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What to do with 8GB of RAM on XP


obstinateXP
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I'm looking for some advice regarding this PC:

XP Pro SP3
MB: Asus P5N32-E SLI Plus
CPU: Core 2 Quad Q6600
RAM: 2GB DDR2-800

I just got 8GB of RAM for it and I'm wondering if I should:

a) use a PAE Patch to make use of the full 8GB. If so, which patch should I use?
b) use 4GB as RAM and 4GB as some type of  ram disk for the Page File. If so, which ram disk?
c) some other arrangement?

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Only for the record, generally speaking putting the pagefile in a ram disk makes little or no sense whatever.

Actual link to Mark Russinovich's take on the matter:

http://www.overclock.net/t/1193401/why-it-is-bad-to-store-the-page-file-on-a-ram-disk

Quote

Yes, putting the pagefile on a RAM disk is ridiculous.

The usage of otherwise inaccessible RAM is a particular case where it may make some sense, but it remains (IMHO) not particularly valid, as the pagefile with a 3 or 3.2 GB of normally accessible RAM is rarely enough hit in normal operation.

The least intrusive approach is using Gavotte's Ramdisk for *temp* directories, and similar (but I believe you can put a pagefile on it if you really-really want to).

 

About a) it is not really a good idea due to the instability that may well come from it [1].

The good MS guys disabled PAE in XP while they kept it in Server 2003 and the reason was that they found a number of third party drivers that had issues, whilst - again according to them - hardware used on 2003 Server tended to be bettr wuality and have better drivers.

The reported experiences (with this or that patch) is often a reduced stability of the system, though there are reports that signal no issues whatsoever, my personal opinion is that it greatly (entirely) depends on the actual hardware involved (and the related drivers), so it is a matter of "luck" more than anything else.

 

jaclaz

 

[1] if reliability is an issue, I mean, if - say - you largely use the PC to browse internet with one of the basilisk releases (that tend to use a lot of RAM) you won't have any inconvenience if - say - once a week you get a BSOD.

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Thanks for commenting jaclaz  and for the links. The thread at overclock.net is informative and I agree with the conclusions, but I'm not sure it applies to my 32bit system that can only address 4GB of RAM. I was thinking about using the PAE Patch (with no page file) or a RAM disk (with page file and temp directories on it). Not both at the same time.

The 8GB of RAM was didn't cost me anything, so I won't cry if I can't use all of it, but it seems a shame to leave half of it out for spare parts.

I mostly use this PC to browse the internet with New Moon 28.1.0a1 which slows to a crawl on my system, as soon as page file usage exceeds 1.8GB.

Do you think I should just install 4GB on this setup, or is the RAM disk worth a shot?

Also, what did you mean by "least intrusive approach" RE: Gavotte's Ramdisk?

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In your specific case (32 bit system, internet browsing with a memory hungry browser) you have IMHO nothing (or very little) to loose even with the PAE patch, but as said AFAIK it is a hit and miss, it is possible that it will work just fine (and no, I have no idea on which of the three or four versions floating around is "better", most probably you will need to just try them) and as well it is possible it will result in a highly unstable system (BSOD daily or more often), no way that I know to tell what will happen in advance.

As well, again in your specific usage case, making a Ramdisk in the "inaccessible" memory area and putting a pagefile on it (fixed size, please) might not be a bad idea, even if (compare with):

https://sourceforge.net/p/imdisk-toolkit/discussion/general/thread/2aa6a11a/

it won't run as fast as "real" available RAM, it will still be better than your current situation and it is "stable".

The "least intrusive" I was referring to using simply the available "excess" memory through the ramdisk to have (fastish) "volatile" storage for temporary files, this is a tested and reliable setup, but of course it doesn't make much sense to have roughly 5 GB (out of the 8 GB) of such storage, it may be good with a total of 4 GB where you would have some 500-800 MB available for this use.

If I were you, I would try first the Gavotte ramdisk (with a fixed size pagefile and oprionally temp files on it) with the "whole" 8 GB, and - only if you find the result not satisfying, then - and only then - go for the PAE patch.

jaclaz

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  • 1 year later...
Posted (edited)

I was just testing an XP3 system, intel I5-769, 8gb DD3 RAM on a P55 motheboard. It probably is a ridiculous thing, but... I have a z:\ [temp] drive made with Vsuite RamDisk (Romex) 1.10, last freeware version running  4gb on undetected RAM. I tried different methods to move pagefile.sys into it, to no avail. My last try was (and I do not know if it has anything to do with it, but who knows) was whats is sugested at http://www.dkc-atlas.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=52&t=2102. Now, I COULD NOT move pagefile.sys into it, not that I could SEE. Yet, memorybooster showed me, as in the pic below (with k-meleon running netflix, basilisk 52 heavily tweaked and charged with addons running some top heavy pages youtube -iddle, inclusive-, and both with -relative to hardware- top-heavy nvidiaProfileInspector settings, PLUS a heavy I/O app running javaw using -javaw alone- up to 25% of CPU- that there was a pagefile, somwhere: as shown in the pic, MB detected a pagefile (that I could not see in any partition). As per the link above, I had previously disabled pagefile in system-advanced-performance, ran the addwapp app (to no visible avail) yet 2+GB were used of a pagefile I could not SEE anywhere - neither in C:\ not in Z:\ (which is the ramdisk for temp mentioned before). And the speed of the system... I was flying like I was not doing so since 2006-7. I have not the expertice to ascertain what is making this s*** work, but on this setup, performance was great. Just sayin, the way ignorant folk say s***.  Cheers. 

Noname.png

Edited by dmiranda
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Try  opening a command prompt and run swapadd.exe (without parameters) it should show the status of the current swapfile settings, see:

http://reboot.pro/index.php?showtopic=15146

It is entirely possible that other utilities/tools see the pagefile differently or do not see it, or it is hidden in explorer, or *whatever*, swapadd should be the most accurate tool.

As well it is possible that *something else* and not the running of swapadd.exe configured this pagefile, the advice from Olof (the Author of swapadd.exe) in the thread above is to make a very small "normal" pagefile on C: and then use swapadd to add a larger one on Ramdisk (that will have precedence).

jaclaz

 

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Posted (edited)

I did, to the best of my knowledge do as instructed, but swapadd doesn't see what memory booster 1 reports. When creating the small pagefile, swapadd picks it up, but not of the size memory booster reports.

So I reckon that all the performance gains (subjective as they may be) came from disabling the pagefile altogether (as @jaclaz recommended somewhere else in this forum, running exclusively on RAM). I am now trying a small fixed pagefile on a non system drive (and a temp drive runing on excess RAM) in my usual PC, and it feels more responsive. Memory booster still picks up a larger pagefile, which moves as I do stuff, but I cannot find it anywhere, with swapadd only picling up the fixed sized I'd created.

Maybe something to do with Vsuite Ramdisk 1.18, downlodable from https://www.romexsoftware.com/en-us/vsuite-ramdisk/download.html. When I have a chance will test this in a vanilla system. Thanks for the feedback!

 

Edited by dmiranda
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Maybe - just maybe - the *whatever* Memory Booster "sees" is a sort of "virtual" page file (somehow residing in memory or however not on a volume/drive) :dubbio:i.e. something more like a peek in the way the system behaves internally and not a "proper" or "normal" page file (that swapadd would "see").

At least in theory there should be not any practical difference in normal use between having a (even minimal) page file and having none, IF there is enough memory for the *whatever* the system requirements are, the page file (on disk) is actually never or rarely hit.

Some references:

 

though on 32 bit XP (without PAE patches) there are the known limits.

As said here:

 

http://reboot.pro/index.php?showtopic=22361&p=216117

it is not like XP stopped working when the amount of RAM+(large) page file was less than the RAM you have, a typical system (not so many years ago) was often 512 MB RAM + 1.5 GB page file or 1 GB RAM + 2 GB page file, so with 3+ GB of direct accessible RAM you are already (without any page file) exceeding the condition of a "normal" system with 1 GB RAM, only with a much, much faster access to memory. 

jaclaz

 

 

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Posted (edited)

What a sad story "Frequent, but inconclusive, BSODs?".  I was left wondering if he was ever able to complete a full dump. A decade gone, I can feel the pain :P

Edited by dmiranda
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It has already been mentioned but I highly recommend VSuite Ramdisk free edition.

I've used this as a "fixed" RAM disk, meaning that every time Windows shuts down, the contents of the RAM disk are saved to the hard disk and every time Windows boots the RAM disk is created and all the contents are written back to the virtual (RAM) disk.

I installed things like Firefox (AND its profile) on this RAM disk and other things that took long to start (because of things that have to be read from the real hard disk) and it really speeds up loading times.

The disadvantage is that it takes longer to boot or to shut down Windows.

 

 

 

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I have an old xp x86 8gb. 2gb system limit and 6gb ram disk. Sometimes i used it for windows temp folders (auto clears on shutdown), other times i used it as my pagefile for a performance boost to large VST instrument libraries, and if i was working with a large video file i would use the ramdrive as storage to copy the video over to before editing. Iirc i was using a program called RamDisk by SuperSpeed back then. Worked great but maybe 1 out of 10 bootups the ramdrive would get created too slowly (usually fixed with a reboot) causing errors with PF and temp folders.

Maybe i will try out VSuite Ramdisk free and see how it acts on reboots.

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