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Win95 available memory


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This is for a Win95 machine dedicated solely to audio and midi recording, running on a Socket 7 motherboard with P233mmx processor.

The main reason I have not upgraded the motherboard is that it has 3 ISA slots, and ISA is required by an indispensable synth card (Roland RAP-10). I am aware that there are USB-to-ISA solutions, but might as well build a whole new dedicated machine if I go that route.

Bottom line, no upgrades needed in near future. Win95 likes the chipset, it is rock solid stable and plenty fast enough for audio recording even at 96kHz 48 bit.

Now to my question: This motherboard is effectively limited to 128 mb RAM. For my purposes I need to utilize every available byte for the audio temp file, which I keep in RAM. Windows presently boots with 111 mb free. VCACHE is fixed at 4 mb. I have done the usual things to maximize startup available memory -- minimal background apps, minimal fonts folder, no desktop wallpaper. But are there possible unneeded device drivers, dlls or other resource users loading that I can eliminate? How can I detect, how can I squash?

Any advice on this much appreciated. :yes:

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Well, you can make a list with what functionality you can live without on that PC : network, print spool, etc and remove those drivers if you have them installed.

You may also clear the INF folder of any INF driver files you don't use (video, sound, multimedia, printer, network, etc) and the driver files specified within those INFs (although they probably are on the 95 CD ).

Also, disable from BIOS stuff that you can live without (on-board crap, COM ports) although I'm not sure if this has any impact on the memory though.

Oh and what version of 95 do you use ? Original one, or an OSR release ? If you don't run the "v1.0" version and if its possible, downgrade to original Win95 as its the lightest version possible (without IE bloat).

For a radical approach, you can even replace the Explorer shell with something lighter like Winfile or COMMAND.COM if you don't mind typing commands.

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Be careful with Internet Explorer, as it brings many updates to W95. They are highly useful, plentiful, and I'm not even sure all can install separately and are still available. Back then, updating Internet Explorer was the standard Microsoft method to update Windows, and ie5.50sp2 is the very first update I add to a fresh W95.

Maybe an alternative way to increase the amount of fast memory? Add a fast Compact Flash card (like A-Data 266x) on a P-Ata adapter, and define the paging file on the resulting "hard drive". Be careful when selecting the CF card, as most cards are very slow on small files; MB/s and ms aren't the whole picture, look at 4kB random writes and 150kB random reads on IOMeter for instance.

A P-Ata/33 host is already interesting, as your Ram is probably at 150MB/s read and 80MB/s write. However, you can add a fast P-Ata host card on the Pci. The SiI680a chip makes the smartest, cheapest and fastest cards (from Hong Kong through eBay), but W95 ability is doubtful; HighPoint RocketRaid 100 and (same chip) DawiControl DC-100 do have the W95 drivers, I used them successfully on W95b. Then two good 266x CF in Raid-0 would give about 90MB/s read and 60MB/s write through the Pci (...an Intel Pci, not a Via one...) which is nearly the speed of your Ram.

Seen recently A-Data 266x CF at 26€ for 2GB - though 2*2GB may not be mandatory for your paging file... And a SiI680a card costs some 10€ with shipping. Then, you can install much software in you CF raid, including Win, even if the CF aren't "fixed disks" - no importance through a Raid host, and no importance to W95 anyway. But I guess W95 already boots in <20s on your config, and the limit is at about 8s however fast your disks.

Well, another mobo with Isa and more Ram is probably cheaper... You just avoid reinstalling the software.

W95 has some limit at 512MB Ram. I ignore if this limit applies to Ram+Paging. And solutions are described elsewhere on this forum.

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BogdanV, thanks, it's Win95a and pretty much just the essentials, with no traces of IE remaining except for fully updated library files, comctrl32.dll, etc. On your advice I disabled the unused ports in BIOS and that did free up a couple of IRQs for more toys. :thumbup Also I removed the network drivers.

After this I think the OS is about as lean as I can get it, but I'm still wondering about all those vxds I see loading in bootlog. Could be they are all necessary, but with Windows who knows. Probably not too much memory gain available there though.

pointertovoid, a CF solution is an interesting idea and I will check that out. The paging file isn't really my concern as I have fast enough hard drives, and it rarely swaps out anyway. But I do want somewhere bigger, off-disk, to house the audio "temp" file, which CoolEdit plays from, and which is constantly accessed. A fast CF might be up to it. Thanks for the tip!

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Well then, if you try the paging file on a CF card before I do, please tell us!

Because I have W2k on an excellent i815ep+PIIIs. As usual, Intel chipsets are faster than the competitors (...almost all, almost always) BUT limit the Ram amount to small values which are difficult to explain through technology - let's put it like this. In my case, 512MB, which is quite enough for W2k and even Avast and Comodo, but gets narrow if adding Ski Challenge or Google Earth +Google Maps. So I consider adding again a Raid-0 on the Pci (which I measured on the i815ep at 124MB/s before overclocking, versus 60MB/s for Via or Sis).


Beware more and more CF cards are fake. I knew finding an authentic Extreme on eBay is nearly impossible, now I've seen A-Data and Lexar from HK and China and Australia which really look fake.

To try to guess it, download pictures from the manufacturer, and compare with the seller, hoping he sells what's on his pictures. Fakes often differ by the form of the metal plate under the front side sticker. Sometimes even the sticker differs: my genuine (fast) A-Data put their capacity on it...

Seen very attractive offers on eBay.com today, for Lexar 300x (Atto measurements at 8GB give exactly the excellent speeds of my 8GB A-Data 266x, probably the same hardware chip for chip). There for 2GB, 59usd for 3 pieces:


notice the pictures by ballcourt155ab differ from Chinese sellers...

W2k started from one such A-Data CF a bit faster than from my excellent J8080. Then, every directory operation was much faster than with the Hdd. Putting the paging file on a CF Raid could hence be nice.

Seen recently 600x speeds on a CF, but it's Mlc technology, slow at Windows' small files.

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All the important updates are available separately from IE. It was just common to bundle them. IE5 is not needed at all.

I wouldn't run the original Windows 95 (original retail release). It worked, but it wasn't very stable and had a lot of problems.

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  • 1 year later...

Now I have added a permanent Compact Flash card to my usual computer, to carry W2k's paging file.

The excellent i815ep +PIII limits the Ram to 512MB. Enough for W2k and the firewall, but Firefox and the Avast antivirus have outgrown the Ram. When Avast updates its virus database, it swells temporarily by 100MB, blocking any other software. But with the fast paging hardware, the computer now stays responsive.

With Firefox and Google Earth, I let the machine use 1GB memory, and switching between the applications staid fast - something impossible previously. I can even switch quickly from a video game to Windows Explorer. How comfortable.

The Compact Flash is an Adata 266x 4GB, it uses SLC chips, and it fast and responsive. Fixed, Udma as well - only the more reliable Udma transmission makes Transcend a tick better.

I formatted it with Diskpar to start the volume at sector 64, this accelerates a lot. The file system should make no difference for a paging file.

The CF fits on the secondary Udma100 port at the i815ep, as the main hard disk is on the primary.

Sure, an SiI680a Raid controller on Pci and two CF cards would improve performance, but the controller's Bios adds 3s boot time, and I feel the costs excessive for this machine.


Hi Benoît, I appreciate and use your work on W95!

Edited by pointertovoid
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Check your BIOS settings to determine if your computer uses SHADOW RAM for BIOS or Video. If so, disable all such settings.

Also consider disabling some or all of the Power Management settings in the BIOS. Also consider disabling SMART drive settings in the BIOS.

If you haven't done so already, eliminate unnecessary line items (in addition to just program startups) from autoexec.bat, config.sys, and win.ini (Run "Sysedit" to edit these files. Type REM at the beginning of autoexec.bat lines and/or config.sys lines to disable these lines. Type a semicolon at the beginning of win.ini lines. Remove these REM's or semicolons, if your changes don't work out.)

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I concur with Benoitren as win95a and orig. win95 is slow and problematic (and has no usb support and no DMA option for hard drives & CD/DVD drives for faster performance).

I know from experience with an old NEC computer that bundled a pre-osr2 version of win95.

Anyways, there is a way to install Win95B (osr2.0 or osr2.1) or Win95C (osr2.5) without installing the embedded IE files [link to the instructions to install Win95 OSR2 without IE].

I've tried it a few times on an old machine and Win95 SR2 worked great.

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Interesting that this thread has come to life again, because just yesterday I began transferring to digital all of my old 4 track tapes, on this same machine.

I have followed all suggestions offered, except ended up putting CoolEdit's temp file on a dedicated 8 gig hard drive. So far I have recorded four ~500 MiB files in 32-bit floating point without a problem.

My Win95a is super stable, I haven't seen a blue screen in years, but I would like to upgrade to OSR 2.1 if possible, for the DMA and USB capability in moving large files around -- trouble is, I can't find OSR2.x anywhere. My first thought was naturally eBay ... no dice.

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I've used W95a and W95b for years and years, both are rock-stable and identically fast. Run on P1 120MHz 40MB 5400/min, so I can tell you precisely. Blue screens and Dll hell appeared with W98 here.

I found a complete 95b on eBay few years ago, so just instruct eBay to warn you when one appears on sale.

If you have a licence, it works with any language. But one of (or all?) my 95b install Cd doesn't accept one of my 95a (or all?) licence numbers.

DMA works with 95a just as well. This is strictly a matter of proper driver! Being more recent, 95b brings embedded drivers for more hardware and that's all. Use the "Intel Bus Master IDE driver" or the equivalent for your disk host, and you get DMA. I have DMA on a Cmd-0646 disk host and 95a.


USB on W95b... I fear this is a rather theoretical possibility. You will end up wasting even more time on USB than with W98. It begins to works more or less with WinMe - which consumes much more Ram. I see only Ethernet as a fast port working with W95 and a reasonable effort.

So: the real reason for 95b instead of 95a is the Fat32.

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DMA works with 95a just as well. This is strictly a matter of proper driver!

Thanks for that tip. I searched and found latest driver for the SiS chipset and it indeed has UDMA. Now installed. Device Manager doesn't say anything about it, but the registry key reports BM and UDMA enabled and in use.

I see only Ethernet as a fast port working with W95 and a reasonable effort.

That would be very useful for porting chunks of audio to a faster machine for processing, adding reverb and similar number-crunching tasks. The Win95a machine has a 100mbps full-duplex NIC. Can you recommend best method for fastest file transfer between this and a networked Win98se machine? I don't necessarily need visible file sharing, just the quickest way to send files to the Win98 box, and back.

Edited by chromatic47
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When I said "Windows 95 original retail release", I meant the very first version. Windows 95A is another beast as it has been fixed with an entire service pack of updates.

USB works fine on Windows 95. I can use USB flash drives with it. One type gives me problems, but I'm suspecting it has something to do with the version of MSGSRV32.EXE I'm using, which is what I came back for. :)

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