Classic Computer Magazine Archive COMPUTE! ISSUE 157 / OCTOBER 1993 / PAGE 105


A disk cache program is one of the best and least-expensive ways to speed up your computer. It can breathe new life into a slow hard drive and make a fast one seem even faster. While a cache only speeds up access to data that's needed more than once, that speed increase can be as much as 4000 percent.

The Microsoft SMART-Drive cache program comes with both DOS and Windows, so it's essentially free. SMARTDrive works fine, but The Norton Speed-cache+ runs faster (Norton claims two to three times faster) and adds support for both CD-ROM and removable cartridge drives. On the down side, Speedcache+ requires more memory than SMARTDrive. While SMARTDrive uses about 28K of memory, Speedcache+ uses about 68K when its CD-ROM caching is turned on (you should be able to load some or all of a cache program into upper memory using QEMM-386 or a third-party memory manager).

Because CD-ROM drives access their data about 25 times slower than hard drives, Speedcache+ can make a big difference with CD-ROM programs. It significantly smooths operation of Microsoft Encarta, a CD-ROM-based encyclopedia with lots of high-resolution graphics and CD-quality sounds. With SMARTDrive, Encarta can bog down when you move from one section of the program to another. With Speedcache+, Encarta runs dramatically faster, especially on a relatively slow CD-ROM drive.

Like any good cache program, Speedcache+ offers a variety of options, including the ability to turn off write caching and to specify which drives will be cached. It automatically recognizes compression programs such as Stacker and DoubleSpace.

If you don't own a CD-ROM drive, you can take advantage of Speedcache+ as a faster alternative to SMARTDrive. If you do own a CD-ROM drive, your CD-ROMs will perform noticeably better. For owners of Level 1 MPC and sub-MPC CD-ROM drives, Speedcache+ may be the least expensive way to keep up with today's more demanding CD-ROM programs.



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