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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Sorry for the stupid subject line....it's almost 4am over here and yours truly is getting sleepy...

While playing around in Windows XP trying to maximize available ram on an old Celeron PC with only 256MB of ram I started wondering. My regular PC is a Dell Inspiron 9100 w/ 1GB of ram...yet when windows starts up Cacheman reports only 700-750 free. I'm amazed how much ram windows can actually eat through when it just loaded up.

So....how much does windows eat stright up...Let's say it's a Pc with a clean install of WinXP and no other programs have been installed yet

Thanks in advance!! :)
 

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As XP is very similiar to 2k I would say ~100 MB of RAM with Kernel cached
to disk only needed drivers installed. Without caching Kernel to disk it easy goes up go 200 MB if you
have some services running in background like ftp/http/DNS server/...

If you have only little RAM (and 256 MB is very little) you should play around
with the size of the paging file to get best results.
 

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The Hunter
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First thought: No windows can only suck :p

All I know is that windows XP can be pretty slow when there's alot running on the background and you have only 256 megs of ram. Even on an AMD AthlonXP 2600+
However when doing a clean install there's not that much of a difference between 512 and 256 megs. You will really start to notice it with multitasking when there are things on the background like anti virus software, spysweeper, msn, whatpulse.
 

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The lowest size I could get for Winxp so far was around 67 megs, but I got that result from the task manager so its probably not accurate. This is on a Celeron 400 with 192mb RAM, integrated video & audio.
 

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as said windows can use about 100mb on a fresh install, my P4 took up 96mb on a fresh windows install, but it can depend highly on what drivers you have on. these days drivers seem to be becomming bloatware and can use up around 20mb or more which is quite high, so with all your drivers installed and a fresh xp you could be looking at about 150-200mb used just starting up.

a few of ways to keep it down.

1. Stop all services from starting up that you dont use or wont need, you can find some guides around the net.
2. Keep your fonts directory clean of crap fonts windows doesnt use and what you dont use. On startup all your fonts are loaded into memory, i removed about 50 fonts and gained about 20-30mb in free memory.
3. Stop stupid and pointless programs from starting up with windows, for example,
-quickstarts which arent actually any quicker, programs run fine without these.
-Useless background programs and tray icons for drivers, these can suck up space, even tho they are small programs they can load a few dll files which do start taking up a fair bit of memory.

and most of all, keep your system spyware and adware free!
 

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You will really start to notice it with multitasking when there are things on the background like anti virus software, spysweeper, msn, whatpulse.
The guilty one here is virus software and antispyware, I recommend scanning downloaded files manuel and scheduled runs of antispyware instead of persistant background service, use firefox and if you use IE configure it not to start any
ActiveX without asking you.
If you use a later soundblaster card you could use alternative drivers to keep
memory usage low (but keep in mind you will lose some features like EAX).
Win2k runs pretty fine with 512 MB and multitask as long as no application
need more RAM as you have physikally build in because if it needs to read
out of paging file it brakes a lot.
But I heard from some friends that they had the same problem even with 1 GB
Ram that multitasking under XP was slow as hell, perhaps an version issue
do you use home or professional?
 

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Well... the minimum RAM for WinXP is 64M - I found that out when I tried installing it when it first came out on an old laptop with 48M RAM. Came back with a message stating that it would not attempt to install until I slapped 64M in there.

That being said, it does run like a dog with 128M, probably not much better with 256M. Seems to run fine at 512M+.

How can it use more than 64M if that's its minimum req? Easy - it swaps the crap out of your hard drive.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
I see. Well, since my roughest usage scenario brings free ram down to 400+, I don't need to worry about this. My page file usage is below 15 MB and I clean up my PC from time to time. I wonder why a casual to semi-hardcore PC user would install more than 1Gb of ram. I've seen usser reviews on 14" "laptops" with 1.5-2GB of ram.

Traxxx, I use Pro. I did notice the slow down associated with page file usuage but only once and it was a special case. Strangely enough, it was when applying the patch for the Microsoft game Dungeon Siege. I tried it once and got the same result. Basically, it ate up all my ram and resorted to nearly 200mb of paging which slowed the PC down to a crawl. I have no idea why it did this and everything returned to normal after it was done. The funny part is that the game itself is very undemanding of a pc so go figure ;)
 

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Use nLite, it can really minimize the ram usage.
Minimizing ram usage means caching more to disk. If you have only less
memory build in more important things will get cached with such tools,
resulting in having heavy disc usage and slowing down everything.

One thing that might help is get a good defrag tool and check if your
mft and your paging file isn´t fragmented badly. And best is to set
your min and max size of paging file to a fixed value e.g. 1024MB min and max
because then there will be no resize (resizing the paging file slows down a
lot).

I wonder why a casual to semi-hardcore PC user would install more than 1Gb of ram.
Casual gamers won´t need much more (at the moment ;)) but if you
have many services running you´ll need it (or if you do a lot of 3d rendering,
videoediting, etc etc). My avg mem usage is ~600 MB when no game is
opened ;)


My page file usage is below 15 MB and I clean up my PC from time to time
Clean up is a good thing, as for the page file size see my comment above.
BTW there are games that need a minimum size of page file to start
(don´t ask me why). If you set your page file size to phys. build in RAM or
twice it´s size it should run fine, as WinXP is slight worser in caching than
2k I would not worry configuring such "huge" page files as both OSes
can handle cache very well and really do only cach the things out of
your RAM that are not always used. Too small page files result in
speed decrease because it always tries to cache out unused things
of your page file and if the page file is too small it buffers some data
back to memory and so on and so on so you will get a lot more of buffer
accesses.
If you want to know more why misconfigured page files will break down
your system performance you can search infos about timings of L2 Cache,
Memory and HDD timings and how they work together, you´ll see how
caching too often will break down a lot of your CPU power.

For the guys with 1 GB and more RAM you should try disabling caching
Kernel to disc, this will not increase game performance or such things
but applications will start faster ;)

I Hope you´ll manage a way to get your system to a clean fast multitask
switching ;)
 

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Minimizing ram usage means caching more to disk. If you have only less
memory build in more important things will get cached with such tools,
resulting in having heavy disc usage and slowing down everything.
What are you talking about? nLite is not a "ram cleaner" or whatever those tools are called... It just erases what you dont need (you decide what to erase) from the windows installation disk so they wont be installed (uneeded drivers, services, programs, etc') when you install windows.
It saved me about 50-60 MB of ram.
 

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I belive the Windows Installation Disk is a CD it just makes a new install disk for you.
I manually disable uneeded services and remove various unused stuff from my computer without needing to reinstall windows
As for memory management I use Outertech Cacheman
 

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What are you talking about? nLite is not a "ram cleaner" or whatever those tools are called...
Sorry :) Normally people mean caching tools when they talk about minimizing memory.
I didn´t know this tool as I never needed one, all my computers since 1996 have a
minimum of 1 GB X)

As for cache tools, I wouldn´t use any of them if you use XP/2k
or higher as the OS does manage RAM very good (if you don´t have bad applications
that don´t register/free up their used RAM correctly). I tested a lot of them just
for fun, none of the tools speeded up anything no matter if I was rendering 3D things,
running an emu, doing some database things or playing a game.

BTW if your drivers are eating up much of your system you could try using different
hardware profiles e.g. one with already all unused hw disabled and one with all the
drivers and hw enabled so you can switch via boot to the setup you just need
 

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I wouldn´t use any of them if you use XP/2k
or higher as the OS does manage RAM very good
Do you seriously belive that WindowsXP can manage system resources well without tweaking?
Although it does a better job than Windows9x it still needs alot of tweaking for it to manage RAM properly
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
I use Cacheman as well. Have been since Win98 and will most likely be using it on the upcoming Vista.

I'll try disabling caching disabling caching from the same screen used to decide on paging file size. If it goes well, I'll confirm here.
 

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Do you seriously belive that WindowsXP can manage system resources well without tweaking?
Yes as it wont cache 50GB even if you set your page file to that size ;)
But as I already said 2k´s memory management is slightly better as XP´s ;),
all my computers are running 2k 24h/7d only rebooting if it´s really needed
(driver changes, hardware replacement, ...) and I never had any problems
with memory.



Although it does a better job than Windows9x it still needs alot of tweaking for it to manage RAM properly
Hmm never needed any tool but I´m not using XP perhaps that´s the point ;)
I know a lot people who had to reboot from time to time as XP didn´t free up the
unused memory correctly


I'll try disabling caching disabling caching from the same screen used to decide on paging file size
If you mean to disable caching to disk totally then good luck ;) I tried this and it
didn´t work (with 2k, never tried under 98 as it can only 512 MB of RAM) and there
are still some games out that won´t start without having page file set to a minimum
size (don´t ask me why, perhaps the programmers took some not so illegal stuff while
coding ;))
Let me know if it worked for you ;)

And if you disable caching of XP/2k Kernel there will still be around up to 90 MB that
are cached (at my system kernel is currently 344 MB with 85 MB cached to disk with
291763 handles and 490 threads opened)

As I already wrote check your page file if its fragmented (2 fragments are ok), a
heavily fragmented MFT and/or page file will slow your system down like hell.
Another thing to speed up your caching is if your page file is not on the same
hard disk like your system, at best on a raid 0 ;)
 

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Is there any way in XP to view how much memory is used for the disk cache? There's a "System Cache" entry on the performance tab of task manager; is that the disk cache?
 

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Via Windows Taskmanager you can see how much of the Kernel is cached to disk,
as for total cached I don´t know maybe you need some tools or perhaps there exists
APIs that you can poll these values by yourself using a programming language, but
never checked.
System Cache is reserved memory and not disk memory, it´s reserved memory to
speed up certain things (e.g. buffers for drive accesses).
As long as you have a lot of free RAM windows will reserve a lot for cache, if
RAM runs low it will decrease it to a minimum.
You can get the max size of disk paging if you set minimum size of disk cache to
lowest possible value (guess it was 8 MB) and then look how big your pagefile.sys
gets, but as Windows only let it grow and never shrinks it it´s only max size
(shrinking would cost too much performance)
 
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