solidworks tipsWith Vista spreading like hazy mist, XP may not be around much longer so I thought I’d get this little tip out to you before we’re swimming in the elegance of a new “desktop experience.”

I thought about this when Rob Rodriguez mentioned his computer upgrade and one of the tweaks he does called the “3G Switch” which allows you to use more memory for applications instead of the operating system. Having 2GB of physical RAM will only do so much. This tweak extends your capabilities when you’re consistently using a lot of memory.

Is this for real?
The first time I remember seeing this is in 2004 and at that time it was more of a myth or at least not recommended. But now it’s a verifiable fact that this will give you more memory to use and it’s very easy to do.

Before I show you how, all credit goes to Ed Eaton and Wayne Tiffany for figuring this out and putting the information out there. You can download the set of articles they wrote about this here. I would recommend reading it to get a better understanding.

How to get more memory

  1. Go to Start, right click on My Computer and select Properties.
  2. Select the Advanced tab
  3. In the Startup and Recovery section select Settings
  4. In the System Startup area select Edit
  5. On the line after [operating systems] add this line:
    multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(0)partition(1)WINDOWS="XP Professional 3GB" /noexecute=optin /fastdetect /3GB /USERVA=2900

Some things to note:

  • If XP is installed on another partition you will need to change the partition number accordingly.
  • The /USERVA is the amount of RAM allocated to applications. If you get an XP error, try lowering this a little bit.

This has gotten me past the hump on a lot of large memory hungry applications. Vista is going to allow you to use a lot more physical RAM. If you’re switching, great. If you’re holding off, this will at least help ease the long wait.


Josh is founder and editor at, founder at Aimsift Inc., and co-founder of EvD Media. He is involved in engineering, design, visualization, the technology making it happen, and the content developed around it. He is a SolidWorks Certified Professional and excels at falling awkwardly.