8 Tips to Improve WordPerfect Performance

by Kendall Callas

A recent consulting project for a major credit card issuer unveiled several tips on boosting WordPerfect's speed. They needed to optimize merging and printing 60,000 letters a month, but even if you're not a junk mail maven, these tips will speed up WordPerfect for you. (These tips apply to all versions of WordPerfect.)

  1. Turn off timed backups. By eliminating or decreasing the frequency of timed backups, you will avoid interruptions (to save to disk) that will periodically delay your work. The trade-off is that you will not have a temporary copy of your active document(s) to help you recover your last few minutes of work in the case of a machine malfunction, power failure, or software error. (In WordPerfect 5.1 for DOS, find this under Setup/Shift+F1, 3/Environment, 1/Backup Options, 1/Timed Document Backup; in WordPerfect for Windows, look under File Preferences.)

  2. Stick with DOS. Some firms use WordPerfect 5.1 (for DOS) under Windows. Microsoft Windows slows down any program (though, of course, it offers other advantages). For example, WordPerfect 5.1 merges 20% faster without Windows. Similarly, any version of WordPerfect for DOS is faster than any version of WordPerfect For Windows. You pay for those bells and whistles with slower speed.

  3. Close windows to boost performance during intensive tasks.
    - If you use WordPerfect for DOS, exit from your multi-tasking or task-switching software (Windows, DESQview, or Software Carousel) and run WordPerfect directly from DOS.
    - If you must multi-task, close all other programs. (Within Windows, the Task List should show only WordPerfect and the Program manager open.)
    - Within WordPerfect, close all other document windows. To maximize the resources available to Doc 1, exit from Doc 2 ...

  4. Maximize available memory, both conventional and expanded.
    - Load DOS high (check your CONFIG.SYS file).
    - Use WordPerfect's /W startup switch to allow use of all available memory. (WP /W-*,* in WordPerfect 5.1 for DOS; under Windows, use the PIF editor.)
    - Use a memory manager like EMM386 (which comes with DOS) or, better yet, QEMM from Quarterdeck.

  5. Work on your fastest drive. If you're in a network environment, test your local drive (C:) against your server to see which is faster. Then:
    - Install WordPerfect on your fastest drive.
    - Use startup switches to direct the work onto your fastest drive (hopefully one with plenty of space).
    - /d-C:\ to direct work files onto drive C:
    - /pf-C:\ to direct print files onto drive C: (/pf is not available in WordPerfect for Windows.)

  6. Investigate the WP /R startup switch to load "resident" WordPerfect for DOS. This keeps a secondary module of the software (the WP.FIL file) in expanded memory, improving response time for certain features.
    - There is a tradeoff here. If /R is not used, then WordPerfect can use extended memory to speed other tasks: to cache large documents, print graphics, preview the document, check spelling, generate, and hyphenate.
    - Intensive merging does not benefit from the /R switch. Perform timed tests to see if the features you use will benefit from this.
    - /R is not available with WordPerfect for Windows.

  7. For intensive merge tasks, consider the "merge to printer" technique. By simply adding the {PAGE OFF} and {PRINT} merge codes to the bottom of your form file, this feature converts a 1,000-page print job into 1,000 1-page print jobs. This is much faster in a network environment or when memory is limited, though it may complicate printer sharing.

  8. If using graphics, such as for signatures, use the "Graphic on Disk" feature, and place the image file in your graphics directory. (In WordPerfect 5.1 for DOS, look under Graphics/Alt+F9, 1/Figure, 2/Edit, 2/Contents; in WordPerfect for Windows, look under Graphics, Image, Content, Image on Disk.)

Copyright (C) 1996 by microCounsel, (415) 921-6850. All rights reserved.

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