Windows XP Memory Tweak Guide


Itís been a long time since we posted our initial Windows XP memory guide, and given the advancements in PC hardware and the increased system requirements of applications nowadays, it was about time the guide got an update.

There are several components to the Windows memory subsystem. For the most part this guide will be targeting the Hard Drive, CPU, and RAM, optimally configuring these along the way, and clearing up many of the placebos surrounding memory management in XP.


As always, itís good practice making sure you have the latest XP, hardware, and application updates installed. For the purposes of this guide, this is a very important action to take, since in many instances software patches fix memory related issues. You can find relevant XP updates via TechSpot OS Updates and Windows Update, while hardware driver updates can be found at TechSpot Drivers. For application-specific updates check the developerís website or use any built-in Auto-Update facility.

Also important to notice, much of the information and settings covered in this guide will require Administrator privileges in Windows.


Performance Options

Open System Properties (right click on My Computer and select Properties), select the Advanced tab and press the Performance Settings button, finally selecting the Advanced tab.

Processor scheduling. This option specifies how CPU time is to be shared between processes. By default this is set to Programs, which indicates that foreground processes are a higher priority for CPU time and is recommended for most users as Application performance will be of primary concern. When set to Background services CPU time is more evenly divided between processes, which is more appropriate for Servers.

Memory usage. This setting controls the size of the file system cache. When set to Programs (Default) a standard sized file system cache is allocated (Less than 10MB RAM); this is recommended as it provides best Application performance. When set to System cache this enables the use of a large file system cache (Up to RAM minus 4MB!); this option is only suitable when Windows XP is acting as a Server not as a gaming system or for other Application/Workstation use as it will be detrimental to performance as Microsoft notes:

When you enable System cache mode on a computer that uses Unified Memory Architecture-based video hardware or AGP, you may experience a severe and random decrease in performance. The Drivers for these components consume a large part of the remaining application memory when they are initialized during startup.

Further details can be found at the Microsoft KB.

Weíll return to this section later but for now click Apply and press Ok, restarting if appropriate.

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