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Tearing my hair out over memory problems!

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Hi there. I upgraded from 512mb to 768 mb of memory, I made the changes in the system.ini under the vcache section, by adding the maxfilecache=520288 or whatever it is, but I am experiencing slowdowns and problems with downloading from newsgroups using newsbin cuz the system keeps swapping out to the swap file and the downloads are getting corrupted. I dont know what else to do. What are the propper settings to use in system.ini? currently I've taken out the stuff under the vcache section and am now having to sit back and put up with the fact that soon I'll be running out of memory to start an ms-dos prompt. It's either that or add the maxfilecache setting back in which will return me to my problems with disk access and swap file issues. Can anyone help?

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goto run/ type msconfig,under advanced for limit memory,raise that to 999 or use that unnoficial windows 98 se service pack that removes the 512 MB limit

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The setting you mean is "MaxFileCache=524288", which correspondes to 512MB. Could you post your system.ini file so I could take a look at it? It is possible the RAM itself is bad...have you tested in another computer?

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yes post his system.ini settings and he should try what i stated,that often helps,but if having more than 512 then take it out then after setting it higher put it back in

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perhaps the RAM chips whocrazy installed may not be the right ones. Before

installing new memory chips onto a computer, be sure to note the type of

memory chips your system is using. For example, my HP Pavilion PC uses

PC100 SDRAM memory chips. I go to Fry's Electronics and ask the folks there

for PC100 SDRAM chips; it doesn't matter the brand name as long as you

match the type of memory. If your system uses DDR PC2100 memory chips,

buy that kind.

Also, don't settle for the default swap file settings in Windows 9x/ME systems.

I no longer like the idea of a swap file shrinking and growing and vice-versa.

Now with large HDs out there with massive space, use your own swap file

settings by setting BOTH the Minimum and Maximum amount of Virtual Memory

by twice the amount of RAM installed. Ex. if you have 512 megs of RAM

set the Minimum and Maximum amount of Virtual Memory to 1 Gb from the

Virtual Memory settings dialog box. Restart the computer and you'll have a

permanent swap file with a fixed size that neither shrinks nor grows and have

better performance.

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or set it to 2.5 times your ram,yes also have a min and max for swap file to reduce fragmentation,for the memory it's gotta be the same type like you can't put sdram into a ddr board unless it can handle both types and put it in the right slot,also depending on how much win 98 uses memory set it to what will be enuf,if 98 uses 512 ram,set the vitual mem to say 1 gig to asure you got enuf virtual ram,also ConservativeSwapfileUsage=1 in system.ini will force windows to using the ram first then virtual ram once system ram gets depleted

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I take a small exception to the "it doesn't matter as long as it fits" attitude expressed here, especially in light of my having to fix an AOPEN machine as recently as 10 days ago [just before my vacation].

I admit I'm seeing the problem a whole lot less in the DDR era, but SDRAM and older memory suffer from a problem that is also shared with DDR [in the case of DDR I have only encountered it twice so far!] in that the memory is fraudulently rated. [Even from companies with "lifetime" warranty on the memory stick.]

The problem manifests itself as a machine is fairly new and has worked fine up until now and/or a working machine has had memory added not that long ago and has worked fine up until now. The machine now is flakey/locks up, won't boot, etc. In the case of large memory, the machine won't work when the new memory is depended on for cache or large apps, etc.

The actual problem is that ALL memory slows down with age. PROPERLY RATED memory takes this into account and is rated for how it will perform down the road, and not for how it works when it's new!

On fewer and fewer motherboards, it is possible to setup the memory timing manually. In many of these cases, setting up p***-poor performance settings allows the machine to work. albeit more slowly than before.

Unfortunately, the vast majority of machines run on timing dictated by the memory sticks themselves. They use an "SPD" chip onboard the memory stick that basically tells the mainboard what the memory timing of this particular stick is, so that's what the board sets up and expects from the memory. If the memory is repuatable, this timing is realistic indefinitely, i.e., is still reliable after the memory has been in use for some hundreds or thousands of hours. [Note: This is powered-on hours, not sheer age. Regardless, I have some oldies-but-goodies machines that are both old and used a lot and have no memory problems is spite of being over 20 years old!]

But if the SPD chip gives out overly optimistic settings to the mainboard [let's just say the quality of the settings is "sufficient to work through the end of the warranty period" :rolleyes: ] then there WILL ultimately be a memory-related failure.

While there can always be a random failure, make no mistake about it, the vast bulk of memory failures are PLANNED because of the statistical way memory is rated. If you measure the true max speed of memory made yesterday, you can with great certainty give the maximum reliable speed of the memory at the other end of powered-on time. Sleezeballs know this and commit the fraudulent ratings anyway :angry: .


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Some memory chips work better than others 'cause some aren't quite

well designed. I have a HP machine using WinME and have installed

RAM chips that work well and have no memory problems. My brother

has a custom made PC with WinXP SP2 with 384 megs of RAM also

haven't had any problems with the RAM chips installed. I just find ways

to make my PC and my bro's PC work reliably.

Gosh, CLASYS, can you make your comments a little more shorter and

to the point from now on?

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For CLASYS to say that 'ALL memory slows down with age' is NOT being


They may seem slower as newer and faster PCs and memory chips are

developed, but they still work good. The memory chips I installed in my

HP pavilion PC work well as long as the computer supports it. If you install

memory chips that your computer does not support, the computer may not

recognize them or may cause problems with that computer. Heck, my old

NEC computer that has Win98se that I gave to my relatives uses those old

EDO SIMM memory modules and the PC runs fine.

Ask the motherboard manufacturers of the computers you use to determine

what kinds of RAM chips they support. It doesn't hurt to ask them.

Yes, some but not all motherboards have BIOSes in their setup programs that allow

users to adjust the timing settings of RAM chips. Just use the settings that

cause minimal or no problems. I care a little more about reliability than speed.

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I almost forgot. I recently came across an article written by Fred Langa

on Dec. 23, 2004 about buying RAM chips. See his article here:


Also read Fred's older article on whether to add more RAM here:


These articles should be helpful for PC users who want to add more memory

onto their computers.

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They'll definitely be helpful, soldier1st.

CLASYS may have misinterpret my statement of 'it doesn't matter the brand name

as long as you match the type of memory' or I was not clear of what I was

trying to say, so I'll elaborate on it.

The brand name of the RAM chips you install on your computer is barely

IRRELEVANT. Anyway when I look on the actual memory modules themselves

it's difficult to tell who made the memory modules. On my HP Pavilion PC, I have

a PC100 RAM chip from one manufacturer and another PC100 RAM chip from

another. Both of them work because my HP computer's motherboard supports

them and that they're both PC100 memory modules. It's the 'type' of RAM

that matters most.

The REAL issue is about RAM compatibility and whether or not the computer's

motherboard supports the type of RAM chips you install, nothing else. It is

NEVER a good idea to install different kinds of RAM chips on a PC's motherboard

and NEVER a good idea to install UNSUPPORTED memory chips on a motherboard.

That's a waste of time and money. Read the motherboard's manual or the

computer's user guide to determine what kinds of RAM chips your PC uses

before buying RAM chips. Also, know the motherboard's limits on how much

RAM can be used. My HP Pavilion PC can only handle up to 512 Mb of RAM, no

higher. If I try to install RAM chips greater than that, my HP computer won't

use the extra RAM and it'll be a waste of money. If your computers can handle

up to 2 Gb, go for it. Just don't go beyond the RAM limitations of your PC's


Also, when buying memory chips at a computer electronics store, ask the

salesperson there what kind of RAM chips they sell AND specify what exact

brand & model of the computer you are using. When I shopped at Fry's

Electronics, I asked the clerk if they sell memory chips for my HP Pavilion PC

and that person provided me the chips that are compatible for my PC.

Fry's Electronics even sells older memory chips like the old SIMM memory modules.

I know because I saw a long list of the RAM modules they sell.

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Note that I was using 'PC100' ram as an example.

I'm well aware of the new ram modules out there.

My bro's new XP-ready laptop PC uses DDR PC2100 dimm

modules but it can handle up to 1 Gb of memory, no greater.

There are so many kinds of ram chips being sold, some

of them are 'proprietary' memory chips, meaning ram

chips designed to work on specific machines such

as network servers & laptop/notebook computers.

Don't use desktop PC memory chips on laptops & servers

and vice-versa. If you bought bad or unreliable memory

modules, dump 'em and buy ram chips at reputable PC electronics

stores that sell high quality ones. Also be careful

when handling & installing the ram modules on a desktop,

workstation or server machine; they're somewhat fragile.

As for installing ram chips on a laptop, don't do it by

yourself. Take the laptop to an authorized computer

repair shop and have the folks there install the modules.

Because the internal system components of a notebook PC

are crowded together you might risk breaking something

crucial. Unless you have the techo-savvy skills and

extra-careful hands, do not attempt to install RAM chips

on a laptop machine; let the professionals handle that for you.

It's okay if you can install the modules by yourself on

desktop or server computers.

I'm pretty sure Best Buy, Staples, Office Depot and

even Circuit City sell ram chips for new PCs and motherboards.

Shop at your local electronics store and see what ram chips

they sell.

And after you install the right modules for your PC and

using any 9x version of Windows, use the tips that Gape

posted. It's been great making posts at this forum. Time

to sign off and move on to more important stuff in life.

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I don't want to start a flame war with you, but a few points:

1) First you chide me for overly long posts [which I believe I did NOT do; what I posted takes 8 short paragraphs to explain!] then you post multiple posts in a row that are each longer and aggregate to far still longer.

2) I stand uncorrected as you clearly still do NOT understand what I said. As such, I will repeat what I said clarifying accordingly:

ALL MEMORY AGES AND GETS SLOWER. The circuitry of the memory is CAPABLE of dealing with the memory at its ultimate lower speed; reputable memory does this by not attempting to exploit the "extra" speed the memory has when it is "young". Because of the SPD chip and the way the memory is timed, this "extra" speed capability is not used. Thus, you have a smooth operation of memory that runs as you expect from day one and for years to come, etc.

Unfortunately there are disreputable memory chip vendors who sell memory sticks that emit bogus timing information that leads the mainboard to believe that the memory is capable of what ultimately it is not, namely reliable operation at the rated speed down the road. If the mainboard can be manually timed by ignoring the SPD information, you can indefinitely get the memory to run at WORSE than rated speed reliably, but you can only get the rated speed while the memory is "young" enough in terms of powered-on hours, etc.

Unfortunately, the trend today is to have BIOSes without manual timing characteristics/settings, so you are at the mercy of the SPD chip on the memory stick telling you a conservative figure that can be trusted IF the vendor is reputable, or you are installing a "ticking time bomb" of a memory stick destined to fail when you have powered on the machine long enough.

So, for your example, the point is that say a memory is rated for PC100 service which means that you can complete a memory cycle in 8.x nanoseconds. A reputable vendor uses chips that when actually new COULD have been rated to be able to cycle in say 6 nanoseconds. However, being reputable, he sets up the SPD chip to give back info that says the chip runs in 8.x nanoseconds and all is fine indefinitely since once the memory has say a few thousand powered-on hours, it ages down to only actually being able to do 8.x nanoseconds, etc. Since this is in spec, you have reliable operation. Notice that your machine never changes how fast it goes relative to memory speed, since the chip timing always is the same. The only difference is that the "headroom" the chip has regarding how close to the edge of whether it really can do it or not is getting closer to the edge as the chip ages, but reputable memory never goes over the edge, etc.

Mr. Sleeze down the street sells the same chips that TODAY do 6 nanoseconds as "PC133" memory with an SPD that tells you that the stick does 6.x nanoseconds cycles. And today it actually does work. But several thousand powered-on hours from now, your machine is freezing up because at that point the chip is only able to do the 8.x speed as above.

Mr. Sleeze also sells you "PC100" chips that are actually more like 10 nanoseconds ultimately but today will pass for 8.x nanoseconds and will work for awhile. Down the road your machine locks up/freezes/crashes, etc.

So we have come full cycle as to why I brought it all up.

I have had numerous experiences over the years with memory that aged out of spec leading to numerous "interesting" machine failures. Some of them are quite curious, such as:

One machine could run MS/PC-DOS 6.x and Windows 3.1 but OS/2 crashes with an error message usually associated with bad memory. Also DR-DOS refuses to load on the same machine. However, the same machine eventually won't even finish the POST with the crap memory in it. Changing over to reliable memory solves all problems, etc.

I have a small box here somewhere chock full of crap memory that can be made to work on some machines if you retard the timing enough [assuming the BIOS will even let you!]. But I won't put it back into a machine that has to be depended upon, etc. Some of the chips are DDR, some say PC133 and some say PC100. I wouldn't believe what any of them have printed on them, but someone did when they were new!


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CLASYS does have a point,memory is obviously going to age,there was the old ram and now the sdram now the ddr n whats next?maybe ram thats built in to the mobo

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