This article deals with optimizing your computer for digital video editing. Editing digital video places very high demands on your computer’s RAM and processing power. It therefore needs all the help you can give it in terms of freeing up resources. You can do this by tweaking your hardware and software configuration in such a way as to relieve your computer of as many burdens as possible when you are editing video.
1. Get the fastest CPU you can afford
The faster your CPU, the less it will take to render your video project. This becomes an important consideration if your project is large and/or complicated, or if for some other reason you have a lot of rendering to do.
2. Get as much RAM as you can.
For some reason NLE video editing programs are insatiable when it comes to RAM. The more RAM your computer has, the less likely it is to crash while you edit. I would recommend a minimum of 768 MB of RAM, but really, the more the better. The demands of editing video often require a RAM upgrade.
3. Get a large dedicated hard disk for your video files.
Remember that DV footage occupies approximately 200 MB per minute when saved as a high-quality AVI file. The truth is that there is virtually no limit to how much disk space you can use up. If you are serious about editing video, you will never regret buying an enormous hard disk.
Remember that your captured video will inevitably occupy much more space than your project’s running time, that there must be plenty of space for the preview files, and that there should be plenty of free space on the disc at all times, even after you have rendered your project and exported several copies of it. (This is partly because you cannot defragment a hard disk properly unless 30% of it is free.) Depending on how much video editing you plan to do, a 1 TB hard drive would not be excessive, especially in view of how much prices have fallen.
Note that this hard disk should be in addition to your system disk (C). In other words, you should dedicate a hard disk to your video files. Do not save any video files on your system disk.
4. Partition your hard discs
You should partition all of your hard disks. This improves your computer’s performance. Depending on the size of your system disk (C), you should divide it into a least two partitions: put your operating system and its system files in one partition and leave the other partition free to accommodate anything other than your video files or operating system.
I recommend the following configuration, which has greatly improved my computer’s performance:
|System drive (C)|
|Partition 1||Partition 2|
No paging file.
Anything other than video and operating system (i.e. your text documents, etc.)
|Partition 1||Partition 2|
Captured video files
Video preview files.
Captured video files.
Audio preview files.
Your dedicated video drive should be divided into three, four or more partitions, depending on how large it is. Each partition should be 40-50 GB in size.
You should set up your video editing program in such a way that when you render the project the video preview files are saved in one partition and the audio preview files in another partition. This will improve performance when you preview your project from the timeline.
5. Optimizing Windows XP for video editing
There are a number of things you can do to customize the configuration of Windows XP in such a way as to free as much computing power is possible for video editing (and indeed everything else). The following tweaks will result in a lean & mean Windows XP that will make your video editing life considerably easier.
Right-click on My computer and click on Advanced.
In the Performance section click on Settings and check “Adjust for best performance.” This will turn off all the bells and whistles that look cute but take up an awful lot of RAM.
Now go to the Advanced tab and check “Programs” for both process scheduling and memory usage.
You can now tweak the virtual memory settings. To do this make sure that there is no paging file on your system drive (C) and that instead there is one paging file on every other partition of every other hard disk. Make the paging files the maximum size allowed. Ensuring that there is a paging file on every partition in your computer (except your system partition) will improve the performance of Windows XP. You are now done with the performance options.
To free up even more resources, right-click on your Desktop > Properties > Themes > Select “Windows classic.” It’s not as pretty as Windows XP but it consumes less processing power and makes everything faster.