Tips & Tricks: Performance enhancements on Windows 10

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Tips & Tricks: Performance enhancements on Windows 10


Patches for ArcGIS Desktop 10.6.1 & 10.2.1 under Windows 10: Find out how visual effects on Windows 10 and protective measures against CPU weaknesses impair your performance.

The upcoming end to support for Windows 7 (14 January 2020) as well as an update to ArcGIS 10.6.1 are the reason to switch over from Windows 7 to Windows 10.

In expectation of reduced maintenance times with a new operating system and a new version of ArcGIS Desktop, the execution times are lagging behind expectations. In spite of the identical settings of the ArcGIS environment and using the same GIS data, the performance was noticeably slower than with most previous systems. A fact that has become clear to us in feedback from our customers.

This has led us to perform a wide range of performance analyses in order to measurably show the differences between the two operating systems: Windows 7 and Windows 10.

Visual Effects

With Windows 10, certain visual effects lead to a power reduction of up to 50 percent. All ArcGIS desktop versions are affected by this. Esri has published a patch for this purpose: ArcGIS (Desktop, Engine) Text Performance Patch

This patch is only available for ArcMap 10.2.1 and 10.6.1. For all other versions there is the workaround to deactivate the "Smooth edges of screen fonts" option for the visual effects of the operating system:

Geocom recommends to install ArcGIS 10.6.1 and GEONIS 2017 Service Pack 1 incl. patches.

Spectre and Meltdown Patches

In January 2018, it was announced that certain CPU hardware implementations are susceptible to side-channel attacks. The attacks generally known as "Spectre and Meltdown" use critical weaknesses in modern processors to access data currently being processes on the computer (see also Wikipedia: Spectre and Meltdown). For more information, please consult our fact sheet​.

Consequently a diverse range of patches has been published by Microsoft over time, which should close these security loopholes. Esri has posted following blog entry: Meltdown and Spectre Processor Vulnerabilities

Although these weaknesses have been given a great deal of attention in the media, it is important to know that its classification with a CVSS score of 4.4 out of 10 is only average. Our tests indicated that these patches in connection with ArcGIS may lead to performance losses of 10-20 percent.

The InSpectre tool can be used to find out whether Spectre and Meltdown patches also lead to performance losses on a machine. To install, download the tool InSpectre and run the setups.

If “YES” can be seen under "System is Meltdown/Spectre protected", and under "Performance" "SLOWER” can be seen, there is the option that your machine could be 10-20% faster without the patches.

There are two options to deactivate the patches:

1. With the tool InSpectre

  • Run the tool InSpectre as Administrator
  • In the tool, click on Disable Meltdown Protection, i.e Disable Spectre Protection
  • Restart the machine
  • To check whether the settings have been made correctly, you can execute the InSpectre tool again. Under "System is Meltdown/Spectre protected", you would need to see "NO" and under "Performance" ,"GOOD"

2. With the command line

  • Start a command prompt as Administrator
  • Run the following two commands

    reg add "HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\Session Manager\Memory Management"/vFeatureSettingsOverride /tREG_DWORD /d3 /f

    reg add "HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\Session Manager\Memory Management"/vFeatureSettingsOverrideMask /tREG_DWORD /d3 /f
  • Restart the machine

Both options perform adjustments in the registry. Changes in the registry should be performed by a person with appropriate skills. We also recommend having this confirmed by your own IT department or deactivating the patches.

If your Windows 10 is installed on a virtual machine, it is helpful to know which Hypervisor is used, e.g. Hyper-V, VMware, VirtualBox, etc.

  • In the case of Hyper-V, the following command is necessary:

    reg add "HKLM\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\Virtualization" /v MinVmVersionForCpuBasedMitigations /t REG_SZ /d "1.0" /f
  • If you use machines (physical or virtual), which are older than 2015, a further adjustment is needed:

    reg add "HKLM\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\Virtualization" /v RetsPredictedFromRsbOnly /t REG_DWORD /d 0 /f

Geocom recommends checking the effects of the patches for Spectre and Meltdown and to also deactivate the patches on all GIS machines. If the deactivations do not lead to a performance improvement, an adjustment is not required.