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Win95 and the file cache problem

Much of this information is taken from the renowned McFadden FAQ .

One problem with Win95 is that by default the size of the file cache is unrestricted. This means that all available memory will eventually get filled up with file data, which will cause the virtual memory system to start swapping out pages from executing applications. When something needs to be executed from a page that has been swapped out, it takes time to pull it back in off the disk. While this is happening, the CD recorder's buffer could drain completely.

The procedure is simple:

  • Open the file SYSTEM.INI with a text editor. This file is usually C:\WINDOWS\SYSTEM.INI.
  • Find the section labeled "[vcache]".
  • Add the following lines *after* the "[vcache]" line: MinFileCache = 512 MaxFileCache = 4096
  • Save the changes to the file, and reboot.

The above values are recommended for a system with 16MB of RAM. A common rule of thumb is to set "maxfilecache" to 25% of your RAM, up to a maximum setting of 16MB. Because of (actual or perceived) bugs in Win95, some people recommend setting "minfilecache" to the same value. If you have a fairly recent system with 64MB or more, you probably want to use:

  • MinFileCache  |  16384
  • MaxFileCache  |  16384

The [vcache] change has reportedly cured severe buffer underrun problems with some versions of CDRWIN and removed popping noises during digital audio extraction with Easy CD Creator. It's a good thing to do to any PC running Win95. It's not necessary for WinNT. It's not clear whether this will help with Win98, but it doesn't seem to hurt.

If you are uncomfortable tweaking your SYSTEM.INI file, try CacheMan at http://www.outertech.com/ . It allows you to modify the above settings, and a few more besides.


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