RAM and the system tray - help?

My computer seems to use up its RAM very quickly. Within 20 web pages from a fresh boot, it’s under 50% memory left, and this has over 300 megs of RAM. When it hits about 45%, all the pages (especially on the SDMB) load pretty slowly.

Where can I go in Windows to look at what’s occupying my current RAM? And how can I manage what shows up in my system tray (on the right of the task bar, I mean)? Are all those icons managed only from the individual programs?

I’ll assume that you are running windows 98

-Perform the following operations at your own risk. Any corruption of your system is your own responsibility
CLick Start
type: msconfig
Choose the tab on the end, and uncleck all the unnecessary things that load on startup. That will clear out the programs in memory.


type: sysedit
Choose the system.ini file
Look for [386enh] section
add the following to that section:

save, and exit sysedit.

GO to the virtual memory manager, and tell Windows to allow you to use your own settings.
Make the maximum and minimum a single file size, say, 256 megs for both. Ignore the scary warnings.
This will make the swapfile a single size, and tell programs to use physical ram before the swapfile to improve performance.

As for the thing in the system tray, that doesn’t cover RAM. That covers Resources.

Do away with it.

That should get you atarted anyway.

300 MB is a lot of RAM and memory should not be a problem. I had 32 MB until recently and got by fine. Remember Windows uses virtual memory on disk which will slow the computer a bit but with 300 MB… are you sure you have that much? how much do you have exactly…

Yes, anything on the system tray has been put there by someone. If you stop the program from starting the icon will not appear. I try to keep it to a minimum and the only ones I have permanently are the clock and the audio volume control.

Thanks, but one little question. In the device manager, regarding virtual memory, what units are you using there with “256”? Should I type in 256, or 256000?


If your web browser is eating that much memory (heck, if it’s eating any memory after it’s used), then there’s a problem with your web browser. What are you using?

IE 5.5. Why?

What did I do with that ConservativeSwapfileUsage=1 thing? Does that make it use swapfiles less often?

Hi again,

The units are in MB, so it is 256 to represent 256 Megs.

As for COnservativeSwapfileUsage=1, this tells the system to use the Physical ram before it uses the swapfile, increasing speed and performance.

Thanks. This seems to have helped. And yes, since this is my office computer, it does have that much RAM. I think it has a 128 chip and a 256 chip.

Does setting both max and min to 256 mean that I’m effectively operating at 256 megs of RAM, and after that, I’m going to swapfiles? I’m sorry I’m so ignorant about all this.

I have had good luck with using RAMBooster…it’s completely free and frees up a lot of memory after you have closed programs/windows. You can also free RAM manually.

It sits in the system tray and you can configure it to go red when you have set a certain amount of RAM to warn you when you are low.


Demo used this – ask him if he liked it. From what I know he did although I don’t know if he uses it anymore.

Dave, this is how it works: when the computer runs out of RAM it will save parts to disk in a so-called ‘swap file’ and just swap back and forth so it appears as it has more ram than it has physically installed. You can see this Win386.swp file in your disk.

WINdows will normally adjust the size of the file as needed but it seems if you fix it this improves performance. The rule of thimb I was given is to fix it at 3 times the size of your physical RAM but that was time ago when computers came with 32 or 64 MB. I do not know if this rule holds for 384 MB which is what you seem to have. In any case, I just cannot see having RAM problems while using a browser to surf the NEAT.

I have 64 MB ram and often have more than a dozen browser windows plus email plus ICQ etc and never have any problems. I think there is something wrong there. What I did do is get rid of a lot of crap that was slowing my system down.

Setting the maximum and mininum swapfile size to 256 makes the swapfile start and stay one size no matter what. This file as indicated inanother answer, is used when your computer runs out of physical ram. Windows will read and write information to and from the swapfile on the harddrive. This writing and reading is a great deal slower than it would be to read and write it to the physical ram chips you have installed. Also, windows when managing the swapfile size on it’s own will constantly resize it. This causes it to become fragmented, which means that it is writen to various parts of the harddrive. When it is read back again, the harddrive had to take the time to jump around to get the varous parts of the file it needs. Making the swapfile one size helps eliminate the fragmentation that occurs.
But, there is one more thing you need to do, and that is to move the swapfile to the beginning of the disk, where the fastest reading and writing occurs.

If you search the web, you should be able to find a detailed set of instructions on how to defragment the swapfile.
Alternatively, if you (or someone you know) has Norton Utilities, they have an optimization utility that automatically moves the swapfile to the beginning of the drive and defrags it for you. Unfortunately, Microsoft’s own defrag utility can’t do this.

Now, if you have over 300 megs of ram installed, you are fine. By setting the COnservativeswapfileusage=1 setting, you are telling windows you want to be sure to use all 300 megs before it tries using the swapfile (win386.swp)
Ideally, you never want to use the swapfile at all, since it is a slowdown over physical ram. But you still have 300 megs of physical ram, Plus 256 megs of swapfile just in case.

Now, you will want to make sure that your physical ram is working well, so go to http://www.tweakfiles.com, get a utility called DocMemory, and run it. It tests all of your RAM to make sure it is performing properly. Look for other utilities there that might help you diagnose and configure your system. There’s lots.

Also, now that I think of it, go to your System properties, and find the setting that says “Typical Role of this Machine” and set it to “Network Server”, instead of desktop computer. This makes performance a little better as well, allowing better handling of files.

That’s all I can think of right now. Any other questions, don’t hesitate to ask. Optimizing windows is one of those things that I have a keen interest in. More keen it seems, than Microsoft.

      • My own two cents…
  • My Own Experience: Many (3-D) games do not like it when you set the swap file size yourself -no matter how large you set it-, and they can run very slowly or improperly as a result. I haven’t seen anything other type of software suffer so drastic a change. (You noted that it was an office computer, but anyway,)
  • My Own Experience II: my scanner doesn’t get detected properly if I remove its icon from the startup tray, and isn’t usable until I replace it and reboot.
  • My Own Experience III: something else is wrong with your system. I have 320 megs and can have a couple dozen browser windows open and see no change in load times. ~ How do you know how much memory you have left? - MC

*Originally posted by Stupendous man *

I’ll save you the trouble of looking that up. I just recieved, well, last week if you need to be exact, an article on how best to do this.

According to what I read, and I did it myself on my own computer with no ill or odd effects, this is what you should do:

Right click 'My Computer (Or whatever it is you named it) and select properties. Next click the performance tab and then virtual memory. Tell windows you want to set the VM yourself and set it for 0 in both fields. Close out and ignore the dire warnings.

Restart your computer holding down the ‘shift’ key. Once it loads into safe mode, navigate to scandisk (For me it’s Start-> Programs -> Accessories-> System Tools.) Run it and then run Disk Defragmenter (same place, for me).

Once it finishes, restart the computer the normal way you usually do. Go back to Virtual Memory and re-adjust your VM setting. What I read, and use, is that it should be se at about one and a half times your actual RAM. That is, of course, if you’re using over 256mb, which you are. For me, I have it set at 550 with an actual ram of 256- It works just fine.

Restart your computer once again, and, voila! Your done. The swap file is intact and at the front of the drive.

(If I missed something, or it’s not clear, let me know. (You usually do without me even asking, I might add)).

Damn, damn, damn.

If a mod happens to see this, would you mind adding the close quote code please. This error always irritates me.

I downloaded that rambooster program mentioned here, but it also seems to monitor the cpu load. Sometimes the computer seems to be doing nothing, but the usage is something like 70%. Why would that be, and is there anything I can do about it?

I’ve got to get some serious RAM and a 30MB hard drive this weekend cos Photoshop is just eating up everything in sight. However, CnoteChris – that seems a nice, uncomplicated method but I’m not sure what’s being achieved. Does doing what you describe actually defrag the swapfile and if so, does that make the virtual memory more accessible for apps ? I guess I wondering what benefits you’ve seen ?

London_Calling, the swap file cannot be defragged as it is being used during the defragging. What you can do is eliminate it (by not using virtual memory), defrag the hard drive, and when you restore the use if virtual memory the new swap file will be contiguos which is the prupose of defragging.

Dave Swaney, even with a dozen windows open, if the computer is not doing much my CPU usage falls to under 5%

Ctrl-Alt-Del gives you very incomplete information on what’s running. If you want more complete info try using MSINFO32.EXE (I do not remember if I got it with the OS or if I downloaded it from MS). Start it and check the applications running and active modules. This program gives you a lot of information about your hardware and software.

Another one you can use is sisoft Sandra http://www.sisoftware.demon.co.uk/sandra/ which is also a great program

These come with windows (I Believe): RSRCMTR.EXE and SYSMON.EXE, SYSINFO.EXE

Actually, that’s not true sailor. If you follow the steps I laid out, the swap file is never accessed because you’ve booted into safe mode. On top of that, since you have the swap file active but set at zero, the act of defragging will erase the previous space occupied by the old swap file on the hard drive. Once you’re done with defragging the HD and out of safe mode, and reset the swap file to 500 or whatever, it’s now new and at the front of the drive- defragged and all.


The idea behind that procedure is that a complete and whole swap file at the start of the HD will improve speed and performance.

CnoteChris, maybe I did not express my self well. I agree with what you said and was trying to clarify it. I guess I didn’t do it quite well.