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Increased Page Buffers can give a boost

Use MaxPhysPage to limit the memory (RAM) recognized by Windows

Maybe you do not need a full CD-ROM cache

Fonts are nice, but how many?

Speed utilities

Use old and smaller software if you can

Windows grows and slows

PAGE BUFFERS       Advanced Users

Increase Page Buffers

Increasing these 4K buffers can result in substantial gains in hard disk access times. The buffers store frequently repeated data in RAM (faster) so the hard disk (slower) is accessed less frequently. Users report a 5-30% improvement. Use only in conjunction with a permanent Swapfile and 32-bit disk access.

This affects all I/O (Input/Output) DMA operations e.g. hard disk buffered reads and writes, sound card FM/wavetable MIDI playback and recording,

Use Notepad to view C:\Windows\system.ini.
locate the [386Enh] section, and change (or edit in)

You can use values of 4, 8, 16, 32. The default is 4 which represents 4 x 4KB

Backup system.ini first


Limiting the amount of RAM Windows will recognize

Windows may not start if your computer has 1GB RAM or more memory installed. Also you may receive the following error message when you try to start your computer: Insufficient memory to initialize Windows. This applies to Win95/98/SE/ME.

The main cause seems to be Windows' inability to manage large quantities of RAM.

The cure, according to Microsoft, is to artificially limit the quantity of accessed RAM to 768MB. Read Error Message: Insufficient Memory to Initialize Windows at the Microsoft site.

  1. Quit one or more memory-resident programs or remove unnecessary utilities from your CONFIG.SYS and AUTOEXEC.BAT files, and restart your computer.
  2. If the problem occurs during Windows Setup, or its first run, add the following line in the [386Enh] section of C:\Windows\System.ini (System.ini can be edited from a DOS Prompt when Setup has completed copying files).
    This limits the physical RAM that Windows can access to 768MB. Setup should now continue normally.

    You may be able to use more 'Windows' RAM than Microsoft recommends. You can try =3C000 to limit it to 960MB, or =38000 for 896MB, or =34000 for 832MB.

    Some users report similar problems with 512MB RAM and the problems being solved by reducing recognized RAM to 128MB. However, it's not clear whether or not they have faulty RAM.

    Visit Microsoft's page here for a full list of MaxPhysPage hexadecimal values.
Remember: THPC suggests you should also limit VCache to 512MB - read VCACHE & Win98, SE, ME

CD-ROM Caches      All Users

CDROM cache

If you do not use your CD-ROM drive very often, then reduce the CD-ROM Supplementary cache size.

Right-click My Computer and select Performance • File System • CD ROM tab.

The minimum is just 64KB, the maximum is a massive 1,238KB. Set the slider at half-way (if not at the minimum).

If however you do need the fastest possible CD ROM access, then you may wish to set this to the maximum!
( see also More Tips, Part I )

FONTS        All Users

Spurious Fonts

Do you have many Fonts in the Windows • Fonts folder? Scores? Hundreds? After a period of time we all accumulate a huge number of Fonts, many of which are no longer needed (and many that never were!).

Windows loads them into memory when your system starts. This is needless memory wastage. Remove the extraneous fonts that Windows, Office, WordPerfect, and others install and which you never use. Just back them up first.
• Create a new directory (Fontbkup) in _:\Windows\
• Copy unused fonts from _:\Windows • Fonts to Fontbkup
• Now Delete the originals from Windows • Fonts
Retain Fonts which Windows/Office uses - these are Arial, Courier, Marlett, Times New Roman, Verdana, Symbol, and Wingdings.

Note: If you happen to remove a Font that one of your programs needs, you can easily re-install it by Copying from your backup directory and pasting into c:\windows\fonts.

UTILITY         All Users

Use Utility to free more Memory

You may find it useful to use a third party utility to free more usable memory under Windows 95/98. These move the least used Windows 95/98 components from memory into Virtual Memory, thereby freeing more usable memory for your own programs (often alleviating the need for a reboot).

This site has little experience with such utilities, except MemMax.

FreeMem Standard
This is highly recommended by many reliable Web sites and home users.
FreeMem Standard (freeware; v 4.1; 449KB) - was "FreeMemTool"

Its primarily use is to free-up some main memory. Also, its a Vcache tuner: easy to set MaxFileCache, MinFileCache, and ChunkSize (though you must enter your own numbers).
MemMax (freeware, 476KB)       MemMax Home Site


Huge speed gain

This will give a huge gain in performance.

Return to earlier versions of the major programs - remove IE 4.x and use Windows 95 without it - use Office 95 instead of Office97 - use Opera instead of Netscape 4.x - and so on.

In a very short period of time you will get used to the reduced functionality, and enjoy the astoundingly improved responsiveness.


Reinstall and slim down

Reinstall Windows 95/98 every 6-12 months. Windows 95/98 grows and slows when left to its own devices - slim it down regularly. This unfortunate truth is particularly valid for the Home computer because of increased software throughput.

Uninstall Windows 95/98 and Office and reinstall it with custom installation. Install only those items you consider essential. Backup all important files first. Re-install all 32 bit programs (and some 16 bit) plus all bug-fixes and updates. This is not usually a practical option for many of us as the long term gain is ambiguous, and we may soon be back to where we were.

Many Home users routinely reinstall every six months, preceded by a Formating of the Windows drive. They then run a brand new and clean Windows 95/98 system - for a while, anyway. They have a tidier, cleaner, neater, roomier, and faster and safer computer.

NOT HAPPY? Its time to act! [1]

Still not happy?

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.

You will have a very definite improvement in system performance in all areas of usage, though not as large as you possibly expect, or desire, for your money. Changing from 8MB (far too little for Windows 95/98) to 16MB (the minimum) gives a 25-30% increase in overall speed. Upgrading from 16MB to 32KB will give a considerable boost to a Windows95/98 system especially if using a 4.x browser.

Many users now consider 64MB of RAM to be the optimum for Windows 98 when used with modern software - if you utilize your memory correctly then 32MB is usually adequate.

The greatest improvement usually shows when the CPU is of high frequency, though less powerful CPU system also gain substantially.


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 Windows 95/98 machine and you're running browsers and other software released since January 1997, you probably need more RAM. A simple memory upgrade will give you a greater boost than a simple CPU or video card upgrade - and at less cost! Just do not expect miracles.

Nevertheless you must remember memory is just one of the important ingredients in your PC. If you feel you will soon need to also upgrade the Video Card and/or the Hard Disk and/or the Motherboard and/or the CPU, then you may wish to restrict yourself to the Tips, as you would be better advised to wait and buy a new system at a later date.

If you do get more main memory, you should still ensure optimal usage.

A PC with insufficient usable memory is nearly 'brain dead'. However, memory used efficiently is usually as good as more used inefficiently.


Maximum cacheable memory

When deciding on a main memory upgrade you need to consider your motherboard's cache size- this dictates the amount of memory your motherboard can cache.

Many motherboard have only 256K of cache memory installed. This is sufficient to cache 16MB of main memory. If you add more main memory you may not achieve the performance boost you would expect. In theory, speed may deteriorate because the additional memory will not be cached, though this is of less significance if short of memory. Check in your manual and consult your computer supplier and/or motherboard manufacturer.

A cache size of at least 512K is necessary to efficiently use 32MB of main memory.

Also involved is the motherboard's maximum cachable size. Many motherboard chipsets cannot cache more than 64MB of memory. Using uncached main memory may cause some slowing, so check it out before you make your purchase - again insignificance if short of memory.

Finally please make sure your motherboard will accept the memory type you desire e.g. FPM, EDO, BEDO, SDRAM, SDRAMII, RDRAM, etc

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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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