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WinXP Performance Options

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In answer to the following question I've been asked:

Does xp have a conservativeswapfileuse flag? if you're running 512MB or greater, you can get away with hardly ever using the swap file at all. Setting the flag above for 9x/ME systems tells windows to use memory first before swapping. It may be better to just set this, if xp has such a flag.

I haven't stumbled into that one as a registry edit for XP, but basically, setting the Advanced Performance Options for memory usage on "Programs" does that.  If you "Dot" the "System cache" option, then it uses more of the RAM memory for the system files caching, forcing your programs to use more of the "swap file" if it runs low on RAM.

I recommend ALWAYS using the swap file... you never know when you might have just one too many windows open or programs running, causing the system to need more memory than your physical RAM... thus, requiring the swap file.  If it's turned off or set too small the system can hang and possibly crash.

The following screen shots will show how to get to and set the swap file:


1) Right-click on the "My Computer" icon on the Desktop, and select "Properties"

2) Then on the Properties window, click the "Advanced" tab... Then, at the top under "Performance", click the "Settings" button:

3) For most users, I recommend settings for "Processor scheduling" and "Memory usage" as indicated above.  Then, to set the "Virtual memory", click the "Change" button...

4) There are two schools of thought on Virtual Memory settings... One (which works for most users) is to select the "System managed size". To do that, click the Drive letter in the Drive box to highlight the drive, click to dot the "System managed size" selection, and then hit the "Set" button.  Repeat for each drive.

5) The "second school of thought on Virtual Memory settings" is to manually set the memory min/max for each drive... Microsoft recommends:

  • your minimum Virtual Memory be set to 1.5 X RAM
  • your maximum Virtual Memory be set to 3 X RAM

I also recommend that you spread the Virtual Memory across more than one drive (partition) if you have more than just a C drive.  In my case, I have it set as below.  My reasons are as follows:

  • For "Crash-log" purposes, you want at least a min and max of 256 MB on your C drive.
  • I set 256 MB on my D drive instead of all the recommend Virtual Memory because my D drive is slightly slower than my other drive.
  • I set the balance of the recommend min and the max recommended on my E drive (a partition on the same drive as my C drive)



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This page last updated 09/29/11

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