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VCACHE SETTINGS & Win95

Last reviewed: August 2002

VCache is wonderful, but very very greedy in Win95

Windows stores recently used data in main memory (RAM) so it is immediately available if required again soon. That data is retrieved from memory's VCache instead of from the slow swapfile on the Hard Disk (aka Virtual Memory).

That sounds like a definite speed boost, and so it is.

However, it appears the cache does not always operate correctly in Win95. It can leave little available (free) RAM for other software you wish to use, and that can deteriorate overall performance. This problem has been mostly corrected in Win98, WinSE, & WinMe (even they can be tweaked for games!).

Please read VCACHE SETTINGS WIN9x before making any changes

QUICK FIX for Win95 VCACHE       All users

Tune VCache with a freeware Utility

Win95 regularly prevents you from using much of your main memory (RAM) for non-Windows programs, including games. This restriction can be alleviated by changes to RAM's disk cache called VCache in Windows/system.ini. The speed boost can be quite dramatic.

Cacheman: Download this small FREE cache-specific utility to make the changes required.

Just click on Optimize Disk Cache Size, and select the option which best suits your usage. Or you can change the 2 slide bars or the edit fields to manually set the disk cache size.
(use the Cd writer option if you only use your computer for games)
Then click on File and select Save & Exit.

This utility also offers a Remove Cache Optimization option should you be unhappy with any alteration made. Cacheman also shows the amount of Physical Memory currently free.

The optimal settings for VCache are user, and OS, dependent so you should read the suggested VCache settings on this page to get started.

• A reboot is necessary after an alteration is made.

get it here Cacheman (freeware; v 2.0; 136KB)       Cacheman Home Site


VCACHE

VCache is a cache area in physical memory (RAM)

• More physical memory means a larger VCache plus more free memory and less paging.
• Limiting MaxFileCache means a smaller VCache plus more free memory and less paging.

You may, or not, have oodles of main memory (RAM). No matter what you have, it is of little use for additional programs if Win95 has claimed most of it for its own use! Read VCACHE SETTINGS

Windows uses a local disk cache (called VCache) in RAM for the most recently requested data from the Hard Disk. Also, instead of moving it all back to the HDD it retains some of the data in this Virtual Cache for easy and quick access if its needed again.

These items in VCache are available at RAM access speed - greater speed results. By default, this cache expands and contracts dynamically according to the needs of newly opened programs.

The principle is excellent, but its implementation in Win95 is suitable only for systems with oodles of RAM (and sometimes not even then!). VCache is supposed to shrink sufficiently to allow for new requirements in RAM's executable area. It fails to release sufficient RAM and the swapfile into use far too soon. That means increased Hard Disk activity and a slowing of system performance. The default settings for the cache can utilize most of your RAM! Fortunately, we can limit its use.

Please Note: The terms 'memory', 'main memory', and 'RAM' all refer to the physical quantity of installed system memory. They DO NOT refer to 'free memory', 'Virtual Memory', or to Microsoft's 'Total Memory' (which is RAM plus Virtual Memory).


MANUALLY TUNING VCACHE         Intermediate users

EXAMPLE ONLY - Manually tuning VCache

Manually changing VCache is quite straightforward - just beware of 'typos'!
! Backup the file system.ini first (its in the Windows directory)

• Open System.ini in Notepad
    [Select Start • Run. Type in SYSEDIT (MSCONFIG for Win Me), and click OK.
• Scroll down to the [VCache] section of System.ini
Enter in, or Edit, these lines in the [VCache] section (numbers are in KBs)
Save the file. A reboot is necessary for the changes to take effect.

[VCache]
minfilecache=4096
maxfilecache=4096
Chunksize=512
NameCache=2048
DirectoryCache=48

Initially, you can concentrate on the MaxFileCache (and MinFileCache), leaving the other settings for fine-tuning later. Also, when tweaking VCache, you should not try other types of computer tweaks until you have established your best settings for VCache! Focus on one major tweak at a time.

Note: Do not enter KB (for KiloBytes) after the numbers (and remember 1MB = 1024KB).


GAMES OR WINDOWS USAGE

If games are your priority
You need to release as much RAM as possible from Win95 for use with your games - the more the better! You must ensure you leave enough for Windows basic operations and that amount will obviously depend on your setup. The following figures are not arbitrary. They are suggestions to get you started in achieving the best for your own system requirements.

Just remember that this curtails the RAM available to Windows at any time until the setting is re-adjusted, and could sometimes lead to excessive use of slow swapfile use (paging to/from the Hard Disk) if intensive Windows activity is called for.

It's usual to rigidly limit Win95's use of VCache for best games performance. MaxFileCache & MinFileCache can be set to the same level - especially in low-memory systems.

If Windows/Apps usage is your priority
It may be tempting to allow Windows to work dynamically (the default). However you will find that Win95 will quickly hog most of your RAM and is slow to release unrequired data, leaving little for other programs. Hard Disk trashing will result - a performance hit.

Alteratively, you will want to ensure Windows has sufficient RAM available for its basic functions (covered by MinFileCache) and also for additional functions (covered by MaxFileCache) on need. The basic requirements for Win95 are substantially less than for Win98(+).

Try setting the min and max sizes close together if you use many large disk intensive applications like the suites available today. It's said, this can improve their performance.


OVERALL

Please remember:

1. The suggested settings below are specific to Windows 95
    They do not apply to VCache & Win98/SE/Me

2. The optimum VCache settings are system/user specific.

3. The VCache settings given below are only suggestions to get you started.
    They are, however, likely to be very close to the optimum for most Win95 systems.

4. MaxFileCache is the most important setting. MinFileCache can be important on some PCs.

5. Other settings can be left alone until you are happy with the size of VCache.

6. You can easily change the VCache settings with the freeware utility Cacheman
    and need to manually alter VCache only if fine tuning is required.

7. The line ConservativeSwapfileUsage=1 (limits paging) is not needed with Win95.

8. It's normal practice to backup System.ini first - just in case!

9. Main Memory (RAM) is measured in MegaBytes (MB), and 1 MB=1024 KB.
10. VCache size is in KiloBytes (KB). Use in steps of 1024KB.
11.The letters KB are not entered after the numbers.


8MB RAM & VCACHE

95 Limiting VCache settings with Win95 & 8MB of RAM

YOU URGENTLY NEED MORE RAM!

However, try ...

Mainly games usage:
minfilecache=1024
maxfilecache=1024

Mixed usage:
minfilecache=1024
maxfilecache=2048

Mainly Windows/Applications usage:
minfilecache=1024
maxfilecache=2048

All Users:
When you are satisfied with the VCache size, you can add the following lines under the above:
chunksize=256
namecache=1024
directorycache=48


16MB RAM & VCACHE

95 Limiting VCache settings with Win95 & 16MB of RAM

Mainly games usage:
minfilecache=2048
maxfilecache=2048
You can also try 1024 for both, or for only the MinFileCache, and especially if you never use large Windows applications - you can stay with that if Windows is happy with it.

Mixed usage:
minfilecache=2048
maxfilecache=3072

Mainly Windows/Applications usage:
minfilecache=2048
maxfilecache=4096

All Users:
When you are satisfied with the VCache size, you can add the following lines under the above:
chunksize=512
namecache=2048
directorycache=48


32MB RAM & VCACHE

95 Limiting VCache settings with Win95 & 32MB of RAM

Mainly games usage:
minfilecache=2048
maxfilecache=2048
You can also try 1024 for both, or for only the MinFileCache, and especially if you never use large Windows applications - you can stay with that if Windows is happy with it.

Mixed usage:
minfilecache=3072
maxfilecache=6144

Mainly Windows/Applications usage:
minfilecache=4096
maxfilecache=8192

All Users:
When you are satisfied with the VCache size, you can add the following lines under the above:
chunksize=512
namecache=2048
directorycache=48


48MB RAM & VCACHE

95 Limiting VCache settings with Win95 & 48MB of RAM

Mainly games usage:
minfilecache=3072
maxfilecache=3072
You can also try 2048 or 1024 for both, or for only the MinFileCache, and especially if you never use large Windows applications - you can stay with that if Windows is happy with it.

Mixed usage:
minfilecache=4096
maxfilecache=9216

Mainly Windows/Applications usage:
minfilecache=6144
maxfilecache=12288

All Users:
When you are satisfied with the VCache size, you can add the following lines under the above:
chunksize=512
namecache=2048
directorycache=48


64MB RAM & VCACHE

95 Limiting VCache settings with Win95 & 64MB of RAM

Mainly games usage:
minfilecache=4096
maxfilecache=4096
You can also try 3072 or 2048 for both, or for only the MinFileCache, and especially if you never use large Windows applications - you can stay with that if Windows is happy with it.

Mixed usage:
minfilecache=5120
maxfilecache=8192

Mainly Windows/Applications usage:
minfilecache=8192
maxfilecache=16384
Setting the MinFileCache is optional, but probably wise for Win95.
Increase both in steps of 1024 if using very memory-intensive Windows applications.

All Users:
When you are satisfied with the VCache size, you can add the following lines under the above:
chunksize=1024
namecache=4096
directorycache=96


96MB RAM & VCACHE

95 Limiting VCache settings with Win95 & 96MB of RAM

Mainly games usage:
minfilecache=7168
maxfilecache=7168
You can also try 6144 or down to 4096 for both, or for only the MinFileCache, and especially if you never use large Windows applications - you can stay with that if Windows is happy with it.

Mixed usage:
minfilecache=8192
maxfilecache=16384

Mainly Windows/Applications usage:
minfilecache=12288
maxfilecache=24576
Setting the MinFileCache is optional, but probably wise for Win95.
Increase both in steps of 1024 if using very memory-intensive Windows applications.

All Users:
When you are satisfied with the VCache size, you can add the following lines under the above:
chunksize=2048
namecache=4096
directorycache=96


128MB RAM & VCACHE

95 Limiting VCache settings with Win95 & 128MB of RAM

Mainly games usage:
minfilecache=8192
maxfilecache=8192
You can also try 7168 or down to 4096 for both, or for only the MinFileCache, and especially if you never use large Windows applications - you can stay with that if Windows is happy with it.

Mixed usage:
minfilecache=8192
maxfilecache=16384

Mainly Windows/Applications usage:
minfilecache=8192
maxfilecache=32768
Increase both in steps of 1024 if using very memory-intensive Windows applications.

All Users:
chunksize=2048
namecache=4096
directorycache=96

Note: If you ARE setting a MaxFileCache and have more than 128MB RAM, then you should first try limiting MaxFileCache to 70% of total installed physical RAM.
The line ConservativeSwapfileUsage=1 (limits paging) is not needed with Win95.


256MB RAM & VCACHE

95 Limiting VCache settings with Win95 & 256MB of RAM

Mainly games usage:
minfilecache=8192
maxfilecache=8192
You can also try 7168 or down to 4096 for both, but as you are probably using large applications, you might be better advised using the 'Mainly Windows/Applications usage:'

Mixed usage:
minfilecache=8192
maxfilecache=16384

Mainly Windows/Applications usage:
minfilecache=32768
maxfilecache=65536
Increase both in steps of 1024 if using very memory-intensive Windows applications.

All Users:
chunksize=2048
namecache=4096
directorycache=96

Note: If you ARE setting a MaxFileCache and have more than 128MB RAM, then you should first try limiting MaxFileCache to 70% of total installed physical RAM.
The line ConservativeSwapfileUsage=1 (limits paging) is not needed with Win95.


512MB RAM & VCACHE

95 Limiting VCache settings with Win95 & 512MB, and more, of RAM

Mainly games usage:
minfilecache=8192
maxfilecache=8192
You can also try 7168 or down to 6144 for both, but as you are probably using large applications, you might be better advised using the 'Mainly Windows/Applications usage:'

Mixed usage:
minfilecache=8192
maxfilecache=16384

Mainly Windows/Applications usage:
minfilecache=65536
maxfilecache=131072
Increase both in steps of 1024 if using very memory-intensive Windows applications.

All Users:
chunksize=2048
namecache=4096
directorycache=96

Note: If you ARE setting a MaxFileCache and have more than 128MB RAM, then you should first try limiting MaxFileCache to 70% of total installed physical RAM, and MaxFileCache should not exceed 512MB (524288).
The line ConservativeSwapfileUsage=1 (limits paging) is not needed with Win95.


1GB RAM & VCACHE

95 Limiting VCache settings with Win95 & 1GB, and more, of RAM

Caution: Windows may not start if your computer has 1 gigabyte (GB) or more, of RAM memory installed. Also you may receive the following error message when you try to start your computer: Insufficient memory to initialize Windows. This applies to Win95/98/SE/Me.

The main cause seems to be Windows' inability to manage VCache correctly with large RAM.

The cure, according to Microsoft, is to artificially limit the quantity of accessed RAM to 768MB. Read Error Message: Insufficient Memory to Initialize Windows at the Microsoft site.

1. Quit one or more memory-resident programs or remove unnecessary utilities from your CONFIG.SYS and AUTOEXEC.BAT files, and restart your computer.
2. If the problem occurs during Windows Setup or its first run, add the following line in the [386Enh] section of System.ini (limits the physical RAM that Windows can access to 768MB)
MaxPhysPage=30000

This restriction may be too strict. You could try a value a little less than 1 GB, thereby making most of your RAM available - be prepared for a little experimentation.

Note: If you ARE setting a MaxFileCache and have more than 128MB RAM, then you should first try limiting MaxFileCache to 70% of total installed physical RAM, and MaxFileCache should not exceed 512MB (524288).

The line ConservativeSwapfileUsage=1 (limits paging) is not needed with Win95.


CONVERSIONS

MegaByte to KiloByte conversions

    MB (=KB)

      2 (2048)          3 (3072)
      4 (4096)          6 (6144)
      8 (8192)        10 (10240)     12 (12288)
    16 (16384)      20 (20480)     24 (16384)

    32 (32768)      48 (49152)
    64 (65536)      96 (98304)

  128 (131072)     160 (163840)     192 (196608)
  256 (262144)     320 (327680)     384 (393216)     448 (458752)
  512 (524288)     640 (655360)     768 (786432)     896 (917504)

1024 (1048576)     1280 (1310720)    1536 (1572864)     1792 (1835008)

2048 (2097152)

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Please remember that you alone are responsible for the consequences of any changes you make to your computer hardware or software.

Copyright © LarryM 1998-2013 thpc@mail.com