A lot of users seem to use the XO profiles first and foremost because they want to reduce the XP loading time. Some users even create so many small ‘flying areas’ that they run out of profiles. In this article I would like to explain why the gain may not as big as hoped for.
Profiles in XO can for instance be used to:
- select scenery and/or plugins that fit the type of flight you are planning (for instance VFR vs. IFR)
- choose between conflicting scenery and/or plugins (for instance with different weather plugins)
- reduce X-Plane loading times
- reduce the number of loaded GroundTraffic plugins (*1)
As you can see I do mention reducing load times, but probably not the way you think of.
X-Plane loading time
The loading time of X-Plane can be split in 2 parts:
- the time from startup till the main menu is shown
- the time from starting a flight and being ready in the cockpit
Simply reducing the number of scenery packages only effects the first loading time. In my experience the effect in XP11.51 is very small, even with hundreds of packages (*2). But maybe the effect is more noticeable with thousands of packages (yes, some users have that many packages).
Of course the loading time of X-Plane depends largely on the speed of your PC and your disk (SSD vs. normal hard disk).
So, if you really have a lot of scenery packages, you could use profiles to enable only a part of your scenery collection. But my advice would be to define large areas. Think of continents or USA East and USA West (unless you plan a cross country flight of course).
Enabling only one area at the time will also reduce the number of GroundTraffic plugins that X-Plane loads (plugins of disabled packages are not loaded). If this does not help enough, you could define smaller areas OR look at the ‘Select with Map’ function (see below).
The actual loading when you start a flight takes far more time. X-Plane loads all content in an area of 3×4 tiles -> 12 tiles in total. This for instance is the area loaded when starting a flight at EDDM Munich:
As you probably can imagine that is a lot of data. Reducing scenery here could have an impact. Not only on loading time, but also on performance (fps).
Of course it only makes sense to disable scenery that you do not actually need for your flight. But could think of other airports located in these same 12 tiles with huge and heavy scenery folders.
For performance you could look at extra scenery you might not need: for instance VFR landmarks when flying an IFR high route.
While on your way, X-Plane will load other tiles -> reducing scenery in those tiles could be something to look at if you experience stutters during your flight (if caused by scenery loading of course).
One last remark: a profile might not be the best way to achieve what I explained above. You could look into the ‘Select with Map‘ function as well.
With this function you can enable only scenerypackages for tiles where your flight will actually lead you. You could even disable all airports except your departure and arrival airport. This could help with other heavy (payware) airports in the same tile, but also help in reducing the number of GroundTraffic plugins.
You can find more explanation here:
(*1) GroundTraffic plugins do not seem to have a huge impact on performance. The problem with the GroundTraffic plugins are related to the sometimes enormous amount of them: X-Plane can only handle a certain amount of plugins.
(*2) I have the impression that the effect was much bigger with previous XP versions. Laminar seems to have taken huge steps with optimizing.