Steve K.

This is my brain on LiveJournal.

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Pro Tip: Speeding Up Windows Media Player (Version 12/Win 7)
buttons-two
geckoblue
Like every old install of Microsoft Windows, my laptop has been running kinda slow lately. The obvious culprit is disk churn. The disk activity light blinks too much for what little I'm doing. Now, if there's disk churn, there is something causing that disk to churn. If you're using fancy new software or playing crazy new games on an old computer, you're kinda out of luck, but this isn't my case.

For me, it seemed to be general resources getting their fingers into too many things. I noticed one thing was certain; Windows Media Player was churning disk like butter. I use it for listening to music on a DLNA host, but I don't use it for very much else. What I failed to notice was that the local library of media kept growing and wasting more resources.

I pulled up some tools I knew would tell me what the fuss was all about. I opened up Process Monitor (sysinterals) and started filtering away. Showing just disk activity for the "wmplayer.exe" process name exposed a constant stream of file information/create/read/close operations. It is continuous and never stops. I understand this to be media library folder monitoring. It seems excessively frequent (Microsoft, you could set a polling frequency), but understandable. So, to cut back on disk activity, I found I could prune where my library scans for new media.

Note: This tip applies to Windows Media Player version 12 (Windows 7), but may work for other versions as well.

In the standard Windows Media Player Library view (Ctrl+1), you've got a list of stuff on the left side including: Music, Videos, Pictures, Recorded TV, and more. It turns out you can manage each of the ones I listed. Right-click on the item in your player and select "Manage ????? Library". This brings up a window of library locations for that type of media. If you don't use media in the specified locations (e.g. the Public folders), remove the undesired location from the list. This will stop Media Player from constantly scanning that location for new music and pictures and so-forth. Repeat that for: Music, Videos, Pictures, Recorded TV. You can also add other folders in the same way.

Once you're done doing that, you'll now have a slightly streamlined Media Player experience. For me, I removed all the Pictures, Recorded TV and Video library locations. I still have what little that's found in my music folders, but I don't need to fuss with video and photos taking up unnecessary resources while I'm just trying to listen to music.

I hope this tip helps you. If you have any suggestions for this tip, leave a comment and I'll make improvements. Happy listening!

Some technical details:

C:\Users\[your name]\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Media Player
Windows Media Player puts all its library data in wmdb files over in the above folder. The list of library folders are populated in the wmpfolders.wmdb file, but don't try to edit this manually; use this file to see what your player is scanning--the bigger it is the slower it gets.

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