How do I prevent "Low Resources" lockups?

Problem: Computer locks up when attempting to open a file or an application and only option is reboot. CTRL-ALT-DEL will bring up dialog saying, "Resources are dangerously low, do you want to close XYZ application?" Answer "Yes", and it comes back with another app until all are closed but still requires reboot. Lockup can occur with only one app running. Appears that some apps are not releasing memory when closing or a bad leakage is occuring.

System worked fine with these apps and configuration for two years. I don't see any installation that may have caused this problem.
Machine: Pentium 120
OS: Windows 95 4.0  Build 950  
 CPU            : Intel Pentium
 Physical memory: 48 MB RAM
 Page file space: 164 MB free, 20 MB in use
                  (184 MB total)

Display Monitor : ViewStar 15"
 Description    : Plug and Play Monitor (VESA DDC)
 Max Resolution : 1600,1200

Sound Card name : Creative Labs Sound Blaster 16 Plug and Play
 Wave Out Device: SB16 Wave Out [220]
 PnP or PCI ID  : ISAPNP\CTL0024_DEV0000\1003006A
 Driver         : sb16snd.drv
 Version        : ""  Final Retail
 Date and Size  : 07/14/97 16:00:00   75392 bytes  Certified
 Current files  : sb16snd.drv, sb16.vxd

Hard Drives     : C: D: E: Try to maintain minimum free space of 150MB on each

Main Programs Used : AOL 5.0, MS Office 95, StarOffice 5.1, Personal Ancestoral File 5.0. Have resorted to having only one app open at a time but still get lockups.
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So you ran AOL 5.0 for 2 years?  This seems unlikely....

I see two problems:

1) You have only 48MB RAM.  You are running a lot of big (read that memory-hogging) programs and 48MB is marginal at best.  Today, you should consider 64MB the absolute minimum and 128MB a reasonable amount.

Solution: Add more RAM.  It won't solve the problem completely but it will help.

2) Win95.  It has a limited amount of resources available to it and there is no fix.  Every object (i.e. window, control, dialog box, button, icon, etc.) created by any program consumes some.  Once they are used up, you run into the problem.  Win98 helps a little by moving some resources out of the limited area but my experience shows that it might help by 10% at best.

Solution:  Run fewer programs at once.  Pay special attention to apps that are being started in your system tray automatically.  These suck up resources as well.  Another fix is to move to NT.  NT doesn't suffer from this limitation.
addign RAM does n-o-y-h-i-n-g for resources, AFAIK win95/98 has 2 x 64Kbyte blocks for "system resources" (win3.1 had 64k)

Usually when i get it (and i routinely have more then 50 programs launched on my system), some program is leaking resource memory.
For your relief, download freemem pro and cacheman from These two apps helps me through with my AMD 486/32M of RAM to surf the net/listening to msnbc/synchronize my idrive all at the same time, and I use netcaptor to surf and now I have 3 pages opened all at the same time, two of them are java heavy pages (one of them is the pogo tank hunter), plus 15 other items running.  Among those are nbc news alert/norton speedstart, crashguard/titletime/icq/ering/at guard and freemempro itself ...all in the systray and my idrive sync still transfering at 2k/s.  Of course, it'll be a lot better if I have your pc!
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By my opinion, you should leave your hardisk space for the drive C as many as you can, the best is minimum 500 MB. And you may search for the program named 'cacheman' to optimise your system to the best. Beside, don open too much of applications at once, after using so many of programs, you may need to restart the pc to refresh the memory. However, the best way to fix the problems is to format your pc and re-install all the application again!
nkp55Author Commented:
I agree that all those steps combined may solve the problem for a short time. But I can't find out without a lot of trouble. I would have to install programs from tape backup in some cases as I no longer have all the disks, and if I do this I am likely to install a corrupted file to Windows. I suspect a file is corrupt -- possibly the Registry as I experience wierd mouse problems ocassionally. I have monitored memory but not resources like GDI, etc. I will download and try those two programs.
On top of all I mentioned above, my c drive is compressed. I'm not braggging my pc, I just want to answer your resource problem.

First off lets see if you have your system properly updated to run with the big dogs.

Right click on My Computer and select Properties. (Short-cut, if you have a keyboard with the Windows Flag key, Depress and hold the Flag key and then press the Pause|Break key).
When your System Properties loads look on the General Tab and  list here everything verbatim following "System:"

What I am looking for is 4.00.950a <- the "a" is very imprtant to you.

If you do not show an "a" after the 950 then you NEED to do some updating.

To do this updating go to the following address:

Start in the SERVICE PACKS section with the following updates in the order they are presented on the site's page;

Windows Library Update
Windows 95 Service Pack 1
Windows 95 OLE 32 Update
Windows 95 Password List Update

Now you can go from here to the NETWORKING section and get the following updates;

Dial Up Networking 1.3 Performance & Security Update.

Microsoft DUN 1.3 and Winsock2 Year 2000 Update.

Now you can go to NETWORKING TOOLS
and get these;

Windows Socket Update - Kernel 32

Windows Socket 2 Update  
From here you may want to visit the following site and look it over so you can stay up with the updates for your system;


Now once you have your system updated let's look into your swap file location.

Your C drive is your main drive and it is probalbly the one that has the less room on it. Pick one of your other drives either D or E that has the most free room and follow these instructions;

1. Bring up your System Properties, (Remember above), and click on the Performance Tab, now click on the Virtual Memory button.
2. Click on the radio button beside "Let me specify my own virtual memory settings." You will now have the interface for the Hard disk settings available.
3. Click on the arrow to reveal the drop down list of choices for hard drives available and select the one that has the largest available Free space.
4. For now the settings for the Minimum and the Maximum can be explained as follows;


Tune VCACHE from 20 to 25 percent of install RAM.

(If you have 32 megs of memory or less. For the best performance do not set the VCACHE if you have over 32 megs.)

Windows includes disk-caching technology called VCACHE; this uses memory to store the most recently accessed information on your hard drive. Although VCACHE can grow and shrink dynamically, its size can increase to more than half of the memory on your system very quickly. However VCACHE shrinks its buffer size much more slowly. While all this speeds disk access, the memory that VCACHE uses is at least temporarily unavailable to Windows or its applications.

Refer to this URL for more information on VCACHE:

Actually what happens is when VCACHE steals more memory then necessary it will cause Windows to swap out more to the swap file. The end result is more HDD activity and reduced performance.

To set the VCACHE edit the system.ini file:

[VCACHE] (this line may or may not already exist in the file)

The maxfilecache should be no more then 20 to 25 percent of your systems total RAM.

On the system I have with 32mgs My settings are:


So the above is an example to explain the Minimum and Maximum settings. You can set your Minimum to Zero an No Maximum for the Maximum setting.

5. Click on OK, OK again.

You can also set the Typical role of your machine to be a Network server to increase performance. BUT before you can do this you must confirm some registry information or edit some registry information as follows in this article;

Incorrect Settings for File System Performance Profiles
Article ID: Q138012

Last Reviewed:
May 20, 1999

The information in this article applies to:
Microsoft Windows 95
Microsoft Windows 95 OEM Service Release version 1
IMPORTANT: This article contains information about editing the registry. Before you edit the registry, you should first make a backup copy of the registry files (System.dat and User.dat). Both are hidden files in the Windows folder.

The performance of the file system on your computer is unchanged or degraded after you select Network Server or Mobile Or Docking System in the Typical Role Of This Machine box in the File System Properties dialog box.

The NameCache and PathCache values are written to the registry incorrectly for the Network Server and Mobile Or Docking System profiles. The data for NameCache is written to the PathCache value, and the data for PathCache is written to the NameCache value.

NOTE: For information about how to edit the registry, view the Changing Keys And Values online Help topic in Registry Editor (Regedit.exe). Note that you should make a backup copy of the registry files (System.dat and User.dat) before you edit the registry.

WARNING: Using Registry Editor incorrectly can cause serious problems that may require you to reinstall Windows 95. Microsoft cannot guarantee that problems resulting from the incorrect use of Registry Editor can be solved. Use Registry Editor at your own risk.

Modify the NameCache and PathCache values in the following registry key:

NOTE: The value data for these settings is in hexadecimal format.
For the Mobile Or Docking System profile, use the following data:

   Value name   Value data
   NameCache    51 01 00 00
   PathCache    10 00 00 00

For the Network Server profile, use the following data:

   Value name   Value data
   NameCache    a9 0a 00 00
   PathCache    40 00 00 00

Microsoft has confirmed this to be a problem in Microsoft Windows 95 and Microsoft Windows 95 OEM Service Release version 1.

This problem has been corrected in Windows 95 OEM Service Release version 2.

After you modify the registry settings, use the following procedure to optimize your file system performance:

1. In Control Panel, double-click the System icon.

2. On the Performance tab, click File System.

3. In the Typical Role Of This Machine box, click the most common role for your computer, and then click OK.

The default profile (Desktop Computer) does not use the NameCache or PathCache values in the registry. Instead, the file system defaults are used.
NOTE: The profile values for NameCache and PathCache listed in the "Microsoft Windows 95 Resource Kit" (page 566) are correct; however, they are listed in decimal format. For the Desktop Computer profile, the default value for NameCache is a5 02 00 00, and the default value for PathCache is 20 00 00 00.

So when you have read and understand the above article you can comptemplate the changes from Desktop PC to Network Server.
Get back to us on this one if you need help.

Defrag your Hard drives at least once a week depending on how much you delete, install, uninstall, move or change your machines environment.

Scandisk should go before Defragmentation.

And now we have a New toy on the block called Regclean that helps keep your systems registry's fundametal basics in order.
Regclean should follow the Scandisk and Defragmentation of your drives/partitions.

Get it at the following address;

Clean out your Startup folder and run just what you REALLY, (need), want at start up.

Keep your system clean of .TMP files.

Add the following lines to your AUTOEXEC.BAT.
rem Check for TMP files and Remove them
rem if not exist %TEMP%\*.TMP goto EndTMP attrib %TEMP%\*.TMP -r -a -s -h del %TEMP%\*.TMP :EndTMP
Each time you PC boots, the above lines will remove any files with TMP extension in your TEMP directory set by the TEMP environment variable. Windows 95 assigns C:\WINDOWS\TEMP to the TEMP directory on boot up, however, some machines have Windows on another drive, therefor instead of using C:\WINDOWS\TEMP, I use the %TEMP% to get all possible configurations. According to my evaluation of different PCs at my clients, I have seen PCs drop as much as 25% in performance with these files in the TEMP directory. Plus they take up needed disk space.

You can also get a utility to do this for you for free called TempFree at the following location;

If you don't like the autoexec.bat solution as shown above then try this one;

 ECHO If restarting after a system ECHO crash,
    ECHO DON'T clear the TEMP directory.
    CHOICE /T:Y,10 Clear the TEMP directory
    ECHO Y | DEL C:\TEMP\*.*
Now during the start-up process, the system will ask if it should clear the Temp directory. If you don't answer in 10 seconds, it will assume Y for yes. Thus, for a normal start-up, you don't have to do a thing. But if the system crashes, you can wait for this question during the reboot process and enter N for no. You can also change the CHOICE command's first command line switch to /T:N,10. That makes no the default answer; the Temp directory will be cleared only if you watch for this question at start-up and answer yes.

Right click on your Recycle bin and select properties, make sure to set the slider to 10%.

I'm sure you will get more answers and suggestions.

Good luck



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This comment is under assumption that you have only ONE hard drive in your computer with multiple partitions.

I would say if you want to resolve the issue in a quick and easy mannor without having to reinstall anything, then I would suggest a second hard drive.

The second hard drive can be about 200 megs in size (which you can get relativly cheap from a used computer store). The drive will be used only to manage the Virtual Memory.

Once installed, you can change the Virtual Memory by Going to the Control Panel, clicking on 'System', Performance, and Virtual Memory. Change the drive to the new drive.

This will help with speed and accessibility, since it works on it's own. It then can multitask and check the Virtual memory, while loading and saving programs.

Other than that, the compressed hard drive will work against you time and time again. Windows works best in a uncompressed environment, especially if you are using newer, graphic intense programs.
nkp55Author Commented:
Jd has the most comprehensive solution. I will follow most of his suggestions. I just reformatted the C: drive and reinstalled Win95 as the computer finally refused to even boot in Safe Mode. This fixed the problem as you'd expect but doesn't prevent it from happening again.

I did have upgrades on Win95 but now I am back to old version. I do scandisk weekly but only defrag about once per two months. I like what I learned here about vcache and will keep up on it. I will try to set the computer for Network Server.

Thanks to all for the suggestions. Good job.

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