Slowing down Vista with SP1

Microsoft has been promoting Vista's SP1 as a big performance booster compared to pre-SP1 Vista, particularly when copying files. But my preliminary tests show that Vista SP1 can be as much as 20% slower than pre-SP1 when it comes to copying files. And XP's copying speed leaves both in the dust.

I found that copying a large file -- 2.49 GB -- to a local folder under SP1 Vista was 20% slower than performing the same operation in pre-SP1 Vista. Copying that same file to a network folder took essentially the same amount of time in pre-SP1 and SP1 Vista. And copying a 256 MB folder full of files to a local disk and to a network folder took essentially the same amount of time in each as well.

See also:

Hands-on Vista SP1: Better but slower?

XP outperforms both versions of Vista by a wide margin. I found that it's three times as fast as both versions of Vista copying a folder of files to a local disk, and more than twice as fast as both versions of Vista when copying a folder of files to a network folder. XP is slightly slower than pre-SP1 Vista when it comes to copying a single 2.49 GB file to a local folder, and slightly faster than SP1 Vista. And XP is slower than both versions of Vista when it comes to copying a single 2.49 GB file to a network folder.

First, some background about the tests. I created four test benchmarks on the same machine, a dual boot XP-Vista laptop with a 1.83 Ghz Duo Core processor and 1 GB of RAM. First, in XP, I copied one 256 MB folder filled with 63 files and subfolders to a local disk and then to a network disk on another machine. Then, still in XP, I copied one 2.49 GB file to a local disk, and to a network disk on another machine. Then I rebooted into pre-SP1 Vista and performed the sets of tests. After that, I upgraded Vista to SP1 on the machine, and performed the same tests

In all instances on all versions of Windows, I did the test several times before recording results, in case any caching was going on, or in case Vista's SuperFetch technology came into play. And I performed each test at least three times and averaged the results to make sure everything was accurate.

I found that copying a 2.49 GB file under SP1 from one folder to another on a local machine was 20% slower than on pre-SP1 Vista. On SP1 Vista, it took 193 seconds; pre-SP1 Vista, it took 161 seconds. On XP, it took 178 seconds. The following graph shows details. (Note that Excel won't let me set the scale starting at 0 for some odd, unexplained reason, so it starts at 140 seconds.)  

One_to_local.jpg

Copying the single 2.49 GB file to a network folder takes essentially the same amount of time in SP1 and pre-SP1: 233 seconds in SP1 versus 237 seconds in pre-SP1. Both versions of Vista beat XP, which came in at 296 seconds --- the only test in which XP was slower than both SP1 and pre-SP1. The following graph shows details.

one_to_network.jpg

When it comes to copying the 256 MB folder full of files, Vista SP1 and pre-SP1 performed just about identically, and dramatically slower than XP. Copying the folder to a local disk took 36 seconds in both versions of Vista, and only 12 seconds in XP. The following graph shows details.

multiple_to_local.jpg

Copying the folder full of files to a folder on another machine on the network took 101 seconds in Vista SP1, 98 seconds in pre-SP1, and only 39 seconds in XP, as you can see in the following graph.

multiple_to_network.jpg

The upshot of all this? On my test machine at least, copying in Vista SP1 is slightly slower than in pre-SP1, and much slower than in XP. There's of course one caveat here: These tests were performed on only one system, and as the saying goes, your mileage may vary. But on at least one machine, SP1 doesn't do as well as pre-SP1 when copying files.

See also, Preston Gralla's complete review:

Hands-on Vista SP1: Better but slower?

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