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>and how can I benefit from my hard drives?
By defining them as separate drives and setting them aside as dedicated drives, e.g. one for source footage only, the other for the disk caches, another one for the rendered output. As for the memory settings: Leave them untouched. you don't have enough RAM to make any difference, which is slightly odd, considering you are using XP64 and could have a lot more...
As Mylenium says, it's a good idea to dedicate a separate local hard drive for each of a few jobs:
"If your source footage files are on a slow disk drive (or across a slow network connection), then performance will be poor. When possible, keep the source footage files for your project on a fast local disk drive. Ideally, youll have three drives: one for source footage files, one from which the application runs, and one for rendered output."
This tip and several more for getting started and setting up are mentioned in the "Planning your work" section of After Effects Help on the Web.
sorry for the delay, still digging in the AE help:)
thank you for your help
No problem. Unless someone nukes the server, this forum will not go away and I'm hanging around here too much, anyway ;-) (Todd doesn't count, he get's paid for that *giggle*)