I’ve compiled this step-by-step guide of how to make tweaks to your Windows 10 system as a “Show Machine”. When setting up a computer to use for a show, whether that is a just a single evening event or a permanent installation, steps need to be taken to assure that nothing in the computer is going to disrupt the show. There is nothing worse than having a system window pop up on the projection surface, or an unwanted notification sound chiming through the speakers, or worse to have the system automatically start updating itself and rebooting! In addition there are optimization settings that can help your computer run faster, and other settings that can make sure your computer is able to send and receive the data it needs depending on what you are doing. This is not necessarily a guide for your development environment, although many tips will be useful, it is for creating a fast and lean, purpose built machine for temporary or permanent art installations. I primarily use TouchDesigner but these tips also work for other Audio or Video programs, as well as gaming machines. There are some links at the bottom for additional guides and resources. I will update this periodically and please send me your comments or additional resources.
Some shortcuts and conventions I use in this document: Many settings are accessed by clicking on the Windows “Start” icon in the lower left of the task bar. Which of course can also be accessed by pressing the Windows icon on the keyboard between the CTRL and ALT keys. In this guide I will just be writing the full way to access a setting with “Start > Control Panel > Turn Windows Features On Or Off” etc. etc. But sometimes you can just press the Start key and begin tying the name of the setting and get there faster. Microsoft is getting rid of the familiar “Control Panel” in favor of the Windows Settings App, but both are referenced in this document. Some settings are accessed by running commands such as “netplwiz” which bring up settings that are not easily found through the new Windows 10 control panel. There are also instructions for editing Windows Registry keys, which is kind of like getting under the hood of the car a bit more, and you should always be careful when messing with these. Also you registry key edits may get deleted if you update Windows. You can find more info about registry keys here: https://windowsmaximizer.com/blog/about-windows-registry-keys/ There are also other optimization settings further in the list that may or may not make much of a difference, or may not be necessary, your mileage may vary, experiment at your own risk.
The first thing you will want to do when setting up a new system or if you are just about to prep an old machine is make sure that Windows and any special drivers you need are up to date. “New” computers out of the box may still be months behind current OS updates. Most importantly your graphics card driver, your network adaptor and any audio device drivers, or specialty hardware drivers should be up to date.
You may also choose to wipe the drive and do a clean install on Windows 10, just to make sure there aren’t any strange things hiding on your drive (such as malware), or previous system tweaks you forgot about.
It is a good idea to start with a brand new User Account, perhaps something more generic that does not have any of your personal information associated with it. This might be an account that museum staff or any other technicians will also have access to. It is also a good way to free up hard drive space because you can delete any other accounts and files that are not needed. There are some default accounts that you cannot or should not delete, but they can be disabled.
You will want your machine to automatically login on startup so that your application can begin playing immediately.
This is necessary for your project to automatically run from a restart or on powerup. It also allows you to tell the client to just “turn it off and then on again” to handle most intermittent or sporadic problems. There are different ways to accomplish this.
I think it is a good idea to schedule a daily reboot of Windows. Some people may not find this necessary… But consider that if an application or the system does hang, then this program will force reboot the whole computer. Which could save you a site visit or hiring a technician. (In addition to this you can use a managed PDU so you can either cycle power to the computer from any computer on the network in the event of a crash or hang. but that requires additional hardware and is outside the scope of this article.)
shutdown.exe /r /t 00 /f
This forces Windows to show a mouse cursor even with no physical mouse attached thus making your VNC life much easier. Bonus: you can actually see “Resize window” cursors on the windows edges!
powercfg -h off
HQPRO Creating Flawless Installations
Prepping a Windows 10 Machine to Run an Art Installation 24/7
Same as above but for Mac Info:
Watchout Windows 10 tweaking guide:
Ultimate Gamers Guide to WIndows 10 Tweaks:
How To Stop Automatic Updates on Windows 10:
14 Ways to Speed up WIndows 10:
Should I Block It?:
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