don't claim to understand of the inner workings of
Windows or User/GDI system resources (nor do I want to), and I am not a PC expert - so don't expect technical details
from me. I mostly just cite below what I consider to be expert references.
have been impacted by excessive
user/GDI resource consumption under win95 and w98, and have educated
myself to a modestly painful level on the subject. I present this
information in hopes of helping others...
--- TOPICS ---
User and GDI space are two stacks of virtual memory of Windows. They
are 'system resources' used to manage and track certain functions
within Windows. Sufficient amounts are needed to open AND close
windows applications and perform certain functions - some applications
and functions require much more memory than others, hence, problems
may appear "randomly". Possible symptoms when you run short of system
- poor performance - sluggish
- computer locks up
- new windows won't open
- icons (graphics), or shaded or colored areas of screen are blank or messed up
- the message "insufficient system resources"
System resources is NOT...
... in other words, you will
not affect or fix this problem with any hardware change.
Beware any software programs or products that claim to resolve this problem - I have found none.
The problem is worst in Windows 95. It was improved (impact lessened) in 98 and ME,
andfurther lessened in 2000 and NT (stack sizes are roughly doubled). I
believe the issue no longer exists in Windows/XP.
I consider the links below to be the best available at describing
"system resources. Many more links exist, but most are inaccurate or
downright deceptive, and I suggest you don't bother with any but those
listed here. Some appropriate words of caution:
- some information on the web is old, i.e. behind the times, or
- some strongly suggest certain software products will not
cause a problem - I suggest you trust your own experience and testing,
- beware statements like "you can take user/GDI spaces down to 30%,
20%, 10% free without suffering" - I've found my limit to be about
30-40% - beyond that peformance, and ultimately performance, suffered
(both in Windows 95 and 98). You can avoid the guessing game by using
Known Resource Hogs ("*" items are my favorite big offenders)
I suggest you check your applications' system resources usage by
installing the memstat monitor and run the
application under various conditions. (note: you can often, but not
always, free resources by closing the offending application)
- * MS-ACCESS
- * apps that use the ACCESS database engine
- * MS-Excel (big spreadsheets in particular)
- * Real Jukebox
- some apps coded in Delphi (search the web and you'll see)
- HoverDesk (though, presumably, improved as of 1Q2001)
- programs with "storage leaks" (but not all storage leaks contribute to consumption of
- Franklin Covey's Franklin Planner System (FPS) (and possibly the
Outlook derivative of the product)
- Netscape Messenger (eats system resources over time)
- Very large web pages (eg. over 400k), at least in Netscape
'monitors', websites and computer magazine articles claim to discuss
and measure and free system resources or memory. Like my admonition
in the XPERTS heading above, don't trust such claims.
- Resources is not the same as memory,
RAM, etc. So beware of explanations and claims regarding freeing
'resources'. MS-Windows' System Resources cannot be freed,
optimzed or whatever by tricky software. Don't pay for anything to
fix this problem!!
- Very few packages actually monitor anything
other than RAM (hardware) and Virtual memory - which is NOT the same
as system resources. (And again, utilities claiming to free RAM,
memory and speed up your PC are typically nothing more than ripoffs.)
Memstat is one of the few, and the best, I have found to monitor
"system resources". Memstat is Memory Status Utility written by Mark
Gamber, circa 1995. aka memstats, mstat, mstat32. I've used it on
Windows 95 and 98. Have not tried it under Windows NT, 2000, or XP.
get mstat32 here
Re: GDI usage http://groups.google.com/groups?selm=b8as2g%2424i%241%40sparta.btinternet.com
- Delete the 'shelliconcache' file in /windows - this file loads
icons at boot time into the user/gdi system resources space, thus
potentially reducing usable space with icons that may no longer be in
in frequent use - good to delete every 6 months or so.
- Reduce items listed in the 'start' folder and system tray. Long
running programs can suck up and hold system resources (and of course don't free then
till they are terminated).
FPS - Franklin Covey's Franklin Planner System
(For more about FPS, visit my palm links)
PDTL (Prioritized Daily Task List) eats system resources over
time. You can watch it go away with the mstat32 utility.
For example, simple cursoring down 5 task lines can eat up 1%
(though it does seem somewhat variable). Page up and down through
tasks exhibit similar behavior, but not nearly as bad as cursor up and
cursor down. Task "Move", "forward" and other action items also
consume GDI space. My uneducated guess is something related to each
task line is getting put into GDI space - most likely FPS stores new
font information for each colored line of text. It may be this only
happens if you have assigned colors to task categories (which I
have). One might assume there is a design flaw in PTDL, but then again,
perhaps the design is top notch with no room for improvement -:).
The good news is with FPS, like most software that affect system
resources, closing the the application allows MS-windows to free the
space - but only if you do so before you are hung or not so critically
low on system resources that windows has not become unstable.
Please write me if you find this information to be helpful.
Corrections, additions, improvements would be appreciated.
Visitor: since 1999.