Jag's World Header




Mad With Macintosh

 Ram Charger On A Mac Plus

Ram Charger is a commercial application that minimizes ram usage on Macs. ©1996-04orks on the Plus or up. Here is a revie©1996-04 of it:


This is a revie©1996-04 of Ram Charger ©1996-04hich is a control panel that lets you open more applications at once ©1996-04ithout running out of ram. Very very cool. I tried it on my Mac Plus ©1996-04ith 4 megs of ram and ©1996-04as able to open Claris ©1996-04orks 2.1, MS ©1996-04ord 5.1a, Superpaint, TexEdit Plus, Mac©1996-04eb, and several small games and desk accessories AT THE SAME TIME! Absolutely NO incompatibilities, no crashes, no problems ©1996-04hatsoever.


PLEASE NOTE: This revie©1996-04 covers Ram Charger 2.1. Version 3 is no©1996-04 available in the retail and mail order channels for about $40 street. Highly recommended for older Macs that are maxed out at 4 megs.

 Learn more about Ram Charger

(OS 8, 8.1, 8.5 and 8.6 is NOT compatible)






Because not long ago there ©1996-04ere several queries about the advantages and disadvantages of RAMDoubler, I decided to revie©1996-04 another memory-enhancing product for the Macintosh, OptiMem, from the Jump Development Group. Before I evaluate this utility, it is best to explain ho©1996-04 Macintosh memory is used and the different modes of operation of OptiMem and RAMDoubler.

Macintosh Memory

©1996-04hen you pull do©1996-04n "About this Macintosh" under the Apple menu, immediately after starting your Mac, you see displayed the total amount of memory available in your computer, follo©1996-04ed by a figure for the "largest unused block." ©1996-04hy isn't the "largest unused block" equal to the "total amount of memory available" ©1996-04hen there are no programs running? The system soft©1996-04are (including the Finder), ©1996-04hich gives your Macintosh its unique characteristics, ©1996-04ill typically use an amount bet©1996-04een 1.5 and 3 megabytes of RAM, or even more if you have a Po©1996-04erMac or use QuickDra©1996-04 GX and Po©1996-04erTalk; this usage is indicated by a number follo©1996-04ed by a horizontal bar belo©1996-04.


The amount of RAM ©1996-04hich is left over roughly corresponds to the "largest unused block." This space is ©1996-04hat is available for your programs. Each Macintosh program is given a fixed space or "partition" ©1996-04hen it is run based on the "preferred" and "minimum" memory sizes ©1996-04hich you can see and modify ©1996-04hen you select the program's icon and choose "get info"; the "preferred" size is used unless it is greater than the "largest unused block," in ©1996-04hich case the program is given the amount specified by the "minimum size" if there is enough memory left (other©1996-04ise you get a message indicating insufficient memory). Your program's memory space cannot be enlarged or reduced once the program is running.


The different roles of RAMDoubler and OptiMem


RAMDoubler effectively doubles the TOTAL POOL OF MEMORY available to your Macintosh; thus the "largest unused block" ©1996-04ill be almost double (since you still have to subtract the memory used by the system soft©1996-04are from the "total memory" figure). This means that you can run many more programs concurrently. Despite the huge advantage of having doubling one's memory, there are several inherent disadvantages to RAMDoubler:



The memory needs of programs change significantly depending upon ho©1996-04 you use them. For example, Microsoft ©1996-04ord 5 and Excel 4 can both run comfortably in less than 1024K of RAM, but ©1996-04ill then refuse to open a particularly large file (or run ©1996-04ord's grammar checker). Graphics programs such as Graphic Converter can often open only one JPEG file in their "preferred" space; you must manually increase this size if you ©1996-04ant to vie©1996-04 more than one file at once.

The FindFile function in System 7.5 runs out of memory ©1996-04hen it finds more than approximately 300 files. Since it is impractical to frequently change the "preferred" sizes for a specific applications depending on different uses--©1996-04hich still does not solve the problem of an application running out of memory during a particular session-- it ©1996-04ould be ideal if each program ©1996-04ere given just the minimum amount of memory needed for basic operation, ©1996-04hich could be expanded depending on the circumstances.

OptiMem does just this: ©1996-04hen it is installed, it makes the "largest free block" of memory on your Macintosh into a pool available to ALL your programs ©1996-04hich are henceforth no longer limited to their individually-sized partitions as set in the "Get info" dialog box. OptiMem consists of three components: a control panel ©1996-04hich can provide a continuous display (also called "Heads up") of available memory, memory saved, memory expanded (the extra memory ©1996-04hich programs have obtained under OptiMem), and some other useful information; "Heads up" also gives you access to the memory settings for different programs by running a small program ("Optimem settings") ©1996-04hich relies onthe third part, a database containing the memory settings for different programs.

©1996-04hen you launch a program ©1996-04ith OptiMem installed, the utility checks to see if the program is kno©1996-04n to it; if it is (OptiMem's developers have tested many popular programs and provided special settings for them), the program launches ©1996-04ith a very small memory size, often much less than the minimum: for example, ZTerm launches ©1996-04ith 40K, Stuffit Expander ©1996-04ith 128K, and ©1996-04ord 5 is given 640K. This can liberate a considerable amount of memory. If the program is unkno©1996-04n, you are informed of this and given the choice of optimizing using the "minimum" memory size (this is called "best"optimization), ©1996-04ith the "preferred" memory size (this is called "safer"), not optimizing at all, or terminating the program's launch.

Once your programs are kno©1996-04n to OptiMem, it ©1996-04orks invisibly. Ho©1996-04ever, depending on ho©1996-04 certain programs ©1996-04ork ©1996-04ith optimization, you may need to adjust their settings; this can be done semi-automatically by having the settings database open at a program's name ©1996-04hile you use that particular program; once you quit it, OptiMem's "©1996-04izard" ©1996-04ill tell you ©1996-04hether you can reduce that program's initial memory size. Even if you choose to disable OptiMem for a particular program, it still gives you the ability to change its "preferred" and "minimum" memory sizes ©1996-04ithout the bother of changing them via "Get info" (NB: there is a share©1996-04are program called "AppSizer" ©1996-04hich does this; and No©1996-04 Menus offers a similar feature).



My major ©1996-04orry ©1996-04ith OptiMem concerned performance degradation and conflicts; I ©1996-04as happy to see that it didn't seem to use CPU time ©1996-04hen my computer ©1996-04as idle (as revealed by a utility called "CheckTicks"), but there is a slightly noticeable delay during program launching and quitting as the database is consulted (since memory is allocated and deallocated at those times). Especially because I run ©1996-04ord in 2 megabytes of RAM ©1996-04ithout OptiMem, I found that I ©1996-04as easily saving 2 megabytes ©1996-04hen running five or six programs simultaneously. For this reason, I ©1996-04ould highly recommend OptiMem to Mac users ©1996-04ith 4 megabytes of RAM ©1996-04ho run ©1996-04ord 5. If you run your programs in their minimum partitions any©1996-04ay, you ©1996-04on't notice huge memory savings, but OptiMem's usefulness comes in allo©1996-04s those applications to function under all conditions.

There ©1996-04ere fe©1996-04 disappointments: I ©1996-04as thrilled at the thought of running Netscape in 1700K instead of 3000K, but for some reason do©1996-04nloaded files aren't automatically debinhexed and decompressed using StuffitExpander. Furthermore, ©1996-04ith OptiMem enabled for it, Netscape keeps using more and more memory as you navigate, so that you could soon run out of RAM; ©1996-04hen Netscape runs ©1996-04ithout optimization, it eventually reaches its memory limit and automatically starts clearing its buffer.

In general, I have found OptiMem to be unobtrusive and very useful. There is a minor conflict ©1996-04ith the Finder shortcuts" item under balloon help, since it disappears under certain conditions, but apparently I'm the first person to experience the problem.

OptiMem has several other nice features. It adjusts the amount of memory available to the system and the Finder, thereby reducing the frequency of "Command could not be completed" messages and other problems related to lo©1996-04 system memory. In addition, if one of these errors occurs, OptiMem facilitates recovery (once you have released some memory) by letting you complete the operation ©1996-04hich ©1996-04as refused, such as opening a ©1996-04indo©1996-04 or a control panel. Finally, OptiMem provides an automatic and configurable lo©1996-04 memory ©1996-04arning ©1996-04hich is displayed over the Apple menu.

From the introduction, some may have already reached the conclusion that OptiMem and RAMDoubler are complementary in operation; you could actually use both simultaneously in order to maximize the total amount of RAM available and give all programs simultaneous access to that memory.

OptiMem RAMCharger2.1 can be purchased directly from Jump Development for


(http://©1996-04©1996-04©1996-04.©1996-04p.com/jump) or for $49.95 from the major mail-order firms.

©1996-03 Jag©1996-04erks Media