Whether you're using Windows, Mac, or even Linux, it is important to optimize your computer for recording. There are several key areas that go a long ways to keeping your music production computer running in tip-top shape.
Update your drivers and software
Make sure your operating system and software are up to date with the most recent software patches available. You will also want to do a thorough check of your hardware to make sure all your drivers are up to date as well. Go to the manufactures website for both your machine and audio interface to find the most recent version available.
Make sure you're using the most updated software patches to your recording software as well.
Disable Unneeded Start-up Applications and Services
Check your applications that run at start-up. You may not realize how much unneeded software is taking up vital system resources. When a computer is already pushed to its limits you're guaranteed to have problems while recording.
If you're running Windows run "msconfig " and look in both the services, and start-up tabs. Uncheck anything that is not needed for your computer to record, then reboot your machine.
If you're running a Mac then open up the System Preferences and click on Accounts. From there head to the "Login Items" tab. Uncheck any programs that are not needed and reboot.
Maintain Lots of Hard Drive Free Space
This one is pretty simple. Just uninstall or delete anything you don't truly need from your computer. Although this has a greater effect if you're using a PC, it still is helpful for Mac and Linux users. Windows run the most stable when no more than 50% of the drive hosting the OS is filled.
Keep it Cool
The cooler a computers temperature can be maintained the better it will run. Use compressed air to clean it out on a regular basis. Don't be afraid to remove the case cover and use a vacuum to clean out those dust bunnies and hair balls.
Keep Defragged and Error Free
Here is a wonderfully boring article from Wikipedia that is very informational on the subject of defragmentation. You can check that out if you would like more information.
To keep it simple just run a good defragmentation program often. The same is true with hard disk and memory errors. Keeping your system free of these will go a long ways to optimizing your computer for recording.
With computer based recording it can take a little trial and error to keep things running smoothing. I often find myself addressing something within these 6 areas on a regular basis. Did I miss something you've had to address in your own setup? I'd love to hear your thoughts. Please add them to the comments section below.