Insight from Denmark, Part 3: Solutions to Windows’ memory woes on older computers

Ever seen this Window’s warning:

virtualmemorytoolowqo9

How many times have I had to see that warning when I run 2-3 programs simultaneously (even small programs)!

I thought I had overcome all problems when I looked at the registry and uninstalled all useless programs completely, but no – Bill Gates won’t let me rest. You see I have a desktop with around 400 MB of RAM, a 1000 MHz CPU, and Windows XP Professional and a laptop with 215 MB RAM, 1600 MHZ CPU, and Windows XP, so regardless of how clean I keep my computer, I had to find something new that could help me out of my virtual nightmare :O(. So I looked around and found four different solutions which I want to share with all dotTechies:

  • Buy more RAM (costs money)
  • Automatically modify virtual memory with CachemanXP (free with one limitation)
  • Optimize virtual memory with O&O CleverCache (freebie)
  • Optimize RAM usage with various different programs (free)

Buy more RAM

Undoubtedly the most effective way to improve computer performance, and to avoid the pesky warning windows, is to improve on the hardware – RAM in this case.

So I started to buy more RAM from my computers. For my laptop this was the perfect solution because, as we all know, RAM is very cheap nowadays. However, this was not a very good solution for my desktop because my desktop needs older RAM (i.e. DDR instead of DDR2 or DDR3) and older RAM costs way too much. In fact, for my desktop RAM cost more than 6 times than equivalent amount of RAM for my laptop. So it was an expensive experience for my desktop, but inexpensive enough for my laptop computer.

After I had put more RAM in my laptop, there were no further problems with the virtual memory (I now had over 1000 MB of RAM, but on the other computer, I could only buy 512 MB of RAM – 1000 MB was not sold anywhere??) and I could not use my old ram to supplement, so it ended up that I had only 512 MB of RAM for Windows to use (on my desktop) so Windows still complained about the virtual memory. Since buying more RAM was not an option, I went onto my other solutions.

Automatically modify virtual memory with CachemanXP

CachemanXP is a program that does a few things related to memory management. Primarily, CachemanXP continually modifies virtual memory size, as opposed to Windows doing it only when you run out of virtual memory, so you never have to incur performance issues and stop your work because of having no more virtual memory left.

CachemanXP can only be used on XP and earlier versions. If you want it for Vista, you must pay up for Cacheman. Do take note, though, the free version of CachemanXP is limited: only users who purchase CachemanXP can take advantage of the “auto-optimize” feature.

After I installed CachemanXP I never heard Windows whine again :O).

CachemanXP main

CachemanXP main

CachemanXP Optimisation screen

CachemanXP Optimization screen

Optimize virtual memory with O&O CleverCache

O&O CleverCache is another program that does memory management; it is similar to CachemanXP it an extent. However, the focus of CleverCache is more on optimization of virtual memory as opposed to just increasing it.

Another advantage of CleverCache is, although it is a commercial program, you can get v6 Professional (v7 is the latest but it just came out this month) for free via a promotion Ashraf has discussed earlier. So, unlike CachemanXP which has limited features in the free version, you get to use all the features of CleverCache without limitation.

O&O CleverCache is designed to run on Windows NT4 Workstation, Windows 2000 Professional, Windows XP Home Edition, Windows Vista, and Windows XP Professional.

I installed O&O CleverCache on a computer I don’t use very often but the computer runs very intensive programs, primarily heavy security software. I do feel the computer has become more awake thanks to CleverCache.

Features in O&O Clever Cache

Features in O&O Clever Cache

O&O main screen

O&O Main Screen

O&O CleverCache system monitor processor

O&O CleverCache System Monitor Processor

Optimize RAM usage with various different programs

If you do not have a lot of RAM on your computer, and you can’t afford to buy more RAM, a RAM optimizer may provide you with some relief. There are RAM optimizers on the market. Ashraf’s favorite, as he has stated before, is CleanMem; I sometimes use old versions of MaxRAMFree and RamBooster. All three will try to regain RAM that is tied up but not being used. The main differences are how they attempt to do it. CleanMem and RamBooster look to release RAM that is tied up unnecessarily and not being used by telling Windows to clean up the mess, while MaxRamFree defragments the RAM to try to release RAM.

MaxRAMFree Main screen

MaxRAMFree Main screen

Rambooster Main screen

RamBooster Main Screen

I must say, I do practice what I preach; I have implemented all the solutions I mentioned to you above in different ways on 3 computers:

  • On a Compaq desktop with XP Professional, 512 MB RAM, and 1000 MHZ CPU I use MaxRAMFree, RamBooster, and CachemanXP.

I had the best results after installing MaxRAMFree; in other words my computer was responding better after having this app on. Also because I use CachemanXP,  my computer is more stable now and never comes with the Windows’ virtual memory warnings.

This is actually the computer I am having must fun with now.

  • On an Acer Aspire laptop with XP Home, 1200 MB RAM, and 1600 MHZ CPU 1600 I had the best results by upgrading the actual physical RAM. Before I added the new RAM, my laptop was not working at all; sometimes it would “read” the hard disk for 30 minutes and I could not do anything with it during that time.With the extra RAM I added, the computer is completely stable… even with multiple security software running; I can actually open many programs at a time now without any trouble at all.
  • On a HP Pavillion with XP Home, 1 GB RAM, and 3200 MHZ CPU I have O&O Clever Cache and CleanMem. I am glad to say the computer is more stable now. The computer has heavy anti-virus and anti-spyware, but it has a quicker response time than my laptop now – before it was “thinking” a lot.

Not all solutions mentioned above will work for everyone. Which one works for you depends on your specific needs. If you have memory problems, I suggest you give each one a go one-by-one and see which one works best for you.

Hope you enjoyed Part 3 of my Insight from Denmark series. We’ll see each other again in Part 4 :O). (If you missed Part 1 or Part 2 feel free to catch up.)

Here are links to all software mentioned in this article:

CachemanXP

Version reviewed: v2.0

Supported OS: Windows 2000/2003/XP

CachemanXP homepage [direct download]

O&O CleverCache

Read Ashraf’s article on “Free O&O CleverCache 6 Professional!” to learn more.

MaxRAMFree

Version reviewed: v1.02

Supported OS: Windows 98/ME/NT/2000/XP

MaxRAMFree homepage [direct download]

RamBooster

Version reviewed: v2

Supported OS: Windows 95/98/NT/ME/2000/XP

RamBooster homepage [direct download]

CleanMem

Read Ashraf’s article on CleanMem to learn more.

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9 comments

  1. Rob

    @Peter:
    You should be able to Google (or go to manufacturer’s web site) to get the specs for your video card.
    They should give you the power demands of the card.
    Desktop PC power supply’s usually have a label showing output.
    Or, you could just keep an eye on your PC’s power supply area for a couple of hours. Feel near it to gauge the warmth and also feel the air vent for frequency of blowing, and the warmth of that.
    Then do the same after you install the video card.
    Regards,
    Rob

  2. Peter
    Author/

    @Rob:

    Thanks for the reply, I hope you have figured out :
    “I have an oldish PC (my main PC), that ……….”
    I have a Graphic card I would like to put in my computer, but do not know if I have to chance the power supply too. :OI

    Have a nice time over there

  3. Rob

    I have a P4 2.4 and a P4 2.8.
    Both had 1GB of ram.
    I now have 2GB in the P4 2.4.
    I am running XP Pro, and have a lot of open Tabs in FF, and in Opera. And have about a dozen in IE7.
    FF will run, but barely, and stutters crashes a lot.
    I could not run more than one browser at a time, and even FF by itself would deteriorate, and/or crash.
    Now with 2GB, I can run the three browsers at one time.

    Do yourselves a favor, and run with 2GB

  4. Rob

    I have an oldish PC (my main PC), that uses DDR memory, and it could benefit from more ram.
    I have just inherited a couple of used video cards, that would be too power hungry for my power supply, and have a chance to swap them for some used DDR memory.
    The video cards are –
    Gigabyte GeFORCE 8600 GT GV-NX86T512H rev1.2
    They have two DV1 SOCKETS and one S-VIDEO SOCKET
    They have Silent Pipe II stamped into the plastic
    CD for the drivers, and for a game, and also manuals.

    I would be swapping each of them for 1GB sticks of used DDR ram.
    Is a clean swap two cards for two 1GB ram sticks, sound fair ?
    Is there anyting I have to look out for (lesser speed than the PC3200 that the MB expects) ?

    Thanks,
    Rob

  5. Peter
    Author/

    Thanks for your comments, It is nice to know what you are using, your experience etc. and if there is any other solutions out there. I newer did experience ReadyBoost, but did hear many positive things about it, it should actually bee the same as more RAM on the computer(as far I know). But in the near future I will have the possibility to explore it. :O)

    I hope you have enjoyed your weekend, and have a nice computing

  6. Darthyoda

    With Vista & 7 you can use the ReadyBoost that comes with Windows which uses a memory stick, and for XP there’s a product called eBoostr that also uses the flash drive. However eBoostr is a commercial product.

  7. MikeR

    Interesting article, much appreciated!

    I don’t use any external commercial or freebie software for resolving memory problems, however, but simply adjust performance needs as and when.

    Thus, for example, when I’m working with the hugely memory-hungry Photostory 3, I ensure no other applications are running, that the hard drive is clean of junk, then go to:

    My Computer / Properties / Advanced / Performance / Settings / Advanced / Virtual memory / Change

    and adjust Virtual Memory to allow Windows to call upon hard drive space.

    The above takes longer to write / say than it does to do, yet time and again I encounter friends who have no idea at all that they can ‘supplement’ memory resource on an as-and-when basis.

    In my case, I generally run at 1.5 x 1024 (1024 being the meagre amount of RAM in my machine) to 2.0 x 1024, but when messing around in PS3 set both the initial size and maximum size to 3.5 x 1024.

    Then when I’ve finished, I knock back virtual memory to its earlier minima / maxima, because for routine tasks there’s no need to slow down the computer by calling upon such heavy memory swapping with the hard drive.

    Obviously the slution to any memory problem is to buy more RAM but, but. . . many computers can’t take extra RAM (my 5-year-old Dell came with a then generous 512Mb; I’ve doubled it to 1Gg but that’s that, no further expansion is possible.)

    I think that tecchie terms like “page file” and “Virtual Memory” put off so many non-tecchies that they fail to make the most of the equipment they’ve got out of a misplaced fear that they’ll somehow wreck everything by making simple performance adjustments.

    (NB: the above procedure refers to XP, I’ve no idea if it’s the same in Vista or not.)

    As to performance boosters, I tend to be skeptical, especially where “RAM recovery” is concerned — but thanks for the heads up on CleverCache: I’ll go read Ashraf’s wise words now!