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speeding up print jobs

Posted on 1998-03-16
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Last Modified: 2010-04-12
This q is suposed to be a topic for discusion, I hope you will all have somethig to say on the subject and as such I will award points to more than one expert here.

The problem is this, I have a very large MS Publisher 97 job, the working file is about 40Mb when saved to the disk. There is a lot of grafics. It is prined on a new HP-890c and the os is W95. The job is very slow to print, with the printer aparently waiting for the computer, (if I print the job directly to the port then it goes a bit faster).

I am going to upgrade the PC and the real q is, should the computer have more memory or a faster processor to improve the print speed, or should I change the printer or should I build a realy cheap PC to use as a print server and network them or should I dig out one of the dusty old print buffers I have under the desk?

What do _you_ think?

Stephen
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Question by:stevespencer
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by:evil_ed
ID: 2013718
Hi Steve ...

You've already tried this i assume, but in case you didn't i'll remind you.

There are several ways to determine what can cause the speed (or better lack of) of the printout.

You should try to print to a file and time this option, (Is this fast than your app doesn't
cause a extra delay.)
Then try dragging the spooled file to the printer and see if takes as long as printing from your app.
try printing directly to raw format instead of emf format.
enable emf spooling, and last but not least try start printing after first/last page is spooled.
some of these settings should make a difference right ...

And using a printserver does only make a difference if the printer is the bottleneck, simply because the fact that all print facility will be handled on the client's computer until thje actual data is sent to the printer, than it is stored in the queue of the server, which has time to serve the printer while you can go on with your work ...

Hope this is of some assistance to you, and for more info gimme a hollar ..

kind regards eddie
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by:TimCaturaHouser
ID: 2013719
Personally, I would create a spool computer on a low end network. Driving all those graphics is a job. Now, your adding the little fact that you want to do something with them, like print. That had to be doled out too.... My experience with really really huge MS-Office binder based jobs to a color laser would be to spool them to a networked pc, carring the HP printer. It at least frees your workstation up.

Further, since your into the graphics game, check out Http://www.zeno.com and look up SuperPrint. It will let you have control you don't have now, and you can make that HP do postscript stuff! (better get that spooling computer together for that!)
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by:tstaddon
ID: 2013720
I print 96MB scanned images to a wide format printer, using a Postscript enhancing driver package. It takes about 3 minutes to store the printed file in a spool file which goes through the RIP to the printer in 8MB segments.

Since I have 32MB in my PC and will be upgrading to 64 soon, I'd say the more RAM the better. If you want to be really ambitious, go for 128MB RAM (costing less than a new PC), and optionally rig up a 64MB RAM disk as your temporary spooling directory.

Turning off all bidirectional printing and Windows Print System from your setup program (called HPRCFGxx.EXE, and sitting in C:\WINDOWS\SYSTEM) won't necessarily speed up the printing, but you may find it easier to work while printing is in progress.
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by:stevespencer
ID: 2013721
Thanks guys, I will be trying some of your sugestions over the next day of so and will report back.

Stephen.
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by:datn
ID: 2013722
The simplest and cheapest way to speed up your printer is to change the default Resolution down to the lowest possible. When you need a final draft, then change it back to the max.
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by:stevespencer
ID: 2013723
Thanks datn, I think it's time I added a little more detail.

The publication is a catalogue, I print about 40 copies a month, but it's content changes almost as often. I have asked my outside print house to get involved but the costs of such short runs is prohibative and sending the work to a printer would also restrict our ability to modify it a will. wrt your comment datn, all the printing I do is 'final draft'.

As I am typing this I am printing in the background (settings are: EMF spooling, start printing after first page is spooled, bi-birectional support enabled.) It is quite noticable that the screen is lagging behind my typing, not that I am a fast typist but it is not usualy a problem. My system is AMD K6 200, 64Mb EDO, lots of Hdd space and no problems in any other apps.

Stephen.
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by:TimCaturaHouser
ID: 2013724
EMF does slow YOU down, as opposed to RAW, its supposed to free you up quicker, but with heavy bits flying.... Are you on a NT or '9x machine.... on NT you could allocate less time slices to the printing... a 9.x I think you will need to spool the job off...
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by:jrhelgeson
ID: 2013725
Set your memory allocation to Network Server, this will increase your cash buffers for R/W i/o, and also give your HDD more of a priority.  I have noticed a difference in just changing that one setting.

Another item is to disable your virtual memory swap file, reboot, run defrag, then re-create a permanant swap file of approx 200-250mb.  That will insure that windows has a contiguous swap file that is not fragmented.  (You generally want your swap file to be 3x the amount of memory you have installed on your machine)

I think you would benefit greatly from the use of some sort of print server, as inkjet printers need to be spoon-fed their print job for them to process, and print it on a line-by-line basis.
--A time consuming and tedious task for a computer to handle.
Nearly any server will do, but it will definately help to speed things up.

Hope it helps.

jr
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by:billko
ID: 2013726
I like that dust-collector better than the print server for one reason: you already have the print buffer.  Try it first.  If it's not adequate, go for the print server.

Bill
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by:stevespencer
ID: 2013727
TimCaturaHouser, (wow, what a name!) It's W95, a retail version, but I am going to upgrade it to OSR1 as I have a few copies about.

jrhelgeson, I have heard about changing the memory allocation to network server, and I even remember trying it once on another machine, but I can't remember what the result was! I'l give it a go.

The idea of setting ou a permenent swap file is interesting, but I didn't think the print spool file was put in the swap file, I thought it weas just a temp file?

I am coming 'round to the printer server idea, but as billko says the dust collectors are free, I have a number of them 'about, but I think the largest I have is a meg.

Stephen.
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by:jrhelgeson
ID: 2013728
The print spool file is not placed in the swap file (as far as I am aware of).  It is generally placed into a .tmp file that is deleted once the spooling is completed.  Having a set swap file size will help speed up the processing of the print jobs, and any other memory intensive tasks.
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by:tstaddon
ID: 2013729
I suggested you set a RAM disk up as the temp dir, I didn't mean set the swap file there. Just thought I'd clarify.

SET TMP=[RAM Disk]\
SET TEMP=[RAM Disk]\
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by:stevespencer
ID: 2013730
tataddon, I beleve you can only have a 16Mb RAM disk in W95. If this is the case then your temp file would overflow as soon as you started using it (or at least it would on my machine!)

Stephen
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by:tstaddon
ID: 2013731
I know that, but a lot of companies provide RAM disks etc. which beat the 16MB barrier.

I just read that Hurricane 98 for instance, spools print jobs to RAM instead of disk, and has basically the same functionality as QEMM for normal use. I have used Hurricane 2, and it did have a RAM disk feature.

Whether or not the 98 version does as well is irrelevant- if it does use RAM spooling it solves the problem altogether. I will certainly get this app because it was so good in the last version!

sorry if I'm putting this as an answer, but I hope my other comments will be considered.
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by:stevespencer
ID: 2013732
I am rejecting your answer, as I pointed out in the intro to my question, I am not going to award all the points to one person but you will get some!

I will check out the Hurricane 98 you mentioned.

Stephen
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by:tstaddon
ID: 2013733
Understood. Sorry, didn't mean to give the impression I was after all the points. But you will have to accept an answer to award points, and post questions specifically to the individuals you want to allocate points to... unless I slept through a system upgrade. Don't forget, once you have accepted an answer the question will be closed.

If you like, leave the question open for a couple of weeks. I'll hopefully test Hurricane 98 and give you a report.
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by:jrhelgeson
ID: 2013734
Do you have enough information?
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by:stevespencer
ID: 2013735
Jrhelgeson, you can never have enough info! however I now have a lot of experiments to run.

Thank you all for your comments, I will collect up all my points and (via customer services) give you all grade 'A' shares.

Any more comments are welcome.

Stephen.
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by:TimCaturaHouser
ID: 2013736
If you try the networked pc route, and only need two pc's get Fast Ethernet cards (they are less than $50 now) and use a reversing cable. You will get bi-directional networking in your case, it would be collionless, (only two pc's) and would put out the spool job as fast as it can be spit out!
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by:datn
ID: 2013737
Additional options -
 1) Upgrade your software to Publisher 98. Might be more compatible to your OS.
 2) Increase cache, L2 memory, if not max yet. This is by far the best memory upgrade possible considering the time differential between external cache and RAM.
 3) Get faster hard drives, such as SCSI.
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by:stevespencer
ID: 2013738
Thanks TimCaturaHouser, I guess this is what I am going to do:

Build a new PC main unit, it will inevitably be of a better spec than the one it replaces and will become the main workstation. Get the two eternet cards and put one in each box and connect them up, put the printer on the old box and optimise it as a printer server, print.

But to save space I would like to configure the old box to boot without a mouse, keyboard or monitor. As the machine would do nothing other then serve files to the printer I cant see any probs with this idea.

And I think with this solution in mind I will go away and build it, I will e-mail customer services in a day or two and get them to distribute the points/close this question.

Thanks

Stephen.
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by:stevespencer
ID: 2013739
Thanks Datn, you posted your comment while I was replying to Tim.

Im not sure about the upgrade to publisher 98 yet, I will sleep on that one. As for the rest, I am planing on building the following (based partly on what I have 'about) AMD K6-233 on a Gigabyte (AT format) 586 TX Motherboard, 512K Cache, 64Mb EDO RAM (might make that up to 96) two 1.6Gb WD fast ATA hard drives on seperate ide's, secondary shared with the CD-rom, and a big bit of it used as a permanent swap file. (primary as the usual boot drive and progs). Matrox Millenium II 4Gb.

I think thats about it.

Stephen
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by:tstaddon
ID: 2013740
You might also find NT a better operating system given the power you are talking about. I guess the multitasking is a reason on its own to go for NT.

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by:stevespencer
ID: 2013741
tstaddon, I had considered this but the usual user is not all that smart, I think the login screen might be enough to throw them!

Stephen
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by:TimCaturaHouser
ID: 2013742
Unless you have lots of Sram cache, stay 64 mb on the ram. I am using 256M ram, but have 1 meg cache on the motherboard. Win 95 seems to peter out at 64M ram, Win '98 likes the extra ram, with 1 meg Static cache.... As fast as NT workstation on a couple Pentium Pros!

Try to get nic that do full deplux.
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by:tstaddon
ID: 2013743
When you first install NT you can provide a single user name and password, just like Windows 95, and stick with it. I played with NT 4 from Beta 1 and I never found it more complicated than Win95 for normal use.

But my suggestions have been mainly in the aim of avoiding having to network, or set up a printer slave PC. Of course they won't all suit everyone, but you might find for instance that 100$ on RAM and 150$ on Hurricane 98 / Windows 98 is a lot cheaper than building a new PC, and works for you.

I personally don't think it's such a good idea to network unless you choose Print Direct To Port, and have 100BaseT NICs set up in both machines.
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by:datn
ID: 2013744
I would personally put both your WD hard drives on the same IDE, making one master and one the slave. Putting the CD-ROM as a secondary with a hard drive only makes that hard drive slower.
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by:stevespencer
ID: 2013745
Hi all, I'm back again. You may have wondered where I had gone..... I had a computer melt-down about 36 hours ago!

Datn, I beleve you are wrong, partly. The placing of any two IDE drives on one channel will allways slow the access times as the two devices have to share an IDE. I chose the configuration I did because The CD-ROM is only used for loading software and I could un-plug it most of the time giving each drive its own IDE.

Stephen.
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by:MRED
ID: 2013746
I have upgraded twice in a year an a half.  Adding 32 meg of ram increased printing speed much more than getting the faster cpu.

Mr ED
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by:stevespencer
ID: 2013747
Thank you mred, but I don't consider your misive an answer, especialy in light of all the comments that have preceded yours!

Stephen

ps datn, I did of corse mean IRQ!
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by:tstaddon
ID: 2013748
Actually- the only way to increase speed *of print* is to use Econofast mode.

I thought I'd be the pedantic one and point out your question doesn't actually specify what you want out of it. Do you want faster printing, the computer freed up from the job quicker, or better multitasking while printing? Or all of the above?

Perhaps JR, Tim, datn and myself can work on grouping the "solutions" up into categories so you can pick and choose the most suitable.

By the way, what about putting a SCSI disk on a host adaptor card with a parallel port, say LPT2:, and setting the spool directory to the SCSI disk? Maybe JR would know more, I've never done it, but I think your computer would be tied up for a few seconds until the print job has been spooled, then  it'd take care of itself..
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by:stevespencer
ID: 2013749
Well, thanks.

What I have done is this:

New box, in it a Gigabyte 586TX Motherboard, AMD K6 200 processor, 64Mb EDO RAM, and two Western Digital 1.6Gb Hdd on seperate IDE's. The primary is my boot drive and has all the progs on it and the secondary is in two equal partitions, the first is just for a permanent windows swap file and the second has all the set temp (tmp) statements pointing to it.

In windows I have set the file system to network server and optimised my print driver for the paper/ink/resolution I want to output, remember these are all 'final' releases of the catalogue, and go out to customers so they have to look good. I looked very closely at the Publisher file I was printing and re-sampled some of the images that were a bit on the large side, probably reducing the overall file size by about 10%. Although this has no effect on the 'printing' speed, it does meen the processor doesn't have to work so hard to produce the print file. These changes have all now been implemented and the result is favorable, the print job is spooled quickly, the machine remains useable while the printer is beeing printed to and the computer can keep the printer working flat out, ie the printer never stops 'till the job is finished.

I have asked customer servises to mark this Q as answered and dish out points to you all.

Thanks for your help

Stephen.
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Accepted Solution

by:
linda101698 earned 100 total points
ID: 2013750
Posting what worked for stevespencer.



     New box, in it a Gigabyte 586TX Motherboard, AMD K6 200 processor,
     64Mb EDO RAM, and two Western Digital 1.6Gb Hdd on seperate IDE's.
     The primary is my boot drive and has all the progs on it and the secondary is
     in two equal partitions, the first is just for a permanent windows swap file and
     the second has all the set temp (tmp) statements pointing to it.

     In windows I have set the file system to network server and optimised my
     print driver for the paper/ink/resolution I want to output, remember these are
     all 'final' releases of the catalogue, and go out to customers so they have to
     look good. I looked very closely at the Publisher file I was printing and
     re-sampled some of the images that were a bit on the large side, probably
     reducing the overall file size by about 10%. Although this has no effect on the
     'printing' speed, it does meen the processor doesn't have to work so hard to
     produce the print file. These changes have all now been implemented and
     the result is favorable, the print job is spooled quickly, the machine remains
     useable while the printer is beeing printed to and the computer can keep the
     printer working flat out, ie the printer never stops 'till the job is finished.
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by:stevespencer
ID: 2013751
Thank Linda, done it!

Stephen
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