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Performance: Ram vs. thrashing HDD, Firefox...
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smallhagrid
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April 14, 2011 - 12:13 pm
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Hi Folks.
I thought to share this info (which is ongoing for me) because maybe, just maybe there is somebody here who may find a little help in it.

Before I continue...please (seriously) don't flame me if you disagree - or heap loads of criticism upon me if you think my methodology is dumb-> it is MY methodology and MY choice of how to proceed.

Basis:
Home system->
I use XP SP2 on an AMD-based system with a dual-core 5400, 2gb RAM and a 300gb HDD.
No automatic updating of anything is done if I can prevent it, and my browser of choice is Firefox 3.6.8 which pretty much runs continuously except for memory-based restarts.
(Yes. I've tried FF4, but it has become too otherworldly for my liking...)

Work system->
Older, same OS, not really what I am going to write about here.

Side-note regarding OS choice...If I had my druthers I'd still be using w2kpro - it was the most stable, reliable, break-resistant, altogether GREAT OS that I've ever used since DOS, but sadly newer h/w and drivers have made it too obsolete to keep so I changed to XP some while back.
Linux would be very nice IMO - but every distro I try still leaves me wanting thus far...

I use 'portable' apps whenever possible because I have noticed that their lower OS overhead and system impacts have slowed down the onset/effects of 'winrot'.

In an average day I am in and out of different apps, but mostly do stuff in the browser or with email, like lots of folks, I suspect.

I found Firefox gradually, but inexorably eating more and more RAM and slowing down over time.
(My email app of choice is so small and so thrifty that it has almost zero system impact.)

I've used a fixed-size swapfile for a very long time and generally found that to be a good thing.
I noticed however, that XP was thrashing my HDD relentlessly and this troubled me greatly as I view data loss as preventable and unwelcome.

I tried finding what was doing the most thrashing and no surprise - it was the OS itself mostly.
Many iterations of optimizing things followed, unworthy of mention - but I finally settled upon a combo of Firefox mods, Cacheman XP and Eboostr for a little while...and kept watch.

It became discouraging because Firefox always ate more and more RAM and slowed down, Eboostr was supposed to help - but really seemed to eat more than it freed - Cacheman [i:1ysiqt27]-looked-[/i:1ysiqt27] to be helping...but I remained suspicious that I could [u:1ysiqt27]still[/u:1ysiqt27] do better (this may get confusing here...).

Before trying Eboostr I decided I could spare a 2gb USB stick to it's use...and then found I also had an 8gb stick which could be 'sacrificed' (made by Sandisk - a real, genuine POS if ever there was one...) and started using it instead...oddly, with performance DECREASES !!!

I played around with trying to force XP's swapfile onto that stick as well - with [u:1ysiqt27]zero[/u:1ysiqt27] success - but my reasoning was that it is better to thrash/kill a krappy USB stick than my HDD with all my stuff on it.
The current iteration of swapfile settings is nil - and XP complains at each reboot. No big deal.

I nuked Eboostr and mounted 1/2 the 8GB stick as extra space in an empty folder - and set Portable Firefox to use 200mb of this as it's cache...which is a DEFINITE 'ah-hah' for it and made it WAAAY more stable - settings:

1) Open "about:config" in Firefox.
2) Make a new string called "browser.cache.disk.parent_directory"
3) Set the value of that new string to wherever your USB stick space is; mine is "s:swap"
4) Set "browser.cache.memory.enable" to "false"; turning off it's memory cache
5) Set "browser.cache.disk.capacity" to the size you want used for cache, in kilobytes.
I'm using "200000" (~200mb) after trying "100000" for a bit.

So here I was, with NO swapfile, much improved Firefox - and STILL too much thrashing going on.

Upon boot-up I noticed Cacheman XP (if it emplaced it's tray icon [i:1ysiqt27]at all[/i:1ysiqt27]...) reporting 1.7gb free...then 1.6gb with no apps started-> and starting Firefox (until I stabilized it) would go like 1.5-> 1.4-> 1.3 and so on, with LOADS of these 'Perflib_Perfdata_???.dat' files appearing in my temp folder, but not getting cleaned up at rebooting.

I searched on 'better than Cacheman' and immediately found raves for [i:1ysiqt27]FreeRAM XP Pro[/i:1ysiqt27].
Hmmm....could it REALLY be better ? (AND freeware ?!) Only one way to find out...
Nuked Cacheman XP and in it went. Instant WOW.

It seems to have a severely minimal system impact with only a single file emplaced and a wee bit of registry info added.
Went through and gave it settings that seemed sane to me - and WHAM, BANG, SNAP !!!
Immediate improvements !!!

Those 'Perflib_Perfdata_???.dat' files ? There's now ONE.
Firefox is open with 10 tabs, using 130mb (according to Memory Restart) and I've already watched FreeRAM keep/restore the available RAM over 1.5gb a bunch of times.
It even seems to 'learn' because after it's first optimization it has not fallen below that level.

All the above took me days of experimentation - so I hope some or any part of it may help anyone else from using up so much time on the learning curve as I had...

If you want FreeRAM XP look here:
[url:1ysiqt27]http://www.yourwaresolutions.com/software.html[/url:1ysiqt27]

If you - like me, have a sacrificial USB stick and want pointers for how to convert it to a local disk, post here and I'll try to re-create how I did that for you...it was a hassle to say the least until I found the 'trick' to it...but now I have the 8gb mounted as if it was a HDD, it survives rebooting and has one partition with a drive letter, and one mounted inside an empty folder in an NTFS partition.

There.
I'm off to enjoy my vastly improved Firefox and XP...

Best Wishes to All !

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Mindblower
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April 14, 2011 - 5:01 pm
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I'd say you're living dangerously, since SP3 plugs many security holes. As for your memory leaks, a good RAM optimizer can help (it's a users preference as to which, since depending on computer and conf., they can work differently).

Glad to see you experimented and found solutions you can live with. Believe this is what many folks do, by tweaking their machines, and adding their personality. All the best, Mindblower!

"Light travels faster than sound;
That is why some people seem bright until you hear them speak"

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smallhagrid
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April 14, 2011 - 5:22 pm
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I have zero interest in SP3, thanks - and no worries about security holes mainly because I use zero Micky$oft internet krapware (Please pardon my vehemence, but I've seen MUCH bad come of that stuff).

Ummmm...:
As for your memory leaks, a good RAM optimizer can help (it's a users preference as to which, since depending on computer and conf., they can work differently).[/quote:3bowzw8z]

That's what I did, right ?

Just a bit of added info...another user sums up the bottom line very nicely here with a very detailed page entitled 'Microsoft Security --- an oxymoron":

[url:3bowzw8z]http://subdude-site.com/WebPages_Local/Blog/topics/computers/computer_microsoft_ie_security.htm[/url:3bowzw8z]

And, when one does a search on the terms ("trust microsoft" oxymoron), one gets thousands of results at the big G, meaning that LOTS of folks find this to be the case, as the uses of the word "oxymoron" are limited !

Addendum...
Oh dear !
Now I am laughing hysterically - I searched on ("microsoft security" oxymoron) and got a mere, wee, little:
58,400 results !!!!!!!!!
(Oh my. I have to stop laughing so hard, it hurts.)

Thanks again for replying !

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Jim Hillier
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April 14, 2011 - 6:00 pm
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With all due respect....the article you linked to is referring to IE6, which was/is renowned for poor security. Warnings about IE6's abysmal security record abound yet it still retains almost 11% of the total market share. Goodness knows how many thousands (millions?) of users that statistic represents.....some people just cannot be saved from themselves.

I have used all versions of Windows up to and including Windows 7. Yes, in the early days, I fell victim to viruses but that was largely due to my own naivety and inexperience. Since I 'grew a brain' and realised much of the responsibility lay on my own shoulders, my machine has remained virus free. That has been the case for many years, and using minimal security.

I do not wish to turn this into a huge debate over the pros and cons of MS but; while I and understand [first hand] and recognise MS is far from perfect, I also acknowledge the fact that if it were not for MS many of us would not be in the position we are today. I deal almost daily with 'older' folk and the problems they encounter with their infernal machines, the vast majority have a very minimal understanding of computers and how they work. Yet, here are grannies and granddads emailing and surfing the net, etc......a lot of the credit for that, and the proliferation of personal computers in general, has to go to MS.

There can be good and bad perceived in [just about] anything.....some people view a glass as half full, others see it as half empty.

Cheers.....Jim

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Flying Dutchman
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April 14, 2011 - 6:52 pm
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IMHO:
1. Sticking with Win XP SP2 and Firefox 3.6.8 is not a very wise decision from a security point.
2. If an OS is viewed as so contemptible, one can always switch to something else.

Cheers

I am human

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Chad Johnson
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April 14, 2011 - 8:45 pm
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It's your choice obviously, but it is a risk.
Internet Explorer is built into Windows XP. Windows Explorer uses the IE engine (or vice versa...can't remember) for much of its rendering. Choosing not to run SP3 may be questionable, but please at least upgrade from IE 6 to IE 8.

And Jim -- many of those users still running IE6 are forced to by employers who have no concept of security. One of my customers is a great proof of that as they are all running XP (SP2), IE6 -- and they are fighting malware on a daily basis.

~shakes head~

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Jim Hillier
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April 14, 2011 - 9:12 pm
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True Zig....I had overlooked the corporate users.

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smallhagrid
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April 14, 2011 - 9:15 pm
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Active firewall in use.
Iexplore.exe BLOCKED.
Other such krapware uninstalled altogether.
No malware problems & good AV running.
No unrecognized processes and rootkit scans by ALL available scanners are 100% clean.
Worst case scenario worries covered by a great roll-back program with hidden backups AND images on a hidden partition.

Security is NOT and WAS not what I posted about here.

This is what keeps me from sharing POSITIVE experiences on public forums; all those who ONLY post negative stuff and irrelevant 'advice' based (mostly) upon their own ego's 'needs'.
Such people cannot even consider OTHER than the party lines on the BIG names.

Then there are others who very quietly take a good, long look and decide NOT to follow the party lines - and actually DO get better results.

This is what I see when I read through fuel efficiency forums too; angry/shouting (grown) men who (abusively even) discredit the few who've gotten exemplary results as to say they are liars claiming the impossible.

What I have done IS working and working WELL.
Better than ever before in fact.
Nothing I have done has changed my security profile and was not meant to.
Nobody's 'approval' is required or requested by me to enjoy the fruits of my labors.

SO:
If anything I've posted about may help someone in any way - great.
If nobody gets anything from it at all - no biggie.
(In fact, this is all exactly why I quit posting for good in other places...good news bringing out all the naysayers and negative responses...I ask in return...who needs THAT kind of stuff ? I don't.)

Usually by this time of day I've had to do memory restarts on Firefox about 3 times and later shut it down for the overnight.
Today ? NONE.
Still WAY less RAM usage than ever previously and system RAM is also in good shape.
I AM DELIGHTED.

Peace out.

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David Hartsock
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April 15, 2011 - 3:03 am
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I have zero interest in SP3, thanks - and no worries about security holes mainly because I use zero Micky$oft internet krapware (Please pardon my vehemence, but I've seen MUCH bad come of that stuff).[/quote:efpv9ivb]
Seems this has gone a little off topic, but it is understandable why. Once you post XP SP2 and IE6 red flags go up for most of us. It is to be expected because we often deal with users, who have lower experience levels, that are infected or not functioning properly due to using outdated/insecure software. My personal (yes OT) opinion is SP3 offers a few updates that I wouldn't want to be without, but that isn't the point of the thread and the choice is ultimately up to you.
I do not wish to turn this into a huge debate over the pros and cons of MS but; while I and understand [first hand] and recognise MS is far from perfect, I also acknowledge the fact that if it were not for MS many of us would not be in the position we are today.[/quote:efpv9ivb]
I also agree with ozbloke and think the MS bashing might be a little much. MS is [i:efpv9ivb]far[/i:efpv9ivb] from perfect and I could write a book about their shortcomings (think they would listen to me? ) but computing is an evolution, MS [i:efpv9ivb]usually[/i:efpv9ivb] learns from the larger mistakes, and I firmly believe each operating system/browser has improved upon the last.

Security is NOT and WAS not what I posted about here.[/quote:efpv9ivb]
Agreed.
This is what keeps me from sharing POSITIVE experiences on public forums; all those who ONLY post negative stuff and irrelevant 'advice' based (mostly) upon their own ego's 'needs'.[/quote:efpv9ivb]
Seems a little brash, don't you think? If you post on an internet forum you are looking for input from others. Why else would you post? Everyone (including myself) has/is offering their own opinion to what you wrote.
Such people cannot even consider OTHER than the party lines on the BIG names.[/quote:efpv9ivb]
I don't see where anyone here has taken offense to the software of lesser known and/or smaller companies. In fact, we devote quite a large amount of time to free software from some very small operations!
Then there are others who very quietly take a good, long look and decide NOT to follow the party lines - and actually DO get better results.[/quote:efpv9ivb]
No one has questioned your results.
This is what I see when I read through fuel efficiency forums too; angry/shouting (grown) men who (abusively even) discredit the few who've gotten exemplary results as to say they are liars claiming the impossible.[/quote:efpv9ivb]
You won't see that here! The core group is a knowledgeable, generally cheerful, and well meaning group who devote many hours to helping others and befriending members of the community. More importantly - this is [b:efpv9ivb][i:efpv9ivb]MY[/i:efpv9ivb][/b:efpv9ivb] site and [b:efpv9ivb][i:efpv9ivb]I[/i:efpv9ivb][/b:efpv9ivb] won't allow that type behavior from anyone!

What I have done IS working and working WELL.
Better than ever before in fact.
Nothing I have done has changed my security profile and was not meant to.[/quote:efpv9ivb]
If you see an improvement that is what is important, nothing else.
Nobody's 'approval' is required or requested by me to enjoy the fruits of my labors.[/quote:efpv9ivb]
Required? No, but you can't fault anyone for responding with their own opinion, based on their knowledge and experiences, to a post on an internet forum targeting computer users.
If anything I've posted about may help someone in any way - great.[/quote:efpv9ivb]
Absolutely!
If nobody gets anything from it at all - no biggie.[/quote:efpv9ivb]
Not exactly, we hope others can glean information from it.
(In fact, this is all exactly why I quit posting for good in other places...good news bringing out all the naysayers and negative responses...I ask in return...who needs THAT kind of stuff ? I don't.)[/quote:efpv9ivb]
Again, no one was negative - at least I didn't think any replies were written in a negative tone. They were offering their input and comments on your post, which is to be expected on a forum.

I want to be clear that I am not "calling anyone on the carpet", but I do think that you have had prior poor experiences on forums and are basing your reactions to the comments here on those experiences. I can assure you that NO ONE is here to attack you or be disrespectful. You may not get the responses you want, but they will be offered respectfully, from personal knowledge, and (in most cases) cheerfully. We are all here to help each other and act like a community.

Now, back to the topic...
I don't know what your personal circumstances are, but have you considered a little more RAM or an upgrade to Win 7? Win 7 is vastly superior to XP in it's memory management (as well as others). Maybe take an image of your setup and install a trial. I'll warn you in advance that "free memory" will be lower in Win7, but it works pretty well at shuffling the needed memory to the required programs. In Win7 free memory is wasted memory.
The reason I ask is there is often a time/money comparison when faced with these situations. Do I spend 25 hours coming up with a solution, or spend $50 if you understand where I'm coming from. God only knows how many hours I've wasted on little "projects" throughout my life!

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smallhagrid
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April 15, 2011 - 11:10 am
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Thanks for the reply Admin.

[color=#FFFF00:2ps7ff0b]It is my understanding that XP can 'only' address 2GB - [i:2ps7ff0b]is that incorrect ?[/i:2ps7ff0b][/color:2ps7ff0b]
Also, my current system uses DDR2 which is no longer current and I have been less than impressed with the pricing lately.

[color=#8040FF:2ps7ff0b][b:2ps7ff0b]Edit/self correction:[/b:2ps7ff0b][/color:2ps7ff0b]
I was mistaken and for x86 it is 4GB per->
[url:2ps7ff0b]http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/aa366778(v=vs.85).aspx#physical_memory_limits_windows_xp[/url:2ps7ff0b]

So I will have a look for nicely-priced DDR2 and still leave my improvements in place afterwards...

As for vista/7 I did try vista and could not abide by the changes; played with 7 at friend's places and found that to my eyes it is merely vista with a paint job and equally offensive; I refuse to tolerate what they have done to explorer and how 'dumbed down' the GUI is, and how much the user must 'fight' for control of their own system.

I even posted some while back at an annoyances forum asking if there was any way to use 2k/XP's explorer in vista and all I got was suggestions of adding a 3rd party file manager; [i:2ps7ff0b]meh.[/i:2ps7ff0b]

At this point my reasoning is simple...when/if XP becomes a non-viable option for me I will spend the time needed to pin down a preferable Linux distro and one-by-one replace all my needed apps with open source ones - and call it a day.

Say what you will...but in my opinion my 1st ever '386 with DOS was just fine, and with the exception of how grand the internet has made things MOST of what I enjoyed best about having a PC was present waaaay back then on that silly old '386 ! (3D games were COOL on a '386 back then and I was using Geoworks with a DMP for laser-quality printed output.)

I find having my choices dictated by a monopolistic ([i:2ps7ff0b]don't tell me they are not, please[/i:2ps7ff0b]) company VERY highly offensive and as I've already said - if w2kpro was still a viable choice I'd merrily stay with it.

In my world newer/bigger is [u:2ps7ff0b]NOT[/u:2ps7ff0b] generally better and eye-candy means exactly ZERO to me.

The -only- exceptions I cite specifically here in terms of better/newer electronic devices are those of ereaders and LED-backlit monitors; those devices have revolutionized things in terms of reducing energy and material wastage and have huge merit in my opinion-> I compare these to the relentless 'need' for newer/faster/etc. PCs and the wastage just disgusts me.
([u:2ps7ff0b]The above relates with my OP via the desire to best optimize what I already have.[/u:2ps7ff0b])

It is perfectly good, and merely needed a little help, which I have found and given it.
If it can be further helped by a minor expense and added RAM, I will consider that as well, rather than adding yet another PC to the waste-stream needlessly or changing to any OS which simply stated...[b:2ps7ff0b][u:2ps7ff0b]hurts[/u:2ps7ff0b][/b:2ps7ff0b].

[u:2ps7ff0b]Thanks, and Best Wishes ![/u:2ps7ff0b]

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Chad Johnson
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April 15, 2011 - 11:41 am
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Windows XP will support up to 4 GB. Your motherboard may be limited, depending on its age, who made it, when they made it, time of day, and what the designer had for breakfast.

FWIW - most of the security concerns raised here obviously don't apply to you. You're on top of your system and actively preventing malware and managing the software on your computer.

However, for anyone else who comes along, sees your solution, and decides to duplicate it, they need to be made aware of the security concerns - so either they will need to be as vigilant as yourself, or change their habits to be safer.

I'm sorry you've had bad experiences in the past. I hope you do stay because you sound very knowledgeable and creative and ingenious.

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smallhagrid
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April 15, 2011 - 1:46 pm
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Thank You Ziggie, for your kind and understanding thoughts.
I see your point.

Specifically - when a system is actively monitored and firewalled with user interaction trouble can be easily averted.

Regarding Firefox Portable - 3.6.8 is not so far off from the end of the 3.x.x series (the last seems to be 3.6.15) and here is what the site says: [quote:1v9mi7do]"Firefox 3.6.x will be maintained with security and stability updates for a short amount of time. All users are strongly encouraged to upgrade to Firefox 4." - Mozilla[/quote:1v9mi7do]

I apologize in advance, but FF4 is well below the 'meh' level - it is currently at the 'bleah' level for this user, who has it installed and tried REALLY, REALLY HARD to like it - but failed miserably.

For anyone working to duplicate what I've done so happily I have 3 suggestions:
1) See if you can stand Firefox 4 Portable
B) Feel free to ask me stuff if you'd like.
Q) Security concerns can largely be handled by manually firewalling bad/insecure apps - like IE, for example.

The change in trend to the imposing 'pearl style' one-menu-fits-all way as in vista-7-chrome strikes this user as...:
Basically Lobotomized.
Which gets a sound, solid - no thanks hereabouts.

Now, to lighten up this thread - upon the subject of 'levels', I present some levity which I, personally very much enjoyed:
[quote:1v9mi7do]
ALERTS TO THREATS IN 2011 EUROPE : BY JOHN CLEESE

The English are feeling the pinch in relation to recent events in Libya and have therefore raised their security level from "Miffed" to "Peeved."

Soon, though, security levels may be raised yet again to "Irritated" or even "A Bit Cross." The English have not been "A Bit Cross" since the blitz in 1940 when tea supplies nearly ran out. Terrorists have been re-categorized from "Tiresome" to "A Bloody Nuisance." The last time the British issued a "Bloody Nuisance" warning level was in 1588, when threatened by the Spanish Armada.

The Scots have raised their threat level from "Pissed Off" to "Let's get the Bastards." They don't have any other levels. This is the reason they have been used on the front line of the British army for the last 300 years.

The French government announced yesterday that it has raised its terror alert level from "Run" to "Hide." The only two higher levels in France are"Collaborate" and "Surrender." The rise was precipitated by a recent fire that destroyed France 's white flag factory,effectively paralyzing the country's military capability.

Italy has increased the alert level from "Shout Loudly and Excitedly" to "Elaborate Military Posturing." Two more levels remain: "Ineffective Combat Operations" and "Change Sides."

The Germans have increased their alert state from "Disdainful Arrogance" to "Dress in Uniform and Sing Marching Songs." They also have two higher levels: "Invade a Neighbor" and "Lose."

Belgians, on the other hand, are all on holiday as usual; the only threat they are worried about is NATO pulling out of Brussels .

The Spanish are all excited to see their new submarines ready to deploy. These beautifully designed subs have glass bottoms so the new Spanish navy can get a really good look at the old Spanish navy.

Australia , meanwhile, has raised its security level from "No worries" to "She'll be alright, Mate." Two more escalation levels remain: "Crikey! I think we'll need to cancel the barbie this weekend!" and "The barbie is canceled." So far no situation has ever warranted use of the final escalation level.

-- John Cleese (*) - British writer, actor and tall person [/quote:1v9mi7do]

Best Wishes to ALL !

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Jim Hillier
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April 16, 2011 - 3:50 am
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LOL

That is brilliant and [i:d44ql59f]very[/i:d44ql59f] funny!!

I hope you don't mind but I have copied and pasted it into the 'Anything Goes' section of the forum under 'Joke of the Day' so it will be viewed by more people.

Thanks for sharing......Jim

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grr
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April 26, 2011 - 5:19 pm
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[quote:3205p514]I found Firefox gradually, but inexorably eating more and more RAM and slowing down over time.[/quote:3205p514]

Yes, that is very normal & expected behavior of Firefox. Id do run into similar situation and end-task & then restart Firefox to regain RAM.

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smallhagrid
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April 28, 2011 - 1:14 pm
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Endtasking FF for this is excessive, and:
Yes, that is very normal & expected behavior of Firefox. Id do run into similar situation and end-task & then restart Firefox to regain RAM. [/quote:12ydkxt8]

In the portable version leaves behind undesirable detritus which then must be found/cleaned.

Much easier/cleaner ways exist. For example:
[url:12ydkxt8]https://addons.mozilla.org/en-us/firefox/addon/memory-restart/[/url:12ydkxt8]

Memory Restart is an open-source Firefox add-on that allows you to quickly restart Firefox if memory usage is too high. Firefox users can see the memory usage in the add-on bar or the toolbar tool-tip. If memory usage reaches a certain threshold, the add-on bar display and the toolbar icon will turn red. You can quickly restart Firefox at any time by clicking on the add-on bar display or the toolbar icon.

The memory threshold and add-on bar text colors are customizable. There is also an auto restart feature.[/quote:12ydkxt8]

Version 1.1 is the most recent fully functional, newer ones have bugs:
[url:12ydkxt8]https://addons.mozilla.org/firefox/downloads/file/102921/memory_restart-1.1-fx.xpi?src=version-history[/url:12ydkxt8]

Best Wishes.

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