Improving Vista’s Memory

A long time ago, in an operating system far, far away, the PCs of a bygone era had woefully inadequate amounts of RAM, and the versions of Windows used back then would have to regularly swap portions of the contents of RAM back to slower, disk-based storage called virtual memory. Virtual memory was (and still is, really) an inexpensive way to overcome the limitations inherent to a low-RAM PC; but as users ran more and more applications, the amount of swapping would reach a crescendo of sorts as a magical line was crossed and performance suffered.

Today, PCs with 2 to 4GB of RAM are commonplace, so manually managing Windows Vista’s virtual memory settings is rarely needed. That said, you can do so if you want, though you’ll have to navigate through a stupefying number of windows to find the interface:

1. Open the Start Menu, right-click on Computer, and choose Properties.

2. In the System window that appears, click the Advanced System Settings link in the Tasks list on the left.

3. In the System Properties window that appears, navigate to the Advanced tab and click the Settings button in the Performance section.

4. In the Performance Options dialog that appears, navigate to the Advanced tab and click the Change button. (Whew!)

By default, Vista is configured to automatically maintain and manage the paging file, which is the single disk-based file that represents your PC’s virtual memory. Vista will grow and shrink this file based on its needs, and its behavior varies wildly depending on how much RAM is on your system: PCs with less RAM need virtual memory far more often than those with 4GB of RAM (or more with 64-bit versions of Vista). While I don’t generally recommend screwing around with the swap file, Vista’s need to constantly resize the paging file on low-RAM systems is one exception. The problem with this behavior is that resizing the paging is a resource-intensive activity that slows performance. Therefore, if you have less than 2GB of RAM and can’t upgrade for some reason, you might want to manually manage virtual memory and set the paging file to be a fixed size—one that won’t grow and shrink over time.

To do this, uncheck the option titled Automatically Manage Paging File Sizes for All Drives and select Custom Size. Then determine how much space to set aside by multiplying the system RAM (2GB or less) by 2 to 3 times. On a PC with 2GB of RAM, for example, you might specify a value of 5120 (where 2GB of RAM is 2,048MB, times 2.5). This value should be added to both the Initial Size and Maximum Size text boxes to ensure that the page file does not grow and shrink over time.

Source of Information : Wiley Windows Vista Secrets SP1 Edition Oct 2008

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