The final version of Vista SP1 focuses on under-the-hood improvements to reliability, security, and performance, with very few changes made to the interface or Vista's features.

Slower copying?

A persistent complaint many people have had about Vista has been the speed with which it copies files, both to a local machine and across a network. One of Microsoft's goals for SP1 was to speed up that copying. Tests on our PC, though, show that (for one machine at least) copying appears to have slowed down compared to pre-SP1 Vista, and remains significantly slower than XP.

We created four test benchmarks using a dual boot XP-Vista laptop with a 1.83Ghz Duo Core processor and 1 GB of RAM. First, in XP, we copied one 256MB folder filled with 63 files and subfolders to a local disk and then to a network disk on another machine. Then, still in XP, we copied one 2.49GB file to a local disk and to a network disk on another machine. After that, we did the same tests for pre-SP1 Vista.

We then upgraded Vista to SP1 on the dual-boot machine, and performed the same tests. In all instances, we 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 we did each test at least three times to make sure the results were accurate.

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

XP was 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 was slightly slower than pre-SP1 Vista when it came to copying a single 2.49GB file to a local folder, and slightly faster than SP1 Vista. And XP was slower than both versions of Vista when it came to copying a single 2.49GB file to a network folder.

What numbers are we talking about here? SP1 Vista took 193 seconds to copy a 2.49GB file from one folder to another on a local machine; pre-SP1 Vista took 161 seconds; and on XP, it took 178 seconds.

Copying the single 2.49GB file to a network folder took, in essence, 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.

When it came to copying the 256 MB folder (which was full of lots of smaller files, including multiple subfolders) 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.

Copying the folder to 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.

NEXT PAGE: death of the kill switch?

See also:

Windows Vista: the definitive review

Windows Vista SP1 Release Candidate review

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