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MEMORY

Memory quantity, and quality, are important for speed.

However, freely available memory is what really counts.


Getting the most from current RAM is very important and is quite easy to apply.

Many Home systems are struggling even though they have sufficient RAM for their regular needs. Those will show a very dramatic speed improvement.

Other systems will show a more moderate, but worthwhile, speed boost.


Also read System resourcees - but remember that's a seperate issue!

MEMORY

This section contains memory-saving Tips most of which are appropriate to all users irrespective of how much main memory they currently have.

Computing is carried out by the very fast CPU, the powerhouse of the computer. It relies on being fed data information, in the first place, by the L1 Cache (Internal Cache) which is equally fast but very small. If the required data is not available there, the CPU looks in the L2 Cache ('External' Cache) which will be larger but somewhat slower,

And if the required data has not yet been found, the CPU looks in main memory, the physical RAM installed in memory modules on the Motherboard. RAM is only moderately fast but is relatively huge in size. A large number of items will be in RAM, items such as Resources, VCache, FAT, and many others including the programming data information. The CPU relies heavily on RAM.

Finally, data will be looked for on the very slow Hard Disk - hopefully only when you startup a piece of software. Excessive searching there will really slow the system to a crawl.

A slow system often results from memory shortage. Modern software and Win9x itself are huge memory hogs, and Win9x can act independently to enhance its own performance to the detriment of your home usage. You can limit Win9x's use of that RAM.

The addition of extra memory will always improve performance in any Win9x system, the greater improvement being in systems with a geniune shortage of this important item. It's normally the single most important upgrade you can get. Alternatively, you can/should/must make more free memory available for your own software - to meet the needs of that very fast CPU.

TEST 1

The home PC itself has very high performance needs and an adequate quantity of usable memory is vital for smooth operation. Piece by piece upgrading is not quite the attractive option of the past. Systems are doubling in performance every 18 months, and software producers are utilising these systems to their maximum.

However throwing more, and yet more, memory at a system is not always an appropriate answer to this problem. Fortunately there is a practical answer and this is supplied at this Site. Basically you need to ensure your existing memory is used to maximum benefit.

First discover if you really do need more memory:
It is likely you will know this yourself. For instance you may head your hard disk drive working a lot instead of just occasionally. Or perhaps the entire system seems to slow down when running a program or more than one program.

You can try to check on your own situation via these three:

1. First Defragment the disk and run programs

Fragmentation of the hard disk has a detrimental effect on the system's performance - up to 25% in very severe cases. You need to defragment in case fragmentation is the cause of slowing. See Fragmentation (Hard Disk).

See also: Optimize Virtual Memory (Hard Disk)

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TEST 2

2. Now check memory requirements

Your own personal experience is probably the best guide - you can tell if your Hard Disk sounds like it is trying to trash itself to death, due to excessive use of Virtual Memory (the Swapfile). You can ignore the Hard Disk sounds when a program is loading into memory - this is perfectly normal.
Open and Run all your regular programs. If you hear the disk being used regularly while the programs are in use, then it is very likely you do not have enough memory for comfort.

A variety of software utilities are available to help you check this.
Windows' own System Monitor will show you details of Swapfile in use and Swapfile size. To run this, click Start / Run. Type in sysmon.exe and press Enter. Under Edit you can select a large variety of items to monitor.

An excellent overall system diagnostic is Sandra 98 (freeware; 2.2Mb zip file)

Use the utility when running your regular programs. Be content if the requirements are somewhat greater than your current memory. Remember the aim is usability, not perfection. Virtual Memory can be allowed to cater for a moderate amount of your needs. Allow for memory usage by the utility (and your modem link).

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TEST 3

3. Then check system's speed

Is your system's speed comparable with similar systems? If not, it may be because of a free memory shortage.

•   Comparison can be fraught with difficulties e.g. do you both have the same video card? - this can make a huge difference. Comparison is futile unless the hardware is identical.
•   However this in itself can show up which hardware component in your own system is a weak link in the speed stakes!
•   A large variety of free benchmark utilities are available, such as:

Wintune98   (freeware, 998KB zip file)
WinBench97   (freeware, 3.989MB zip file)
MDB95

Note: Pauses that occur without increased Hard Disk activity are usually due to an underpowered CPU - adding more memory, or freeing-up more memory, would not be much help.

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RAM USAGE

Maximize memory usage if there is a memory shortage (and even if there is not). You may actually have sufficient memory for your regular tasks.

You need to free-up more usable RAM. Often it is how you use it, rather than how much you have. Are unused programs using precious memory? Are some. unnecessarily, running in the background? Is Windows hogging too much memory?

Simply make greater use of what you already have - avoid needless wastage. The speed of software will often depend on the amount of free memory available to it at that time. Lets make more available.

It is all about how you let programs (including Windows 98, SE, ME, 95) use, or abuse, that precious RAM - about how, and especially when, to use many items of software.

The suggestions in the following Pages are good practices for all users including those who appear to have sufficient memory.

There are three main areas of memory usage that you should concentrate on, initially:
1. Startup Programs (in this section)
2. VCache Settings (in this section)
3. Virtual Memory (in Hard Disks)

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NOT HAPPY?

If the Tweaks in the following pages do not sort out your problem, then its time to give up! GET MORE MEMORY. And, if the system is to be retained for some time, get a single, and as large a, memory module as you can afford or your motherboard will accept. If your motherboard will accept SDRAM then get that - it is some 10-20% faster than EDO RAM, and is nearly the same price.

More RAM will a very definite improvement in all areas of usage. Changing from 8MB to 16MB (the minimum for Win95) gives a 25-30% increase in overall speed. Upgrading from 16MB to 32KB will give a very considerable boost to any Win95/98 system. 64MB is now considered the optimum for Win98 when used with modern software - if you utilize your memory correctly then 32MB is often adequate. The greatest gain will be with higher powered CPUs.

A shortage of available RAM causes the biggest delays in the widest variety of computing tasks. If you've got less than 32MB on a Win95 or less than 64MB on a Win98/SE/ME machine and you're running browsers and other software released since January 1997, you need more physical RAM or you must make more usable RAM become available.

A PC without sufficient usable RAM is nearly 'brain dead'.

However, RAM used efficiently can be as good as more RAM used inefficiently.

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Please remember that you alone are responsible for the consequences of any changes you make to your computer hardware or software.

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