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What's Hogging Memory?

by FredS / November 23, 2005 9:25 AM PST

I'm running a P3 computer, with Win 98SE and 256 MB of RAM installed.

After my first cold-boot this morning, I checked/downloaded email and then opened 3 Firefox tabs to read some news sites. After closing all programs except Outlook Express, I opened System Mechanic 5 Pro to see how much memory was free. It reported only 25 MB free.

Using System Mechanic, I recovered RAM to 185 MB free and defragged the RAM. With only Outlook Express and System Mechanic, itself, open, the screen reported:
* Memory load = 44%, and
* CPU usage = 33%.

Doesn't it look like something is hogging the RAM? How can I find out what this is specifically? This computer has never been a ''screamer'' for speed but it did seem to move faster a few months ago when I first replaced some bad memory.

Is there any program or function in Win98 I can use to see what's holding on to the memory or perhaps a 3rd-party program that'll work to tell me this?


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Free memory is wasted memory.
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / November 23, 2005 11:06 AM PST
In reply to: What's Hogging Memory?

If you research a little, you will find that Windows will use every bit of RAM to cache any tiny thing. Nothing broken.


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Detective work, start with msconfig...
by reefurbb / November 23, 2005 10:33 PM PST
In reply to: What's Hogging Memory?

Your processor running at 33% is a clue. START-RUN-msconfig, "startup" tab. There a lot of stuff that starts with Windows that is not needed.
1. good stuff: scan registry, system tray, task monitor (debateable), LoadPowerProfile (twice)(debateable), firewall stuff, antivirus stuff.
2. not needed: printer stuff, calender reminders, MS office stuff, and more. Uncheck items. Reboot and check useages. If you need more useage info, there are a few small-free-standalone applications that will pinpoint specific processor useages by applications.
3. FIRST, go to "advanced" on "general" tab and choose to "enable start menu" as an easy and sure way to get into Safe Mode to recheck items that you unchecked, just in case.
4. Startup is also a place to suspect spyware-malware, unless you have been diligent with detectors-cleaners.
5. Usually you would start with CTRL+ALT+DELETE to bring up a dialog box showing what is running in the backgroud, and hiliting an item and choosing "end task" to see immediate results of a turnoff.
6. You should be able to get 80% or more CPU useage.
7. Guru Proffitt is right on. Windows will use a significant amount of RAM, regardless of amount added. Degragging RAM will only hold for a minute or two, a waste of effort.
I have a PI and PII pc and only use 64mb ram. I tried 128mb but operation suffered a little. After cleanup, pull 1 stick and see how 128mb goes for you, keep as a spare. Download "Memtest86", create a floppy to test RAM, as 168 pin ram has a higher % of going bad, regardless of how new.
Most people who start by saying "add more RAM" usually don't know how to cleanup.

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This is what I found . . .
by FredS / November 24, 2005 6:48 AM PST

Thanks for the information. I checked and followed your suggestions and my findings are below. The numbers compare to those used in your post.

Items 1 & 2. Is there a definitive list of start-up items (and what they do) located somewhere on the internet that we can use to compare with those we find listed on our own machines? This is what I have checked on my start-up list now:
* ctfmon.exe
* ScanRegistry
* system tray
* Task Monitor
* LoadPowerProfile
* LoadPowerProfile (this occurs twice)
* Symantec Core LC
* ccApp
* Symantec NetDriver Monitor
* ccEvtMgr
* ccSetMgr
* NPFMonitor
* ScriptBlocking
* Adobe Gamma Loader

Is there any junk shown? Besides Symantec (Norton) and Adobe and SystemTray and several others, I don't know the use of the remaining ones, I haven't unchecked them. However, every month or so I do take a look again to see if the start-up list has grown. Also, would you share the names of some of those free apps that can pinpoint memory use by application?

3. I did choose ''enable start menu'' on the msconfig menu. Would you please explain the benefit of having this menu appear automatically on start up rather than just tapping the F8 button when the menu is needed on start up?

4. I diligently use both Ad-Aware and Norton AV. An Ad-Aware scan this morning only showed 26 ''recent list'' (green) items and nothing critical. This is generally true since I switched to Firefox from IE (kudos to B. Proffitt for that move).

5. Right now, while typing this reply, when I use CTRL+ALT+DEL to see what is running, the only programs running other than this typing program are:
* Explorer
* ctfmon.exe
* ccApp
* Systray

6. I just checked CPU usage again in System Mechanic and the CPU meter shows 20-36 percent usage, depending on if I am moving the mouse or not. Thirty-six percent seems to be the maximum. So how can I run it up to 80 percent?

A funny thing about this System Mechanic CPU meter is that, when I move the mouse while watching the meter, the value (number) *decreases*. I would have thought the number should increase to indicate a higher percent age of use (i.e., it takes CPU resources to move the mouse). Maybe that CPU meter is showing the percent *free* - not used - and therefore with 20 percent showing when the mouse is moved, it does have 80 percent ''free''? Confusing.

7. I didn't know that a computer will use most of the RAM allocated. I recently did increase my RAM from 128 to 256 and my computer's multitasking ability was noticeable. Also, this morning I did download and run Memtest86 as you suggested. I did four passes on my machine and it reported no memory errors.

I clean up and defrag my computer at least weekly.

Thanks again for your information. My computer works okay, but it could be faster, I still think. Any other suggestions will be gratefully tried.

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About this and that.
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / November 24, 2005 7:14 AM PST
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Nothing really wrong.
by Kees Bakker / November 24, 2005 7:57 AM PST

- tells how to deactive ctfmon if you don't need it (and I don't think you do).
- ccapp is probably part of Norton (although there are other possibilities, use Explorer to find ccapp.exe and see where it's located)

Some other remarks:
- No need to defrag weekly. Won't noticeably help the performance. If you want: defrag -u is MUCH faster and just as good for weekly use.
- Norton is a rather resource intensive program. Try AVG Free or Avast as antivirus with a smaller footprint. You probably will notice the difference with System Mechanic, and maybe with the general speed of the machine, but that's not sure.
- I doubt if Adobe Gamma loader is necessary to run. Try what happens if you uncheck it.
- The change from 128 to 256 Mb is surely reasonable. Adding another 128 might make a small difference.
- No need at all to track individual applications, in my opinion.
- Faster hardware will result in better performance, so - if the things I outlined above aren't sufficient to feel happy - you will have to spend money, I'm afraid.

Good luck,


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Nothing I See Seems too Excessive but a Few Thoughts.......
by tobeach / November 24, 2005 3:01 PM PST

1stly, Norton is a great system hog (one of the biggest of the type). You could possibly benefit by moving to AVG Free to reduce load. Get here:
Copy&paste replace "*"s with "e"s.Forum blocks "free".

Norton can be difficult to un-install properly so they have special removal tools available at their site for each version.
Kerio makes (made) about the lightest load firewall w/ their old v.2.15 which worked well on 98 machines. If you are comfortable with a rules based type, it is still available (almost nowhere but) Here:
Castlecops maintain a startup list found here:
One other thought you probably already know but...
98 benefits from frequent reboots whenever it slows down (small cache sizes). Rebooting forces it to swallow the mouthfull it already has allowing fresh input. I used to set my 98 for "typical use" as a "server" rather than as a "desktop home 'puter" as this changes some of the cache sizes upward by reducing sizes of some other services reserves. Might try to see if it helps (assuming you don't download large video files etc regularly).
Strongly suggest trying CCleaner as it cleans out things like user dat(surf history),media player, real player download histories, etc. which are constantly increasing in size.Removing 60 megs not uncommon on first pass. Can be downlded from first link below. Second link you should visit and download as text and print a copy of it to have on hand during install as it describes what items to be cleaned are. Just check box what you want cleaned and uncheck what you want to keep. Cleans all in under 5 seconds.
All above are free of charge/spyware/malware.
Hope some of this helps. I miss my 98se! Happy

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Thanks, that CastleCops startup list . . .
by FredS / November 24, 2005 4:15 PM PST

. . . is terrific. First time I've seen a definitive list of all those items. Checked items on my start-up list one-by-one and found all my current items are either needed or okay to have.

Still considering CCleaner and the other tips. Thanks again.

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(NT) (NT) Your Welcome !! :-)
by tobeach / November 25, 2005 2:32 PM PST
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Belarc Advisor
by reefurbb / November 24, 2005 8:17 PM PST

1. If F8 works for you, uncheck the other. System Mechanic has a tweak that will cut the Boot Menu to your choice of x seconds. I said ''sure way'' as F8 or CTRL can get tricky. There are others: place ''open with'' on right click menu; display thumbnails for bitmaps; etc.
2. find ''Belarc Advisor'', small, free, installs. It will show your PIII speed.
3. I meant 80% free. Your 20% to 30% USED is a good figure, considering Norton uses so much. As other's posted, use CTRL-alt-delete to ''end task'' on running operations to see how much less the processor useage is.
4. glad you noticed better performance with 256mb ram over 128mb. My ram is old 72pin. 168pin acts differently. Hang onto MemTest86.

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Get rid of System Mechanic!!!
by Earth911 / November 26, 2005 11:59 PM PST
In reply to: What's Hogging Memory?

Most of those crappy programs usually are worthless.Use what came with Windows.Through the years I have found out those progrmas we're a waste of time and money.System Mechanic probably a resource hog.

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Fred S. , System Mechanic is ok by me...
by reefurbb / November 27, 2005 7:30 PM PST

1. it doesn't take "resources" if it isn't running.
2. newer versions are more for XP than 98. I have 3.6g and no more updates are needed.
3. I've used several portions of S.M. and find them safe, perhaps not as thorough as I'd like but excellant.
4. I especially like the boot menu option, set for 3 seconds, and never have to hit F8 again.

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