ForumFriday: Notes 8 Performance

February 8 2008

Rob Stitt has posted the comment "Notes 8 Standard Extremely Slow vs. Basic" in the Notes 8 Forum:

The performance of the Notes v8 Standard client vs. the Notes v8 Basic client is abysmal.  In fact, there is almost no way we can roll the Standard client out to our users because they will revolt.  

Often times, people say "it does thus & so in x seconds on my system".  That doesn't however, prove there isn't a serious problem.  What is more important is the RELATIVE INCREASE in time.  As you can see from stats I gathered on my system (which meets the required minimums), the increase in time between the Basic client and the Standard client is huge.

Note that these time the critical first & last impressions that users see when the start and exit the Notes client.

From my experience, other aspects of using the client (e.g., clicking on new messages, on icons, etc.) have similarly large increases in response time, but they are too small to measure with a stop watch.  Still, they contribute to a perceived (and real) sluggishness of the client.

If we rolled the Standard client out with these kinds of response times, I have little doubt people would start pushing us to go to Exchange/Outlook!

He then goes on to list some performance numbers. I am not going to dispute his numbers, but share some of my experience.

I took a personal laptop that I consider to be typical for most users. A Dell Latitude with 1 gig of ram, a single core Centrino, an Intel based video card (on board, not an ATI or Nvidia fance card) a standard 4,500 80 gig hard drive, and 100 meg network. I wiped the laptop and installed Windows XP SP2 on it clean.

I then installed some of the basic tools a user would need. Office 2003 Professional, including Microsoft Project and Microsoft Visio. Firefox 2.0.X. A VPN client (happens to be Cisco). Paint Shop Pro XI. Yahoo Messenger. iTunes. Standard load for a typical user. This is not a developer or admin laptop. No Visual Studio.NET or I also installed a corporate edition of Symantec Norton Anti-Virus and Client Security.

I then installed Notes 8 Standard 8.0.0, with the IBM Productivity Editors. The typical installation with no existing databases. I pulled down my mail file (12k documents, 1.6 gig) and my contacts (3k documents, 70 megs). I also pulled my blog and our internal CRM system and PSC project Management System, both Notes applications. I started using this machine and Notes 8 Standard to do my daily non-development work. Mostly email, calendar, and CRM sales related stuff. Creating documents, working with Word and Excel files, some browsing, etc. While a bit sluggish, it was usable for me. Then, I started to tweak the system.

First, I went and got the latest video drivers from the Intel site, not from Dell. After an install and reboot, quite a bit of the sluggish tab changing and preview changing went away. So, everyone check their video drives. That makes a world of difference.

Second, I made sure that Norton Anti-Virus was configured not to scan every file from the Notes directory. I set it to skip C:\Program Files\IBM\Lotus\Notes. Much of the disk thrashing seemed to go away.

Third, I set my machine to defragment the hard drive on a weekly basis and did a manual defrag. That really seemed to impact disk thrashing while using Notes 8.

Last, I made sure I was always working in a local database instead of a database on the server. Just like Outlook has you work locally because it runs faster, the same can be said for Notes. Once I moved to a local mail file and did the above three steps, I have had no preview stuttering at all.

Now, I am not going to post raw numbers. But the overall experience for me is extremely usable. Is it as fast as Notes 7.0.2? No. As fast as Notes 8.0.0 Basic? No. But the advantages I get from the functionality outweigh a bit of a trade-off in speed. And after a couple hours, I stopped noticing any speed issues.

Since then, I have done a few more tests that I will add here, but I do not think are necessary. As expected, upping the RAM from 1 Gig to 2 Gig made a drastic difference. Especially with any of the Office or Paint Shop Pro running. I also tried different hard drives. I swapped the 4,500 drive for a 7,200 drive, and wow. What a difference. Hard disk speed is one of the major bottlenecks left in any computer. I tried Notes 8 in a Virtual Machine running on an external USB2 drive running at 10k, and it is super fast.

Now, my main machine is a Dell Latitude D820. I have upgraded it to 4 gigs of ram. Dual Core Processor. The video card has 64 meg of ram and I update the video driver all the time. It also is a machine where I run Office 2007 and Visual Studio.NET 2008. If I have any Office 2007 application running, including Outlook (which I use for a personal email account and an Exchange test account so I can be educated on the product) that machine is just slow. With or Without Notes 8 running. Office 2007 is just a resource hog. Putting Notes 8 Standard with Office 2007 at the same time can be frustrating.

I have also done some testing with Notes 8.0.1 Standard. For me, it is noticeable faster. But it could be faster still. At Lotusphere, talking with some of the IBMers, I know there are folks who are focused on nothing but performance of the Notes 8 and 8.5 client. I hope they can make some major improvements.

So the whole point of this is to tell you that you can probably improve the performance with some tweaks to the machine running Notes 8 Standard today. You can improve the performance with hardware improvements, mostly in RAM and hard disk. And the future will bring some improvement.

16 Responses to “ForumFriday: Notes 8 Performance”

  1. 1) Ben Langhinrichs says:

    This is excellent, John! I really appreciate all the work you have put into this, and your willingness to share your experiences. While I fully expect Notes to get faster as the folks at IBM focus on performance, it really helps to know which things to focus on. I knew RAM would help, and am at 2GB myself, but I wouldn't have even thought of the video drivers. I have defragged often enough, and that has helped. I think that if I didn't have to go back into ND7 and ND6.5 so often, I would quickly forget the relative speed difference, but I will certainly look at the different issues you raise to make sure I am getting the most out of my machines. Thanks again.

  2. 2) Luis Guirigay says:

    I have multiple VMWare images running 512 MB of RAM with all the clients for 8. I need to connect to multiple VPNs during the day using different VPN clients, so, i just prefer to not install all of them in the same Windows OS.

    Notes 8 Standard is working fine under this configuration, of course I have nothing else. Firefox, the Notes 8 client and the Admin client are open all the time. And I am right now doing some LS code with the designer, performance is good enough.

  3. 3) Tony Palmer says:

    From my experience, making sure that you configure anti virus correctly can make a big difference in eclipse based products, purely from the number of seperate files that the product includes. Having scanning of files for both read and write will slow your machine down. This was true with Rational Application Developer and I guess this is true with Notes 8.0 Standard.

  4. 4) Andy Yiu says:

    Recently I pulled down the Notes 8.0.1 Standard client and I have to agree that it is noticibly faster than the Notes 8.0 Standard client. I assume that a similar set of changes which went into the Sametime 8.0 client are also going into the Notes 8.0.1 client to improve the overall performance and experience. A little tip for everyone out there, if you don't need certain plug-ins, don't enable them. The more plug-ins you load into the Expeditor framework, the slower the client seems to get. Only load what you absolutely need. Also, a little extra RAM in the machine can go a long way.

  5. 5) Alex Kassabov says:

    I love your description of a standard load for a typical user: PainShop Pro, iTunes, and... gasp! Office 2003. No OpenOffice or Symphony? Tsk, tsk, tsk.

  6. 6) John Head says:

    Alex - we both know that and Lotus Symphony are not part of the reality of a typical end user today ... yet ;) (and for those that do not know, Alex is my boss :-) )

  7. 7) Richard Moy says:


    I have a standard T41 with 1 G of RAM which is pitiful compare what you have, but I have not seen the performance problems that Rob has had. It is slight slower but not by much. My biggest beef is the loading time, 3 to 4 times longer.

  8. 8) mike says:

    work from local databases ? are you mad ? :)

  9. 9) Roland Reddekop says:

    Hey John,

    I excluded my Notes Program and Data directories from Symantec AV and things are 200% better. I'll pass this on to those who are piloting Notes 8.0 with me. Maybe we can rollout after all.

  10. 10) Charles Robinson says:

    John, I agree that many AV scanners are configured too aggressive and do not need to scan on both reads and writes. Excluding the Notes program and data folders from ALL AV scanning, though, isn't something I'm willing to do. Did you do any tests with just turning off read scanning and then with excluding the entire path? I'm curious if turning it off completely actually offered any boost since the files are only being read.

  11. 11) John Head says:

    Charles, we are not turning off the attachment and email scanning option, but the active file scanning. Stuff that is in the directory that is being scanned as it is loaded and used. As far as I can tell, this is not a significant security issue, talking with our security audit folks and some of the folks at IBM.

  12. 12) Nick Halliwell says:


    I have to take issue with your "Standard User" Config, how many standard users will have MS Project, Viso, Paint Shop, Yahoo messenger and iTunes and on there machine.

    These are the sort of things that would be on a developer machine or on an IT user machine. They would NOT be on a secretaries or clerks machine, these are typical users and would have MS Office and there e-mail client like Notes or Outlook.

    <B> Performance </B>

    I am running Notes 8.00 on 3 machines, 1 is a HT P4 2.8, with 2 Gb RAM and a standard graphics card, This machine is about 2 years old. This machine is a standard off the shelf Acer office PC. On my home machine I am running DualCore Intel Pentium D 820, 2800 MHz also with 2 GB of RAM and a NVIDIA GeForce 7300 GS with 512 MB. This machine is not a off the shelf machine. My laptop which is a new Acer 5920 with a Dual 2 core 2 Ghz CPU also with 2 GB RAM and of course a standard Intel 3100 graphics card. The Desktop's are running 7200 RPM SATA Hard Disk whilst teh laptop is running a 5400 RPM SATA hard disk

    For Anti Virus, I use Trend Neatsuite III on my office machine and AVG Internet Security (paid for) edition on the other 2 machines. All machines run Windows XP SP2, the office and laptop machine were pre installed.

    Now on none of teh machine do I have MS Office, I use OOo 2.3.1 and Lotus Symphony. I also have install Lotus Applications. I do have Viso on my desktop's.

    However I have noticed little difference in the Notes 8 Standard performance. Between any of the machines. So might I suggest that the problems are in using Symantec products or MS Office. The speed is not that much slower than Notes 7.02. I find running Notes 8 Basic is just the same as Notes 7.02.

    I have replaced Notes 8 Standard with Notes 8 basic on my home machine, not for speed reasons, but because I want the ability to be able to run my cursor down the side of my mail document to delete of move files, not the 2 handed job that Notes 8 standard forces and also because I find that Eclipse is still not stable. Note 8 Basic crash's no more that Notes 7.02 does but Standard crash's a lot.

  13. 13) Charles Robinson says:

    John, I understand that it's not a significant risk, but it is still a risk that I'm not willing to take. I was just wondering if you had tested only turning off the scan on read versus excluding the entire folder. Don't sweat it if you didn't, I was planning to do some testing on my own later this week anyway an I'll add that to the scenario. :-)

  14. 14) John Head says:

    Charles, fair enough. But if you won't take the risk and configure it to run the best way, then you just took away one of your reasons to complain in my book :-) And no, I have not done that test.

  15. 15) Dag Kvello says:

    If running on Vista/2008 try this as well:

    Start a CMD.EXE in "Administrator Privilege" mode (rightclick on the "Command Line" in the "Accessories" folder)

    Then on the commandline enter the following and press enter:

    netsh int tcp set global autotuninglevel=disabled

    This will help a lot on the Networking-speed :-)

    Oh and as far as not scanning the "IBM\Lotus\Notes\* /R" tree...

    What's the purpose ? The .exe's are signed and wont run if tampered with in any way.

    The Antivirus can't scan the .NSF's or other Notes-files (.FT) anyway (no client-side AV's that use the Notes-API to do in-database scanning as far as I know)

    You do, of course, run all Your local replicas with Encryption, which makes scanning the database-changes from the "outside" pretty useless anyway.

    Yoy're just bogging the system down with no added (real) security improvement.

  16. 16) Morten Clausen says:

    Cool. My earlier comment about how this creates a security hole has disappeared. May I recommend this for a footnote then:

    { Link }

    Esp. regardings the part regarding blogs.

    PS: This comment probably won't live for long as mr. Head doesn't take kindly to criticism, constructive or not. Enjoy it while it lasts.

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