Windows

Five tips for speeding up Windows XP performance

You may be able to improve a sluggish Windows XP system with a trip to the Performance Options dialog box. Here are a few tweaks worth trying.

If some of your Windows XP clients run slower than others, it could be due to some of the default settings located in the Performance Options dialog box. You can change the options in this dialog box to boost the performance of a Windows XP client. Let's examine the settings you can change to improve Windows XP's performance.

Note: These tips are based on an entry in our Microsoft Windows blog. They're also available as a PDF download.

1: Access the Performance options

The most useful Windows XP performance-tuning options are on the Visual Effects and Advanced tabs of the Performance Options dialog box. Go to Start | Control Panel | System | Performance | Settings to open this dialog box. Figure A shows both the Visual Effects and Advanced tabs with the performance options you can easily modify.

Figure A

2: Change Visual Effects settings

The Visual Effects tab is the easiest place to start when troubleshooting certain performance problems. By default, Windows XP enables visual effects, such as the Scroll option for the Start menu. These effects consume system resources. If you're troubleshooting a sluggish system, try choosing the Adjust For Best Performance option, which will disable many of these visual effects settings. Of course, you'll lose the cool visual effects, but there's always a tradeoff for performance.

3: Change Processor Scheduling settings

If you're troubleshooting something more than sluggish screen redraws, you'll need to adjust the performance options on the Advanced tab of the Performance Options dialog box. There are three sections on this tab: Processor Scheduling, Memory Usage, and Virtual Memory. The settings in these sections have a major impact on how your system operates.

The Processor Scheduling section controls how much processor time Windows XP devotes to a program or process. The processor has a finite amount of resources to divide among the various applications. Choosing the Programs option will devote the most processor time to the program running in the foreground. Choosing Background Services allocates equal processor time to all running services, which can include print jobs and other applications running in the background. If your users complain about slow-running programs, you could try setting the processor scheduling to Programs.

On the flip side, if users complain that print jobs never print or are slow to print, or if they run a macro in one application while working in another, you may want to assign equal time slices (called quanta) to each process by choosing the Background Services option. If you use the Windows XP machine as a server, you're better off choosing the Background Services option.

4: Change Memory Usage settings

The Memory Usage section governs how Windows XP uses system RAM. The first option, Programs, allocates more RAM to running applications. For desktop systems with very little RAM, this selection gives the best performance. For a server or a desktop with a lot of RAM, however, choosing the System Cache setting will yield better performance. When set to System Cache, the system will use most of the available RAM as a disk cache, which can result in major performance improvements on systems that depend on disk I/O.

5: Change Virtual Memory settings

A number of settings in the Virtual Memory section affect how Windows XP performs. Virtual memory is an area on the disk that Windows uses as if it were RAM. Windows requires this type of system in the event that it runs out of physical RAM. The virtual memory space is used as a swap space where information residing in RAM is written to the virtual memory space (also called the page file or swap file) to free up RAM for other processes. When the system needs the information in the swap file, Windows puts it back into RAM and writes something else out to the disk in its place.

Windows XP has a recommended default page file size of 1.5 times the amount of system RAM. You can let Windows completely manage this file or have no file at all. I highly recommend that you do not remove the paging file because you'll experience a noticeable degradation of system performance without it.

One way to boost system performance is to place the paging file on a separate physical hard drive from the operating system. The only caveat is if the second drive is slower than the primary drive, you'd want to leave the paging file where it is.

You can also span the paging file across multiple disks to increase performance. To make changes to the virtual memory, click the Change tab on the Advanced tab of the Performance Options dialog box, make your desired changes, and click Set. Any changes you make will take effect after you reboot the machine.


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About

Since 1994, Scott Lowe has been providing technology solutions to a variety of organizations. After spending 10 years in multiple CIO roles, Scott is now an independent consultant, blogger, author, owner of The 1610 Group, and a Senior IT Executive w...

105 comments
dvijaydev46
dvijaydev46

Corrupt hard disk can slow your system to a crawl. While many people wouldn't realize at first, very very slow systems can be boosted up just by removing bad sectors from the HDD. The simple chkdsk command can speed up your PC instantly.

reisen55
reisen55

I explain tech details to customers using anology. I consider a computer-RAM-hard drive combination to be a warehouse (data storage) and a shipping department (RAM storage). If you have a huge warehouse and a tiny shipping department (RAM and pagesys), then the latter two have to do alot of box shifting and movement to move data in and through the shipping department. Double the size of the shipping department and you get more efficient movement of data. Increase = better BUT UP TO A POINT as every single molicule of space in the shipping department (memory and hard drive space) HAS TO BE AND IS MANAGED BY THE COMPUTER, even if empty! Eventually, you do not get performance increases anymore and, in fact, degredation.

Tuno85
Tuno85

Having more than enough RAM I removed the paging file and it was noticeable faster. Especially when I didn't touch my running computer for a while, it was still fast.

Rhodent
Rhodent

When you set the location and size of the virtual memory file (pagefile), you should select the 'manual' option and set max size & min size to the same value. This prevents pagefile fragmentation, should it grow past it's initial (minimal) size.

reisen55
reisen55

One thing people never like is the long time XP can take to load. Using the autologon utility from systernals, you can automatically login, password encrypted, to a domain environment. Works. You have to mindful of security of course but I have set some of my Dell systems to automatically start up at 5am, login, conduct virus scan at 5:30 am so that the system IS READY when I come over to it. Works for normal people as well. Using the SHUTDOWN utility, in Windows, allows me to schedule backups off hours and shutdown easily. AUTOLOGON also works on Windows 2003 Servers, a good remote support tool.

Mr. Fix
Mr. Fix

If your computer was a public library, the Master File Table ($MFT) would be the card catalog system - but you would probably not find it all in one location. Rather, to find a specific book, you would typically have to search through 3, 10, 20 or more catalogs scattered about the library and then the entry you're looking for, when you finally find it, would probably only cross-reference any number of locations within the shelves of the library where individual chapters, single pages, and even scraps of pages of the particular book you are looking for have been scattered about, in no particular logical order. Why, you may rightly ask, is the card catalogue system not in one single location? Quite simply, it outgrew its initial location but, instead of being relocated to a roomier place, a new auxiliary catalog was simply set up somewhere else in the library to keep track of the increasing number of book fragments - a process that was repeated over and over and again. But why are the books scattered about in pieces? Simple: there's no need for the book fragments to be in one place because the card catalog system is designed to keep track of where all the pieces are. Isn't technology wonderful?! In my experience, some of the most serious performance issues on NTFS drives involve MFT fragmentation and I often use the analogy above to explain the problem. On installation, Windows creates a Master File Table that is so small that it will typically begin to fragment even before you've finished adding your 3rd-party applications. Then, as your files and folders become fragmented, the MFT - which is also itself a file - will continue to expand but it does so in small increments, which are themselves usually yet more fragments. My biggest complaint with the NTFS platform is that the user is offered no control whatsoever over the initial size of this file on creation. Now, if this strikes you as planned redundancy, quite frankly, that's the only rationale I've been able to come up with for it. The fact is, when performance becomes severely crippled and nothing seems to help, the patent recommendation is to offer an upgrade to a newer model computer. Just how fragmented can the MFT become? Unfortunately, I know of no physical limits. In the case of one desktop computer that was brought to me with the single complaint that it was "running slow", my defragmentation utility reported that the MFT was in no less than 1.4 million fragments. You heard me: more than 1,400,000 fragments. Needless to say, I was aghast and, had I not seen the report with my own two eyes, I would never have believed it. Granted, this was a singular and extreme example but it's actually quite common for me to receive for repair hard drives with the MFT in dozens of fragments and, not uncommonly, even HUNDREDS of fragments, which is shocking enough. Is this problem fixable? Yes, it is but, to my knowledge, there's only one product - priced for the general public, that is - that can adequately deal with MFT fragmentation, Diskeeper, and I find that it works best when the defragmentation is performed on a inactive drive (not the boot drive), for which purpose I always keep two hot-swappable internal drive bays available, one for PATA drives and the other for SATA drives. Without the option of defragmenting a hard drive as an auxiliary drive, whether internal or external, MFT defragmentation is only available as a boot-time option. The latest version, Diskeeper 2010, even boasts that it can prevent fragmentation from occurring in the first place - to a large degree, anyway. Incidentally, if Diskeeper still leaves the MFT in 2 fragments, that doesn't mean that it hasn't completed its task. The first few bytes of the MFT are so very critical to the function of the NTFS platform that it mirrors them and, as with any backup, it's actually safer for this mirrored information to be stored in a separate location. CAUTIONARY NOTE REGARDING FILE RECOVERY: Because any defragmentation routine re-uses "available" disk space at a very high rate and many of them perform this routine automatically, this is yet another compelling reason to shut the machine down immediately and completely should the user encounter the need to recover a lost file. For the very same reason, don't ever try to attach a drive to your system for the purpose of file recovery without first disabling automatic defragmentation. In the case of Diskeeper, that means tweaking its new volume detection settings (go to "Diskeeper Configuration Properties" and "New Volume Detection"), which happen to be Autodefragment and Intelliwrite ON by default.

GetsuTora
GetsuTora

I routinely do the following. 1. choose 'adjust to best performance' 2. Re-enable the bottom 4 as well as 'smooth-scroll list boxes' Visual styles are not much of a performance hit instead of going back to Windows 2000-esque taskbar.

Slayer_
Slayer_

Move your temp files. Change your temp file directory out of Documents and Settings. (do so by changing environment variables) And get temporary internet files out as well. Documents and Settings is indexed every time you login to your computer. That "Applying settings" message is displayed during this time. You can see a massive improvement by moving those folders. I did so to a lady here at work, she had 30k files in temp internet files. Her system took almost 5 minutes to login. I emptied and moved the folder, now her login is nearly instant. And has been that way for about 6 months now.

MytonLopez
MytonLopez

Check it out - http://www.soluto.com/ It monitors your startup and tells you how long your computer takes to load and give you options to delay programs and etc..A fresh install of XP always speeds up the system. I would remove windows components not being used to help as well.

Gis Bun
Gis Bun

Must be a quiet week when a writer has to writen about how to speed up a 9-year old OS - especially when this topic has appeared here and elsewhere so many times.

bobwinners
bobwinners

Ok, now give us 20 ways to speed up Vista!

reisen55
reisen55

If your system has two identical manufacturer hard drives with same speeds, you can move the swap to the secondary drive and let the operating system have it's very own room. Secondly, SYSTERNALS has an AutoRun program that is FAR superior to MSCONFIG for startup and also catching malware. On the latter, always trust MALWAREBYTES to catch offending malware. Schedule invasive programs such as virus scans for off-hours work and time, i.e. 1am and such. I automatically shut down my systems using the SHUTDOWN command and use the Dell BIOS autostart to wake them up in the morning. Memory: 1gb is standard and memory is cheap.

jajansenjr
jajansenjr

What will the effect be with Windows XP sitting on a solid state drive?

koby@disklace.com
koby@disklace.com

you may check if it is required by downloading the tool from http://www.disklace.com You'll be surprised to see that you will have different results from the recommendations of the system.

geertclaes
geertclaes

Today, new business computers are equipped with at least 2 GB. In the case of Windows XP this is "a lot". Most of the users do NOT use all the memory. Therefor, most of time I disable the virtual memory, which speeds up Windows XP. Can somebody explain to me (when enough memory is installed) how a virtual memory (i.e. hard disk speed) could be faster then the real stuff (i.e. RAM speed) ?

gmanoilov
gmanoilov

I do not agree with the author on the performance effects of disabling the swap file completely. If you have a slow hard drive, then disabling the virtual memory will result in a much quicker starting of most programs. Of course, you can run out of memory if you start too many applications at once. But if you need to squeeze all out of an old workstation, I would recommend to disable the virtual memory and then run only one application at a time.

K7AAY
K7AAY

O&O Defrag does so, and rather well.

seanferd
seanferd

You can also check the MFT for % used. If it is very close to full, you can increase the size of the MFT. Not sure whether this is in non-enterprise editions or not.

rocketmouse
rocketmouse

Thank you, SinisterSlay - this tip really works! Now I have stopped running Game Booster at startup (and then having to reset some really vital services every time...) just to be able to do anything on "the old workhorse." I knew that was a bad idea anyway, but was desperate. I had done all the things this article talked about some time ago and not seen any improvement.

phil
phil

After trying this modification we found some programs would no longer run (just hung). Switching back to the standard locations for the environment variables and the programs ran perfectly. I expect its bad programming, but as the programs were the free Tax and National Insurance tools provided by the British government (HMRC) to all businesses this might be a mod. to be careful with.

Mr. Fix
Mr. Fix

There are good reasons why these temporary folders were placed by default in the user's Document and Settings folder. If you move them, they properly need to stay uniquely identifiable with the user. As an example, one could create a parent folder for these files on the root directory, one for each active username.

mckinnej
mckinnej

Another trick that doesn't get mentioned much is the use of a RAM disk for temp files. I only recommend this if you have BIG RAM, say >=4GB. Since XP only directly works with 3GB, you can safely put 1.5 GB into a RAM disk on a 4GB machine. Then you assign the TMP and TEMP environmental variables to RAM disk and zoom, Zoom, ZOOM! You will see dramatic speed increases for pretty much everything that writes to the temp areas. This setup can take some tinkering, so it's not something I would recommend for a novice. You also have to be aware of programs that write big files to the temp areas, video converters are big offenders. They'll fill up the RAM disk in a heartbeat and crash. Those programs need to be pointed to a real drive with lots of available real estate.

SkyWlf77
SkyWlf77

Hi there, SS: Would you mind going into a bit more detail on how this is done - possibly a step-by-step? I'm very interested in this particular method as I've used most others, but every little bit I can squeeze out of older systems is better. This one intrigues me (and I haven't heard of doing this before). Thanks! Jason

roadtrip
roadtrip

I for one really appreciate the on topic information related to computer tech. Even old tech.

rsimms
rsimms

I have also disabled virtyal memory on all new Window XP machines with 2Gb memory.

mapsonburt
mapsonburt

The purpose of the swap file is not to be faster than the RAM for retrieving objects stored in the virtual cache... that's an oxymoron... the whole point to the swap file is to free up some of the FAST real RAM so that active processes can use it. With any multitasking OS, there are pools of memory that were started long ago and not accessed at all or very infrequently. The purpose of the swap file manager is to optimize what memory needs to be "live" and in RAM and what can be paged out to disk. If it worked perfectly, your swap file would contain all the junk almost never accessed and your RAM would contain the working set of memory required by the new processes. Of course it's never quite that black and white so the swap file does get a fair bit of use but it's still FAR better than the alternative which is to constrain the applications to only using real RAM as there isn't enough of that (ever) to go around.

GSystems
GSystems

Maybe if the HDD was actually SSD with SATA3 and your RAM was DDR133, the drive would be faster than the RAM :-)

pickleman
pickleman

Despite some of the replies you've received by self-proclaimed "experts" and "consultants", the truth is that yes, you really can disable your swap file usage altogether, and see a dramatic improvement in system performance. Some people speak from theory. They read something in an article or a forum such as this, and they immediately treat it as gospel and begin spreading it. Other people, such as myself, speak from years of personal experience. I've been running swap-free Windows since 2003. And guess what -- it really DOES work, and it really does improve system performance. It's common sense. The less disk thrashing, the better. The first time I tried it was, as I said, in 2003 on my P4 3 GHz machine. At the time, I had way more than enough processor power, but RAM was still very expensive, so I was using 1 GB. But the reality is that in 2003, 1 GB on XP was more than enough. At first, I was hesitant and scared that I'd completely destabilize my system with blue screens and other crashes. But the truth is that everything worked perfectly. It's a complete myth that you'd be limiting yourself to just ONE application at a time by disabling the swap file. I had a bunch of things running simultaneously, including Office XP, Paint Shop Pro, firewall, virus scanner, etc. I never ran out of memory. And keep in mind, that was all done with 1 GB. Obviously, you shouldn't disable your swap file in a more bloated system like Vista or Windows 7 if you're running with 1 GB. But if you have 2 GB, you're fine, as long as you're not trying to run multiple memory-intensive applications at once. But you can comfortably run Office, your web browser, e-mail client, and other such things without fear of crashes. The only time you'd get into trouble is if you have all those things running, and then at the same time you load up a massive image for editing in Photoshop, or you decide to jump into Crysis. Today, I'm using 4 GB on the 32-bit version of Windows 7. My swap file is disabled, and I'm able to run everything I could ever possibly need at the same time. And on top of that, I can jump into any game I want, including Crysis, the Call of Duty series, Flight Sim X, etc etc. When I flip back to my task manager, I can see that I still have ample physical memory available, even with everything running. I've never had a crash, and I've never had an application tell me that it ran out of memory. While it's true that some applications (albeit poorly-designed ones) can allocate huge amounts of memory upfront, the reality is that you're not likely to encounter one of these. So if you want to maximize your system performance, go ahead and disable your swap file. It's completely safe, and very effective. The key is to make sure you have ample memory (4 GB for Windows 7 or 2 GB for XP). I also disable the swap files on all systems belonging to family members, and I recommend it to friends also. In the nearly eight years I've been doing it, I have yet to receive a single complaint or report of a problem from others, and I have yet to encounter a problem on even one of the many machines I've built over the years. I've been doing it for nearly 8 years now, and I've never looked back. So rather than listening to all the doom and gloom advice from people living in the world of theory, go ahead and TRY it for yourself. Disable your swap file, and use your system as you normally would for a few weeks. If everything works as before, then you know it's perfectly alright.

bwexler
bwexler

Under performance options it says "Total paging file size for all drives 0." Windows Task Manager reports PF Usage 1.00 GB. Why is the PF not 0? I am running Win XP X64 SP 2 with 4 GB RAM AMD Phenom II X4 920

GSystems
GSystems

I read this comment and wanted to just let it go, but your advice is horrid. If it is presumed that there is a slow hard drive to begin with, then it is also safe to presume that there isn't much RAM in the machine. I'm unsure that anyone would have a 5400RPM drive in a desktop yet have 2-3GB of RAM (which is the only safe level of RAM to do away with a Swap file, in my opinion). What keeps RAM from being exhausted is the swap file...it's an extension of RAM--the theoretical HDD portion of a hybrid SSD-HDD drive of today. I'm ranting... Getting back, how practical is it to run "one application at a time" for anyone with an internet connection? If antivirus--a firewall--counts as one application, then the user will not experience the internet (since that's another application--the browser). All of these tweaks are tweaks that I've used throughout my time supporting Windows XP machines... They work. If you could explain how disabling virtual memory improves program start-time to such an extent that it would warrant running one program at a time (which would effectively unload the prefetching data from RAM since the RAM would be focused on one program at a time given it's apparently small size), I would be enlightened. The only exception to this is if the Windows kernel is forced into RAM, but that wouldn't necessarily improve program launch time so dramatically as to warrant sacrificing that level of productivity (i.e. running one app at a time). If anyone is reading this who would like to learn how to improve their XP-based machine, please do not follow this advice, since this will cripple your system. Or, at best, make your system unusable by following this iOS ideal of one application at a time...

Mr. Fix
Mr. Fix

Since you mentioned it, the version I'm currently using happens to be enterprise level and, no, it doesn't permit manual configuration of the MFT. To my knowledge, Diskeeper 10 (introduced some 8 years ago) was the last version that had that feature, which I really miss. Having said that, I've kept the installation file for that version (a full-featured 30-day trial version) and still install it on XP configurations that it was never previously installed on, expressly to configure the MFT.

Slayer_
Slayer_

I am glad this worked for you.

seanferd
seanferd

when you install Windows. Just like redirecting whole user profiles. That way, all apps know where to look, as they are installed into that environment. Of course, some apps may be hard-coded to look for directories in a certain place. Old apps, and poorly written apps are among these.

Slayer_
Slayer_

if two people visit google, why keep 2 copies of google? if two people ran office, why keep the temp files for both? Windows, especially XP, doesn't allow two active sessions at once. It might be possible to have a conflict with fast user switching enabled and having more than one logged in user at a time logged in and using the system, but otherwise, it should be fairly safe I would think.

wild__bill
wild__bill

tell us how to set the environment values to take advantage of this idea for temporary internet cache files in Firefox

Slayer_
Slayer_

For internet explorer, this is Tools/options. In the browsing history section, click Settings. Then click Move Folder. And move it somewhere outside of your documents and settings folder. I usually put it off the root of C. "C:\Temporary internet Files\"

mckinnej
mckinnej

Here's the quick HOW-TO. Right click My Computer, select Properties. Select the Advanced tab. Click the Environmental Variables button. At the top you will see a block with User variables. TEMP and TMP are assigned to the user's Docs and Settings folder by default. Select the one you want and click the Edit button. You can then set the path to anywhere you want. (I recommend a RAM disk as I describe in another reply on this topic.)

Paymeister
Paymeister

...you're thrilled to have something as NEW as XP (my previous computer came from the dump and used 98SE, and my wife's is running on 2000). Thanks for the help.

marquis
marquis

agree. I am a retired (that means tired, again!) tech, with a few holes in my bit bucket, and tips like these on the older systems helps keep my XP running somewhat smoother. I am still with XP because I tried Vista, and hated it. Tossed it out the window, and went back to something that worked, and well. So keep up the good work, and keep posting.

j-mccurdy
j-mccurdy

I think you may have just answered my question, that I posted on this thread a few minutes ago

GSystems
GSystems

...and this is why I prefer TechRepublic over ZDNet--although they're in the same family. Very thorough. You covered everything in this. The key component in this is to have enough RAM. In a scenario with an inferior machine, don't waste your time...you need that Virtual Memory... Otherwise...sure... The flip-side is that if you have enough RAM anyway, and your Swap file isn't needed by the system, then your "performance increase" will be null, since the swap-file wasn't being utilized anyway. If anything, your swap-file is the "back-up" if a program is poorly written and requests more RAM than you have available... In the end, I recommend keeping it. If anything, place it on another HDD (separate of your System Disk) so that it can be accessed as if it were actual RAM...

seanferd
seanferd

If you didn't, do so now. If you did, well, Windows will report whatever it wants to. If you don't see a pagefile.sys, it isn't there. But be careful running with no pagefile - it may not work the way you want it to.

j-mccurdy
j-mccurdy

If you have a system with 4 gigs of ram, and never run out of ram, does the swap file ever get used? It seems to me like, if you don't ever run out of memory, the virtual memory would have no effect, because it isn't needed and shouldn't even be used. I use windows 7 64 bit now, but I still work on some XP systems. Also how much of the rules on virtual memory apply to both Windows 7 and XP? One more thing, I totally agree with you regarding swap file removal. I couldn't believe that guy said that. The people who read and believe that awful advice, are the are probably the people who don't have enough ram to get away with deleting their page file, and they would end up having to run only one program at a time, just to keep from crashing their system. hopefully any noobs who read that guys horrid advice, will also read yours before deleting their page file.

willferg
willferg

I bought a high speed SD card and put it in my notebook computer. Then moved the paging file over to it. Saw an improvement in speed, not tremendous but still an improvement.

Slayer_
Slayer_

I find often in business environments, you tend to need to leave installations fairly stock if you are running industry specific software.

phil
phil

Thats pretty much what I thought was the case. I expect re-installing problem apps would fix them to work with the new temp file locations in most cases. Im always a bit careful with system variables and similar registry edits as they can pop up unpredicable results. As for the tweak, clearing out the temp files from the directories does seem to make a difference and is a common thing we do with all servicing. The record we've seen is 20GB of temp files. Cue defrag after getting rid of those.

Who Am I Really
Who Am I Really

it would have to be moved to another permanent storage solution, ie. another HDD or partition placing it in a location such as a RAMDrive that disappears at shutdown / restart will only be frustrating, as you'll have to reconfigure all Firefox Options, About:Config customizations, and reinstall add-ons etc. the first time Firefox is used after every boot, as all those settings as well as the temporary crap are stored in the profile folder. you could possibly trick it into being located on another HDD with an NTFS Junction Point, by following the instructions from Mozilla for: "Moving your profile folder" here: http://kb.mozillazine.org/Moving_your_profile_folder I've never been bothered to try as I customize my Firefox experience to not store anything but settings, all cookies, history etc. vanish every time I close Firefox My profile 8MB in size and never grows

Slayer_
Slayer_

got a guide you can post here for moving the firefox temporary internet folder?

Who Am I Really
Who Am I Really

uses its own profiles location for its temporary crap XP C:\Documents and Settings\User Name\Local Settings\Application Data\Mozilla\Firefox\Profiles\ the only way to keep that clean is to set: - history to 0 days - cache to 1 MB - allow cookies "until I close Firefox" - clear history when firefox exits and in the setting specify to delete everything by checking all the options etc. there's more specific configurations related to history available only in about:config and not through the regular options dialogs

Slayer_
Slayer_

Temporary Internet Files

SkyWlf77
SkyWlf77

Hi there... While I appreciate your instructions, I do not use Internet Explorer and I cannot find the same information located in Firefox 3.5.10. Can anyone point me in the direction of this information for Firefox? Thanks! Jason

SkyWlf77
SkyWlf77

Awesome information. Thank you very much for that! I have taken the above steps and look forward to a smoother login. -Jason

Mr. Fix
Mr. Fix

How could you read my submission and miss the whole point? Sorry that I even mentioned that FreeRAM XP Pro's primary use is to mitigate memory leakage. That wasn't it. FOR THOSE WHO MISSED IT, my point was simply that, if you have no other means of monitoring system performance, FreeRAM XP Pro can serve the purpose. Now, if you don't want it to do anything else, fine, just disable whatever features you don't need. But if you're just going to mess around with your computer with no intention of returning to this forum with quantifiable results, simply ignore the suggestion, it didn't apply to you.

gechurch
gechurch

+1 to that comment. I always find it funny when, as a solution to a lack of RAM, people recommend running an additional program to help! You are dead right about the footprint issue. Just to expand a little about what you said with the way Microsoft designs their memory algorithms... memory is there to be used o speed up your PC. In order for that to happen, that memory has to actually be used. So having a large amount of unused memory is a waste. With Vista, Microsoft changed their algorithms a lot to ensure it was making use of the larger amount of RAM PCs were coming with. They started using more RAM for cache's, and keeping that cached data in RAM longer (if the RAM was available to do so), so if the data was requested again it was already there. If you use a RAM-freeing program, you are working against these changes. The RAM-freeing programs will clear out these caches, giving you a larger amount of free RAM. Then, if you need a page of RAM again the PC will have to go and fetch it again, instead of serving that request direct from physical RAM. Wonderful! Not only do I have one more program using my RAM, but it actively goes through my RAM and removes things that may be needed, slowing subsequent requests significantly!

GSystems
GSystems

When I was in Iraq (six years ago), a good friend of mine introduced me to this program. As a young computer hobbyist, this seemed like a great program... Freed up RAM means I can now focus on more things! However, these programs are all for show. The way Microsoft designs their memory algorithms--it's not that cut and dry. If it feels good to see a numerical value of unused RAM, then, by all means: go for it. One would see more immediate gratification by taking a spin through their System Configuration panel and limiting start-up items to say Antivirus, Firewall, and...well, that should be all, really... disabling everything would bring you the greatest amount of overall free RAM, but who wants to manually start a program that MUST run--like a firewall or anti-virus? In closing, programs that claim to free up RAM are still programs. Thus, they are a footprint in your RAM. In addition, treating the symptoms (freeing up RAM) is not the same as stopping needless programs from starting...

GSystems
GSystems

Thanks, ge... Clarity--once and for all... This, my friends, is called "Good Advice"...

Mr. Fix
Mr. Fix

If anyone is actually interested in monitoring pagefile (virtual memory) usage, CPU activity, and load levels against any of the suggestions being posted in this discussion, some of which appear to be quite useful but others highly questionable, I can suggest FreeRAM XP Pro, available as a free download.

gechurch
gechurch

If you have bootloads of RAM, the swap file still gets used before yuo use up all your physical RAM. In a multitasking OS like Windows XP, processes (programs) believe they have a full 4GB of RAM to play with (regardless of how much physical RAM is in the machine). In reality, Windows is keeping tabs on how much RAM the process is asking for and how much it is using. A program may request huge areas of memory but not use them, or not access them for long periods of time. If Windows just blindly allocated all these memory requests from physical RAM, you would run out extremely quickly. Instead, Windows lets the process think it has all it's allocations filled by physical RAM, but it makes decisions based on usage about what to allocate from physical RAM, and what to allocate from swap file. If a page of memory is swapped out, then the process uses it again, Windows faults that page back into physical RAM then processes the instruction. This is all blind to the process - it believes it has exclusive access to all the physical RAM. It's quite common for programs to request large chunks of memory and not use it (often programs at startup think "I may need lots of RAM - I'll request it all now"). If Windows didn't do the above, a single executable could exhaust your entire 4GB of physical RAM when it loads. It doesn't even need to touch those pages it requests! That's why it's terrible, horrible advice to suggest disabling the swap file. Running a very minor workload that may only need a few hundred megs of physical RAM could take up 4gigs very easily if they were poorly (or maliciously) written. Subsequent memory requests from any process would then fail brining your machine to a halt. I think things have changed a fair bit between XP and Win Vista/7, but can't remember the details. Look up Mark Russinovich. He has several videos on technet/channel9. I'm sure one of them discusses this stuff in extreme details (or maybe it was Dave Solomon).

GSystems
GSystems

I bet you did! Wow...that's thoughtful. I'll think about doing that when I purchase a laptop. In my desktops (minus the one I am using now), I normally move the paging file to its own partition within the first sectors of the secondary drive... It always improves performance...