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Thread: Memory Death

  1. #1
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    Memory Death

    First, let me apologize for the length of this post. I tried to anticipate follow up questions to a complex problem.

    I have a PC at home that seems to have a fatal virtual memory problem. It seems to have started when I installed IE 5 SP2.

    Here are the PC specs: This is a 75Mhz Pentium. It has 48 MB of physical memory. There are two physical disks, one is a 1 GB which serves as the boot (C: ) drive, and another 4.6 GB which is partitioned as D: (2.2 GB), E: (2.2 GB) and F: (~7 MB).

    The OS is Win 95a, upgraded by diskette from Win 3.11.

    I have tried, as best I can to limit the C: drive to system files, putting applications and data on D: and E:. Nonetheless, windows developers and windows itself, with their poor implementation of shared code libraries, inconsistent versioning and version control, lack of detailed installation information, etc. have taken up all but about 100 MB of the C: drive.

    I have moved the TEMP environment variable to d:temp, and this seems to be respected by most windows programs that use the temp directory (a notable exception is Netscape which seems to have C:Temp hard coded, ignoring the environment variable.).

    The "free" 100 MB are taken up by the virtual memory swap file (win386.swp).

    This is where the problem lies. For the past couple of months, with very little simultaneous programs running, the swap file grow to fill the disk, memory runs out, requiring a reboot. (closing programs doesn't help.)

    Some programs are worse offenders than others. Netscape 4.7 seems the worst. It only takes 3 or 4 pages to be displayed (in series, not in separate windows) before the swap file increases to the point where windows must be shut down. This has stopped me from using Netscape Messenger as my eMail program of choice, pushing me to Eudora.

    Other programs do the same thing, each to a different degree. I used to be able to run 4 large Apps simultaneously without problems. Now two (e.g. Eudora and IE) are pushing it.

    The memory creep is not reversible. Once programs increase the swap file, they rarely give most of it back when shut down. Only restarting windows solves the problem. It finally gets to the point where little programs, like Winzip will not run in the available memory -- even with no other programs running. There are severe times when I can't even open an Explorer window because of lack of memory.

    I have Norton AntiVirus. (I do not run it in memory.) I get updates weekly. Scans indicate that the problem is not the result of a detectable virus (unless Windows, itself, is a virus.).

    I have tried reinstalling the most offensive programs, but that has not helped at all.

    (On a side note, I had another computer that, after 4-5 years running Windows 95 refused to continue to recognize all peripherals concurrently despite the lack of a reported IRQ conflict. It refused to recognize the network card and the CD-Rom changer at the same time. Starting with more conservative measures, I eventually got to the point of reformatting and starting over, but the problem remained. Ultimately, I solved it by installing Linux, and the problems have disappeared for 9 months.)

    I want to save this computer, but I don't want to install Linux. The computer is at home and my wife and kids have windows programs that they need to use on it.

    I have considered upgrading to Windows 98SE. My other choice is to reformat and reinstall the same stuff, including Win 95.

    What do you all recommend? The machine used to run Win95 well. Is Win98 too much for a machine of this age and power? Any other suggestions?

  2. #2
    ileacy
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    Re: Memory Death

    Hi Art:

    I have had similar problems, my solution to this problem was:

    1)Clean up temp files, etc. of the volume containing the swap file.
    2)Optimize the swap drive.
    3)Create a permanent swap file set at a minimum and maximum of 3 times real memory. Any more than this and I am running too many apps for Win98.
    4)Re-optimize drive using Norton Speed Disk. Speed Disk optimizes the swap file and moves it to the front of the swap drive.

    This way I have the most efficient swapping possible and do not *immediately* crash when drive space is low on the swap drive.

    I also use RamPage to clean up from low real or virtual memory conditions.

    And finally, I keep the number of background applications as low as possible.

  3. #3
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    Re: Memory Death

    Thanks, Ian. With the exception of RamPage, I have the software (Norton) that you recommend.

    I have a question about the "Permanent Swap File". Do you mean go into the virtual memory settings, switch from "Let Windows manage my memory (recommended)" to setting the swap file size myself, and keeping it at three times physical memory (which in my case would be 144 MB)?

  4. #4
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    Re: Memory Death

    >And finally, I keep the number of background applications as low as possible.


    This is another complaint I have with software developers. Too many "background applications" load from the registry, as opposed to the Start Up directory, They have cryptic names. You can't identify which Program they are a part of. This combines to make it hard to tell if you can do without them or whether they are needed to allow a program you need to load and function properly.

    For instance, what is "poproxy" and "nvram"? Do I need "Navapw32" for Norton Antivirus to run properly? Do I need "Acrotray" for Acrobat to load? Why does "Nsched32" load if I don't ever schedule any Norton programs? Is "CSinject" the CleanSweep explorer extension? How about all those little programs loaded by Iomegaware for my Zip drive? How much memory do they use? Do I need them?

    I really agree with your advice of keeping these programs at a minimum, but how can you tell which are expendable? I'd like to make a call to developers asking that they document this stuff, but I feel like a lone voice as most people seem to be content just throwing more hardware at this problem.

  5. #5
    zeus
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    Re: Memory Death

    Good answers so far.

    Yep, it is the virtual memory you want to set,
    set minimum and maximum to the same value
    and pick a drive that is not C:

    Partition magic has "magic mover" that lets you
    move programs and directories and it reads and
    edits ini files and the registry to correct references
    to moved files. I have allowed many programs
    to load on c: , then moved them easily with this
    utility.

    Regcleaner is a very nice program to clean up
    what is loaded from registry when you boot.

    I load only: System Tray : Task Monitor : Tweak Ul

    Using google, search the web for regcleaner.

    I don't load and schedulers, virus scanners,
    system monitors etc. and I have room for them,
    I just don't like them.

  6. #6
    ileacy
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    Re: Memory Death

    Correct

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