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Windows XP Pro Memory usage

By marke ·
I have just upgraded the memory on my notebook from 512 to 1GB to improve performance but it has made no difference. I have done all the normal stuff... defrag, disable paging executive, enabled LargeSystemCache and cleaned prefetch. It appears that there is a lot of free memory and the pagefile is being utilised.

How can I force applications to remain in memory and only page if necessary as this must surely improve performance?

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Look for additional tools

by CfK In reply to Windows XP Pro Memory usa ...

There are a number of add-on tools from various vendors that force NT/XP to use RAM in various ways, and decrease load on the disk.
NT/XP will always use available Swap-file for storing various system and application files temporarily, even if there is plenty of physical RAM to do so. Some tools can tweak NT/XP to make it use RAM more than the Swap-file, but these only achieve marginal improvement.
Others effectively load some or all the Swap-file into RAM, which can result in a boost in performance.
That all said I don't know from your post what you are actually running, and whether that is hogging CPU rather than RAM. Additionally what is the performance of your Hard Disk as this can be a bottleneck as well if there is a lot of activity.
Back to you...

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Looking for additional tools

by marke In reply to Look for additional tools

CfK, Thanks for the input. I have tried various tooks without an obvious improvement. Most tools look to free up RAM, not utilise more...
I have tried removing the swap file completely and there was some improvement... the problem is that at some stage when editing pictures the machine slowed dramatically so I enabled a Swap file and things improved again.
I am not running anything out of the ordinary - the majority of my workload in MS Office based.
I have looked at CPU and RAM usage and it appears that RAM usage is well below 50% and CPU is only sporadically busy and yet it can take a long time to open Office apps....
Disk activity is low and is defrag'ed daily..

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new letter about this

by glyall In reply to Windows XP Pro Memory usa ...

a few months ago in a news letter it had a registry change for machines that had over 512 MB install. It stopped the virtual memory swap or slowed it down.

I have lost the news letter so I can not tell you what the registry change was. I did at that time to my PC and can not remember what the change is.

I hope somebody out there remembers it
I would like to use it again

please help

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Try these

by CfK In reply to new letter about this

There are 3 tweaks you can make to change how XP uses memory.
Open Regedit and Find HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\Session Manager\Memory Management\

Disable Paging Executive:
XP pages data from RAM memory to the hard drive. We can stop this happening and keep more data in RAM, resulting in better performance. Users with a large amount of RAM (256MB+) should use this setting. The setting we change to disable the ?Paging Executive?, is DisablePagingExecutive. Changing the value of this key from 0 to 1 will de-activate memory paging.

System Cache Boost:
Changing the value of the key LargeSystemCache from 0 to 1 will tell XP to allocate all but 4MB of system memory to the file system cache, allowing the XP Kernel to run in memory. The 4MB of memory left is used for disk caching, if more is needed, XP allocates more. Generally, this tweak improves performance by a fair bit but can, in some intensive applications, degrade performance. As with the previous tweak, you should have at least 256MB of RAM before attempting to enable LargeSystemCache.

Input/Output Performance:
This improves performance of large file transfers. If this entry does not appear in the registry, you will have to create a REG_DWORD value called IoPageLockLimit. The data for this value is in number of bytes, and defaults to Zero which equates to 512KB on machines that have the value. Most people using this tweak have found maximum performance in the 8 to 16 megabyte range, so you will have to play around with the value to find the best performance. The value is measured in bytes, so if you want, 12MB allocated, it?s 12 * 1024 * 1024, or 12582**2. As with all these memory tweaks, you should only use this if you have 256MB or more of RAM.

Use your hard drive less for Virtual Memory:
The Windows 98/ME "ConservativeSwapfileUsage=1" optimization does not work for XP.

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More memory may not improve performance in this case

by In reply to Windows XP Pro Memory usa ...

Hello Mark,

Additional memory will improve the performance of your computer only if it helps reduce virtual memory paging. 512MB is a lot of memory. Unless you are running many applications all at once, the additional 512MB totalling 1GB may not reduce virtual memory paging because your system may have already had minimal paging.

Notebook computers:

- Often have slower hard drives. 4200 RPM is common - very slow. 5400 RPM is becoming more common, still slow. 7200 RPM is the desktop standard but is rare on notebooks. Also, the recording density is often low resulting in slow transfer after the head moves to the correct track.

- Often have smaller L2 cache than desktops. This reduces RAM performance vs. a desktop and there is nothing you can do about that.

- Often have slower processors vs. a desktop. Nothing you can do about that either.

To see how much real RAM is available at a given point in time: Use the Windows Task Manager (taskmgr.exe). Go to the "Performance" tab. At the bottom, review the "Physical Memory" box. This box will show your real RAM usage: Total, Available, and System Cache usage. If "Available" is low, then more real RAM may improve performance. I suspect that in your case "Available" is in the hundreds of megabytes and your computer is not paging too much.

You might be able to improve your existing notebook's performance by replacing the hard drive with the fastest one you can find. I use a Hitachi/IBM 7200 RPM 60 GB drive and it is much faster than any notebook hard drive I have ever used.

Good luck!

-----Steve Jackson

Software Corporation (Softcorp)

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Please provide these details about your PC

by In reply to Windows XP Pro Memory usa ...


Please provide some more details about your hardware:

- CPU: model, speed, L1 cache, L2 cache

- System bus speed (e.g. 100 MHz, 133MHz, 266MHz, 400MHz, etc.)

- Memory: Type (Fast DRAM, DDR), speed (e.g. PC100, PC133, PC2100 DDR, PC2700 DDR, etc.)

- Disk drive: RPM, recording density. make, model. You may be able to determine make/model via Device Manager. Note: A fast hard drive has a fast spin rate (at least 7200 RPM), high recording density (bits per inch), and fast head seek (typically universally fast these days).

This additional info will help determine how/if you can further improve performance.

-----Steve Jackson

Software Corporation (Softcorp)

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Places to Find and Check your PC

by rodneyjohnson2005 In reply to Please provide these deta ...

Just a couple of places that can check your pc, one of them is Belarc Advisor- pc audits in your web browser. An excellent tool that shows every thing on your computer, hardware and software and checks to see if its installed properly. You can also look up, say a drive serial number and you tell you the manafactor when it was made, the size. say you removed a programme it will show you if files that still exist and thier files folders. It shows you bus clock, primary cache and secodary cache ect.
the second is pc pit stop it measure your system against other comparable systems so you know where you stand. my older computer has a 5400 rpm drive it fails compared to other systems, but all the pieces are above the average, the ram installed on it is 1.5 gigs of ddr sampson 3 slots of 512, 1.7 amd althon xp processor the processor is over clocked to 2.09mhz giving 2800+ its a notebook chip running at 82f to 86f ram is in dual channel, but the hard dive is bottle necking the whole system, changing the processor speed made a seeable difference, but the ram will never reach its potential, sure thier are little tools of creating virtural memeory to compensate for a weak drive for the money a new dive is cheap 120 gig 7400 for about a hundred dollars, but not so for note books they are really pricy, if it were me I would sell my old one, put it towards the new notebook, unless you can get a good deal on a new harddrive, or used one. A descent drive is about 60 gigs minium, costing from $400 to $500 + the ram you just purchased = towards a new note book. after you've upgraded your notebook how much return are you going to get and the life expectentcy of the unit, what new applications will you need to use to upgrade. If its a high end unit it may be worth your while. It has a high upgradable feature and resaleable desire. Speaking in cnd dollars lol. I hope the web sites help.

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Mark, Are you still in your discussion?

by In reply to Please provide these deta ...

Are you still in your discussion?

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3 Step Tune Up

by smallbiz-techwiz In reply to Windows XP Pro Memory usa ...

For optimum performance, I take a 3 step approach.

#1, Clean up - remove any programs not needed. Check to see what is being loaded by the registry on startup. Scan for Spyware of all kinds.

#2, Tune-up - After clean up, defrag the drive and registry (PCTune-up is a good tool for this).

#3, Secure - Disable Windows services that load by default, but most of us don't need. has an Autoruns tool that is good for a final scan to see what is still running that may still be bogging you down.

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