How much RAM do I need for Windows 98?

Microsoft included Internet Explorer as part of the Windows 98 interface, so it does require more RAM to operate than Windows 95. We recommend 32MB of RAM as a usable minimum. 64MB is better if the PC will run large programs such as Microsoft Office, or several programs at once. You can tell if you could use more memory if you notice a dramatic increase in hard disk activity when opening additional programs or switching between them. This means Windows is using the hard drive to simulate additional RAM.

Additional information:

This simulated RAM, or "virtual memory," as it is called, is dramatically slower than the real RAM in your computer. In addition, virutal memory will use whatever space it needs on your hard drive. You can search for the swap file (WIN386.SWP) on your hard drive to see how much virutal memory is being used.  This file will grow and shrink depending on how many programs are open, so open your usual number of applications and check the size of the file.  If this file is routinely over 20 MB in size you will probably benefit from more memory.

To prevent unnecessary growing and shrinking of the swap file, you can choose to set a minimum size for this file. To do so:

  • Open the Control Panel (Start->Settings->Control Panel)
  • Open the System icon
  • Click on the Performance tab
  • Click on the Virtual Memory button
  • Click on "Let me specify my own virtual memory settings"
  • Make your changes, and click OK to exit. We suggest using a minimum of 10-20 MB, but you should make it at least the normal size of your swap file (see above).
  • You will receive a warning that your changes may cause problems. If you have just set the minimum value, you will be fine.


May 1999

Send this article to a friend!
Subscribe to The ITS Connection

Related articles

  • Link