Win98 Disk Caching Slowdown

We have a complex audio system at our radio station running on Windows 98. Boxes are PII 433Mhz, 128Mb RAM, 12Gb HD. These Win98 machines handle high volumes of .mpg audio files, running 24-hours a day. And that's about it -- 24 hours, after which Win98 slows to a crawl, the audio skips or hiccoughs on the air, and we have to go to an audio CD while we reboot the computers. We have a similar problem with our newsroom computer, totally unrelated to the other audio system.

Does anyone know the magic bullet to fix this apparently inherent problem in Win98's disk caching module? It's ruining our day.

Thanks,

Chris
morningAsked:
Who is Participating?
I wear a lot of hats...

"The solutions and answers provided on Experts Exchange have been extremely helpful to me over the last few years. I wear a lot of hats - Developer, Database Administrator, Help Desk, etc., so I know a lot of things but not a lot about one thing. Experts Exchange gives me answers from people who do know a lot about one thing, in a easy to use platform." -Todd S.

MrbreezeCommented:
If you want to stay with Windows I would suggest you move up to NT 4.0 or wait another six weeks and go with Windows 2000(NT5). The Celerons are good but running a program 24 hours a day is a lot of work for them perhaps PIII's would be a consideration.
Win98 is for basic use and you are requiring a little more than it was made for

Just some idea's, I'm sure you'll get many more
                     Mrbreeze
0
morningAuthor Commented:
Thanks, but changing processors or OS right now is not an option due to proprietary constraints with the softrunning under Win98. We believe there is a workaround out there somewhere, and it has to do with disk caching properties.
0
edtoraCommented:
There is a freeware utility that lets you take control over various caching settings in Windows.
It has presets for inexperienced users and it's very easy to use.
You can get this at http://www.outertech.com the best of this prog is that is very small (495kb compressed) and do no harm to your system in any way.
I'm sure that if this doesn't solve your problem, you will get good results.
The other option is to install Norton Utilities 2000 and run the Optimization wizard, that optimizes your registry and swap file (changes the minimum cache file size, and then with Norton speed disk defragments and moves the swap file to the fastest location on your hard disk, this one takes more time and is a little expensive too, but believe me, it works fine.

Let me now if these helps or you need a less time- money consuming solution
0
Cloud Class® Course: Microsoft Exchange Server

The MCTS: Microsoft Exchange Server 2010 certification validates your skills in supporting the maintenance and administration of the Exchange servers in an enterprise environment. Learn everything you need to know with this course.

Asta CuTechnical consultant & graphic designCommented:
Aside from all said; this is truly computer-intensive wonder if you've got adequate cooling fans.  I'd also consider a dedicated, fast hard drive to be the sole swapfile (virtual memory) site; and swap systems to allow maintenance (scandisk/defrag/cleanup), etc. to maintain performance levels with a reboot.  I'd also consider (depending on the size of your dedicated drive if you do this) making it a permanent swap file to minimize the constant resizing/and fragmentation around variable virtual memory files.  

That's at least one process that comes to mind if I wanted to live with existing environs and systems.  Never forgetting the WindowsUpdate to ensure fixes applied.
0
daddudeCommented:
Windows Update has a fix for running extended times. Download it and see what happens.
Dave
0
frnzxguyCommented:
I agree with astaec, you need to establish a fixed (permanent) swap file size to preclude constant resizing by the OS.  Additionally, Windows 95/98 systems are not known for long running time stability as they tend to lose memory depending on what apps you are running.  If they are constantly processing all day long, you should probably consider a daily reboot of each system to rid yourself of such memory trashing.  Norton does a nice job of defragging, but your problem probably has more to do with letting windows manage the swap and memory leaks.
0
morningAuthor Commented:
Yes, that's the workaround we're using now -- rebooting the systems each morning, and then they'll run for 24 hours or slightly longer. If I wanted to set a permanent swap file size, how is this accomplished, and what size would I use (we are processing around 10-14GB a day of audio files)?
0
Asta CuTechnical consultant & graphic designCommented:
Me?  Since I don't work primarily with sound files, but do with large graphic files, I've set the swapfile to be 2.5X my RAM (196MB ram).  If, however, you have a dedicated drive with plenty of room, I'd make it sufficiently large to eliminate problems.  PRIOR to setting the swapfile, though, run maintenance and scandisk/defrag, clear temp files, internet, history, etc. to make sure that then when setting up your permanent swapfile, the file is contiguous.

The process could be something like this
0
Asta CuTechnical consultant & graphic designCommented:
http://www.annoyances.org/cgi-bin/ce-showtopic/005_035

Rather than rekeying all; check this out, it's pretty good about the process.
0
edtoraCommented:
I didn't recommended the fixed size swap file deal because of the work your machines are doing.
You'll probably get out of memory under certain circumstances.
Anyway it's a good solution too.
Let's us now of any workaround
0
morningAuthor Commented:
We now have a number of options, including one from the audio distribution software manufacturer, that we'll be trying over the next few days. We will certainly share our progress with all of you.

Thanks for your assistance,

Chris
0
Asta CuTechnical consultant & graphic designCommented:
One other thought that comes to mind is the low resource issue and memory leaks; whereby we've experienced significant churning of disk and slowdown if/when an application loads but not fully and is stopped -- in other words, not in compliance with standards in shutdown processes.  This causes them to remain (in part) in memory and resources aren't freed up.  Enough of this can really bog down the system.  
0
dew_associatesCommented:
Morning, give this a look, you may want to contact Microsoft on this> By the way, what are your settings in System Properties, Performance Tab, File System? Is it set to network server?

Dennis
===================
This behavior is caused by an error in the Windows 98 protected-mode disk cache
(Vcache.vxd). The error occurs when the maximum value of a variable used in
tracking the age of blocks in the cache is exceeded. If this occurs while the
protected-mode disk cache is attempting to free the oldest blocks to make room
for new data, it takes a long time for the operation to finish. Once this
condition occurs, Windows runs slowly, and continues to do so until the computer
is restarted.
 
RESOLUTION
==========
 
A supported fix that corrects this problem is now available from Microsoft, but
it has not been fully regression tested and should be applied only to systems
experiencing this specific problem.
 
To resolve this problem, contact Microsoft Product Support Services to obtain the
fix. For a complete list of Microsoft Product Support Services phone numbers and
information on support costs, please go to the following address on the World
Wide Web:
 
   http://www.microsoft.com/support/supportnet/overview/overview.asp
 
The English version of this fix should have the following file attributes or
later:
 
   Date     Time      Version     Size     File name     Platform
   --------------------------------------------------------------
   4/7/99   12:07pm   4.10.2183   37,183   Vcache.vxd    Win98
 


0
morningAuthor Commented:
Thanks. That's one of the avenues we're persuing, although the manufacture of the audio delivery software has send us a new version of the play.exe file file which they say will alleviate some of the problem. This file used to play digital audio from CD-ROMs and is in fact installed when a CD-ROM game added to a system. It's apparently a better audio player than what comes with Win98. We'll be testing over the weekend, and report results on Monday. Thanks to all!
0
daddudeCommented:
As I mentioned before, there is a fix for extended running of WIN98 - 27 or 47 days-something like that-. Try it if you are not turning the power off when you reboot.  I would suggest that you definetly power off and not just hit the reset key.
0
jdhelmsCommented:
I believe you guys will **LOVE** this site:

http://members.aol.com/_ht_a/axcel216/

Lots of registry tweaks for Windows 98, including topics like:

"CPUPriority" , "AlwaysUnloadDLL" ,
"MapCache" , "CPUIdle".

Perhaps the section concerning the Registry entry "AlwaysUnloadDLL" will be of greatest interest, as its name suggests some importance regarding System Resources.
0
dew_associatesCommented:
Morning, it would be nice to hear from you. We can cause the cache to clear itself if you like, but obviously you'll need to be careful how you do that.
0
morningAuthor Commented:
I put in the MS patch (vcache.vxd, as referenced above) and things cleared up. Issue resolved. Thanks to all who helped out!

Chris
0
Asta CuTechnical consultant & graphic designCommented:
Good news, Morning.  Glad to hear all is well.  Dennis (Dew_Associates) provided the fix, so you should not be able to convert his comments to an accepted answer.
0
dew_associatesCommented:
Glad to hear it Morning!
0

Experts Exchange Solution brought to you by

Your issues matter to us.

Facing a tech roadblock? Get the help and guidance you need from experienced professionals who care. Ask your question anytime, anywhere, with no hassle.

Start your 7-day free trial
dew_associatesCommented:
Morning? Are you still with us?
0
morningAuthor Commented:
Yes, and all is well. No further caching problems.
0
dew_associatesCommented:
Was there something wrong with the resolution of this problem that warranted a "B"?
0
morningAuthor Commented:
No, other than I did not get the perfect answer from anyone in particular, and certainly not right away. Those things considered, I felt the grade war fair.
0
Asta CuTechnical consultant & graphic designCommented:
..
0
dew_associatesCommented:
Not a problem Chris! Given your comment of 2+ weeks ago, "I put in the MS patch (vcache.vxd, as referenced above) and things cleared up. Issue resolved." Your latest comment of, "No, other than I did not get the perfect answer from anyone in particular, and certainly not right away." really doesn't make sense though now does it!



0
morningAuthor Commented:
Great -- and thanks for all your help!
0
daddudeCommented:
Morning, DEW answered a difficult question correctly in 2 days! It looks like it took you almost 2 weeks to apply his fix.  (I would hate to have you as a teacher.)  B is a low grade.
Don't judge his fix by all the help from others that was not as good.
Happy computing:)
Dave.    
0
Asta CuTechnical consultant & graphic designCommented:
If I may interject; I do totally agree with daddude's comment.  Personally speaking, if I find a need for assistance and find a fix to my solution I can't help myself, it deserves A; Excellent.  My thinking here is if I can't fix it; seek help, get it, it's excellent, thus an A.  Quickly confirmed by my own grading record.

Bottom line all fixed, a great team, and always more to learn.

;)

Asta
0
morningAuthor Commented:
Okay, so I was mistaken in how these things are done. I took the entire response system as a whole, and actually ended up putting in the patch per MS, as I may have done anyway. I'm normally a hard grader, and may have jumped at the "A" immediately if that's what you folks expect. So, how do I upgrade the grade?
0
Asta CuTechnical consultant & graphic designCommented:
In my opinion, I'd just add this; if I were to be paying (literally) for help, I'd perhaps be a bit tougher than when I receive help from volunteers who also have their own jobs, lives and computers to run.

By no means do I wish to create any sad or bad feelings, merely sharing how I feel and what I do.

Asta
0
It's more than this solution.Get answers and train to solve all your tech problems - anytime, anywhere.Try it for free Edge Out The Competitionfor your dream job with proven skills and certifications.Get started today Stand Outas the employee with proven skills.Start learning today for free Move Your Career Forwardwith certification training in the latest technologies.Start your trial today
Windows OS

From novice to tech pro — start learning today.