By Mike Monocello & Greg Nelson
In the Feb. 2013 issue of Business Solutions magazine, we worked with Greg Nelson, VP and CTO of GENESIS POS to test all-in-one POS terminals. During his speed tests, Nelson found that some units had performance issues not based on the hardware, but the settings in the operating system and drivers. After spending some time making tweaks to the systems, Nelson found the units performed on par with the speediest in the roundup.
Manufacturers involved in the testing and readers have contacted us to learn exactly what changes Nelson made to improve the performance of the systems. Following are his notes.
If you are an end-user (store or restaurant owner, employee, manager, etc.) or someone not technologically adept, you should consult with your technology provider before making any of these changes. Additionally, you should speak with your software provider to ensure you’re not changing things that will adversely affect their software.
Disable the User Account Control (UAC) feature in Windows 7
This speeds up boot times and write requests to memory and storage. Understand, this is disabling a security function of Windows 7. According to Microsoft, “UAC helps defend your PC against hackers and malicious software. Any time a program wants to make a major change to your computer, UAC lets you know and asks for permission.” Nelson feels that this shouldn’t be a problem on a POS unit sitting on a properly secured network.
Disable the Search Indexing Feature in Windows 7
Talk about a resource hog. Shouldn't be doing much if any search of the file system on a POS unit.
Dumb Down Theme Settings.
Set the theme to basic to not waste memory on big fancy images.
Disable all visual effects for menu performance.
This will speed all reactions for menu selection and buttons controls that use API calls.
Delete all unused fonts needed to run.
Fonts are cached in memory so less is always more. What fonts are being used by software? If you're only using Arial or Times News Roman, get rid of other ones.
Check the services running on the machine
Do you really need X service? If not, disable it!
Turn Power Management Off
Tune the power options to HIGH Performance and turn off anything related to sleep modes. It's POS, we're not trying to save power.
Turn off thumbnail viewing.
This feature will cache the folder to all previews.
Never Install “Right-Click” Handlers
Did you know that right-click event software will, and often does, slow down Windows Explorer? We have found that software like Adobe Reader also uses these API calls causing issues with memory reads. We suggest alternative readers and to never install right click events handlers on a POS station.
Turn Off Unwanted Startup Apps
Run MSCONFIG to turn them off. Some of the biggest memory and speed hogs are printer related that poll the printer. HP, Epson, Lexmark, Brother on the laser side all have tools that slow things down.
What’s eating up memory?
Run PERFMON.EXE /RES. This should launch the Resource Monitor on Windows 7 and Windows Vista. Now review who is eating the RAM and using all the READ/WRITE points. This will give you direction on applications that might need attention/removal/etc.
Watch and review the Ethernet settings.
Many times the packet size can be changed to suit the application in use. SQL systems all use smaller packets of data but many systems are set to default (AUTO) so setting them to smaller values will in all cases be more efficient. For example, Microsoft uses 4kb packets. MySQL uses 1kb packets. You have to know the system you're working with. Nelson advises VARs to have this conversation with their software provider to find what settings make the most sense. Genesis POS has a document it shares with its customers that has additional info that should be applicable to other SQL-based systems.
Update the Ethernet drivers and check the firmware for chipset updates.
The latest is usually the best, but some can cause problems. Concerning screen drivers, I want the latest. Typically, as video drivers are updated (usually for the gaming community), they make better use of the hardware. Update the video drivers and take advantage of those adjustments. Nelson found in some of the units tested, the latest drivers weren't installed. Updating drivers had as much as an 11% increase in performance of the speed test.
There are many tweaks that are registry-only enabled that we do at GENESIS to help aid our clients. These typically are only enabled in cases of higher volume data needs. We have also found performance settings on hard drives and tweaks against the drivers for I/O may be needed. These tweaks are related to write back cache and reads forward which are always difficult to set unless you know the drive specifications and model details. Really advanced stuff here.