01 October 2008 ~ 59 Comments

Setting up a Home Server With Windows XP

If you are thinking about running a server from your house then performance and cost is probably going to be an issue at some point. Depending on the type of server you are going to run, having good quality and modern hardware is likely to be an essential part of your planning.

This article is here to help people running a Windows XP based server improve the performance of their home server, without spending any money.

In this article we will discuss general hints and tips, configuring windows for best performance virtual memory and ensuring that your hardware is set up correctly.
Configuring Windows for Best Performance.

This is our typical Windows Desktop. Note the rich colours, shadowing and the generally nice appearence. Displaying these rich graphics take vital memory, and will slow our home server down.

The 1st thing we need to do its change how windows looks, with the end result being an increases in performance.

To do this we need to right click the My Computer icon, which can be found either on the desktop or in the Start Menu.

Once we have clicked Properties, we are greeted by the following panel.

Click the Advanced tab, then click the uppermost Settings button.

We are greeted by the following dialog.

The options we are shown are pretty straightforward. We know that we are

seeking performance, so lets go ahead and select Adjust for best performance, and hit apply.

Our screen will change, and windows will ask us to wait a moment. When it has finished working you will notice that all the pretty effects have turned into plain grey bars. This is good news as more system resources are now available for our server tasks.
Our desktop should now look a bit like the image below. Note the grey taskbar.

The next thing we need to do is get rid of the pretty desktop picture. Again this uses valuable system memory.

To do this right click anywhere on your desktop, and you should see something similar to.

Select the properties option, and be greeted by something like the following.

Go to the Desktop tab, and select the top option, “[None]”, then hit apply.

Notice how the background picture has gone. This agan frees up a bit more memory for our server to use for its tasks.
Virtual Memory.

Virtual Memory is exactly what you think it is! Windows used the hard disk of a computer to store data that it needs quick

access to, as if it were in the systems memory. By default windows sets the amount of virtual memory it thinks you need, however running an intensive server will soon fill up the default area.

We need to make our Virtual Memory bigger, the more partitions or hard drives you

have the better!

Again we need to go into our adanced settings like we did with the performance options above.

To do this we need to right click the My Computer icon, which can be found either on the desktop or in the Start Menu.

Once we have clicked Properties, we are greeted by the following panel.

Click the Advanced tab,� then click the uppermost Settings button.

This time however after clicking the upper most settings tab, we need to select the Advanced tab from the dialog.

We are not going to change the Processor Scheduling or Memory Useage. Instead click the Change button found in the Virtual Memory section.

As you can see above, all your hard disks are listed, and by default you will have your C drive hosting virtual memory, and it will be managed by windows.

Go through each hard disk in turn. For the C drive set an Initial Size of 1500 and a Maximum size of 2000. If you have multiple drives listed set these to 2000 for both values. Don’t forger to hit Set after each one though, or it wont remember the settings.

Once this is done, you need to hit OK, exit the dialogs and reboot your PC.

General Hints and Tips.

If you are running a server at home then try to use a dedicated server machine. This does not mean you need a state of the art system sat in a corner, it is better to use an older system that is only used as a server – than to use your new desktop PC that you are running other applications on.

Try to keep installed programs and utilites to a minimum. Every program you run takes up memory and cpu power. Do not install Microsoft Office, MSN or IM programs and other un-needed software on your server.

If you want to check what software is starting up with your PC, hit Start > Run > type in msconfig > hit enter.

On the dialog that shows up, select the Startup tab.

All the programs listed here are being executed (i.e stored into memory) when your computer starts. You can stop indivdual programs from starting here, however this can be very dangerous and stop your computer from booting correctly. Unless you feel 100% confident in removing something, then just use this as a guide to what programs to uninstall normally using Control Panels Add/Remove Programs option.

So there are some basics on setting up a regular PC for use as a server. Hopefully you will find inspiration from this guide, and keep an eye out for our other Server and Networking Articles.

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