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Windows 95 > Troubleshooting Windows 95

Stop Windows 95 "disk thrashing"

By: Arie Slob

Many users have at one point experienced the tendency of Windows 95 to stop responding, while a lot of "disk thrashing" is going on. This is caused by Windows 95 resizing your swap file. Windows 95 swap file management is not very efficient if left managed by Windows. To improve your systems performance, follow these steps:

One: Virtual Memory

(Advised for any CPU less than a Pentium 100/120MHz and/or if you have less then 32MB of RAM. If your CPU is faster Windows 95 will hardly spend time on re-sizing the swap file, and if you have more than 32MB of RAM, and have at least a MaxFileCache setting in System.ini (see under Three: Virtual Cache) Windows 95 will hardly ever use the swap file).

  1. Click Start > Settings > Control Panel
  2. Open System and select the Performance tab
  3. Click Virtual Memory
  4. Choose Let me specify my own virtual memory settings
  5. If you have a second Hard Drive where you keep some programs that you use less frequent, putting the swap file on that drive will improve it's performance, since that disk is not used so frequently as the drive with Windows 95 on it
  6. Specify a value for the Mimimum, so Windows 95 doesn't try to re-size the file down, once it isn't using it. The size of your swap file is depended on the tasks you run on your computer, use System Monitor to monitor the size of your swap file over a period of time. Open all programs you are likely to use at one time and check your swap file size. Use that value for the Minimum. Don't specify a Maximum value: You are likely to forget about it, and by the time Windows needs it, and complains it is running out of memory, you've forgotten all about your swapfile settings, pulling your hair out why you get the error while you just added another xxMB of RAM!

    System Monitor (sysmon.exe) can be found on the CD-ROM version of Windows 95, or can be downloaded from Microsoft [56 KB]

  7. Press OK twice, and let Windows restart your computer

Two: Defragmenting the swap file

If you are going to use a fixed (minimum) size for your swap file, remember to defragment the drive where you are going to put the swapfile first.

Three: Virtual Cache

This is the Disk Cache (replacement for smartdrive), not to confuse with Virtual Memory. Some users only use a maximum setting, others a maximum and minimum setting. Just experiment and find what's best in your situation.

  1. Open System.ini for editing (click Start > Run and type sysedit in the Open box and click OK)
  2. Select System.ini in the System Configuration Editor to bring it to the front
  3. Add these lines to the [vcache] section (add the section if it's not there):

(This setting is for 32MB RAM)

These values limit the size of the vcache (in kilobytes), so that Windows is prevented from using more of your available RAM for the vcache. This will increase the amount of free memory available to your system, so that when you open another program it is not paged to disk immediately due to lack of free memory.

The MinFileCache (=Minimum File Cache) setting prevents Windows 95 from shrinking the cache below 1024KB. As a rule of thumb, use 25% of your RAM for the MaxFileCache. In general, most users say that a MaxFileCache (=Maximum File Cache setting) of up to 9MB works best for them, even if they have more RAM available. Just experiment with these settings to find what works best for you. You can see how your vcache behaves by starting System Monitor (Sysmon.exe) from your Windows directory. Choose Edit > Add Item > Memory Manager > Disk cache size.

Four: RAM

The best way to stop Windows 95 from using the swap file is to add more RAM. If you have more memory, Windows 95 will use the swap file less frequently. Just make sure to apply the [vcache] "fix" (see Three: Virtual Cache).

Five: MS Office

If you have MS Office installed, removing Find Fast from your StartUp folder will decrease your hard disk activity. Normally Find Fast will from time to time index the files on your drive(s), to speed-up opening them in MS-Office. We personally don't care if we have to wait the additional milliseconds when opening a document in Word, at least we know what we're waiting for!

To reclaim the space used by the find-fast index, go to Control Panel, select Find Fast, select your hard drive(s) and from the Index menu, choose Delete Index. When you've deleted your Index, choose Close and Stop.

More information on the Office 97 Find Fast utility can be found on Microsoft's Web site.