Preferences 7.4

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You can specify preferences that limit when and how BOINC uses your computers. There are two kinds of preferences:

General preferences
These apply to all projects. Example: whether BOINC should compute while you're at your computer.
Project preferences
These apply only to one project. Example: the color scheme used in the SETI@home screensaver.

There are two different ways to set and change your general preferences. Here's how they work; you can decide which is best for you.

On the web: You can edit preferences on the web site of any project in which you participate. If you do this, then:

  • The changes will take effect on ALL the computers attached to that account; this is handy if you have a lot of computers.
  • The changes will take effect on a given computer the next time that computer contacts the project's server. This typically happens automatically every day or so. You can do it manually by selecting the project in the BOINC Manager (Advanced View) and clicking Update.

In the BOINC Manager: You can edit general preferences using a dialog in the BOINC manager.
BOINC 6: Use the Preferences button in the Simple View or use the Advanced->Preferences menu item in the Advanced View;
BOINC 7: Use the Tools->Computing preferences menu item in Simple View, or the Tools->Computing preferences menu item in the Advanced View;

These bring up different dialogs - the Advanced version displays more preferences. If you use this approach, then:

  • Changes will take effect immediately upon clicking OK in the dialog.
  • Changes will affect ONLY the local computer
  • Settings override preferences set on the web.

Local preferences are stored in a file that you can edit directly.

See local preferences for more information.

Editing preferences on the web

Click on 'Your account', then 'View or edit general preferences' (Note: these links may be different on some projects. For example, on you must click 'My CPDN', then 'BOINC CPDN', then 'Your account', and 'View or edit general preferences'.) This shows you the preferences. If you want to change anything, click on 'Edit preferences'. When you change your preferences on the web, the changes won't take effect immediately on your computer; they'll take effect the next time your computer connects to the project's server. If you want this to happen immediately, bring up the BOINC Manager on your computer, select the project, and click 'Update'. If you're running BOINC on several computers, preference changes will eventually propagate to all of them.

If you participate in multiple projects, each one has its own copy of your general preferences. When you edit your general preferences on a particular project, initially it changes only that one account. However, BOINC will eventually:

  1. propagate the new preferences to all computers attached to that account, and
  2. propagate the new preferences to all accounts that are 'coupled' to the first one (i.e. that have the same email address, and have at least one computer attached to both accounts).

This propagation is "piggybacked" onto the regular communication between your computers and project servers. You can accelerate the propagation by using the Update command in the BOINC Manager. Be careful about editing general preferences at different projects. If you change your general preferences at project A, then edit them at project B before the first changes have propagated there, the second changes will overwrite the first. To avoid this, pick a "home project" and do all your edits there.

Some Account managers also provide a web-based interface for editing preferences.

Location-specific preferences

If you have computers at several locations (e.g. home, work and school) you may want to use different preferences for different locations. The preferences editing system (see above) lets you create (or delete) separate preferences for home, work, and school.

Each computer attached to an account has a location. To view this, go to the project's web site, then click 'Your account' and 'View Computers'. Click on the ID of the computer you're interested in. At the bottom of the page there's a popup menu that lets you see or change the location. A change to a computer's location will take effect only when that computer contacts the server; you can make this happen immediately using the BOINC Manager's Update command.

If a computer has its location set to 'home' (for example), and you've defined separate preferences for home, it will use those preferences. Otherwise it will use your default preferences.

Your account has a 'default location' (home, work, or school). New computers attaching to your account will be given the default location. The default location is part of your project preferences, so to change it, edit your project preferences.

General preferences

General preferences apply to all BOINC projects in which you participate. They include:

Processor usage

When to work. You can specify
A) Whether computation should be done if the computer is in use (i.e. during keyboard and mouse input) (Note 1), B) If the computer is being powered by batteries (for laptop users), C) Specify a range of hours when work should be done. (Note 1)
Leave applications in memory while suspended
(BOINC Manager > Computing Preferences > Disk and memory usage tab) If yes, applications will be preempted by suspending and resuming, rather than quitting the task. This uses more virtual memory, but uses CPU time more efficiently.
Switch between applications every X minutes
This determines how often BOINC switches between projects.
Maximum number of processors to use
On a multiprocessor, this limits the number of processors that BOINC will use. As of 6.1, the option works as a % selector of total available processor cores.
Use at most X% of CPU time
It you specify 50%, BOINC will compute only every other second. This reduces the heat output and energy usage of your CPU chip. (Always in effect)
Suspend work if no mouse/keyboard activity in last X Minutes
Allows the computer to enter sleep/standby/hibernation mode. (Note 1)

NB: This option only exists on the Website Device Profiles / Computing Preferences incl. v 6.12

While processor usage is less than X percent (0 means no restriction)
This is used to suspend BOINC when non-BOINC applications takes this fraction of the CPU time. Supported in version 6.10.36+. NB: The default for this feature is 25% (WCG 50% on web device profiles). When activated and "Leave application in memory while suspended" is not selected, this will cause the task(s) to unload from memory and resume from last checkpoint, if one was already made, when the non-BOINC system load has dropped below the set percent. (Note 1)

Note 1: When the BOINC Manager Activity menu option is set to 'Run always', this function is disabled (override).

Disk and memory usage

Usage limits

You can limit the disk space used by BOINC in any of three ways:

  1. Maximum disk space used by BOINC
  2. Maximum percentage of total space that can be used by BOINC
  3. Minimum disk space to keep free. The Default is 100.0 GB
Access interval
A suggested interval between disk accesses. Useful on laptops where the disk may be spun down for long periods. Default is 60 seconds, maximum 999 seconds
Use at most X% of page file
Maximum percentage of your virtual memory page file (also called 'swap space') used by BOINC. The Default is 75%.
Use at most X% of memory when computer is in use
Limits the amount of RAM used by BOINC applications when your computer is in use (i.e. when there has been recent mouse or keyboard activity). Setting this to a low value lets you run BOINC all the time without impacting your computer's performance. The Default is 50%.
Use at most X% of memory when computer is idle
Limits the amount of RAM used by BOINC applications when your computer is not in use. The Default is 90%.

Network usage

Time of day limits
Limit the hours and/or days during which BOINC will do network communication.
Transfer at most X Megabytes every N days
Suspend network communication if the number of megabytes transferred (upload and download) in the last N days exceeds X Megabytes.


  • The above preferences can be overridden by selecting Activity / Network activity always available in the Advanced view.
  • If you issue a command that requires network communication (such as attaching to a project or updating a project) while communication is disabled, then communication other than file transfers is enabled for 5 minutes to allow the command to complete.
Maximum upload and download rates
Limit the number of Kilobytes per second uploaded or downloaded by BOINC. 0 means no limit.
Network connection preferences
Whether to wait for confirmation before making network connections, and whether to disconnect when done.
Time between network connections
Approximate time between network connections. When your computer asks a server for work, it will try to get enough work to last for this long. 0 means constant connection.

Project preferences

There is a separate set of project preferences for each project in which you participate and can only be accessed via the website location "preferences for this project". These include:

Resource share
If projects contend for resources, the amount allocated to a project is proportional to this number. The default is 100. Note: this is not a percentage. If a computer is attached to 2 projects, each with resource share 100, each project will get half the resources. If a project is given a resource share of 0 it will not receive any resources unless other projects are unable to provide tasks.

NB: At World Community Grid this option is titled "Project Weight"

Email prefs
Whether the project should send you newsletters by email.
Hide computer information
Whether the project should show information about your computers (their CPU and OS type, benchmark ratings etc.; not their names or addresses) on its web site.
Default computer location
The location assigned to computers that attach to this account.
Project-specific preferences
Defined by the project; e.g., to specify graphics color schemes.

To edit these preferences, visit the Your Account page at the project's web site.