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Random access memory not limited to 128MB


© St. Petersburg Times, published April 9, 2001

Q. I am using Windows 98SE. Is there any advantage to installing 256 megabytes of random access memory? I have been told that anything over 128MB of RAM is not used by Windows 98. However, some experts say Windows 98 can use 256MB of RAM.

A. The memory manager in Windows 9x uses paging and 32-bit linear addressing and provides a full 32-bit virtual address space. What this means is that Windows 9x applications, through the operating system, theoretically can address up to 2 gigabytes of RAM. Most PC motherboards have addressing limitations from 512MB and up. A few years back, there were some motherboards (Intel 430FX, 430VX and 430TX) that had caching problems with RAM amounts greater than 64MB. These problems actually made the PCs run slower with more memory. These motherboard problems have been corrected. I have extensively tested Windows 9x systems with RAM amounts up to 512MB and can assure you that Windows 9x can use all of it if needed. If your motherboard is more than 2 years old, check the documentation to make sure it is capable of caching amounts greater than 64MB in its L2 cache.

Registering changes

Q. I have been upgrading my operating since Windows 3.1 and am up to Windows Me. Along those years, I have accumulated numerous dynamic link library, or DLL, and registry changes. Is there a way to begin with a clean operating system and then transfer the programs from the old hard drive to the new hard drive and operating system without having to reload all of the programs or making a copy of the old drive and all the extra DLL and registry entries?

A. Even the cleanest of operating system updates leave many residual files behind that are no longer needed. Clean installs of any operating system will result in fewer problems than upgrades over existing versions. Of course, a clean install means that you start with a reformatted hard drive, boot from a floppy or CD and install the new operating system. This means installing from scratch all of your application programs and then restoring from backup tape, CD or floppy your personal files.

There are some programs that claim to be able to move applications between hard drives along with their settings and registry entries. From what I can tell, the results are usually mixed. I wouldn't trust this transfer method and would instead install from scratch. Why ask for trouble? I recommend that people not become a slave to their PC's contents. Install only the software you own and can re-install from an alternate media, such as a CD, floppy or the Internet. And make sure any other data that you can't afford to lose if lightning were to strike your PC tomorrow is properly backed up.

Acrobat tricks

Q. I have Adobe Acrobat Reader version 2.1, which does not include an uninstaller. In order to read portable document format, or .pdf, files, such as IRS forms, I need version 3.0 or better. Do I need to uninstall 2.1 before installing the latest version, 4.05? I read the Help section at Adobe, but I find no installation instructions.

A. Go ahead and install the latest Acrobat Reader. It will uninstall the previous version automatically.

No addresses

Q. How can I eliminate addresses when I forward my e-mail or print only the message. I know it can be done, but I can't seem to figure it out.

A. Some e-mail programs will allow you to configure what gets included in the body text of an e-mail when you select to forward it. Microsoft Outlook includes such an option (Tools, Options Email Options); however, Outlook Express does not. You can manually delete this information before forwarding it.


Own a digital camera? Did you know that many digital cameras have software, called firmware (kind of like an operating system for the camera), that can be updated and can correct problems or improve the camera's capabilities? Check your digital camera vendor's Web site for information on the availability of any firmware downloads for your model.

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