Looking for tips to make an XP-based Audio/Video system as stable as possible

Discussion in 'Amateur Video Production' started by Doc, Mar 31, 2011.

  1. Doc

    Doc Guest

    If you want to use a machine primarily to do a/v would you recommend
    keeping everything off the machine that isn't needed for actual audio
    or video work? I.e. do all your internet, email etc. on a different
    machine and perhaps only turn on a network connection between them
    when you need to transfer something to the net? Wondering if keeping
    firewalls, antivirus etc. off the a/v machine will enhance its

    Or is that not necessary?
    Doc, Mar 31, 2011
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  2. Doc

    Doc Guest

    Do you find that the various Windows updates and service packs make
    any particular difference as far as system reliability?
    Doc, Mar 31, 2011
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  3. "Doc" wrote in message

    Do you find that the various Windows updates and service packs make
    any particular difference as far as system reliability?


    You don't say what you are using, or what you are trying to do...
    Yes, XP/video-editing systems can be VERY stable, depending
    on how carefully you prevent the acquisition of "nasties" (by
    installing the service packs and running a good auto-updating
    anti-virus program), how good your editing software is, and how
    "mainline" your projects are...
    David Ruether, Mar 31, 2011
  4. Doc

    Mike Kujbida Guest

    Yes to all your questions.
    The edit suites at my workplace have never been connected to the net.
    Once the OS is on them, the only programs that get installed are the NLE
    (Sony Vegas Pro), Photoshop and a few other programs necessary for editing.
    I regularly read about problems other users have that I never experience.
    If we need to update any software or upload any thing to the net, it
    gets copied to a CD/DVD/jump drive/hard drive and installed/uploaded
    from that device.
    I'm still running XP Pro and, until recently, never installed any OS
    Vegas Pro 10 requires SP3 so I downloaded the complete package from
    Microsoft, copied it to a jump drive and installed it from there.

    Mike Kujbida, Apr 1, 2011
  5. If we're talking workstation, not necessary or desirable. The ideas you
    floated are rooted in previous years, when some programs, such as Avid, did
    require some customization of the machine. Avid is the only program I know
    with such a history.

    DO install all service packs, and all updates.

    Some antivirus programs do cause significant latency problems. Install
    Microsoft Security Essentials, free antivirus from Microsoft.

    Use the machine for all the things you would normally use a machine for.

    Laptops used for capture are another subject, but the idea of dedicating a
    laptop to capture is also outmoded.

    Bob Morein
    (310) 237-6511
    Soundhaspriority, Apr 1, 2011
  6. Doc

    ushere Guest

    agree entirely with mike - i usually do ;-)

    however, i do usually install service packs (making sure i have a sys
    backup in place (just in case.....)
    ushere, Apr 1, 2011
  7. Doc

    Phil W Guest

    I´d second that. In 20+ years time, I´ve used PCs (DOS/Win machines), I
    never experienced any program not running anymore after installing a Windows
    patch (on my own machines and various others). Though, I´ve seen it happen
    on friends´ computers - but those Windows instances were actually "broken"
    before and/or had "badly written" programs on them. Anyway, even the number
    of those cases is pretty low.
    With decently written programs, you should not experience any problems
    caused by Windows updates.
    It´s much more important to keep really unnecessary stuff off the system -
    NO "registry tuner/booster/improver" thingie most importantly! These can
    (and do most of the times) mess up the Windows registry and cause
    significant problems of all kinds. Usually, a full re-install is the
    quickest and easiest way to get around that.

    Besides the updates and patches for Windows, don´t forget, that most current
    programs have their own update check feature. The days, when you could get
    along with downloading all the stuff on PC1 and take the data to PC2 (no
    internet connection) on a burned CD, USB storage device etc. are gone.
    There´s just too much of that stuff to keep everything patched to the most
    current version.

    General tips:
    1) download MS Security Essentials (see below) and install it on the A/V
    2) connect the A/V computer to the internet
    3) make sure, XP´s integrated firewall is activated! You´ll probably use a
    firewall in a router anyway, don´t you? ;-)
    4) if you haven´t already done it, activate "Microsoft Update" - basically
    the same as "Windows Update", but additionally scans for more MS software
    updates (e. g. Office)

    to do that, use the Internet Explorer (other browsers do NOT work with this
    site!) and go to

    You will be prompted several times to allow "installation" of the required
    software, always click YES...
    Start a "User defined scan" (or whatever it´s called on English XP), not the
    "Quick scan".

    After the scan has finished, go to the "Optional (nn)" category and check
    everything there - "Important" updates are selected by default.
    Be a bit careful about the "Drivers category", especially, when you know,
    the latest (or desired) driver versions are already installed.

    Start the update procedure, probably followed by a reboot and repeat until
    it doesn´t find anything anymore...

    In addition to that, download and run "DirectX End-User Runtime Web
    Installer" every 3-5 months. It will find, download and automatically
    install DX stuff, that is *not* covered by "Windows/Microsoft update"!!!
    BTW: DE-select the unnecessary "Bing Bar" in the installer!
    It may not be the best antivirus program out there, but sufficient and
    better than no av at all.
    In combination with the Windows firewall - and possibly a firewall in a
    router, the computer should be safe enough.

    One more important MS protection tool is:
    "Enhanced Mitigation Experience Toolkit (EMET)"

    Just try to avoid installing "questionnable" programs and obvious stuff like
    that. Setting up an e-mail client and stuff like that (e.g. FTP client for
    uploading) normally doesn´t harm the system. Some version of MS Office or

    Some software, you should have installed:
    - Adobe Reader (for PDF manuals etc.)
    downloading directly from Adobe´s FTP avoids the "Adobe Download Manager",
    that *must* be used, when downloading through Adobe´s normal download
    page -> less junk on the system...
    IF there´s a .msi version for the latest program version is available,
    choose this one!
    The .exe version is usually smaller, but actually just contains the packed
    ..msi file and unpacking takes looooooong...

    - keep Adobe Flash current - direct download links:

    - XP installs a ancient version of Flash (for IE/ActiveX) by default, which
    will be used by IE - this outdated version of Flash is highly critical
    Thus, install the current version anyway, even if you don´t "plan" to use
    Flash on this computer. It´s all over the web, even where you wouldn´t
    expect it.

    Firefox, Opera and others (only applicable if installed, of course)

    - "MS Power Toys" for XP (not necessary, but very handy to have) - direct
    download links:
    * Alt-Tab Replacement
    "... in addition to seeing the icon of the application window you are
    switching to, you will also see a preview of the page. This helps
    particularly when multiple sessions of an application are open."

    * Tweak UI
    "... gives you access to system settings that are not exposed in the Windows
    XP default user interface, including mouse settings, Explorer settings,
    taskbar settings, and more."

    - MS SysInternals - "stand-alone" programs, no installation required:
    * Process Explorer
    A very useful alternative to the normal taskmanager!
    Can give a better overview of what´s actually running (program trees, not
    only the process/program names, as in the normal taskmanager; history for
    CPU/RAM/Disk usage for each running process/program!) and further
    information, what hides behind cryptic file names.
    good for real-time monitoring CPU load, memory usage, disk access with tray
    icons and hidden (minized) program window
    Needs some tweaking to get the best possible view options. Check the linked
    page every few months for updates.
    Either download and unpack the .zip archive (.exe, .chm help file + EULA
    text) or just straight get the "procexp.exe" only with "Run Process

    * PageDefrag:
    defrag system files, that are locked in normal Windows use, during the boot
    I´d recommend storing the .exe somewhere, run it once and set it to "defrag
    at every boot" - only takes a few seconds and is quite useful. To turn it
    off, just run the .exe from Windows again and change the setting.

    In case, you have a "Java Runtime Environment" installed:
    run "Secunia Online Software Inspector" to check for a wide variety of
    outdated programs. Usually provides download links to current versions.

    It´s a free service, that also may be used on PCs, which are used
    commercially. Whereas their "Personal Sofware Inspector (PSI)" is free for
    personal use only.

    Hope that helps,

    Phil W, Apr 1, 2011
  8. Doc

    Arny Krueger Guest

    New computers are more than powerful enough that AV work can be done on the
    same computer that is used for email, document and report composition, and
    even web surfing.

    I sometimes catch up on my web reading while rendering audio and video

    If someone calls me on the phone while I'm editing audio or video, it is
    convenient to just alt-tab to the email or browser window and get the
    requested information.

    If I was recording 24 tracks at an event, I'd probably not surf the web
    during the event but the machine might have a full time connection to the
    LAN and therefore the web.
    Arny Krueger, Apr 1, 2011
  9. Doc

    Mr Soul Guest

    If you want to use a machine primarily to do a/v would you recommend
    Good luck finding an OEM copy of XP.

    I used to try to keep my A/V stuff separate from my general internet/
    computer work but now I don't bother. My new DAW is fast enough that
    I don't even bother to try to optimize it anymore and I don't even
    worry too much about viruses, etc with the Symantec software &
    firewall I use.

    Mike C
    Mr Soul, Apr 1, 2011
  10. Doc

    Peter Larsen Guest

    Stricty answering your question: no, xp has been highly reliable out of the
    box from day one. There has been a couple of service-update errors that have
    caused grey hairs some years ago, such as windows update services
    incorrectly running at realtime priority - that one was fun!

    You need to define the use of the box in question, the amount of ram in it
    and whether it is exposed or not.

    On my day job I just had to order more ram for an application computer that
    I updated to XP servicepack 3. It is exposed to the internet as a cash
    register computer so staying at servicepack 2 was not an option for security

    For a non exposed production box I'd to go servicepack 2 and no further and
    skip having antivirus software of any kind on it. If common sense suggests
    that you need antivirus on a box then you also need to keep os and
    applications updated. SP2 and earlier are happy with 1 gigabyte ram, for SP3
    it is minimum.

    Kind regards

    Peter Larsen
    Peter Larsen, Apr 2, 2011
  11. Doc

    Steve-O Guest


    I have been through what you are choosing right now with all sorts of
    computers, audio interfaces, software, etc.

    Some rules to consider that worked for me:
    1. Emails, surfing and other general tasks (Excel, Word, etc) can all be
    done quickly and effectivly on nothing more than a P4 with XP (stripped
    down), with about a gig of ram, a 120 GIG HD a basic video card etc. I have
    obtained a couple of computers from work which they were throwing away that
    could accomplish these tasks. On this maching you can run your Anti-Virus
    2. Audio/Video processing takes lots of CPU and Video processing speed (if
    just audio, a basic PCIe video card will do.
    3. You need less than you think for audio. Unless you are
    recordin/mixing/mastering at 64-bit/192 with tonnes of plug ins, you
    shouldn't need more than a Core 2 Duo. I use an Intel Q6600 (Quad core). I
    have mixed songs with up to 30+ tracks, plug-ins applied galore (VST and
    Directx, Not Pro Tools RTAS) and only used half of my CPU.
    4. I do keep my studio computer on the internet, but if I need to download
    something I usually go to my P4 "surfing/downloading" computer. I can then
    transfer them to my studio computer over my home network.
    5. I do have anti-virus software on my production PC, but I turn off the
    "On access scanner" when doing anything audio.
    6. Learn how to strip your operating system down to the bare bones for your
    audio computer (turning off any enhanced graphics, menu animations).
    7. Make sure whatever interface that you use get's priority (<-very
    important) in your BIOS. Doing this entails some bios settings.

    If you have any questions let me know;
    Steve-O, Apr 3, 2011
  12. Doc

    Arny Krueger Guest

    Many of us have recorded and mixed like 20+ tracks using things like 666 MHz
    P2's with 1 GB or RAM and 20 GB hard drives. E
    EFX and waiting for rendering of mixdowns may have driven many of us to more
    advanced hardware, but I've been pretty pleased mixing audio jobs that size
    with simple RFX like Eq for every tracks on a single-core 2 GHz processor
    with 2 GB RAM. With complex EFX you can burn whatever cycles you can buy.

    For video, I have yet to find a setup that works nearly as fast. Video
    editing can be pretty workable. While audio rendering can complete in 1/5 or
    1/10 of real time or even less, rendering video in real time or half real
    time is about the best I've seen and that was with multiple (4) fast cores.
    Arny Krueger, Apr 4, 2011
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