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VCACHE & Win Me, SE, 98

Last reviewed: January 2003

VCache is wonderful - in principle, and now often in practice

Windows keeps data in main memory (RAM) so it is immediately available if required again soon. That data is stored in, or retrieved from, memory's VCache instead of having to use the slow swapfile on the Hard Disk (aka Virtual Memory).

That sounds like a definite speed boost, and so it is! Windows loves VCache. However, your game loves free RAM, not VCache!

Windows loves VCache. VCache works well in Win98, SE, & Me for Wins-only users with sufficient RAM. Those users can leave VCache at the installation default (dynamic resizing).

A game loves free memory. Gamers, and users without optimal RAM quantity, are still likely to gain by limiting the size of VCache's MaxFileCache. There are also special circumstances under which limiting VCache size is very important (>128MB RAM, and others).

Please read VCACHE SETTINGS WIN 9x first.

QUICK FIX for Win98, SE, Me VCACHE       All users

Tune VCache with a freeware Utility

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

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 Win98(+) has claimed too much 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, the cache contracts and expands dynamically according to executable RAM requirements.

The principle is excellent, and its implementation in Win98, Win98SE, & Win Me is now quite good for Windows/Applications users with sufficient amounts of RAM for their usage.

For other users (gamers or with insufficient RAM) it can still claim an excess of RAM leading to increased HD activity and a slowing of system performance. 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 check your typing!
! 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=8192 (or do not set it at all)
maxfilecache=16384
Chunksize=2048
NameCache=4096
DirectoryCache=96

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:  Games love free memory.
Some/many games will run well using the default dynamic VCache setting. Some, however, will run faster when a limit is put on VCache's maximum size. Also insufficient RAM for that system & usage will require setting a maximum.

A Win9x has a basic requirement of under 4 MB RAM in order to run. Obviously Win9xs need more for many operations and will gladly grab much much more. Setting a reasonable MaxFileCache ensures Win9x does not utilize memory that could be permanently free for games.

You must ensure you leave enough for Windows. Curtailing Windows access to sufficient VCache for basic operations could sometimes lead to excessive use of slow swapfile use (paging to/from the Hard Disk) if intensive Windows activity is called for. Hard Disk 'trashing' would occur.

The figures below are not arbitrary. They are suggestions to get you started in achieving the best for your own system requirements. Increase/decrease cache size in steps of 1024 or 2048.

If Win Apps are your priority:   Windows loves VCache.
It's far too tempting not to allow Windows work with the default (dynamic resizing). It does seem to work correctly, so why change it?

IF you do decide to limit VCache, then try setting the min and max sizes close together if you use many large disk-intensive applications like today's suites. It's said, this improves their performance 'substantially'. If you are unhappy with that, just set the MaxFileCache, and let Windows manage the MinFileCache.

Read below for information about important exceptions to the above.


OVERALL

Please remember:

1. The suggested settings, below, are specific to Windows 98, SE, & Me
    They do not apply to VCache & Win95

2. The Window default for VCache is adequate for many Win98, SE, Me users.

3. The VCache settings given below are only suggestions to get you started.
    They are, however, likely to be close to the optimum for most Win98, SE, Me users.

4. MaxFileCache is the most important setting if you limit VCache.

5. Other settings can be left alone until you are happy with the maximum 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. Use ConservativeSwapfileUsage=1 only if RAM >96MB & there's little/no paging.

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.MaxFileCache & MinFileCache sizes are in KiloBytes (KB). Use in steps of 1024KB.
11.The letters KB are not entered after the numbers if entered in System.ini.


16MB RAM & VCACHE

98 16MB RAM : Limiting VCache settings with Win98, SE, Me

YOU URGENTLY NEED MORE MAIN MEMORY!   However, try ...

Enter the lines in this color in the [VCACHE] section of SYSTEM.INI

Mainly games usage:
minfilecache=2048
maxfilecache=2048
You can try 1024 especially if you never use large Windows applications.

Mixed usage:
minfilecache=2048  (or do not set it)
maxfilecache=4096

Mainly Windows/Applications usage:
VCache works fine, so make no change (or try maxfilecache=8192 MinFileCache=6144)

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


32MB RAM & VCACHE

98 32MB RAM : Limiting VCache settings with Win98, SE, Me

YOU NEED MORE MAIN MEMORY!

Enter the lines in this color in the [VCACHE] section of SYSTEM.INI

Mainly games usage:
minfilecache=2048 (3072 for Win Me)
maxfilecache=2048 (3072 for Win Me)
You could try 1024 especially if you never use large Windows applications.

Mixed usage:
No MinFileCache (or try minfilecache=2048)
maxfilecache=8192

Mainly Windows/Applications usage:
VCache works fine, so make no change (or try maxfilecache=16384). No MinFileCache

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

98 48MB RAM : Limiting VCache settings with Win98, SE, Me

More main memory would help!

Enter the lines in this color in the [VCACHE] section of SYSTEM.INI

Mainly games usage:
minfilecache=3072 (4096 for Win Me)
maxfilecache=3072 (4096 for Win Me)
You could try down to 1024 especially if you never use large Windows applications.

Mixed usage:
No MinFileCache (or try minfilecache=6144)
maxfilecache=24576

Mainly Windows/Applications usage:
VCache works fine, so make no change (or try maxfilecache=32768). No MinFileCache

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

98 64MB RAM : Limiting VCache settings with Win98, SE, Me

Enter the lines in this color in the [VCACHE] section of SYSTEM.INI

Mainly games usage:
minfilecache=6144
maxfilecache=6144
You can try down to 3072 especially if you never use large Windows applications.

Mixed usage:
No MinFileCache (or try minfilecache=8192)
maxfilecache=24576

Mainly Windows/Applications usage:
VCache works fine, so make no change (or try maxfilecache=32768). No MinFileCache

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

98 96MB RAM : Limiting VCache settings with Win98, SE, Me

Enter the lines in this color in the [VCACHE] section of SYSTEM.INI

Mainly games usage:
minfilecache=12288 (16384 for Win Me)
maxfilecache=12288 (16384 for Win Me)
You can try down to 6144 especially if you never use large Windows applications.

Mixed usage:
No MinFileCache (or try minfilecache=16384)
maxfilecache=49152

Mainly Windows/Applications usage:
VCache works fine, so make no change (or try maxfilecache=65536. No MinFilecache

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

Read ConservativeSwapfileUsage=1 (limits paging) - MAY help if there's little/no paging.


128MB RAM & VCACHE

98 128MB RAM : Limiting VCache settings with Win98, SE, Me

Enter the lines in this color in the [VCACHE] section of SYSTEM.INI

Mainly games usage:
minfilecache=16384
maxfilecache=16384
You can try down to 8192 especially if you never use large Windows applications (gain unlikely).

Mixed usage:
No MinFileCache (or try minfilecache=32768)
maxfilecache=65536

Mainly Windows/Applications usage:
VCache works fine, so make no change (or try maxfilecache=98304). No MinFileCache

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

• Read ConservativeSwapfileUsage=1 (limit paging if RAM >96MB & there's little/no paging).


192MB RAM & VCACHE

98 192MB RAM : Limiting VCache settings with Win98, SE, Me

Enter the lines in this color in the [VCACHE] section of SYSTEM.INI

Mainly games usage:
minfilecache=49152 (or 32768)
maxfilecache=49152 (or same as MinFileCache)
You can try lower but a gain is unlikely (increase/decrease in steps of 1024).

Mixed usage:
No MinFileCache (or try minfilecache=65536)
maxfilecache=98304

Mainly Windows/Applications usage:
VCache works fine, so make no change (or try maxfilecache=131072). No MinFileCache.

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
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.
• Read ConservativeSwapfileUsage=1 (limit paging if RAM >96MB & there's little/no paging).


256MB RAM & VCACHE

98 256MB RAM : Limiting VCache settings with Win98, SE, Me

Enter the lines in this color in the [VCACHE] section of SYSTEM.INI

Mainly games usage:
minfilecache=65536 (or 49152, or 32768)
maxfilecache=65536 (or same as MinFileCache)
You can try lower but a gain is unlikely (increase/decrease in steps of 2048).

Mixed usage:
No MinFileCache (or try minfilecache=65536)
maxfilecache=131072

Mainly Windows/Applications usage:
VCache works fine, so make no change (or try maxfilecache=196608. No MinFileCache.

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
Note: If you ARE setting a MaxFileCache and have more than 128MB RAM, then you should first try limiting MaxFileCache to about 70% of total RAM.
• Read ConservativeSwapfileUsage=1 (limit paging if RAM >96MB & there's little/no paging).


512MB RAM & VCACHE

98 512MB RAM : Limiting VCache settings with Win98, SE, Me

Enter the lines in this color in the [VCACHE] section of SYSTEM.INI

Mainly games usage:
minfilecache=65536
maxfilecache=65536
You can try lower but a gain is unlikely (increase/decrease in steps of 2048).

Mixed usage:
No MinFile cache (or try minfilecache=65536)
maxfilecache=262144

Mainly Windows/Applications usage:
VCache works fine, so make no change (or try maxfilecache=491520). No MinFileCache

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
Note: If you ARE setting a MaxFileCache and have more than 128MB RAM, then you should first try limiting MaxFileCache to about 70% of total RAM.
• Read ConservativeSwapfileUsage=1 (limit paging if RAM >96MB & there's little/no paging).


768MB RAM & VCACHE

98 768MB RAM : Limiting VCache settings with Win98, SE, Me

Enter the lines in this color in the [VCACHE] section of SYSTEM.INI

Mainly games usage:
minfilecache=65536
maxfilecache=65536
You can try lower but a gain is unlikely (increase/decrease in steps of 2048).

Mixed usage:
No MinFileCache (or try minfilecache=65536)
maxfilecache=393216

Mainly Windows/Applications usage:
VCache works fine, so make no change (or try maxfilecache=522240). No MinFileCache

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
Note: If you ARE setting a MaxFileCache and have more than 128MB RAM, then you should first try limiting MaxFileCache to about 70% of total RAM. MaxFileCache should not exceed 512MB.
• Read ConservativeSwapfileUsage=1 (limit paging if RAM >96MB & there's little/no paging).


1GB RAM & VCACHE

98 1GB RAM : Limiting VCache IS ESSENTIAL (Win98, SE, Me, 95)

Enter the lines in this color in the [VCACHE] section of SYSTEM.INI

Mainly games usage:
minfilecache=131072
maxfilecache=131072
You can try lower but a gain is unlikely (increase/decrease in steps of 2048).

Mixed usage:
minfilecache=131072  (or do not set it)
maxfilecache=491520

Mainly Windows/Applications usage:
maxfilecache=522240 (MaxFileCache should not exceed 524,288). No MinFileCache

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
Note: If you ARE setting a MaxFileCache and have more than 128MB RAM, then you should first try limiting MaxFileCache to about 70% of total RAM. MaxFileCache should not exceed 512MB.
• Read ConservativeSwapfileUsage=1 (limit paging if RAM >96MB & there's little/no paging).


LARGE RAM PCs

"Out of Memory" Error Messages with Large Amounts of RAM Installed
1. The computer may stop responding (hang) while Windows is starting, or halt and display the following error message:
"Insufficient memory to initialize windows ..."
2. You may be unable to open an MS-DOS session (or command prompt) while Windows is running. Attempts to do so may generate the error message:
"There is not enough memory available to run this program ..."

Cause:
Vcache is limited internally to a maximum VCache size of 800 MB.
On computers with large amounts of RAM, the maximum cache size can be large enough that Vcache consumes all of the addresses in the system arena, leaving no virtual memory addresses available for other functions such as opening an MS-DOS prompt.
This problem may occur more readily with Advanced Graphics Port (AGP) video adapters because the AGP aperture is also mapped to addresses in the system area of RAM.
Also read Error Message: Insufficient Memory to Initialize Windows at Microsoft.

Remedy:
To work around this problem, use one of the following methods:
1. MaxFileCache: Set it to 512 MB (524,288 KB), or less, in the [Vcache] section of System.ini to reduce the maximum amount of memory used by VCache (use maxfilecache=524288) .
2. System Configuration Utility: Use the SCU to limit Windows to using 768MB, or 512MB, or less
    - or - enter
    MaxPhysPage=30000
    in the [386Enh] section of System.ini.
3. Physical memory: Limit the amount installed to 512 MB or less (Yes! Take some out!)


MAXPHYSPAGE

Using MaxPhysPage in System.ini to limit maximum memory used by Win9x.

   To limit     Enter this line in	To limit     Enter this line in
   Memory       [386Enh] section	Memory       [386Enh] section	
   to this      of System.ini	        to this      of System.ini
   ------       -----------------	------       -----------------
   960 MB       MaxPhysPage=3C000	256 MB       MaxPhysPage=10000
   896 MB       MaxPhysPage=38000	224 MB       MaxPhysPage=0E000
   832 MB       MaxPhysPage=34000	192 MB       MaxPhysPage=0C000
					160 MB       MaxPhysPage=0A000
   768 MB       MaxPhysPage=30000	
   704 MB       MaxPhysPage=2C000	128 MB       MaxPhysPage=08000
   640 MB       MaxPhysPage=28000	 96 MB       MaxPhysPage=06000
   576 MB       MaxPhysPage=24000	 88 MB       MaxPhysPage=05800
					 80 MB       MaxPhysPage=05000
   512 MB       MaxPhysPage=20000	 72 MB       MaxPhysPage=04800
   448 MB       MaxPhysPage=1C000	
   384 MB       MaxPhysPage=18000	
   320 MB       MaxPhysPage=14000	

If using MaxFileCache in conjuction with MaxPhysPage, remember to allow for your video card's AGP Aperature Size, plus a little more, before setting the MaxFileCache i.e. [MaxFileCache + AGP + more] must not exceed MaxPhysPage.
In general, 70% of total RAM (as seen by Win9x) is a good level for MaxFileCache in large RAM systems - but substantially less if gaming (MaxFileCache of 32/48/64 MB for Win98/Me gamers).


CONVERSIONS

MegaByte to KiloByte conversions

    MB (=xxxxKB)

      2 (2048)          3 (3072)
      4 (4096)          6 (6144)
      8 (8192)        10 (10240)     12 (12288)
    16 (16384)      20 (20480)     24 (24576)

    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