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3D Spotlight : Tweaking : Tweaking your System Memory (Win 98 & Millennium edition)


Tweaking your System Memory
Last Updated on September 26, 2000 by Thomas McGuire

The more RAM you have the better, although with today's memory prices you might want to optimize your current memory system instead. Most users should have at least 64MB RAM to get decent performance in Programs, Games, etc. 128MB is just about as much as you need to go for most PCís, depending on how you use it. Multimedia users would benefit from having more, as would some power users.

If you have below 64MB RAM or less then you really should buy more RAM. This would be of far greater benefit to you than anything else. Check out our EMS HSDRAM review if youíre looking for some good quality & performing RAM.

The following guide is intended for Windows 9x & Millennium Edition.

What is Virtual memory?

Windows uses a dynamic virtual memory manager to handle Swapfile duties.

In order to provide more memory to applications than is physically present in the computer in the form of RAM, Windows uses hard disk space to simulate RAM. The amount of RAM in the computer plus the size of the Swapfile equals the total physical memory, or virtual memory, size. Windows uses a dynamic Swapfile that remains at a size of 0K until it is needed. The Swapfile can grow to use all the available space on the hard disk if it is necessary. This is the default setting for the paging file. You should use this setting if possible. This is what Microsoft has to say about Virtual memory.

However, it is more efficient to set this yourself rather than let Windows dynamically manage it.


While you would think that updating your systems components is a weird to have mentioned in a memory guide Ė itís not. This will generally ensure you have better-optimized components/files & bug fixes; many bug fixes include fixing memory leaks. I suggest using a combination of Windowsupdate, Updates & CNET Catchup (My personal favourite). This way you're bound to find any updateable components.


BE sure to enable DMA/UDMA support on your hard drives. Right click on My Computer, select Properties. Select the Device Manager tab. Open Disk Drives, then you particular Hard Drive(s). Select the Settings tab.

Tick the DMA box to enable DMA support. By default this will be enabled in Windows 98/Millennium if available. In the BIOS you should also ensure you have your hard drive setup correctly to use the fastest transfer mode thatís supported on the hard drive. Check the BIOS tweak guide for more information. Click Ok & reboot your system for the changes to take effect.

PIO mode data transfer rates are slower than DMA/UDMA transfer rates & the Swapfile benefits from a faster data transfer rate, assuming the hard drive support it. Remember the Swapfile is located on your hard drive too; the faster the data transfer rates are, the faster your Swapfile is.


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