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PC Hardware Annoyances by Stephen J. Bigelow

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MAINTENANCE ANNOYANCES

DRIVE PERFORMANCE AND VIRTUAL MEMORY

The Annoyance:

Can I reduce or disable virtual memory to minimize drive access and increase my system performance?

The Fix:

You’re treading on some tricky ground here. The operating system sets aside hard drive space and essentially treats it like RAM. This virtual memory (VM) prevents your PC from crashing when real memory runs short. On the downside, VM is a lot slower than true RAM.

If you eliminate VM, you can prevent the operating system from using the drive space as RAM and improve your system performance. But you will not supercharge your system. For example, you may only gain an average of five seconds per minute, the time it takes your system to access VM. Without VM, you will also need to install enough physical RAM to accomodate the applications and their data files. As a rule, do not disable VM without a minimum of 1GB of RAM in the system.

Windows XP lets you control the amount of drive space allocated for VM. Select Start Control Panel Performance and Maintenance “See basic information about your computer.” Click the Advanced tab and click the Settings button in the Performance area. In the Performance Options dialog box, click the Advanced tab. Note the amount of space set aside for virtual memory (such as 768MB). To disable VM, choose the “No paging file” option and click the Set button. Otherwise, click the Change button and set a custom size or let Windows manage the VM size automatically (see Figure 5-9 ...

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