Fog Creek Software
Discussion Board

Windows XP Pro resource issues

I have a 9.8 gigabyte hard drive, 264 megabytes of RAM, running Windows XP Pro and virtually nothing else on the hard drive because I have everything else set to operate off of a separate hard drive, no viruses, virtual memory allocated for 383 megabytes, but are still encountering resource issues, unterminated strings in Netscape, Explorer not refreshing even after commanding Explorer to refresh, both of which are running on DSL, and a warning that I have only 31 megabytes of free space remaining, and oh-so-slow-to-load programs.

I was always under the impression that if a computer manufacturer made a computer with a hard drive the size of the core of this planet, with memory chips that rose from the surface to the edge of space, Windows would max it out and call for more resources. Does anyone have any advice other than to switch to Apple?

Terrence Robertson
Friday, May 23, 2003

Try Windows 2000. I found that XP Pro was much heavier on the computer than 2000 for little extra benefit.

Matthew Lock
Friday, May 23, 2003

264MB (or 256MB?) of RAM is not very much these days (and memory is cheap), and a 383MB swap file is relatively small (or do you mean a total virtual memory of 383MB, meaning an even smaller 119MB swap file?). You don't say where the warning that you "have only 31 megabytes of free space remaining" is coming from, but the wording sounds like it refers to DISK space. If your 9.8GB drive only has 31MB of free space, that can cause a lot of performance problems as well as serious fragmentation. You didn't mention the CPU speed - is this a really old, slow system? Is your 9.8GB drive partitioned into multiple "drives" - how big is your C: drive?

With not much information to go on, I would suggest: freeing up space on the hard drive, clearing the browser cache (both browsers), defragmenting the hard drive, increasing the swap file size (or letting Windows manage it), adding more memory; or (if it's an old, slow system), upgrading the system box. You should also check to see what is actually being started in the background when you startup the system - there may be many more processes running (and consuming memory) than you realize.

Also, with a DSL connection, make sure you have a firewall (even if it's only the built-in Windows XP software firewall) to ensure that your system is not being swamped with traffic or attacks from the Internet.

Philip Dickerson
Friday, May 23, 2003

You can go through and disable a number of Windows services that are operating in the background.  A full listing is given at:

Friday, May 23, 2003

Something is wrong; first of all check out your disk space. Are you sure you don't have a virus or have filled the whole disk with diskcache.

What are you running as well as XP (the fact that you have most of your programs on another disk should scarcely affect perfomance at all)?

Also, how fast is your machine?

I have two machines (work and laptop) that run XP with 256MB of memory, and never have a problem.

Stephen Jones
Friday, May 23, 2003


That site contains serveral mistakes.  Don't go by what's posted there.

See this site:

Check you hard drive utilization.  Clean out your temp directories and borwser caches.  Look at how much hard drive space is fee.  Open up the task manager, and look at the PF Usage.  If this number is greater than your physical memory, you're in trouble.

Myron Semack
Friday, May 23, 2003

Check out system restore too. I found it was taking up a gig so I put it back to the minimum 2% instead of the 12% of disk space it sets by default.

Stephen Jones
Friday, May 23, 2003


Nice link.  I should have posted a caveat with my link.  The site author's method of determining which services you can disable were determined by trial and error - not any specialized knowledge or insight.

Friday, May 23, 2003

xp resource limits - xp pro can use at most 4GB of physical memory. Windows Server+ can use upto 32GB btw. Diskspace limit is either 4-16TB, I forget which.  Either way, these are clearly not the problem you are hitting.

My smallest box runs 512mb ram, 768mb page.  My biggest problem is with d*mn nvidia drivers

Tuesday, May 27, 2003

*  Recent Topics

*  Fog Creek Home