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Stop Windows95 from Wildly Accessing your Hard Disk

Many users have complained about Windows95 seizing up for up to a minute because of random, pointless disk activity. This is due to the way that Windows95 is set to handle disk caching and virtual memory. Although Windows95 instructs you to "let Windows handle disk cache settings" for best results, this obviously does not yield the best results. Here's how to eliminate the random disk activity and improve system performance:

Part One: Virtual Memory

  • Right click on My Computer, and select Properties.
  • Click the Performance tab, and then click Virtual Memory
  • Choose Let me specify my own virtual memory settings.
  • If you want to choose a different drive for your swapfile, run Disk Defragmenter first.
  • Specify the same value for the Minimum size and the Maximum size, so Windows95 won't spend so much time resizing the file. A good size is roughly 2 1/2 times the amount of installed RAM (i.e. create a 40MB swapfile if you have 16MB of RAM).
  • Press OK, and then OK again, and confirm that you want to restart your computer.

Part Two: Defragmenting the Swapfile

  • Once you've set the swapfile size to be constant (see Part One), you won't have to worry about a fragmented (broken up) swapfile again.
  • However, you'll need to defragment it at least once for it to remain that way in the future.
  • If you have Norton Utilities 95 (with Speedisk), you'll be able to optimize the swapfile.
  • Otherwise, if you want to take the time, you can defragment it manually:
  • If you have more than one partition or hard disk in your system, defragment all drives first. Then, move the swapfile (using the configuration procedure in Part One above) to another drive, defragment the first one, and then move it back.
  • Although it's also possible to disable the swapfile entirely while you defragment the drive (and then re-enable it so it will be recreated whole), it isn't advisable because Windows95 may not start without a Swapfile.

Part Three: Virtual Cache (only if you have 16 megabytes of RAM or more)

  • Open SYSTEM.INI for editing.
  • Add the following two lines to the [vcache] section (add the section if it's not there):
  • MinFileCache=4096
  • MaxFileCache=4096
  • These values, in kilobytes, regulate the size of the VCache, so you can stop it from filling up all available RAM and paging all loaded apps to disk. If you have more than 16 MB of RAM, then set the above values (both of them) to about 25% of the amount of installed RAM.

- submitted by Robert Lauriston

Part Four: RAM

  • You may've thought we overlooked the obvious - add more RAM! The more memory you have, the less frequently Windows95 will use your hard disk, and the better your system performance will be.
  • Since Windows95 isn't very efficient or compact, you'll need to feed it as much memory as you can afford. 8 megabytes is the absolute minimum, but 16 is better. If you have the money, 32 megabytes will literally make Windows95 fly.