QCharts - Overall Performance Issues

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QCharts - Overall Performance Issues

Market Activity Overview
We estimate that market activity is more than doubling each year. According to a leading industry source, in August 2006 during peak 5 second periods, outbound data measured 200,000 messages per second. By August 2008, the rate for the same peak had increased to over 900,000 messages a second, a whopping 350% increase in just 2 years. Increases have come across the board on Futures, Forex, Equities, and Options.
Market activity tends to spike during the open and closing periods each day and when major news is announced. We also see intraday spikes at other times as automated trade and quote systems kick-in after crossing a new threshold. If you look at market stats like $TVOL and $TVOLQ, you'll usually be able to spot the days that market activity spiked - although those stats don't reflect transaction or quote volume - which are significant parts of the increased traffic (i.e. sending a trade of 1000 shares vs 10 trades at 100 shares each - 10 times the traffic, same total number of shares traded).

You can limit the activity to your desktop by reducing the number of symbols you are monitoring or increase your performance by increasing your RAM, CPU speed and bandwidth connection. A combination of adjustments will typically improve performance but they may resume as volumes increase again over time. Please read on for additional information.

Freezing issues tend to be a combination of market activity (trading spikes) in conjunction with the configuration of each user's desktop so, there are quite a few variables to run through to locate the problem. Please take a little time to go over each of these elements and review the associated links. By the time we've covered all of these options, there's an excellent likelihood that we can resolve any system freezing issues you may be encountering.

Issues related to your PC or home/office setup:

PC Hardware Specs
It's estimated that output from the Exchanges is roughly doubling each year. As these trading volumes continue to climb and the complexity and power of our application increases, it's important that your PC be fast enough to keep pace. If you are using a PC that is 2-3 years old, you should consider upgrading. It's especially important to have a fast processor and at least 2GB of RAM. Here our current System Requirements. If you are a power user, we highly recommend that you use Windows® 2000 or Windows® XP, have at least 2.6 GHz processor and 3 GB RAM.

Microsoft® Windows® Upgrades (including Internet Explorer)
Microsoft is also continually improving their application and fixing bugs that users in the field are reporting. To keep your system sharp, we recommend you regularly visit the Microsoft Site and keep your version current or use the update Wizard provided by Microsoft® to be automatically reminded of new releases available. That should also include upgrading Windows Internet Explorer, since QCharts utilizes Internet Explorer for it's embedded browser, etc.

Video Drivers
Freezing can sometimes be the result of conflicts in your video adaptor cards, especially when using multiple monitors. Where possible, it's recommended that you use the same type of video card for each monitor so all the drivers are sure to be compatible. We also recommend that you keep your video drivers updated by visiting the manufacturers website and downloading the latest version.

Disk Defragmentation
Defragmentation is a process that rearranges and reassembles your files on your hard disk. The purpose of defragmentation is higher PC performance when accessing files. This utility can be found by clicking on Start, All Programs, Accessories then System Tools. The defragmenter can take a considerable time to run, so start the Defragmenter before going out for the evening or at the end of the day. Defrag your disk at least once a month for Optimal PC performance.

Hidden processes/3rd party apps
We're seeing more and more problems caused by other applications running under Windows that the user is often completely unaware of. It takes a bit of time, but if you can go through the Windows Task Manager and make sure that every process running should be running, that would really help. Here's a in-depth KB article with more on this subject. 

Frequent Disconnections, Slow Data
Many problems of this type have been associated to particular Internet Service Providers (ISP's) or lack of sufficient RAM on your system. There are a couple of steps you can take:

First try shutting down your computer for a couple of minutes, then reboot. This will release any locked-up memory. After you reboot, make sure that only your internet connection and QCharts are the programs you open.

For more on troubleshooting your internet connection, please review KB Article 1301.

Possible CPU or freezing issues directly related to QCharts:

QCharts Version
Our development team makes hundreds of small changes in every new release. Aside from adding new features, we are also constantly looking for ways to optimize our program and keep it as lean as possible. Therefore, we highly recommend that you always run the most current version of QCharts. Here's a link to our download page to get your free upgrade.

Try a different Workspace:
Before moving on to the next couple of troubleshooting ideas, it's a good idea to just create a fresh Workspace, save it and exit and re-start QCharts. This is the fastest way to determine if the problem is within QCharts or not. If your CPU usage drops significantly by loading a Workspace with just a few symbols, then the problem may very well lie within a specific area of QCharts and you should be able to isolate the problem with further troubleshooting. If the CPU spike continues or the data appears to lag still, than it's likely a PC issue or something going on with the eSignal network. If you do find the problem goes away in a fresh Workspace, try re-loading the old Workspace and then review the following areas:

Tick charts
Tick charts are very intensive on your CPU, expecially on active issues. 

Time and Sales Queries
In order to speed the retrieval of time and sales data, try using the date and time fields to narrow your search.

Maximize Your Screen
To improve performance, try maximizing the QCharts application to free up extra memory needed to paint items in the background.  Experimenting with various screen sizes may also help free up additional resources.  Close any QCharts windows that are not currently in use.

Line List
The amount of lines added to your charts can also cause your system to slow down or even freeze. As the file increases in size more system resources are needed to manage this file.

Symbol Count
Each active symbol on your desktop takes up a piece of the system's resources while the markets are trading. In some cases, users aren't even aware that they have other symbols loaded into memory. You can refer to the symbol counter on your Status bar to see how many symbols are currently being monitored.