Memory use myths

Customization software is not resource intensive

Sunday, June 5, 2005 by Frogboy | Discussion: OS Customization

I'm not sure where the myth began. But somewhere down the line, a false belief has turned into pseudo-fact amongst some people that customization software uses a lot of memory.  That's never been the case. Not even in the beginning.

At the dawn of Windows customization, software had to run on Windows 95 which only had 128K (that's kilobytes) of GDI resources. Customization software ate up a lot of those GDI resources since they were reserved for the user interface.  But even in 1995, 16K of memory was trivial. It's just that early versions of Windows were so limited in their GDI resources that it was a problem.

But Windows 2000 and Windows XP have never had any such problem.  And yet, we still see some uninformed, but vocal, user claim that <Program X> is "bloated" and uses a "ton" of memory.  Those people come in two forms:  The guy who really has no idea what he's talking about and the guy who thinks 10 megabytes of memory is a "ton" of memory.

The former guy is annoying because he matches his ignorance with his prolific posting.  The latter guy makes you wonder if their source of income is mom's allowance or something.  I can buy a 256 meg stick of memory for my PC for around $20. 

So let's get this out of the way: Desktop customization programs do NOT use much memory.

Here's WindowBlinds wbload.exe process use:

That's 576K.

Here's DesktopX:

That's only a couple megabytes of memory and it's running a useful object in this instance.

I could go on through a variety of programs both made by Stardock and made by third parties. None of them are "memory hogs".  You can certainly load up enough stuff with something like DesktopX to make it use a ton of memory.  Graphics, animation, etc. has to be stored somewhere.  But that's not the desktop customization's fault any more than it's Photoshop's fault if the user loaded a gigabyte sized image.

So next time someone tries to claim that some desktop customization program is "bloated" or something, point them here.

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Fuzzy Logic
Reply #1 Sunday, June 5, 2005 1:03 PM

I said the same a while back after someone complained WB was a memory hog. I posted this:-

I think I can spare 684k The skin I'm using now is showing 592k. There's a consistency in numbers here; WB rarely strays far from 5-600K.

Unfortunately, in any community, there will be an element who insist on talking through their backsides


Reply #2 Sunday, June 5, 2005 1:41 PM
Does the wbload.exe process contain all the GUI elements in the memory it uses? Or is it contained in another process? 500-700Kb of memory seem very little considering the amount of different graphics used to draw the system. I'm curious to how WB works.
Reply #3 Sunday, June 5, 2005 2:06 PM
how is this for a contrast...
Reply #4 Sunday, June 5, 2005 2:14 PM
I have all of you beat

Reply #5 Sunday, June 5, 2005 3:09 PM
Interesting article, and while I do agree that the memory sacrifice by todays standards is minimal and for the most part insignificant, it is not as insignificant as portrayed here. There is more to consider than just the wbload.exe process.

I ran numerous test on this. I started with windowblinds unloaded, using the standard windows classic style theme. NOT WindowsXP style. I rebooted my system and waited a few minutes for everything to load and settle down. Memory use in this scenario was 148,804. (This figure was arrived at by adding up everything listed on the processes tab of my taskmanager.

I then applied a very well constructed blind which has no frills and extra animations etc. (Cougar by essorant), and rebooted my system. Once again I waited untill all was loaded and settled down. I then looked at the processes tab, added them all up and the end result was 162,920K of memory usage. This represents a total difference of 14,116K (approx 14MB) of memory use to run a no frills blind. On a 512MB system that is only 2.73% of my total memory which is a very small price to pay for the benefit gained.
Oddly enough, the processes affected most by windowblinds were...

acrotray.exe = +3132K
lsass.exe = +4704K
VPTray.exe = +2164K
jusched.exe = +1164K
taskmgr.exe = +1008K
Believe it or not, the winlogon.exe process actually decreased by 1324K with windowblinds running.

I ran these tests several times and each and every time the results were the same (or very very close). I would be interested to see if others experience the same results under the same test process I used.
Reply #6 Sunday, June 5, 2005 3:56 PM
ObjectDock has 3 docks running, 1 of them tabbed with quite few icons. But still doesn't seem to take up that much memory. CursorXp is running at 5,764. In all, I'm a happy camper with stardocks apps!

Reply #7 Sunday, June 5, 2005 4:25 PM
I have only tested by use, not by numbers - with the exception of checking on ObjectDock Plus with magnification enabled and disabled (a noticable difference in CPU activity, and not much in memory resources).

I see very little difference in performance between using the default XP "Luna" shell with default icons and using a WindowBlind and an IconPackage. In fact, the WindowBlind drawing technology (which I believe extends the native drawing engine), seems to draw a bit faster.

I use one normal dock for system links, and a 3 tabbed dock as an application drawer, all of which uses about 2 MB of memory resources for "ObjectDock.exe". With 1 GB of physical memory, I feel this is a well spent 2 MB.

The only thing I have ever run into with WindowBlinds is that Painter IX is not compatible with the drawing of the titlebar buttons for Close, Max/Restore, and Minimize (functions fail to execute) - easily fixed by excluding it.

If I want to spend a little more memory resources, I can load a couple of widgets.
Reply #8 Sunday, June 5, 2005 4:29 PM
wbload.exe 1,172K using Beelzebub by BoXXi, animated title and taskbars. Compared to Rainlender 6,656K and Beatnik
Reply #9 Sunday, June 5, 2005 4:47 PM
Yup, but Rainlendar and Beatnik run full alpha-transparency over the background, something WB only does for the Start-panel.

On DX usage, here's what I'm getting using the included Classic theme:

...and here's what I'm getting using the included Longhorn theme:

You must have been running just the one widget

The problem is I can't keep DX running (crashes about a minute into its use). Any suggestions?
Reply #10 Sunday, June 5, 2005 7:02 PM
you say that someone who doesnt know what theyre taking about thinks 10mb is a lot of, 10 mb isnt a lot....but for something like a theme or tiny customization program, it IS a lot of memory.
Reply #11 Sunday, June 5, 2005 7:11 PM

Most of the processes on my system are running 10 megs and many of them do nothing.

To get up to 10 megs, it's doing more than customizing, it's running something (like a widget or modified desktop).   Internet Explorer on my system is using 49 megs. It's a browser.

Reply #12 Sunday, June 5, 2005 7:58 PM
For thosse of us that have an older, less capable system for one reason or another, check this out: I'm running a Dell Dimensions V400, with a celeron 400Mhz processor and 256 Mb of ram, and XP Pro installed on this Win 98 machine. Windowblinds has no problem at all, Widgets thrive, CursorXP is happy, ObjectDock is a little slow on the mouse-over (more time to enjoy those cool icons!). All other app's operate at the same startup speed as without all the GUI going on. You folks at Stardock have been improving all your programs to be more efficient while increasing the user's experience at the same time. What more could you possibly ask!
Reply #13 Sunday, June 5, 2005 8:07 PM
In my post above #5, I failed to include the results of standard XP Luna enabled theme.
Under the same circumstances as all the other tests, Luna ran at a total of 164732K.
That is MORE than the windowblinds enabled system.

What slays me about all this are the whiny StyleXP freaks that think their app does it all using no resources. BULL.. it's obvious that WB out performs even standard XP themes, let alone a program which relies on a hacked .dll. The reason you don't see it with StyleXP is because it is hidden in a svchost.exe process.

In any case, kudos to Stardock for an application which makes windows a better place and does it for less than standard out of the box windows does.
Reply #14 Sunday, June 5, 2005 8:13 PM

Wbload is 2.2meg ....under Litestep which means there's no 'start bar, etc', just the blind itself....[Antares - static].

Only time I see a 'skinning' thingie cause actual memory issues is with a 'bad' LS theme which has module conflicts, etc....when the RAM use gets up to 2/3s of total you KNOW you're in trouble....particularly when you have a gig of ram...

LS is currently 22meg .... but usually it's less.... but then Explorer.exe is one process not loaded....

Reply #15 Sunday, June 5, 2005 8:14 PM
I have most of the ObjectDesktop components, but I don't use ObjectX becoz' it's too slow on my Centrino notebook. 15~20MB (at least) is required for a reasonable good-looking windows customization. This is the *FACT*. The is also true for MS!Plus themes (but I doubt that memory usage would be easily tracable in MS!Plus).

Here's a glimpse of the memory usage on my notebook:
CursorXP.exe 6,760KB (Spillion Purple)
ObjectDock.exe 3,496KB (reduces to less than 2MB when it's hidden)
wbload.exe 1,732KB (I am using the *built-in* VectorCell skin)
wfxload.exe 3,268KB

I wonder "Featured Ariticle" could be more objective and should not be aggressive. Authors should aware that notebook memory is usually much more expensive than desktop computers. A recent survey claims that notebook sales has over desktop computers in US (published last week).

Reply #16 Sunday, June 5, 2005 8:39 PM
OK, heres my usage:

CursorXP.exe 8176KB (WindowsMAX 2 [RED])
DXWidget.exe 7256KB (Clear meter bar)
DXWidget.exe 5668KB (Core - To-Do List)
wbload.exe 3196KB (Zippo)

But for some reason my wbload.exe fluctuates between 1 and 8MB for reason (the 3MB above is its average "not being stupid" usage) but still this is nothing on my system (512MB RAM). My friend for some reason believes that having too much custom theme stuff on your computer makes it slow (which is wrong because this thread has proven how this is not possible at least with the stardock progs) or, and in his own words, generally "effs up your computer and Windows". I still have no idea what he's on about and doubt that i ever will.
Reply #17 Sunday, June 5, 2005 9:16 PM
I just checked WB.EXE on my own computer. I'm currently using VectorCell and found it was using 1.7mb. I then went to control panel/performance and changed setting from "let windows decide" to "for best performance" then checked again and its now only using 668k.
j dott
Reply #18 Sunday, June 5, 2005 10:57 PM
wbload 800k, desktopx builder 8,244k, objectdock plus 4,900k, cursorxp 2,232k, and rainlendar 3,840k. That's not really that bad, but it's really not bad when you consider it in context: acrobat 25,764k, acrotray.exe 940k, adobelm_cleanup 268k and 272k-I have Acrobat Pro 7 and love it, but I haven't used it in a few days. HP has about 5mb of processes going for my nice laser printer that I left at home for the summer. The spool server is using almost 3mb, and like I said, my printer is 700 miles away, covered in plastic, and turned off for the summer.

The point I think that we should get out of this is that we are willing to parcel out our memory to various programs because we find them useful. I just opened an article I'm working on in Word 25 pages or so)--45MB--that's fine, it's useful. Windows media--32mb, but it makes my life more enjoyable. Customization software is the same for me. It does two things: first, it makes me more productive (I'm working on an article on this topic), and second, it makes my computing experience more enjoyable (the visible analogue to an mp3 player). For those benefits, I'm willing to give up 14mb of ram total.
Reply #19 Monday, June 6, 2005 2:01 AM
Great article Brad - hopefully the detractors will take note and button it. The only app I find making a difference on my machine is Sysmetrix, but not so much in memory usage, moreso in CPU usage. When loaded, my CPU usage seems to fluctuate more (1% ~ 45%), and when unloaded the CPU remains fairly constant below 10%. I don't know if this is normal or not, but on 512mb of RAM, it doesn't seem to cause any problems that I'm aware of. Perhaps someone more knowledgable could explain this variation.

I have WB, IconX and CursorXP Plus running constantly and total memory usage only comes to around 8,288, which is quite minimal in context to various Windows processes that consume considerably more.

Me thinks alot of flamers only do so for the sake of an argument - to incite a sh.t fight, so to speak. They were most likely the village idiots who had to draw attention to themselves as well
Reply #20 Monday, June 6, 2005 4:44 AM
Me thinks alot of flamers only do so for the sake of an argument

I have never met a flamer to whom you could argue with...

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