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Freeing physical memory in Windows 98


Years ago I used Memmaker when I was running DOS 6.22 and Windows 3.1. I could tweek my memory with this DOS application from time to time. Now I am running Windows 98. Is there a similar means by which I can adjust my memory configuration under Windows 98? Please advise, thanks.

Ed R.


This question was answered on January 23, 2001. Much of the information contained herein may have changed since posting.


It sounds like you yave a bit of experience with comupters--I used to do the very same thing with DOS and 3.1 It was fun However, Windows 98 is designed to manage memory automatically and dynamically It attempts to load as much into physical memory as possible and use your virtual memory (paging file on your hard disc) when it needs to free up physical memory (RAM)

I find it frustrating as well I have 256MB on my computer at home, and I watch my system monitor's report as the free RAM goes down and down Programs are supposed to "release" physical memory after closing, but my experience has been that most programs do a poor job of this

A nice little utility that can be downloaded is called MaxMem at It is a realtime physical memory management program that automatically ensures that you always have as much physical memory available as possible It does this by allowing you to set minimum amounts of memory to be made available under certain circumstance, and then passively monitoring how much system resources are being used.

To gain as much memory as possible on startup, check to find out what programs are loading automatically at startup, either in the systray or your startup folder Configure the porgrams you only absolutely need for startup, and you will have more free memory to work with Follow the steps below:

No one will set a lower limit for the "normal" or "necessary" amount of free memory that a system needs It is determined more by whether the user is satisfied with the speed of the system or whether the system is having an unreasonable number of error messages that say "This Program Has Performed An Illegal Operation&" Most sources mention free memory of at least 70% More is better Ninety percent is very good

The WIN98 Troubleshooter for Memory says: "When you quit a program but don't restart your computer, the program might not return memory resources to the system Restarting your computer releases the system resources."

Removing some of the programs from the System Tray will probably improve the numbers The following steps from the WIN98 Troubleshooter for Memory will permanently close them:

Do too many programs run automatically when you start Windows 98?

If you have too many programs set to run automatically when you start Windows 98, you might not have enough free memory to run an additional program, even after you restart your computer

To determine whether you have too many programs set to run automatically

1 Click Start, and then click Run

2 In the Open box, type Msconfig.exe, and then click OK

3 On the General tab, click to select Selective Startup

4 In the Selective Startup area, click to clear the Process Win.ini file check box and the Load startup group items check box

5 Click OK, and then click Yes when prompted to restart your computer

If this action solves the problem, you can configure your computer to always start up with no open programs

To configure your computer so that no program opens automatically

1 Reset the changes you made in Msconfig.exe:

a Click Start, and then click Run

b In the Open box, type Msconfig.exe, and then click OK

c On the General tab, select Normal Startup

d Click OK, and then click Yes when prompted to restart your computer

2 Delete all the shortcuts in the Startup folder

a Click Start, point to Settings, and then click Taskbar & Start Menu

b On the Start Menu Programs tab, click Remove

c Click the plus sign ( ) next to the Startup folder to expose a list of the programs set to run automatically

� If there is no plus sign ( )next to the Startup folder, there are no programs set to run automatically Click Close to abort this procedure

d Click each of the shortcuts in the Startup folder, and then click Remove.

This action deletes the shortcut from the Start menu, but it does not delete the corresponding program from your hard disk

e Repeat step 4 for each shortcut in the Startup folder

f Click Close

3 Disable any programs loading from the Win.ini file:

a Click Start, and then click Run

b In the Open box, type Msconfig.exe, and then click OK

c On the Win.ini tab, open [windows]

d Click to clear the Load= and Run= check boxes

e Click OK

4 Click Start, and then click Shut Down

5 Click Restart the computer, and then click OK

6 Run the program again after the computer restarts."

(Be very careful to delete only what you can identify and are SURE that you can live without Do not delete Systray or ScanRegistry.) Be ready with a complete backup of your harddrive just in case you run into trouble

Have fun and good luck.

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Posted by Robert of Chandler-Gilbert Community College on January 23, 2001