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Maximum RAM in Windows


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#1
gabebillings

gabebillings

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I've got one primary question I'm concerned with as well as a couple others I'd like some input on, but aren't quite as important.

I've got a home theater PC in my media room that I'm upgrading. My favorite online store had a great deal on the exact same RAM modules I built the PC with, so I picked up another pair. I was also interested in getting some more storage, so I got a new HD as well.

So the first question is, how much RAM can my OS handle? I'm running XP Home SP2. I originally had 2 x 1GB Corsair XMS modules, and just put in another pair, for 4GB total.

After booting up, I checked the System Properties and saw that it only showed 3GB. I figured I hadn't seated one properly, so I pulled them out, swapped spaces for good measure, then stuck them back in and booted up again. I noticed that they're all recognized during the POST (4,193,216K). So I started searching online. It seems like 32-bit Windows can handle 4GB, but I'm reading things about the /3GB switch, and other things, but I'm still don't completely understand what's going on.

So, do I have a whole 1GB of RAM that's unused, or is it being used, but just not showing up in the System Properties?


Next up is about partitioning hard drives. All of mine are WD Caviar 7200 RPM 16MB Cache SATA 3.0Gb. There's a 250GB (21 months old), a 500GB (5 months old) and a brand new 640GB.

Are there any limits to partition size, and are there any reasons I'd want to allocate space in a particular way? I know the new drive is a 2 platter design that's supposed to have faster access times than the other two, so might that make a difference in booting, opening programs, etc? I was thinking of a layout something like the following: 80GB for OS/applications, 120GB for network filesharing, 100GB for storing backup disk images of all my computers, and then probably use the rest for media storage (DVR, downloads, DVD rips, etc.)

And as far as backups go, if I've got an image of my OS partition stored on a different partition or drive, a program like Acronis will be able to restore the system from that backup image in case something conks out, right?

So those are my questions. Sorry if they're a little convoluted. I'd appreciate any help. Thanks!
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#2
SRX660

SRX660

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First, Only Vista will see more than 3 gigs of memory. Even then it may be the motherboard which will not see more than 3 gigs of memory. Some of the very newest MB's will see more memory now. Yes, the 4th gig of memory is not being used at all, Windows does not even see it.

Personally i do not install windows on a partition larger than 40 gigs. If you have that much software where the OS and all the software uses more than 20 gigs, you probably should use more than one computer. I have one computer as my internet comp, a second as a network Music comp and a third for a movie comp. Trying to put all these computers together in one computer would result in a very slow computer. I am happy to do otherwise.

I bought Acronis 11 and failed to make a proper DVD recovery disk set. They just did not work. It IRK's me that i read the instructions carefully and still failed. I have gone back to my tried and true Ghost 2003 for making my backup Recovery disks.

http://ghost.radified.com/

I do like partition limits. Way too many filers on a single partition can really slow things down. For the same reason i always include multiple folders so windows does not slow down reading 100's of large files in a single folder.I prefer partitions of around 200 Gigs on the largest drives. It does not bother me that i have 4 to 6 partitions as i can make each partition for certain files.

My 2¢,
SRX660
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#3
gabebillings

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The motherboard is good for 16GB, so it's Windows. That leads me to another question.

I've got another PC for my upstairs TV that's just a client, pulling stuff off the HTPC downstairs. It's the same mobo as the other PC, and it has 2GB of RAM as well, only slightly different timings. Can I pull the unused 1GB stick from downstairs and put it in the other PC?

HTPC: CORSAIR XMS2 1GB DDR2 PC2 6400 Lat: 5 Timing 4-4-4-12 2.1V
Client: CORSAIR XMS2 1GB DDR2 PC2 6400 Lat: 5 Timing 5-5-5-12 1.9V

Sad to hear about the Acronis problem. Makes me a little nervous, since I've already made a couple images with it and they seem to have worked. Seem being the operative word. I guess I won't know until I try restoring with one of them.

Thanks for the help.
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#4
SRX660

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The worse that could happen with the mixed ram is the computer just won't work with both sticks. I have not tried mixing newer memory but i have had varying luck mixing PC3200, PC2700, and PC 2100 memory together. Sometimes it would work and other times i just got no bootup at all until i switched all the memory to the same speed. That is more a motherboard programming thing rather than anything else in my opinion.

Ya, i did not know that the Acronis DVD set i made wouldnt work until i needed it. I even went thru and tried them just after making them and the first DVD started booting so i aborted. I have gotten rather careless with having a Ghost backup, so i usually will download all sorts of programs to see how they work. Thats when Acronis let me down. If windows wouldnt boot up i was stuck using a acronis bootable CD and trying to boot up the first DVD and the Acronis software would not see the TIB file on the first DVD. I ended up doing a clean install of XP on the computer to fix it and spent days reconfiguring it again. What a PITA. Ghost has never let me down there, although i did mess up my first GHO file because i did not follow the radified instructions correctly. I will try Acronis again when i find a suitible computer.

SRX660
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