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 CPU intensive games and programs
 Power management
 Other DC clients running simultaneously
 Multiple CORE_65.EXE files running simultaneously
The Folding@Home client relies on idle cpu cycles to function. When cpu hungry programs, like a web browser or game are running, these programs eat into the idle cpu cycles, essentially slowing down how fast the folding clients crunch data. The more these programs run, the longer it will take for the client to complete its work. Occassional gaming or browsing will generally have little effect on the folding efficiency.
The Folding@Home client does write data to your hard drive from time to time, so for best system speed, its a good idea to disable hard drive parking or drive spin down in your power management in Windows:
Using cpu intensive screensavers while the folding client is running also taps into your precious idle cpu cycles. If your monitor is a power saving monitor or has this capability:
You can simply program power management to turn off your monitor after a set time, like a couple hours. The alternative would be to simply shut off your monitor manually or turning down the brightness.
Another thing to check if your system appears to be processing work REAL slowly is to see if there is more than one instance of CORE_65.EXE currently running. This file is the program that crunches the workunit. Sometimes when the client is shut down improperly, this program can remain running in memory. When you restart the client, it will execute another instance of this program, so you have it running twice, which will cut work production in half and most likely corrupt the data you are processing. A good program to check running tasks on your computer is TaskInfo.
Running multiple distributed computing projects simultaneously also adversely affects both project's clients. If you are involved in more than 1 project, like Seti@Home, Genome@Home, United Devices, Distributed Computing, and others; it is best to stick to 1 client at a time. Run 1 project for awhile, then switch to another for awhile. Just remember than Folding@Home's workunits can expire, so if you shut the client down for more than a few days, you should delete the workunit when you restart the client. Just go to the client's WORK dir and delete all the files there, and delete the QUEUE.DAT file in your Folding@Home directory, then restart the client to receive new work.
The speed or amount of RAM in your computer has very little impact on folding speed. However, a computer with limitted RAM will fold slower if alot of other programs are running and eating up all the free memory. The key to folding is the processor's FPU, or floating point unit speed. The faster the FPU speed, the faster you fold. As a general rule, the AMD processors are best designed for these projects. Intels are excellent as well, but the AMD chips are more efficient in this case.
These are some other things Ive discovered when it comes to folding and genoming efficiency:
 Screensavers that blank the monitor have NO EFFECT on client speed.
 Screensavers like Window's Starfield Simulation, 3D pipes... have a VERY SMALL effect on folding [a couple secs a frame]
 Running the FAH GUI release maximized on your desktop is only SLIGHTLY slower than the CONSOLE release [10 secs per frame max]
 Running FAH with EM3 or KDFOLD displayed on the desktop is only SLIGHTLY slower than running it in the tray.
 Running 16-bit games like DOOM, DUKE3D, or [in my son's case] ROM Emulators DRASTICALLY slow the clients. I saw GAH sequences go from 1 hour to 10+ hours while running a DOS based game.
 Surfing the web and visiting sites heavy with JAVA and FLASH animations is almost as bad as the 16-bit games. The clients were taking serious speed hits when my daughter was on the animation ridden NICK.COM site.
 RAM speed or amount of RAM doesnt seem to have any effect on client speed [tho I suppose more RAM does make the client run faster when you use the computer for other things besides FAH and GAH].
 AMDs fold better than INTELs [but we all knew this]. Its due to the way the AMDs floating point units are handled. They are better designed in this way.