.

    I don't know if I have contributed to you solution or not. I hope you do find a way out of this. By the way I am running the latest patches for XP Pro on my system and haven't seen any ill effects yet.


    • #3
      It probably won't help, but it couldn't hurt: use MSCONFIG to eliminate unnecessary background programs. Under the start button click on 'Run' and type in MSCONFIG and hit OK. Then go to the startup tab and uncheck everything except what you just can't live without. If you uncheck something that's accidentally important, don't worry, you can recheck it in the future. Then reboot and see if anything is improved.

      This works for all recent versions of Windows except Win2000.
      Learn by teaching
      Take responsibility for learning


      • #4
        Thanks for your thoughts Kevin. I'll try changing the amount of RAM allocated to PS and report back.

        Doug, I always run with a bare minimum of startup applications (forgot to mention that), but I'll try unchecking even those that I really do want just to see if they might be causing a problem.

        Thanks, Jeanie


        • #5
          I tried all sorts of things last night and nothing was helping. Then this morning I discovered there was an update for my BIOS. I downloaded that and am amazed at how much faster my system is!! Not just PS manipulations with the scratch file size over 1G. Everything just seems "snappier"! I had no idea my system was so slow before (though I did wonder why it didn't seem that much faster than my old system even though I'd tripled the processor speed and increased memory.)

          Hopefully, this will continue to work for me. I'll have to remember to look for updates more often!

          Thanks for the suggestions,


          • #6
            Thats great Jeanie! Maybe that will help you tolerate the other problem. Possibly you were having an I/O bottleneck that the bios update corrected? Maybe I should get on the Gigabyte site to see if there is one for my motherboard too.

            I have a problem with my system that looks like a Windows problem. I have several CDs that have several hundred pictures on them. If I try to use PS 7 "file browser" to browse the CD, PS will become unresponsive and basically reach an impass. I can recreate the issue by trying to view that CD as thumbnails in Windows explorer. If I try to access the same situation on the hard drive it will result in a corupted directory. I wish Microsoft would fix just one version of Windows before moving on to a new release!

            And when are they going to give us 32 bit drive access? These old legacy drive systems we are forced to use are going to be a bigger bottleneck the faster they make the processors.
            Last edited by KevinBE; 05-01-2003, 04:24 PM.


            • #7
              I cannot be sure if you and I were having the same problem but the symptoms are similar. I tried a lot of things and nothing seemed to help. Finally I took a look at the disk that I was using for a scratch disk and it was very badly fragmented. I had been a little lax in running "defrag" ( ok a lot lax) After running defrag it seems much better.. Not sure if I can provide a technical explanation but I know it is quicker now than before.


              • #8
                I can give you a very "non technical" answer for why you need scandisk, and why using it makes it faster.

                Imagine your computer as a kitchen. Counterspace is RAM, cupboard space would be hard drive, etc. If every time you came home from the grocery store, you just stuffed everything in the front of the cupboards every time you came home, after a while things would get so messy that it would take time to find what you want. Defrag is like sorting thru your cupboards and orginizing them for the most effective use.



                • #9
                  I have a partition on my second disk that is dedicated to the PS scratch file. So, although I have checked for defragmentation many times, it never needs it. I guess because the scratch file is always deleted whenever I exit PS.



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