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Q: % Free on System Resources ( Answered 5 out of 5 stars,   4 Comments )
Subject: % Free on System Resources
Category: Computers > Operating Systems
Asked by: instanswer-ga
List Price: $5.00
Posted: 23 Oct 2002 05:33 PDT
Expires: 22 Nov 2002 04:33 PST
Question ID: 88535
I am looking for an "education" on %free on system resources.  On my
Windows 98, this is available by clicking MY
Computer,Properties,Performance.  On my system, this percentage varies
greatly over relatively short periods of time and not necessarily in
relation to my activity on my computer.  I have been monitoring this
about a month or so and I have seen it range from 17% to a high of
73%.  I have never been able to relate the figure to activity.  I have
seen it not vary even though my wife was working the internet like
someone on a mission.  I have seen it drop by 30 points when doing
relatively simple and minor things on Microsoft Word. Defraging,
deleting temporary internet files, running scan disk, disc cleanup and
etc., seems to make no change in the number.
The low % number obviously affects my computer speed, efficiency of my
copier and maybe other things.

What in the heck is this?  Obviously, it needs to be in the 70% or
higher range.  How do you accomplish that?  Did Bill Gates create a
little elf that mysteriously comes by and changes the number,
irrespective of activity?

Please understand that I am not asking for exact instructions to
precisely go through some procedure of correction.  I am asking for
general info that might help me understand this freak of happenstance.
 No need to respond in any language other than basic English,
preferably using words of one syllable and containing no more than
five letters.  I have a degree in petroleum engineering but I am also
older than dirt, so I don't speak computerese.  Bob Hance.
Subject: Re: % Free on System Resources
Answered By: pwizard-ga on 23 Oct 2002 06:57 PDT
Rated:5 out of 5 stars
Greetings instanswer,

The question you pose is one that has been around as long as the
Windows 95 series of operating systems has. Everyone has always wanted
to know exactly what "system resources" was, why is varies so much and
what they can do to make it more efficient. Most people tend to
believe that adding more RAM (memory) to their machine will increase
their amount of free system resources - this is a big misconception.

The answer for what System Resources really are is a very technical
and complicated one. I'll try to explain it the best I can in a basic
sense. System Resources are areas of memory that are used by parts of
Windows for keeping track of all of the windows that are open in a
session and for drawing objects on the screen. Each application that
is loaded, and each window and child-window that is open, consumes
system resources. Typically an application consumes 2-8% of system
resources, and each child-window consumes 1-2%. Certain programs are
much more greedy for system resources than this. Closing an
application should release its allocated system resources, but some
software is not as well behaved as it should be and this release may
not happen. If the free resources fall below about 10-15%, serious
problems may be encountered and Windows should be restarted as soon as

Certain types of programs tend to eat up system resources more than
others, such as:

- "Eye and Ear Candy" such as Active Desktop View As Web Page, sound
effect schemes, animated mouse cursors and desktop icons, and fancy
screen savers.

- Web browsers, as each open browser window requires additional

- Multimedia applications of all types.

- System monitoring utilities such as Norton SystemWorks.

As far as trying to better manage system resources or free up
additional resources, the best way is to simply try and limit the
number of applications that are always running on your PC (for
example, in your system taskbar -- by your clock). Every icon that you
have in your system tray (by your clock) is a program that is running
in the background and taking up valuable system resources. Most of
these programs are set to run when the computer boots so immediately
you are starting a new session with decreased resources. Try and
eliminate whatever is not necessary from your system startup. When you
first boot Windows before you start running any of your regular
applications, I would recommend trying to get your system resources at
a level of 78% or higher. Above 85% is really idea for a fresh reboot.
Another thing you can do is try to find out which program(s) you use
may not be releasing system resources correctly. This may be a bit
cumbersome, but you can take a % Free reading before running an
application, run the app, take another reading, close the app, wait a
minute or two, then take a final reading. Resources should have gone
back to where they were prior (or close to) as long as you didn't run
any additional programs other than the one you were testing. If the
resources didn't go back down at all, then the program is probably not
releasing resources correctly and you should probably look for an
update to the software.

One thing you don't want to do is get one of these so-called "memory
and resource manager" software packages. For one thing, these things
run in memory and therefore TAKE UP SYSTEM RESOURCES. Most likely they
will not do any better of a job at managing the system resource heap
than Windows does. Your best bet is to upgrade to a Windows 2000/XP
class operating system. These operating systems were built off of an
entirely different engine than the Windows 9X systems and manage
resources and memory extremely better.

I'll provide you with a couple of links on System Resources at the end
of this answer in case you want to read the deep technical explanation
behind exactly how it's calculated and such. I hope this has helped to
answer your question. Please don't hesitate to ask for clarification
should you need further assistance on this question -- I'll be happy
to give you more details on this topic.


System Resources FAQ

Microsoft: Free Resources May Not Return to Previous Value;EN-US;q146418&FR=1

Request for Answer Clarification by instanswer-ga on 23 Oct 2002 07:15 PDT
Thanks.  Your explanation is as good as one could do when dealing with
a boob.  I may have a clarification question after I let this info
"soak" for a while.
I appreciate your time.  Bob.

Request for Answer Clarification by instanswer-ga on 25 Oct 2002 06:32 PDT
If I may impose a step further, I have a question pertaining to the
suggestion of considering an upgrade to 2000/XP.  Since that system
came out, I have inquired a few times about it to different
individuals (vendors, technicians and etc.)  No one has ever
badmouthed it, but no one has ever endorsed it very enthusiastically
to me.  In reading about it, I felt that maybe its advantage was in an
area of little interest to me, such as graphics.  I did have a
computer built for my daughter in another city and they put it on her
unit.  When I am down there I have trouble truly evaluating it as her
DSL is not nearly as good as mine plus I am not familiar with the
differences of the mechanics of using it.  My question is this:  If my
system resources problem is not a problem of major proportions, do you
still think this computer invalid would be better served by upgrading
to it?  I guess a second part of that question would be if there is
anything in XP that is not as functionable as 98?  Thanks, Bob.

Clarification of Answer by pwizard-ga on 25 Oct 2002 08:22 PDT
I personally feel that just about everyone would benefit from
upgrading Windows 98 to Windows 2000 or Windows XP. I would recommend
Windows XP Home Edition in your particular case, as it's the least
expensive and most akin to Windows 98. The biggest reason for
upgrading is the increased stability and management of memory and
resources that Windows XP can perform. Windows XP is built on an
entirely different class of operating engine than the Windows 95/98
systems. The XP (2000) engine was designed to power servers, so it had
to be very reliable and also perform very well. Microsoft took this
core and then added in all of the user-friendly features of the
Windows 9X series operating systems to come up with Windows XP. What
you get is a very intuitive operating system that is pure
"professional" at it's core.

Now, there are some things to consider. Windows XP looks and runs
quite a bit different than Windows 98. It will take some getting used
to. They've redesigned the interface and things are layed out a little
differently. It's also meant to be more of a multi-user system than
was previous Win 9X systems. As with any new technology, Windows XP
will run better with newer hardware components than it will on older
systems. Many people may complain that their system runs "slower" on
XP than it did on 98 - especially on older machines with low amount of
memory and processing power. This is because XP is doing a lot more.
It has all kinds of graphical enhancements and background tasks that
require more memory and CPU power. Now, most of these things can be
turned off or scaled down, but by default, they are activated for the
best user experience.

So, if you're looking for a system that is more stable, manages
resources more efficiently and is more compatible with newer and
future software/hardware releases, going with Windows XP Home is a
definite consideration that I would highly recommend. If you're
comfortable with how your system is performing now, have no problems
with compatibility and aren't really anxious to learn your way around
a new operating system, sit tight. But, again, personally, I don't
really think anyone can go wrong with an upgrade with Windows XP -
especially from Windows 95/98.

instanswer-ga rated this answer:5 out of 5 stars

Subject: Re: % Free on System Resources
From: mvguy-ga on 23 Oct 2002 05:58 PDT
I'll be curious to find out the answer to this one.  I also use
Windows 98 (gag), and my computer often shows a resource usage of 100
percent. I haven't been able to make sense of the numbers either.
Subject: Re: % Free on System Resources
From: hoonoz-ga on 23 Oct 2002 08:45 PDT
mvguy--you get 100%...WOW.  What's your secret?

As for instanswer's question, one observation.  I've found that Adobe
Acrobat is very stubborn in terms of not letting go of System
Resources.  That is, even after I've closed the program (after viewing
a PDF file), it still lingers in the background, eating up about 10%
of my overall system.

"Killing" the program by using the ctrl-alt-del keys to open up the
window of all the processes currently running will free up the
resources being hogged by Acrobat.  You can also look for other
programs that may be additional resource hogs.

If this doesn't make sense, just write back with a comment and I can
give you some more details.
Subject: Re: % Free on System Resources
From: clouseau-ga on 23 Oct 2002 08:51 PDT

The latest version of Acrobat (perhaps just the update patch), cures
the problem you mention. It wil ltake about 5 minutes after not only
closing Acrobat, but closing your browser and the resources and temp
files created will be released. The key is in closing the browser.

Subject: Re: % Free on System Resources
From: snapanswer-ga on 23 Oct 2002 11:52 PDT
A nice answer by pwizard.  As pwizard mentions in his answer, system
resources are reserved memory spaces.  In this case, they are two
small 64KB heaps.  This helps to explain why system resources are
consumed so quickly.  I mention this because sometimes people think
that if they add more RAM to their system, they will gain system
resources.  In fact, the space reserved for system resources remains
the same, regardless of the amount of RAM on your system.

These links may shed additional light on this topic:
InfiniSource:  Windows 9.x System Resources  What are system resources...?

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