Gaming, frametimes and not releasing "Standby List" RAM

Hello there,

I think that this is a problem that should be further discussed, even though it seems to be recognized on Reddit or other online gaming communities. While it does affect gaming the most, since it impacts frametimes dramatically, I am sure it also impacts other workflows.

So what is the problem?

As you are using Windows 10, it caches lots of stuff into RAM. Some things can be useful, some are quite surprising and exaggerate. As an example, Blizzard has an application hub that hosts their game catalog, Blizzard BattleNet something something. It also happens to serve as a social platform where one can chat with people, and it will also update your games. A simple start of this application resulted in Windows caching in 700MB (!!!!) files from games I didn't touch in months. If one game gets updated, files from that game will land in RAM and stay there for ages, in fact, I've yet to see them purged when you start an actual game.

This leads to a situation where after a few hours of Windows using, you will get 8-10GB of cached files into RAM. I would normally don't care - if this would not cause performance issues. The problem is, it does, and the problems are quite serious. Assassin's Creed Origins for example is barely playable, a stuttering mess if you start it with all of these files cached. You will get almost non-stop disk activity, and frametimes will be all over the place, the gameplay will be full of hitching.

As simple releasing of Standby List RAM from RAMMAP or reboot will quickly fix this and allow you to play normally, but I don't think that a user should be expected to manage RAM more efficiently than Windows. In fact, this is the first time I'm seeing Windows being so bad at this.

Another strange thing is that this seems to be a consequence of Windows trying to both avoid using the HDD to page but also cache lots of stuff and keep it there. It would rather fill the whole RAM instead of using a bit of pagefile, if HWinfo64 readings are correct. 

Image below is during Assassin's Creed Origins, with the game hitching all the time as RAM "runs out", i.e. is populated with useless files from games I didn't run in months.

Again, I don't mind RAM being used, but Windows HAS to understand when to stop, when to release cache, when NOT to cache files that are almost 1GB and also not get tricked by an automatic update - when the game itself was not launched in 3 months. I'd rather just see Windows automatically releasing cached RAM if a 3D game is detected, if finesse is impossible.

Hello,

The only way to release the memory being used by a specific program is to close it completely. Regardless if a program is active or in idle state, it will still consume memory. It would be much better to keep track of your Windows system's performance using the Task Manager. The Task Manager has a detailed view of the apps that use the system memory. If you want to optimize your PCs performance according to the programs that you primarily use, we suggest performing a clean boot. A clean boot is performed to start Windows by using a minimal set of drivers and startup programs. This helps eliminate software conflicts that occur when you install a program or an update or when you run a program in Windows 10. You can disable the programs you seldom use that are set to run at startup.

Let us know if you have other questions.

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Hello,

The only way to release the memory being used by a specific program is to close it completely. Regardless if a program is active or in idle state, it will still consume memory. It would be much better to keep track of your Windows system's performance using the Task Manager. The Task Manager has a detailed view of the apps that use the system memory. If you want to optimize your PCs performance according to the programs that you primarily use, we suggest performing a clean boot. A clean boot is performed to start Windows by using a minimal set of drivers and startup programs. This helps eliminate software conflicts that occur when you install a program or an update or when you run a program in Windows 10. You can disable the programs you seldom use that are set to run at startup.

Let us know if you have other questions.

Clean boot has nothing to do with caching. I am using a minimalistic Windows 10 install regardless, without 3rd party antivirus and the only non-Microsoft drivers loaded are for my motherboard (from Intel) and for my videocard (Nvidia). 

This is about CACHING. If you've read the first post, you would see Windows 10 caches files into Standby List from games I have not used in 3 months or more.

This is easy to 100% reproduce by running Battle.Net from Blizzard and allowing to update some games. It will quickly cache huge files into your RAM, not just executables, but those big data files worth hundreds of MB.

Caching like this is FINE.

The issue appears if you have "just" 16GB RAM and you want to launch another game. Instead of the cached files being purged from RAM, they are kept there and it has a significant impact on performance. You can clear the cached files from RAMMAP by Empty Standby List. This eliminates all issues. There's a DOS command too for it.

What I am arguing for is smarter cache management from Windows and eliminating the need to manually clear the Standby List (or reboot). Windows 10 should know that a modern game is very demanding on resources and release the large files from cache.

Again, nothing to do with what you normally see in Task Manager. These are programs that are CLOSED, not running at the same time, they are not even launched for months, yet because of some update or scan (Windows Defender, if it scans files, some will land in cache too...) they are loaded into Standby List RAM and stay there until manually purged or a reboot.

I hope this issue is more clear now.

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Thank you for the quick response. Even if a program hasn't been used for months, it will still be stored in the cache manager in order to launch it quickly the next time you use it. If you want to get rid of unwanted cache files present in the cache manager, you can remove the program, especially if you're no longer using it for months. You can check Programs and Features to find out which programs hasn't been used in a while.

  1. Click the Start button.
  2. Type appwiz.cpl.
  3. Right-click any of the columns and select More.
  4. Under Details, select the check box for Last Used On.
  5. Click OK.

Feel free to post back if you have other queries.

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Thank you for the quick response. Even if a program hasn't been used for months, it will still be stored in the cache manager in order to launch it quickly the next time you use it. If you want to get rid of unwanted cache files present in the cache manager, you can remove the program, especially if you're no longer using it for months. You can check Programs and Features to find out which programs hasn't been used in a while.

  1. Click the Start button.
  2. Type appwiz.cpl.
  3. Right-click any of the columns and select More.
  4. Under Details, select the check box for Last Used On.
  5. Click OK.

Feel free to post back if you have other queries.

That's even less of a solution.

I know you want to help and I thank you for that and appreciate it, but these are really not solutions to this issue. You might want to revisit a game when you have time, do you really feel like downloading 20-60GB worth of data and waiting for a long install each time? 

The whole idea is that we could use more finesse in caching. An option like "Dump cache when 3D fullscreen/game is detected" would be welcomed. Not all games are affected by this. The one that is definitely affected and very visibly is Assassin's Creed Origins, which is pretty much impossible to play when it has to fight for RAM due to stuttering and frame hitching. Mass Effect Andromeda, seemingly less demanding, is hardly suffering that much if at all, as it is not filling the RAM.

It's possible to argue for buying even more RAM, but the price difference from 16GB to 32GB is quite high and benefits questionable outside some scenarios.

Overall, it's not an issue for ME, as I can definitely empty the Standdy List from RAMMAP, but what will your average Joe non-technically inclined dude do?

Anyway, we buy storage so we can keep stuff around without having to uninstall often. Getting rid of stuff for no reason other than fixing a caching system is not OK.

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We understand where you're coming from with the performance situation you're experiencing when launching an app that hasn't been used in a while. The cache manager will still keep the cache files for future use, so long as the program exists on your system.

We recommend checking the tips present in this support article on how to improve PC performance in Windows 10. This way, we can at least minimize the performance drop whenever you update a program that hasn't been launched in a while.

We definitely appreciate your concern for other Windows 10 users. That being said, we encourage you to submit your issue using the Feedback Hub. You can either vote on an existing submission or submit a new issue. When you submit a feedback item we gather additional details and information about your issue that will help determine what’s causing it and address it. Feedback items regularly receive Microsoft responses on the submissions in the Feedback app so you can see what we are doing about your feedback. Please revisit frequently to see the status of your feedback items.

For more information on Feedback Hub, see our support article and YouTube video

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People were asking to provide handles that enable better tuning of Windows caching and pagefile management for years now. Gamers with high end machines asked for it. Server developers asked for it. It seems that we won't see any development in this matter soon though.

P.s. I have 32 Gb and 64 Gb PCs and I use RAMMap on both to drop standby list when things get laggy.

By the way, do you have the latest version of Windows 10? The latest huge update somehow broke RAMMap for me. Actions (like dropping memory) work, but RAMMap shows me an empty form with no data now.

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People were asking to provide handles that enable better tuning of Windows caching and pagefile management for years now. Gamers with high end machines asked for it. Server developers asked for it. It seems that we won't see any development in this matter soon though.

P.s. I have 32 Gb and 64 Gb PCs and I use RAMMap on both to drop standby list when things get laggy.

By the way, do you have the latest version of Windows 10? The latest huge update somehow broke RAMMap for me. Actions (like dropping memory) work, but RAMMap shows me an empty form with no data now.

RAMMAP needs to be updated for RS4/1803. The new feature update breaking the app should be a known issue to the developer, but he updates very rarely, sometimes years. You can google sysinternals/mark russinovich. Even better, you can choose to leave Mark a tweet here:

@markrussinovich

And you can post in their forums here:

Sysinternals new forums

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This is true. A simple "robocopy drive1\dir\*.* drive2\dir\*.*" command with 100 files, 100 mb files
each will cause the performance of windows 10 to drop dramatically.

This is not new it was already in windows 7 and the hope that it was solved in windows 10 pro has
come to nothing.

And with robocopy we are talking about a windows program that is used to copy files and that it
is assumed that the files that are copied will not be reused. Even so the files copied, read and
written, are stored in the STANDBY RAM in case they are reused, in what?

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This is true. A simple "robocopy drive1\dir\*.* drive2\dir\*.*" command with 100 files, 100 mb files
each will cause the performance of windows 10 to drop dramatically.

This is not new it was already in windows 7 and the hope that it was solved in windows 10 pro has
come to nothing.

And with robocopy we are talking about a windows program that is used to copy files and that it
is assumed that the files that are copied will not be reused. Even so the files copied, read and
written, are stored in the STANDBY RAM in case they are reused, in what?

Problem is, Microsoft seems to be thinking this is the correct behavior of the OS, which is mind boggling. 

Caching needs to be SMART and CONFIGURABLE. If we can't rely on Windows to do a proper job at what should be kept in the RAM, then we should be able to add user rules. 

For example, "Empty Standby List when 3D Application is launched" would be a great rule to start with.

Add rules and expose them to users, Microsoft.

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Last updated September 22, 2020 Views 12,406 Applies to: