Cnet's "RAM optimizer" bamboozle - Microsoft Windows

This is a discussion on Cnet's "RAM optimizer" bamboozle - Microsoft Windows ; A visitor to CBS Corporation's website Cnet.com will find freeware (and "free trial" versions of utilities like iolo's System Mechanic) that purport to "optimize RAM" in Windows systems. Cnet claims its downloads are "Safe, Trusted, and Spyware free." (The downloads ...

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Thread: Cnet's "RAM optimizer" bamboozle

  1. Cnet's "RAM optimizer" bamboozle

    A visitor to CBS Corporation's website Cnet.com
    will find freeware (and "free trial" versions of
    utilities like iolo's System Mechanic) that purport
    to "optimize RAM" in Windows systems.

    Cnet claims its downloads are "Safe, Trusted, and
    Spyware free." (The downloads *are* free of spyware:
    It's Cnet's own website which writes all those
    tracking cookies to your system's hard disk).

    No doubt, RAM optimizers are "trusted" by Cnet's
    technical staff: several get a five-star rating
    from the Editors.

    That's a good argument for sophisticated users
    not to trust the Cnet editors.

    According to the definitive text on Windows, Cnet's
    technical crew betrays its profound ignorance about
    how Windows' memory management works:

    "RAM optimizers work by allocating and then freeing
    large amounts of virtual memory. ..

    "While gaining more available memory might seem to be
    a good thing, it isn't. As RAM optimizers force the
    available memory counter up, they force other processes'
    data and code put of memory ..

    "Some vendors make additional claims for their RAM
    optimizer products. One claim you might see is that
    a product frees memory that's needlessly consumed by
    unused processes .. However, because Windows automatically
    trims idle processes' working sets, all such claims are
    untrue. The memory manager handles all necessary memory
    optimization. ..

    "Finally, vendors often claim that RAM optimizers
    regain memory lost to leaks. This is perhaps the
    most patently false assertion of all. ..

    "In summary, common sense suggests that if RAM
    optimization were possible (and could be implemented
    by so many small-time upstarts), Microsoft developers
    would have long since integrated the technology into
    the kernel."[*]

    Cnet does offer occasional grains of wheat mixed in
    with all their noisome chaff. For example, you can
    download AVG's antivirus (free edition), which can
    identify and safely remove all those tracking cookies
    you got from visiting the Cnet website.

    - David Stevens

    [*] Mark E. Russinovich and David A. Solomon,
    _Microsoft Windows Internals, (4th edition):
    Microsoft Windows Server 2003, Windows XP,
    and Windows 2000_, (Microsoft Press: 2005),
    ISBN 0-7356-1917-4, pp. 480-482.
    [A new edition specifically covering Vista is
    several months overdue .. but the fundamentals
    have not changed in the past eight years].

  2. Re: Cnet's "RAM optimizer" bamboozle

    > That's a good argument for sophisticated users not to trust the Cnet
    > editors.


    :-D

    > "Finally, vendors often claim that RAM optimizers
    > regain memory lost to leaks. This is perhaps the
    > most patently false assertion of all. ..


    Yes that would be impossible, but I guess they mean that since
    they push out all programs data to disk, perhaps data that
    is not needed by a application anymore (leaked or otherwise) is
    not not read back from disk to memory by windows?
    But I don't know if windows have have that fine-grained
    swapping... (but I guess if an imageapp allocate 8MB for an
    picture and then forget to free mem after it is done with it,
    that is big enough to stay on disk when rest of the programs
    data is read back in) in how small blocks does windows swap?


    The only good thing about all those ramoptimizer is I guess
    that a gamer want to be done with the swapping out before he starts
    the game so it doesn't result in a small onetime lag while
    he is playing and the game needs more memory.
    I assume a small checkbox in localmenu for a startmenu-choice
    that starts a game: [x] Make [ 300]MB free before starting this program.
    whould be best for that...
    (And it shouldn't really be needed to free the memory, can't it just
    pre-swap out, just in case the memory is needed but keep the
    programdata in memoery anyway? then it whould be instantly for
    windows to claim it free if needed, with no diskwriting)

    Btw, are there any differences in memoery handling between
    windowsXP and windows98 ?


  3. Re: Cnet's "RAM optimizer" bamboozle

    teebo asks:
    >
    > Btw, are there any differences in memoery handling between
    > windowsXP and windows98 ?


    Yes, but I don't know what they are.

    The textbook I quoted applies specifically to Windows 2000,
    Windows XP, and the server versions.

    As a rule, Windows keeps getting "smarter." Vista tries to see
    if you run the same program every day, or every Tuesday,
    at noon, that kind of thing; it tries to be ready for you
    based on what it saw you do in the past.

    - David Stevens

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