Engineering software—such as CivilGEO’s engineering software—are resource-intensive programs. Even computers with the most modern hardware capabilities can become slower with regular updates to these software programs. A computer system running civil engineering software can be sluggish for a variety of reasons, including compatibility issues and bugs, slow operating system performance, viruses, or other kinds of malware, increased graphical workload, and more.
If you notice that your computer is getting slower, it does not necessarily mean you have to replace it immediately. A few simple optimizations can significantly speed up the performance of your computer.
This article describes various techniques that can be used for optimizing the performance of a computer.
Optimizing Windows for Better Performance
Microsoft Windows 11 is a fast operating system, especially on modern hardware. At times, however, factors such as time-consuming antivirus checks, unnecessary background, and startup software, low hard disk space, and defective device drivers can degrade the computer’s performance. The overall performance of a computer can be significantly improved by adjusting some basic settings in Microsoft Windows.
The following sections describe how to optimize the performance of a computer:
Enabling Hardware Acceleration
The Windows hardware acceleration (introduced with Windows 10 May 2020 update) feature helps users boost Windows performance and run the software hang-free. Hardware acceleration shifts the processing load of the general-purpose processor (CPU) to other specialized hardware to improve the CPU’s processing power and the system’s overall performance.
Note that the hardware acceleration feature is only supported on the recent graphics cards that have the necessary hardware, combined with a WDDMv2.7 driver that exposes this support to Microsoft Windows.
To enable hardware acceleration in your computer, follow the steps below:
- Right-click anywhere on the desktop and select the Display settings option from the displayed context menu.
- The Settings window will be displayed. Scroll down and click on Graphics under the Related settings section.
- In the Graphics panel, click on the ‘Change default graphics settings’ option under the Default settings section.
- On the Default graphics settings screen, turn on the Hardware-accelerated GPU scheduling toggle switch.
- Restart your computer and the change will take effect.
Configuring Software to Use High-Performance Graphics
Many modern computers contain integrated graphics (graphics card inbuilt into the motherboard) for basic graphics display and a discrete high-performance graphics card for more demanding graphical tasks to reduce power consumption.
When working with graphically intense software, such as CivilGEO engineering software, switching the graphics adapter in the middle of operation can lead to display and performance issues or software crashes. Also, by default, the system may load the software with the low-end video option and not switch to the high-performance GPU (Graphics Processing Unit). Therefore, configuring the system to always use high-performance discrete graphics for the software will avoid these issues.
Beginning with Windows 10 20H1, the Windows operating system has its own option to assign high-performance graphics card to use for the software. It overrides any settings made in the graphics card’s control panel.
To assign the high-performance graphics card for engineering software, follow the steps below:
- Right-click anywhere on the desktop and choose the Display settings option from the displayed context menu.
- The Settings window will be displayed. Scroll down and select the Graphics option.
- The Graphics panel will be displayed.
- Click the [Browse] button under the Custom options for apps section.
- Navigate to the folder where you have installed the software and choose the name.exe file. As an example, for GeoHECRAS software, this would be C:\Program Files\CivilGEO\GeoHECRAS\Bin\GeoHECRAS.exe.
- Double-click the name.exe (For example GeoHECRAS.exe) file to add it to the list.
- Select the software name (GeoHECRAS) and then click the [Options] button.
- The Graphics preference dialog box will be displayed.
- Select the High performance radio button option and then click the [Save] button.
- Now, restart the computer and the changes will take effect.
To learn how to enable GPU rendering on a remote desktop, refer to this article in our knowledge base.
Changing the Run Priority of Software
The user can change the priority of any software in Task Manager to guarantee that it runs smoothly. When the priority of any software is set to highest, Windows will prioritize that software above less essential software and distribute system resources accordingly.
To prioritize your engineering software over other software, follow the steps below:
- Press the Ctrl+Shift+Esc keys to open the Task Manager.
- Select Details from the left-side menu and locate your engineering software. For example, GeoHECRAS.exe.
- Right-click on the software name (GeoHECRAS.exe), click on the Set priority option, and then select the Realtime option (denoting the highest priority) from the displayed context menu.
Note that the allotted priority will only remain active until your engineering software session is active. Once the software is closed or the system is restarted, the changes made will return to default settings.
Switching to High Performance Power Plan
Microsoft Windows provides different power plans (Balanced, Power saver, and High performance) to optimize the computer’s performance based on users’ needs. The High performance power plan option improves computer performance allowing the computer to consume more power and run faster.
To switch to High performance power plan, follow the steps below:
- Press the Win + R keys to display the Windows Run dialog box. Type powercfg.cpl and press the Enter key or click the [OK] button.
- The Power Options window will be displayed. Click the dropdown arrow on the right side to Show additional plans section.
- Select the High performance radio button option.
Disabling Background Applications
Certain software can continue running in the background even when they are not being used. This consumes computer resources and can slow down the computer’s performance. To speed up your computer performance, you can deactivate such software running in the background or allow only specific software to run in the background.
Refer to this article from Microsoft to learn how to disable unnecessary background software.
Include Antivirus Exceptions
Antivirus scans typically results in performance problems because failure to correctly define antivirus exclusions may cause software and services to fail due to resource contention. To avoid issues with the antivirus software, create exceptions for reading, writing, or scanning your engineering software in accordance with your corporate policy.
Disclaimer: Implementing antivirus exceptions may increase vulnerabilities to computers or networks by malicious users or malware or viruses. Before making any changes, it is recommended that the attack vulnerability risks associated with implementing these settings be evaluated.
Refer to this link in our knowledge base to find articles on how to add an exception to antivirus software.
Performing Disk Defragmentation
Fragmentation occurs when the computer is unable to provide contiguous space to store the entire file as a single unit. In turn, the computer stores the files in multiple different areas of memory scattered throughout the hard drive. Due to this, the computer becomes slow as a hard drive is required to perform additional work to access data from multiple locations. Disk defragmentation can help reorganize the fragmented data and make the hard drive run more efficiently.
Disk defragmentation can be scheduled or performed manually. Refer to this article from Microsoft to learn how to perform a disk defragmentation.
Increasing Page File Size
In Microsoft Windows, a page file is a hidden file on the hard drive used to extend the random-access memory (RAM) and temporarily transfer data from RAM to disk storage and vice-versa. Page file acts as an overflow of the system memory and holds data for currently running software. Computers do not use page file until the physical memory has been exhausted, and extra space is required to hold additional information.
Increasing the page file size can help the computer to handle large software applications (such as engineering software) more efficiently and boost the system’s performance.
To modify the page file size, follow the steps below:
- Press the Win + R keys to display the Windows Run dialog box. Type sysdm.cpl and press the Enter key or click the [OK] button.
- The System Properties dialog box will be displayed. Select the Advanced tab and click the [Settings] button under the Performance section.
- The Performance Options dialog box will be displayed. Select the Advanced tab and click the [Change] button under the Virtual memory section.
- The Virtual Memory dialog box will be displayed.
- Uncheck the Automatically manage paging file size for all drives checkbox to enable the Paging file size for each drive section. By default, this checkbox is checked.
- Select the drive where you want to reserve a portion for the page file.
- Select the Custom size radio button option to specify the size of the page file.
- Specify the initial and maximum size for the page file in the Initial size (MB) and Maximum size (MB) entry fields.
The initial and maximum size should be specified based on the available physical memory (RAM) in the computer. Generally, the initial size is set to 1.5 times the total available physical memory and the maximum size to 3 times the total available physical memory (RAM). For example, for a system running on 4GB (4096 MB) of RAM, the initial page file size would be 1.5 × 4096 = 6144 MB, and the maximum allowed page file size would be 3 × 4096 = 12288 MB.
- Click the [Set] button and then the [OK] button.
- Now, restart the computer and the changes will take effect.
Improving Software Performance
The performance of any engineering software is not only influenced by the operating system environment. Factors within the software, such as the format and location of the source data, the properties defined for different layers, and the version of the software in use, can all slow down the system’s performance.
Implementing the below recommendations can significantly improve the performance of your computer while running any of the engineering software:
- Keep your engineering software up to date with the latest service packs and hotfixes to have a smooth performance and keep it free from bugs. Refer to this article in our knowledge base to learn how to install the latest service pack for CivilGEO’s software.
- Remove unimportant data layers from the project.
- Use base map layers to optimize drawing performance.
- While working with multiple data layers, try to keep all data in a single projection. When all layers are in the same projection, the performance penalty incurred by on-the-fly projection calculations can be avoided.
- Keep the data locally on the computer rather than on a remote machine for the best performance.
- When running graphics-heavy engineering software in a Remote Desktop environment, modify the group policy on the host computer to allow the use of GPU rendering during a Remote Desktop session and smooth working of the software. Refer to this article in our knowledge base to learn how to modify the group policy on the host computer.
- Many engineering software includes hardware acceleration options within the application to improve graphics performance and productivity. You can toggle the hardware acceleration option in such applications to see which settings increase computer performance.
Note: The user can also refer to these suggestions from Microsoft to improve the performance of Windows.