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NoelC

Know Any Windows 8.1 File System Performance Tweaks?

51 posts in this topic

I have a good workstation and a fast SSD array as my boot volume. Ever since installing Windows 8.1 I have found the file system performance to be somewhat slower than that of Windows 7.

There's nothing wrong with my setup - in fact it runs as stably as it did under Windows 7 on the same hardware with the same hardware configuration. The RAID driver claims specific Windows 8.1 support and is current.

For example, under Windows 7 I could open Windows Explorer, navigate to the root folder of C:, select all the files and folders, then choose Properties. The system would count up all the files in all the folders at a rate of about 30,000 files per second the first time, then about 50,000 files per second the next time, when all the file system data was already cached in RAM.

Windows 8.1 will enumerate roughly 10,000 files per second the first time, then around 18,000 files per second the second time with the cached data - a roughly 1 to 3 slowdown. The reduced speed once the data is cached in RAM implies that something in the operating system is the bottleneck.

The NTFS file system simply isn't quite as responsive on Windows 8.1.

However, not every operation is slower - certainly not by 1 to 3. I've benchmarked raw disk I/O, and Windows 8.1 can sustain almost the same data rate, though the top speed is just a little lower. For example, Windows 7 vs. 8 comparisons using the ATTO SSD speed benchmark:

Windows 7:

ATTO%2010-24-2013.png

Windows 8:

ATTO%2001%2018%202014.png

I've done some "real world" type multithreading/loading benchmarks using such things as Passmark PerformanceTest, and again, the results show Windows 8.1 falls a bit behind Windows 7.

Win7VsWin8Benchmark.png


I'd be grateful for any tweaks you have discovered or improvements you can suggest for optimizing Windows 8.1's I/O speed. Thanks!


-Noel

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Is your Windows Defender disabled? Are the anti-virus apps same on the two OSes (or disabled on both) when you tested them?

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Thanks for responding. Good question; I should have mentioned anti-malware software.

The short answer is that I've done enough different checks to determine that anti-malware software isn't figuring into this.

1. I run Avast! antivirus, not the Microsoft Security package. Specifically I run only the "shields" portion of Avast, including the "file system shield".

2. I've tried it with the "shields" disabled or enabled, and even with and without the software installed. The performance issue is there in every case, and is a characteristic of Windows 8.1. I never put up Windows 8.0 on my hardware - though I did run it and test it thoroughly in VMs, and there I saw similar performance degradations as compared Windows 7.

3. Avast! (one version older) was in place on Windows 7 when I was able to measure the much higher speeds.

What's interesting is that Microsoft (and fanboys) have hyped up Windows 8 so much as faster than Windows 7 that I have been extremely careful to ensure that the relative performance measurements I've done are sound. My I/O subsystem is faster than most, so it's possible I'm seeing differences that are masked for most others by the slowness of their disk hardware.

Somehow I suspect that there's a setting that will trigger changes deep inside the NTFS implementation that will improve disk speed, but I don't know what it is.

-Noel

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I do not like like AVAST or AVG, both come up if you Google peeps having performance issues over the years.

I know Defender in Win XP/Vista\7 is a hog but in Win 8 defender is really MSE and not as bad.

I use ESET ESS BTW, not perfect but its an all in one and I prefer those, standalone AV would be Nod32.

All reviews sites show Win8+ faster than all before it esp. for games.

At times I fell its slow but not sure if that is just me getting used to it as clean install can feel fast for while.

SSD's are fast for certain file sizes and not the be all and end all esp. for small seq Writes.

Edited by helmutcheese
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Thanks for your comments on SSDs, helmutcheese, but keep in mind I'm comparing performance with the very same hardware from before (on Win 7) and after (on Win 8.1, which I've been running for 4 months now). I know how the SSD array worked under Windows 7.

I've already said that the anti-malware software doesn't figure into this, as I have tested with and without it. It's been my experience, having used Avast exclusively since 2005, that it's one of the best if not THE best anti-malware solution.

-Noel

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Might be Win 8+ degrades faster than Win 7 not sure and not sure if same for all users.

I cannot agree with Avast, its nowhere near top and for pure Malware I think Malware Bytes get the best name.

I know your comparing apples to apples though and I am simply saying I would not have Avast or AVG near my PC.

I started to use it also a few weeks back, it can run along side ESS without issue (both vendors claim).

Edited by helmutcheese
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No, it's not a degradation issue. I measured the performance difference just after the system was freshly installed. I haven't detected any degradation. I benchmark the system after every set of Windows updates or other software installations.

I can't help but think that maybe at some point I discovered a file system tweak back in Windows 7 and applied it, which led to it being faster than its replacement. I usually make notes, but I could have neglected to do so.

-Noel

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Are your CPU cores parked in Win7 and Win8+ (they should not be in Win8+)?

Edited by helmutcheese
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No, it's all set to high performance. But good thought! Keep the ideas flowing. Thanks!

    Power Setting GUID: 0cc5b647-c1df-4637-891a-dec35c318583  (Processor performance core parking min cores)      GUID Alias: CPMINCORES      Minimum Possible Setting: 0x00000000      Maximum Possible Setting: 0x00000064      Possible Settings increment: 0x00000001      Possible Settings units: %    Current AC Power Setting Index: 0x00000064    Current DC Power Setting Index: 0x00000064

It just occurred to me to ask the HighPoint people (who wrote the RAID controller driver). I'm going to send them a note asking whether what I'm seeing is typical. Seems like they ought to know.

A check after today's fairly large number of WIndows Updates shows no difference.

-Noel

Edited by NoelC
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High Performance Mode in Power Options will not stop Core Parking.

Win7 was bad for it but AFAIK MS sorted it in Win8, still some claim to have parked cores.

I never bothered to mess with hacks to sort in Win7 but it did give massive gains to WinRAR etc as I did not like Win7 and knew 8 was to fix it.

I was simply thinking you had unparked the cores in Win7 and for some reason Win8 is still parking them for you.

The weird part is Resource Manager shows all mine are not parked but the App shows 2 are.

Edit: Just read the Windows Reg may say some are parked but certain CPU will not park so I guess I am ok going by Resource Manager.

Coderbag.com makes a App to test/change parking.

His new Beta build does not make sense to me (I cannot paste here but at least edit now works sometimes.).

Edited by helmutcheese
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Do the powercfg query command to query your power settings (I edited my post above to show the pertinent output section).

powercfg /qh > powerconfig.txt

If it's 100% (hex 64) then your system won't park 'em.

-Noel

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I am on balanced, do not want PC overclocked 24/7 for no real reason so not sure if it will park cores.

Should shoot up to Full speed under load and not parks cores.

My setting for that string are same as yours but there is many of them and some are not 64.

Just used his older App and it still claims 2 cores parked after setting Power Mode to High Performance, again he does claim the Windows Reg may say that but it will not be parked for all CPU;s (4770K) and TBH I do not really have much faith in his App.

Edited by helmutcheese
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I'm now looking now into whether file system fragmentation - which can still be an issue even with SSD, just less impactful - could be a contributing factor.

Thing is, I did a "refresh" type installation, where I installed Windows 8.1 from DVD in a full, fresh manner, but did not reformat the boot volume. As a result I had a full, clean OS install but my other files on C: were all still in place (and Windows created a Windows.old folder). While fragmentation wasn't a factor before the OS change, it's possible the installation of WIndows 8.1 itself caused a good bit of fragmentation, and that could be affecting the ultimate speed. That said, early indications so far are it's not the answer.

Windows 8.1 won't directly support defragmentation of the file system on an SSD, though it looks like it should be possible to override the "overly dumbed down" GUI by using the defrag.exe command-line tool, and/or possibly other tools such as Mark Russinovich's contig.exe tool.

Of course I am mindful that there can be potential issues with defragging an SSD.

More as I learn it.

-Noel

Edited by NoelC
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Good thinking, thanks - but no, I've disabled it on Windows 8.1 as well. That's actually got its own page in my WIndows tuning book, which I follow when I set up a new system.

8dot3.png

Edit: That got me to think to check the DisableLastAcccess setting and that's set too as it should be (as it is by default in all recent operating systems).

-Noel

Edited by NoelC
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I used to disable those 2 setting and "lowdiskspace" in Vista but I was never sure if they actually gained anything lol.

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I found this topic on search for Windows 8 FS tweaks. Ive seen some improvements on copy times to USB in Windows 8.1 which were horrible in windows 8 but the reverse on disk to disk copy. A music application I use is much slower on loading a song which accesses multiple small files than it used to be. I notice there are lots of tweaks for increasing file system caching on Windows Vista and Windows 7 and i'm wondering if any of these registry tweaks apply to windows 8 ?

What disappoints me greatly about Microsoft is how poor they are on providing tuning data and tools for disk and memory storage. In Windows 8.1 advanced performance properties tells me the recommended paging file is 5GB but it is set automatically to 16GB. There is no documentation i can find telling why that is recommended or set.

Being from a storage background its mostly just persistence. You just run the same application over and over again and tweak.

I get that there focus is on general performance reliablity and security but with Microsoft having a 100,000 employees worldwide having a small dedicated team of 10 focussed on performance tuning seem reasonable and sensible.

I would offer this to anyone who has upgraded a 'came with the operating system" laptop or desktop PC with a hard disk. These often come with a 20GB hidden manfacturer partition on the outside (fastest) part of the disk holding the OEM operating system and asssociated malware. This is wasted space once you upgrade to Windows 8. Why the manufacturers put this on the outside not the inside of the disk is it saves a few minutes on copy times in manufacturing. This saving costs customers in performance over the lifetime of the PC. While it is not a simple task for the uninitiated deleting this partition and making it available to windows 8 can add up to 20GB of the best performing part of the disk to you.

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Not so much a "performance," tweak, but have you tried reducing your SXS folder? Here's an easy guide (http://www.howtogeek.com/174705/how-to-reduce-the-size-of-your-winsxs-folder-on-windows-7-or-8/), without me having to get into detail about it. Saved me 6GB of space; though, this ought to be AUTOMATIC during installation of Windows and part of Windows maintenance and yet it is not.

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Thank you, epic, but this was a fresh Windows 8.1 install from disc, and there have only been a limited number of Windows Updates since it came out. My WinSxS folder has 6 GB, but the Disk Cleanup tool shows it would only release 313 MB of storage.

But the amount of used storage isn't the issue here.

I have 800+ GB free on the SSD array - a little less than 50%. The real issue here is that somewhere inside the implementation of the NTFS file system there is a significant slowdown in Windows 8.1. It's not just a difference from Windows 7. I've since verified that slowdown has specifically appeared in Windows 8.1. Windows 8 and 7 can be measured to be similarly fast on equivalent systems (not my workstation but others). Windows 8.1 is a good bit SLOWER compared to Windows 8 - something I didn't expect.

I believe Microsoft deleted something that mattered to performance in their grand quest to hobble Windows. Thank God the bums that led the charge have all been thrown out. But how can they rescue the ruined culture at this point? Maybe we'll see something good again in 2017.

-Noel

P.S., I'm GLAD Microsoft doesn't have a bunch of "delete files" type maintenance activities they choose to do. I don't want them deleting my data! They actually DO do all too much of that already (e.g., from within the Windows.old folder, or "broken" shortcuts on the desktop).

Edited by NoelC
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I also noticed that Windows 8.1 are slower than Windows 8 regarding disc operations, of course I don't know why.

My WinSxS folder has 6 GB, but the Disk Cleanup tool shows it would only release 313 MB of storage.

It would probably release much more space, partly because it compresses the WinSxS folder, but it will take some time the first time you run it (even hours). By the way does anybody else had the Disk Cleanup tool sticking to the "Temporary Files" for some time in Windows 8.1?

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HarryTri, you absolutely would not want to compress the contents of the WinSxS folder!

Epic, the disk cache functions just as a RAMDrive would once the data is read from the disk and cached. That's the point, even the reading of the data purely from RAM is 1/3 the speed of the same operation in Windows 7 or 8.

This problem is not going to yield to a simple "use it differently" type answer.

It will likely ultimately be solved by either a) a heretofore undiscovered tweak that returns some part of the file system implementation to what it was, or maybe b) a Windows Update that fixes some new problem they don't realize they introduced.

-Noel

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Out of curiosity, if you do as I mentioned in the first post, selecting all the files and folders in C:\, then right-clicking and choosing Properties, how many files per second does your system enumerate? Measure both the first and second tries.

-Noel

Edited by NoelC
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8648 files per second on first try, 14702 on the second... that's with a single crucial m4 ssd. So a bit slower than your raid setup. I never tested it with previous windows versions, but I must say I also never felt a slowdown moving from win7 to win8.1. So maybe it's one of those differences that only show up in benchmarks..?

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Thanks for checking.

It's difficult to feel a slowdown that measures in milliseconds, but yes, there's a definite slowdown - e.g., in starting File Explorer, or in programs that access a lot of files. For example, I have careful measurements of software system build times and other operations where tens of thousands of files are accessed. The change is felt as a change from something like 28 seconds to 34 seconds to do the same things.

That's not going to break the bank, but I'm not willing to accept that a new version of Windows can't do the same things just as quickly as the old. There's no evidence that there's more robustness in the file system or anything to justify a slowdown.

I haven't been able to get Microsoft to admit that it even exists, nor the storage driver people (HighPoint Global) who wrote the RAID driver. It's as though no one cares whether there's a difference between "blindingly fast" and "blazingly fast".

Thing is, some people pay a premium for the fastest possible performance. That Windows 8.1 throws that investment away does not sit well with me, and I want to know the reason.

-Noel

Edited by NoelC
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