Got rid of my Cache files

My work laptop has passed some critical threshold and now is having performance difficulties. Based on the task manager and the disk thrashing it looks like it just needs more memory. It only has 512 Mbytes at the moment, which is kind of low given the demanding applications I sometimes run on it. So more memory is on the way.

This got me to thinking about my home machine. I had 1 Gbyte on it and was noticing that applications were starting to get a little sluggish. Especially if I had them minimized for any length of time and then tried to use them. Some hard drive thrashing and a few moments later then I could be on my way. So I decided to pick up some extra memory.

I ended up buying 2 Gbytes of DDR 400 MHZ RAM. Due to the memory slot configuration on my PowerSpec 8922, this meant pulling out 512 Mbytes of existing RAM resulting in 2.5 Gbytes of RAM total.

Running the machine with this much memory yielded a notable improvement, but not as much as I’d hoped.

After little research I came to the conclusion that if I have a Gigabyte or more of RAM and I’m not doing major Video / Music editting I can probably do away with my Cache file.

So I went into “My Computer” properties and disabled the cache file. With some trepidation I restarted the machine and… it came up just fine. Better than that, wow! is it ever fast now. All apps come to the foreground immediately. The sluggishness that was starting to irk me was gone 🙂

I’ve kept the Task Manager up and have been monitoring my memory consumption for the past few days and I’ve yet to dip below 1.4 Gbytes of free memory. AMPLE buffer. The geeks among you will want to peek below to see what I typically have running on my machine and still have this much free.

So I went to my Lenovo tablet, it has 1 Gbyte of RAM. Similar results. And I typically have about 400 Mbytes free all the time. Though it should be noted that I do not run nearly as much stuff on it at any one time. It has a slower processor and it’s not intended to do so much background stuff for me.

But I am very pleased with the results and would recommend doing this to anybody who has at least 1 Gbyte of memory on their machines. You need to be cautious if you have a cheaper machine that shares its RAM out as Video RAM. Try to be sure you’ve got plenty of available RAM before you try this.

One thing to note about the Windows Task manager performance view. It will still show PF (Page File) Usage and Page File Usage History even with the Cache disabled. You can verify that you’ve actually disabled the cache by looking for “pagefile.sys” in the root of your C:\ drive (for most people – if yours is not there you probably already know where to look for it). Make sure you’ve got windows explorer configered to see system files if you’re going to try to look for this file. Apparently the page file information is to let you know what it *would* be paging out if it could. Not sure how much use this item is with a page file in place as I’m not so certain you can trust that what it *says* is swapped out is really what’s out there…

As a side note, if anybody out there is looking for some extra memory, I have a pair of matched 256 MByte (512 MByte total) DDR 400 Mhz memory sticks that I’m looking to sell really reasonably. I paid $95 when I first got the machine about 3 years ago. $20 anybody?

For what I’m running on my main machine:

  • iTunes
  • FireFox
  • Doppler (podcatcher)
  • NewsRover (Usenet aggregator)
  • Outlook
  • Firefly Server
  • Roboform
  • Norton AV
  • Windows Defender
  • Clipboard recorder
  • ActiveWords
  • APC Power Chute Personal Edition
  • Taskbar Shuffle
  • Google Desktop

Frequently (always have a couple of these running):

  • Synergy (control my laptop with main keyboard and mouse)
  • IE (for those sites that just can’t get it right..)
  • Quicken
  • Crimson Editor
  • Picassa


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