Why Persistent Storage Is A Good Thing

Here's a quick primer on why you want Persistent Storage on your Pocket PCs.

Persistent Storage (PS) on PocketPC is new for Windows Mobile 5.0.  (All Smartphones since the original 2002 release have had PS.)

Previously, your user data (email, contacts, calendar, settings, apps you installed, etc) were stored in RAM.  RAM has the advantage of being really fast, but the significant disadvantage of needing a constant source of power for it to hold its data.  Leave your device unplugged for long enough, and you'll lose all your data.  Fixing that was the primary reason for moving PocketPCs to Persistent Storage. 

PS gives you a nice sense of certainty about your data.  Batteries running low?  No problem.  Worst case, the device shuts off and you can't use it again until you get to a power supply.  But when you get there, it'll boot back up and all your data will still be there.

But PS has a number of other effects that might not be quite so obvious.

Would you believe that moving to PS can double your battery life and enable devices with significantly more storage than were previously possible?

Here's why.  Remember that RAM requires power to keep its data.  The amount of power needed is linear with the amount of RAM.  That is to say, 64M of RAM needs twice as much power to keep it running as 32M does.  128M needs four times as much power as 32, etc.  And this power drain is constant.  The RAM is sucking your batteries dry while the device is in use and while it's suspended. It even continues to drain your batteries when they are "critically low" and the system won't let you turn it on.  Also, people didn't buy 128M RAM devices for the program space.  They bought them to store stuff in.  And those devices had lousy battery lives as a result.

Flash ROM, on the other hand, burns pretty much the same amount of power regardless of how much you have.  A 32M flash part burns about the same amount of power as a 128M flash part does.  And a 1G flash part is pretty much the same as well.  So, by moving to a system where I store my stuff in flash, not RAM, I can put more storage in without requiring a bigger battery to compensate.

But wait, there's more.  Pre-Persistent Storage, Windows Mobile had what we called "the 72 hour rule."  If you've ever seen a PocketPC run low on batteries, at some point it pops up a dialog that says something like, "You're running out of power, you should stop now."  If you keep using it, it'll come back a little later with a more dire warning saying something to the effect of, "You'd better save your data now, because you're on the verge of losing it."  Then, a bit after that it comes on and says, "That's it, I'm shutting you down."  At that point, you can't use the device again until you plug it in.  How much battery charge do you think you have then?  5% maybe? 

Try half.

Yes, when we shut you down because your batteries were "critically low," they were still 1/4 to 1/2 full.  Why?  Because, if the batteries ever fully died, it would be catastrophic.  You'd lose your data, and that's, in our opinion, one of the worst things that can happen.  So we made a requirement and held our OEMs to it.  The requirement was that, at the point where we decided the batteries were "critically low," they had to still have enough power to keep the RAM charged for 72 hours.  The idea there was that you could discover that you were out of power on Friday on the way home and you'd still have your data on Monday when you got back to your charger.

A typical battery holds 1000mAh of charge.  128M of RAM takes about 500mAh to stay resident for 72 hours.  64M takes about 250.  This is why you never saw a 256M WM 2003 device.  It would have run for a minute then decided its batteries were critically low.

This is why switching to Persistent Storage can radically improve your battery life.  With PS, we removed the 72 hour requirement.  We'll let you run your batteries completely dry, because we know your data will still be safe.  Right off the bat, that buys you a significant chuck of time.  It also means that no one ever has to make a 128M RAM device again.  They can fall back to 64M devices, which burn less power, and store the user data in tons and tons of flash.  You'll definitely see 128M flash devices.  And there's no barrier to keeping you from seeing 256M, 1G, etc devices.  That couldn't have been done with RAM.

Downsides?  Yes, nothing is free.  Flash is much slower than RAM.  Reading and writing large amounts of data will take longer on a PS device than it did on a RAM device.  That initial sync that pulls down 400 contacts and 5000 emails will take longer.  Some write operations will seem a bit more sluggish.  But I believe you'll find that the upsides significantly outweigh the downsides. 

Mike Calligaro

Comments (135)
  1. John Walker says:


    Excellent post. I never realized the implications of RAM storage regarding battery life. Looking forward to the next gen of devices. My SMT5600 has been awesome.

    How much slower for write operations with PS? Are we talking double the time to write, or something more like 10% slower?

  2. steven says:

    i just bought the samsung i730 – the battery life is HORRIBLE on it. It sounds like a switch to WM05 will have a huge impact. It also appears that the device was designed for WM05 – so how can we force Verizon/Samsung to release an upgrade to WM05?

  3. garyhu says:

    PS is a good idea, but how about the risk of flash damage? For end-user, it might increase the probability of repair by writable flash insteading of read-only flash.

    I don’t understand why the WM2005 will writeback a lot of data when booting, but it gives me vexation undoubtedly.

  4. RPF says:

    So for those of us who have our own PPCs instead of work ones and it gets put in the cradle every night, WM5 would appear to be a net loss in this regard.

    -I can’t remember when I last had battery problems

    -Flash is A LOT slower than RAM.

    Also I think you’re overselling the point somewhat on flash capacity. Persistant Storage in no way allows for 1GB Flash – OEMs could still do that anyway – they just haven’t. Also out of interest, my old iPAQ 2210 allowed me to change that 72 hours down to 12, in 12hr increments.

    I just hope the speed effect of putting all your data into flash isn’t too devestating.

  5. JMG says:

    What I would prefer is a more intelligent degradation of low battery life scenarios, much like laptops have. The low batteyr warning is not configurable…it should not start warning me at 50% especially if there is backup battery life at that level. (Worst case would be a registry hack for those of us confortable with that, best case would be a full panel of options as part of the power applet.

    You could also go a long way to helping that panel out by explaining this as part of the documentation under help for power settings. Should it not be the power user’s call on how low they want to take their device?

    (Which also goes to Voice Command…the only way to avoid the incessant verbal warnings for low battery are to kill the volume…)

  6. Cliff says:

    That is really awesome. I can’t wait until Windows Mobile 5.0 is released.

    Do you know if devices which receive the Windows Mobile 5.0 upgrade will now let us drain the full battery or will it just be new devices?

  7. windowsmobile says:

    (Responding to a bunch of comments at once.)

    John note that your SMT5600 is a Smartphone, so it’s already using Persistent Storage. PS is new for Pocket PC, but has been in use for a number of years on Smartphone. The same answer applies to Gary’s question too. Modern flash parts can be written hundreds of thousands of times, and we haven’t been seeing trouble with this over the last years on smartphone. And RPF as well. We’re comfortable with the speeds we’ve been seeing on Smartphone and feel the tradeoff is worth it. As for the raw read and write speeds of flash vs RAM, the differences are significant. But it should be rare that the diffrences are human perceptible.

    To your other point, RPF, yes an OEM could have put 1G of flash into a WM 2003 device. But they couldn’t have used that space to store your contacts and email in it. So it wouldn’t have been as effective as PS. If you were saying that they could have put 1G of RAM in, I disagree. Doing so would have required a battery 10 times as large as you see now.

    JMG, some of the IPAQ devices have a control panel to let you do what you’re describing.

    Steven, regarding upgrades. Don’t underestimate the power you wield as a customer. If you’d like Verizon to provide an upgrade, tell them. If they hear that message from their customers, they’ll probably work with Samsung to provide it. (Note that I don’t speak for either Verizon or Samsung.)


  8. Nino.Mobile says:

    Happy Happy Joy Joy – I had the distinct pleasure of having VS2005 go south on me yesterday.  At…

  9. joedoe says:

    But guys who upgraded their JAM PPC RAM from 64Mb to 128Mb have not reported any noticeable decrease in battery life. How you can explain that?

  10. Jelp says:

    Quote: "haven’t been seeing trouble with this over the last years on smartphone."

    Smartphones are hardly a power user device. PPCs ARE power users devices for some.

    Quote: "As for the raw read and write speeds of flash vs RAM, the differences are significant. But it should be rare that the diffrences are human perceptible."

    I beg to differ significantly: I heard that Tweaks2k2 was able to move some large dlls from programs; that’s sorely needed on 64MB RAM only devices in power users’ hands. But program lags were so important that I quickly reverted the process and uninstalled Tweak2k2!!

    According to some reports (PDAgold or Mobile-Review don’t remember which) ROM is about 10 TIMES slower than RAM !!!!!

    More than enough for everybody to notice obvious slowdowns!!!

    But these are only one aspect of many WM5 bugness nature πŸ™

  11. Rob says:

    So, how do I disable the 72hr rule on my WM 2003 SE device? I would like to have better battery life now please. Sprite backup will get me back up and running if I kill my data.

  12. AacidusX says:

    to the person that spoke about their samsung 1730 having "horrible" battery life… it is also do to the CDMA technology that verizon wireless uses, CDMA consumes more battery than a GSM device.

  13. soccrnj80 says:

    Again windows mobile playing catch up to palm.

  14. Sudman1 says:

    Why not have both RAM and flash? Have the system run in RAM as it does now, then on suspend, or critically low power, write the contents of memory to flash. Then you would have the speed benefits of the RAM in your running system and the persistence for long time spans without power.

  15. Rico says:

    PocketPCs will have both RAM and flash like you suggest. And yes, I think it will be a good idea to use the RAM as a cache for your contacts on your pocketpc and write back changes directly to flash if they are made. I am not amazed if this is already happening on current PS powered devices, it is just logical enough to do it that way. So with this in mind, I doubt you will ever notice any speed differences anyway or at most a decrease of 10%.

  16. Konrad says:

    When I was using an iPaq 4150 with Pocket Hack Master 2004 (excellent piece of software btw) I noticed that whenever I underclocked my system prior to switching off the ipaq the battery always seemed to last longer. When I say underclock system I mean lowering the bus speed and multipliers – effectively running the cpu at 50mhz.

    Perhaps a more intelligent way of using ram and ps, is to use the ram as a temp storage. Or another way as a fast storage whose contents are uploaded (or whose fs transactions are uploaded) to ps when the power goes off, then downloaded when the power comes back on? Or perhaps we just make ps faster πŸ™‚ Don’t SanDisk have 30mb/s UltraIV’s now?

  17. Dan says:

    ….which moving of data from RAM to PS would have never been feasable (would have meant a decay of performance which most users to buy a 624Mhz processor would have not understood) until the release of much faster ROM. in new devices from HP one can find "High Speed File Store"!

    I haven’t run any tests to check for improvements in speed, but initial specs show that the new ROM is a lot faster.

    So, with this in mind, an upgrade to say h2750 from WM2003SE to Magnito is imperative. happier would be the hx4700 users who have in their devices only 64 MB of RAM which is absolutelly enaugh to run most programs. furthermore, the 64MB consumes less than h2750’s 128MB in active use, therefore more battery life!

    alas, moving data from RAM to PS everytime the device suspends would take some time (the device would not suspend instantly) and it would make no sense because it would require 2 operations: write&read! whereas, at power on, the device only needs to read the data and reload the application. it’s exactly the same operation as reading cached RAM from PS. so why bother?? Devices with Magnito installed would STILL have RAM, but in lower amounts and not under electrical charge while suspended. it would only consume power when in operation, aka device on.

  18. Dan says:

    "Or perhaps we just make ps faster πŸ™‚ Don’t SanDisk have 30mb/s UltraIV’s now?"

    PS speed is not fully altered by the quality of the ROM, but by the system too. it’s exactly as a PC which runs RAM at only 133Mhz even if one installs 400Mhz RAM! The 133x SD from Kingston i saw released is very fast indeed. but that speed can only be taken advantage of at this point by one single professional still camera and USB 2.0 card readers.

    I believe that faster PS by say 133x factor would mean higher bus speeds and more demanding hardware in a PPC. alas, less battery life..etc

  19. Gleb Dolgich says:

    Congratulations, finally you are about to implement a feature Apple Newton had since 1993. So much for innovation…

  20. Luis says:

    Wow, really? … really?.. That’s amazing.. really?

    It’s 2005 and we *just* figured that out.. Wow.. Hurray! Great job!

    You are now an Embedded programmer, welcome to the 1970’s.

  21. Dan says:

    guys, guys! PS might go back in early ’90s, yes. i’ve been a keen Palm and i’ve gone through Symbian until i reached Pocket PC. I’m not a fan of Microsoft either. But let’s all face the fact that the massive resources Windows Mobile applications require would have rendered a Permanent Storage kind of technology too sluggish to send devices to the market. The PS system is somehow implemented in the new PalmOne Lifedrive which in my oppinion, instead of making use and improve the edge Palm had up until now, goes back to the problems PPC is now getting rid of.

    yes, yes, why did they not think of it until now?? pointless questions, please excuse my determination, as so many of you had plenty of good things to say about your PPC’s. I now use an Ipaq h6340 which will not make use of PS as there’s no Magnito release on the way for it. I’ll have to reinvest in technology, alas go for a hx4700. does that put a smile on my face? no! definitely not.

    when improvement is being made, i do say "it was about time".

  22. Cornerstone says:

    >the massive resources Windows Mobile applications require would have rendered a Permanent Storage kind of technology too sluggish

    You got to be kidding me.

    You know that Windows PPC2003 only requires 7 MBs of program memory as a minimum, right? Yes, PalmOS 5 only requires about 4, however, everything is relative in this world. Linux with Qtopia/Opie requires 11 MBs and OpenZaurus with GPE (which is based on X11 and GTK) requires… 33 MBs of RAM. So yeah, everything is relative when you say "massive resources".

  23. There have been a lot of comments to my "Why Persistent Storage Is A Good Thing" entry, as well as a…

  24. A continuation of my "More Persistent Storage Stuff" entry, which is a follow up to "Why Persistent Storage…

  25. Dan says:

    Cornerstone, indeed. try, for instance and load Skpe from an SD. it’s not about the amount of memory one given program needs, but about the time it needs to load its resources from ROM to RAM. which is relatively long.

  26. A continuation of my "More Persistent Storage Stuff" entry, which is a follow up to "Why Persistent Storage…

  27. MobileRead says:

    With Windows Mobile 2005 coming to our cell phones and PDAs soon, you may want to become accustomed to the idea of "persistent storage", which means that in future all of your personal data, user-installed applications, and updates are stored in…

  28. Fra says:

    Well, during a Dell event i could test a version of their new axim with WM 5.0,,,,i found it incredibly slow…i asked the person who gave it to me and he said it was a non stable version….strange….right now i fear it was a stable version but with PS on….

  29. FooBar says:

    Why PS is a bad thing:

    1. Sluggish performance: slow flash brings PPC performance back to about year 2000 and introduces 2-20 seconds delays for flash updates. That may be rectified by new hardware, but do not expect good performance on existing devices.

    2. Reduces memory capacity: instead of having 64M RAM plus 64MB flash storage, now you have 64MB of β€œNV RAM”.

    3.Reduces device live span – flash can only be updated so many times, then it will fail.

    How it should’ve been done:

    Storage and RAM should be separated. Flash should be used as storage to store files, RAM should be used as program memory only. That would not preserve running programs state if battery runs out like PS would, but we’re used to it on desktop. All settings and data would be safe which is the point.

  30. This is a question I’ve found myself answering several times over the years – why dosn;t a Pocket PC…

  31. Luca says:

    I’d like to know :

    – When is Microsoft going to enable Virtual Memory (swapfile for virtual memory management) on SD, CF memory cards ? Why hasn’t yet been implemented on WinCE ? So that current devices with 64MB SDRAM or 128MB SDRAM could actually run larger programs. Recently announced Microsoft Automotive 5.0 based on the same WinCE 5.0 is going to have virtual memory enabled up to 96MB .. why is this going to be disabled in WinCE 5.0 for standard PDAs ?

    – Couldn’t you use some buffer caching on RAM to improve read/write operations on FlashROM that is going to be used as Persistent Storage ? Is WM2003SE currently performing any buffer caching on storage cards ?

    I am going to buy an IPAQ HX2750 because I don’t want to wait Q2 ’06 and such to see new WM2005 PDAs with more RAM and because I need TomTom5 in my car. As soon as HP releases the WM2005/WinCE5.0 upgrade for the unit I should be getting full 128MB SDRAM available to run programs but how much is it going to be used on the 128MB Flash ROM by the new OS ? I hope no new restrictions have been put on installing programs/drivers on CF/SD cards.

  32. Luca says:

    Foobar: Maybe you didn’t understand what Persistent Storage is about because you just described how it works (thinking that it’s not going to do that) …

  33. windowsmobile says:

    Luca, I’ve really got to do a blog entry on the trials and tribulations of virtual memory. The description is too long to get into here, but the issue with VM on CE isn’t about a page file. It doesn’t work that way. I’ll try to do a full description in a future entry. That’s going to be a contentious one…

    Regarding buffer caching using RAM, yes, we do that.

    Mike Calligaro

  34. Pedro-G says:

    "It also means that no one ever has to make a 128M RAM device again."

    Ever? Just like "no one will ever need more than 640kB of memory on a PC" ?

    "Ever" refers to a longer time than three or five years.

  35. windowsmobile says:

    Pedro, we didn’t do anything to stop OEMs from putting more than 64M in their devices. If there comes a time when it makes sense to have more RAM, they’ll be able to do it.

    Mike Calligaro

  36. Derald Grimwood says:

    I too thought Persistant Storage was cool until my IPAQ File Store became corrupted on my h5555. IPAQ backup underestimated the space I needed for a backup then maxed out the storage and corrupted the file sysstem in the file store. I can’t delete the files, and I can’t format the File Store. There is no format utility provided by IPAQ nor can I seem to find one on the internet.

    I found that some of the newer IPAQs include a format utility. Any suggestions?

    Oh, an aside. I wish Microsoft would enforce a policy with its vendors to provide a minimum of two OS life cycles for a device. I bought my h5555 this year with WM2003 and found that no upgrade was to be made available for SE or WM05. Not nice for a device that costs more than some desktops.

  37. I had a request that I do an entry on the differences between RAM, ROM, NAND, and NOR.  Because…

  38. Mike Calligaro wrote a great blog entry on Persitent Store recently and why it’s so cool. His latest…

  39. There are a huge number of benefits that Windows Mobile 5.0 brings to customers, partners, operators…

  40. There are a huge number of benefits that Windows Mobile 5.0 brings to customers, partners, operators…

  41. There are a huge number of benefits that Windows Mobile 5.0 brings to customers, partners, operators…

  42. Ryan says:

    I have never seen my battery go less than 50%. I charge it every night as well… so why would I want to make my system slower for extra battery life that I’ll never really need. It would be nice to be able to select how your PDA stores information, but I’m not even sure thats physically possible (I don’t know too much about how they work inside).

    I have two questions.

    How much slower?

    Can I revert back to WM2003 if I don’t like it?

  43. windowsmobile says:

    Ryan, it’s always a challenge developing software for large groups of people. For every one of you who charges every night, there are ten who don’t like needing to bring chargers on the road with them, and twenty who lost their data and rightfully complained that we weren’t reliable enough.

    When choosing which features to implement, we need to find the right balance between all of you. And I think we did here.

    To answer your "how much slower" please see the two "More Persistent Storage" entries.

    Regarding reverting back to WM2003, that will be up to the OEM. If you have a device that the OEM chooses to upgrade, then you should check before upgrading whether or not they’ll have a mechanism for reverting. If you buy a new device that comes with WM5 on it, there definitely will not be a way to downgrade.

    Mike Calligaro

  44. Hands says:

    What about Ram… Ijust bought an I-mate Jasjar, 64MB of memory, with WM 5 and all the pre installed applications, it remains 22/23 MB, with all the application closed, when I installed few sw, on the ram, and the rest in the SD card, I checked, and I had left 3 MB, WM 5, if you close an application, still rember it, so the memory keep reserved for that, at the end of the day, or you have minimum 128MB of ram, or you won’t be able to do nothing at all with persistent storage, not even take a picture with the built in camera!!!!!!!!

  45. hrb says:

    Have a question which is only marginaly related to PS. With WM2K3se, it was possible to determine/change the ration between Storage Memory and Program Memory. With WM5, this is not possible anymore. In my case (JASJAR), I installed ALL Programs on the SD Card. Now I am left with approx. 23 megs of Program Memory and 33 megs of Storage Memory. Is there any way to change this hardcoded split ? e.g. assign much more megs to Program Memory ?



  46. windowsmobile says:

    Hrb, no you can’t change it anymore. The reason you could in the past was that both the storage and the program memory were in RAM. So the slider was just partitioning the RAM between those two places. Now they are in different physical media. Storage is in Flash ROM and Program Memory is in RAM. There’s no good way to use ROM as RAM, so there’s no longer a way to change the partitioning on the fly.

    Mike Calligaro

  47. Quantum Flux says:

    Wow! I love the exaggerations on postbacks like this.

    The Newton did SOME persistence storage work and was not good at it at all. Its always funny to see people endlessly attribute more and more innovation to the Newton. Did any of you even use the thing? I did. Sony Magic Link as well. ALL of the "proto PDAs". And Ill tell you what; that era was NOT as great as you seem to think (or your memory is clouded over by MS hatred and Apple fanaticism). The Newton was NEITHER a complete persistent store device, NOR a good one. There are endless engineering discussions on this.

    And the Palm? Please. I’ve had more catastrophic losses of data thanks to Palm OS than any other computing device. Palm OS 5 actually increased the possible size of the dynamic heap to give developers some freedom to get better performance since the persistent heap access APIs are too slow.

    You cant dumb down a complex discussion by saying "big deal! Palm and Newton have had PS since 1910!" The Pocket PC has had PS for a long while now also. It was handled as Program Storage. The change in WM5 is that core system databases (contacts, calendar, mail) have migrated to flash. Thats the real difference and its too subtle for the zealots of other platforms to really attack intelligently unless they have experience with both platforms.

    As for the person with the "friend who upgraded his Jam to 128MB and saw no battery life decrease", you are arguing against basic logic.

    Are you trying to argue that powering double the amount of RAM DOESNT drain the battery more? Just use common sense. It’s MORE transistors, MORE electronic components that HAVE to be kept refreshed. Of course its a bigger battery hit! He probably charges his device every night and doesnt notice.

    A little common sense, some clear thinking, a little less bias and a little use of a search engine would make these discussions less like root canal.

  48. Marc F. says:

    I tried to read as many of the comments as I could and I have a few questions.

    1. Why hasn’t the standby feature been updated or changed to give a user more options? While some users may want to have the 72 hour reserve, others may want to make it available for longer operating time.

    Currently I can only reduce the standby period to 24 hours. There is not an option or method to disable it entirely that I am aware of.

    2. What is the realistic possibility to have more advanced power schemes? For example: When battery reaches 50% reduce brightness to (x) When battery reaches 25% reduce brightness to lowest setting that still illuminates the screen.

    3. Now that we have persistent storage wouldnt it make sense to include an option similar to laptops – when I press the power button I want to (a) power off the device (b) initiate standby mode

    4. Is it the vender’s responsibility to implement such features or changes?

    Thanks and regards,


  49. Marc F. says:

    I tried to read as many of the comments as I could and I have a few questions.

    1. Why hasn’t the standby feature been updated or changed to give a user more options? While some users may want to have the 72 hour reserve, others may want to make it available for longer operating time.

    Currently I can only reduce the standby period to 24 hours. There is not an option or method to disable it entirely that I am aware of.

    2. What is the realistic possibility to have more advanced power schemes? For example: When battery reaches 50% reduce brightness to (x) When battery reaches 25% reduce brightness to lowest setting that still illuminates the screen.

    3. Now that we have persistent storage wouldnt it make sense to include an option similar to laptops – when I press the power button I want to (a) power off the device (b) initiate standby mode

    4. Is it the vender’s responsibility to implement such features or changes?

    Thanks and regards,


  50. jlingo says:

    I would like to contribute to some of the experiences that I have. I bought Dopod 900 with Windows Mobile 2005, I find that the synchronization took so much slower. It’s unbelievable. Synchronizing 5000 contacts used to take me only few minutes with PocketPC 2003 and now it’s few hours.

    After synchronization complete, my Dopod 900 runs very-very slow which is unacceptable.

    When I cut down the contact to less than 1000. The Sluggishness disappeared. I assume that this is due to Persistent Storage. Which is not a good thing IMO. Any workarounds to speed up and keep the contact 5000?

  51. Zapman62 says:

    I am a hardcore Pocket PC fan – I use the Calendar and Contacts functions to run my whole life. Recently I upgraded to a Dell Axim X51v. Cadillac – 624mhz processor, monster memory, persistent storage – it looked like the answer. At first it did seem a little slower to access some things, but not a real problem. I was expecting that from what I read on the Windows Mobile 5 forums and reviews. However, I then changed the ActiveSync setting to sych all Calendar items, instead of the prior 2 weeks it defaults to. I really like having the history available for the last year or 2. Immediately, my Calendar became nearly unusable – where I had been used to instant switching between days, weeks, months, etc., it took 20 seconds to switch – completely unacceptable. Check your calendar for Monday – 20 seconds. Look at Tuesday – another 20 seconds, etc. etc. I called Dell support – did a hard reset, upgraded the ROM to the newest release (A05) but nothing changed. It’s not a Dell problem – it’s a WM5 problem. Dell allowed me to return the X51v and I just bought a used X50v running Windows Mobile 2003. Keep in mind, I have thousands of items in my Calendar – if you don’t use your Calendar like that, WM5 will probably be fine. If they don’t fix this down the road and I can’t get another old unit running something prior to WM5, I’ll probably switch to Palm.

  52. Ivo says:

    I’m using h6340.

    How can I format, reset data or do other manipulations with the "iPAQ File Store" storage?

    Hard reset not helps.

    ReFlashing BIOS not helps too.



  53. I’ve received a few questions from users who have said that their WM5 device seems to slow down and speed…

  54. Inspector Gadget says:

    Yes, WM2005 with it’s persistent storage runs like a dog on many 2003 designed pocketPCs such as the iPaq 4700 range.

    How a machine with a 600MHz+ processor can run so slowly is astonishing, and this problem appears when the device has been hard-reset, so it’s unrelated to any third-party software.

    Fortunately HP allow you to downgrade to WM2003, but not until you’ve bought the WM2005 CD :/

    I wonder if the newer native 2005 machines have a different hardware architecture to make them run better with the newer OS? I know that the 200MHz i-Mate starts up and switches callendar modes much better than my 4700, which is very odd. Or perhaps the problem is related to the VGA screen? Is persistent storage related to video usage?



  55. Pod says:

    How do i perform hard reset in dopod 900!

  56. Frrankosuave says:

    I upgraded my x50v to WM2005 last weekend and thankfully found a file on the Dell page that allows me to revert it back to 2003.  Everything was much slower.  Like some individuals above, I like to have tons of stuff in my calendar, past and present, as i sync between home and work, so maybe that had something to do with it.  I definately am not a fan of the WM2005 on this unit.  Outside of being slow, it had some appeal, seemed crisper, but I will not have enough time to fully experience it before I put the old OS back on.

  57. Ron Cole says:

    If we downgrade to WM2003, can we keep the newer versions of Excel, Word and Powerpoint?  Alternatively, is there upgrade to those applications available for WM2003?

    (It should be free for those of us who bought WM5…)

  58. sharpmind says:

    Based on the article, is it safe to say that if there are lots of running program on RAM, the battery will run out faster?  Therefore, it is better close off all the programs to save RAM and battery.  The reason why I ask is that I do not close off all the program because it is much faster to start the program if they stay resident in ram.  Please advice.

    Thanks in advance

  59. MikeCal says:

    Sharpmind, no RAM burns the same amount of power whether it’s being actively used or not.  So shutting down programs won’t make the RAM use less power.  The way to make the RAM use less power is for the OEM to put less of it into the system in the first place.  Persistent Storage allows them to do that.

    Now, another source of power drain is the CPU, and it DOES burn more power when it’s active than when it’s not.  So, if one of the programs you have running is running the CPU a lot, shutting it down can save battery life.  But that’s not related to the RAM.


  60. lue says:

    for me wm 5 it is a nightmare it just much to slow on my hx4700. i wanted a ppc to look up somthing fast if i want to wait i can run my notebook with windows xp. so a big NO

  61. vespaburuk says:

    After upgraded to WM5, it seems that my 4700 is a lot faster. Just remember, never to RESTORE your previous programs using your backup software but REINSTALL it. Try this link: http://www.mobiletopsoft.com/board/view.php?newsid=388

  62. simpsonweb says:

    Can someone please explain to me why I lost all my data (including that on my CF Card) last night simply by switching my iPAQ 4700 on and off. I upgraded to WM5 a couple of days ago. Yes – it is slower and I was prepared to live with that. But how can all my programs and settings and music etc etc just dissapear and I have to start from scratch again. So much for persistant memory.

  63. dualfuel says:

    I have an original I-mate Jam with PPC 2003.  64Mb RAM is not enough on this and I am going to upgrade.  I was going to get the 128Mb RAM Jam, but after reading this I am not sure what to do!  Maybe I should go for a newer I-mate device with WM5 and 64Mb RAM instead?  I am not fussed about battery life too much, but want to run Tomtom 5, traffic plug in, IE for traffic info plus other bits and pieces of software.  I think I may still be better off with the 128Mb RAM JAM as I am not convinced the extra RAM freed up by WM5 will be enough.

  64. Shawn says:

    RAM use syncs very well with the Microsoft philosophy of reboot. PS is a different ball game. While there are significant advantages of using PS (that’s why Nokia, Motorola, Samsung use flash memory),  it needs a very mature storage software. With Microsoft’s penchant for leaving bugs, it may lead to another PC like experience.

    Hope, they design properly and do some testing before release

  65. jim says:

    I don’t know if it is the PS or what but WM5 is just too slow. My new hx2490 looks nice but is very frustrating to try to use. It often takes a very long time to start up. I had PocketBreeze on it but removed it as it made the device much too slow – sometime minutes before I could check today’s appointments.

  66. ben says:

    The amount of RAM is linear to the power consumption is only correct for the case of the device uses 2 slots for the RAM module.

    eg. RAM power consumption;

    128MB x 1 < 64MB x 2

    64MB x 1 < 32MB x 2

    In fact, 32MB x 2 modules might consume more than 128MB x 1 module. Hence, 128MB not necessarily consume more power than 64MB. Please take note.

  67. MikeCal says:

    Yes, if you compare different hardware technologies, all bets are off.  Similarly, 3.3V RAM uses less power than 5V RAM does.  But OEMs don’t choose between putting in a little bit of high power RAM or a lot of low power RAM.  They almost always use the lowest power RAM available to them at the time they’re designing the device.  And, for any given technology, more RAM burns more power than less RAM.


  68. Moses3d says:

    Dear Mike,

    I quite understand the concept of PS and compaction. But please can someone explain how to use it all inreal life? In the WM5-upgraded devices like my hx4700, the less you install into PS, the less compaction you get. But what should I do with the PS space which is free now because I use an SD card to install apps there in order to minimize compaction? I have 64 free megabytes of PS which I do wish to use, but dare not! Otherwise I will end up with a slow brick. This is not to say "MS doesn’t care", not at all. I’m just looking for a sort of guidance here, how to best balance the two extremes – either have a free PS and ALMOST useable PPC with ALMOST no lock-ups, or use the PS concept and store all my data and apps in it, but be frustrated every time I switch the device on…


  69. Seth says:

    I understand the miniSD access is slower than the XV6700’s native memory can hold and I would like to, somehow, get the Windows Mobile 5 to route the contacts on to the expansion card.  As slow as it would be, it’s nowhere near as slow as the XV6700 gets when the native storage memory is 99.8 used!  How many lines of code would it have taken Microsoft to allow users to route their contacts this way?  20?  How stupid not to give people that flexibility.  

  70. MikeCal says:

    Seth, we’ve done 6 major releases since 2000, and in every one of them we had to make tough choices on which features we could get done in the time alotted.  Every feature we’ve done has come at the expense of 5 other features we also wanted to do, but prioritized lower.

    It’s certainly possible that we made the wrong priority choices and that some contacts feature that we did is less important than externally stored contacts.  We’re certainly falible.  However, we generally make our feature lists based on feedback and requirements from our OEMs and Mobile Operators.  So, at least, we don’t make our decisions in a vacuum.

    The biggest issue with storing contacts on an SD card is that you can remove the card and not have your contacts anymore.  It’s further complicated by us syncing them when they’re not there.  We’d also need to create some mechanism for saying, "I lost that card that I put the contacts on, start putting them on this new card instead."  If you wanted some contacts to be stored on a storage card and others to be stored in internal flash, it would get even more complicated.  There would need to be some way to migrate contacts back and forth, as well as some way to easilly migrate large numbers of them at a time (imagine if you had to go through a multiple step process per contact for 1000 contacts).  It would get extremely messy if you wanted some contacts on one card, and others on another.  Maybe you don’t want that flexibility, but maybe others do.

    Every one of these things is a solveable problem.  Each of them is considerably more than 20 lines of code, though.  When we weigh the need vs the cost and compare to other features, we’ve chosen to do the other features instead.  

    There may be some radically better approach to designing software when you don’t have enough people to do everything you want to do.  If so, maybe we’re stupid for not knowing it.  But we’re doing the best that our limited intelligence allows us to.


  71. One of my colleagues Reed Robison published an internal summary of the great articles that Mike Calligaro…

  72. Spuds says:

    Not always a good thing.  When doing a BIOS update even flash ram is erased, and poof all data is lost.  Further, persistet storage has lulled maufactures to stop including a backup application on many Pocket PC’s.  So ironically the BIOS upgrade that I had to do to fix a problem with battery drain send all data to the dumster.   Spuds

  73. Erich says:

    Just ran across this post, and having both a Dell X50v and X51v, I can tell you without a doubt that the MS Mobile team screwed up with this whole PS thing.

    Why?  Because in terms of performance, my older 50v wipes the floor with the newer 51v.  The difference?  WM5.  There are HUGE threads on Aximsite devoted just to getting the X51v to perform within an order of magnitude of the older machine.  And, at least for me, there is very little advantage to the new OS other than better built-in apps which I never use anyway (there being vastly superior equivalents made by 3rd parties).

    This is progress?

    PS — Please don’t insult my intelligence by attempting to blame Dell’s implementation.  I’ll be happy to drag a lot of other WM5 devices into the argument otherwise πŸ™‚

  74. NS says:

    Hi Mike,

    I really like your blog… If now data is stored in Persistent Storage (I assume which uses ROM of NOR type) so that it can be recovered after reset. Why do we require RAM at all? What is RAM used for ?

  75. MikeCal says:

    Hi NS.  RAM is used by running programs while they’re running.  Programs usually load things out of persistent storage into RAM, do work on them there, and then store them back into the persistent storage.  It’s pretty similar to desktop PCs, except that PCs use hard drives instead of NAND/NOR ROM.  


  76. David says:

    This page is the #1 Google hit for the query:

    "Windows Mobile 2005" slow

    Mike, you and your team and stuffed up big time with this ‘feature’. You should just admit that it was a wrong decision and get working on SP1 ASAP. I’m printing this page out to justify returning my iMate Jamin today.

    I had an XphoneII running WM2003 and it was fantastic. It synced ALL my calendar appointsments back to 1996 (thousands of records), all my contacts, etc and is very snappy performance wise.

    I ‘upgraded’ to a Jamin running WM2005 and it is ludicrously slow. If I try and jump around through various days in my calendar it locks up for 10-20 seconds. I sent it in for a repair and they reflashed it and erased all the data on it and told me it runs fine now … well of course it does because there is no bloody data on it.

    You should be ashamed at the lack of scalability testing your team did in this release. It’s not like I doing anything unreasonable with my Jamin – just using it the same way I have every other PDA/phone i have ever used.

    And don’t even get me started on the Tasks application. It locks up BIG TIME and I only have 300 tasks in the tasks folder.

    The initial sync took over half an hour to do.

    I have since gone back to my WM2003 xphone II and it syncs all of the above in a couple of minutes and is very responsive.

    This is a monumental step backwards. YOu need to get rid of this feature or at least allow it to be turned off.

    In future – why don’t you get one of the devices and put 5000 appts, 5000 tasks, 5000 e-mails in it and ACTUALLY USE IT before releasing it. YOu know … a really advanced use case like skipping forward day by day for 10 days.

  77. MikeCal says:

    David, I’m sorry that the device isn’t meeting your needs.  We do want to be scalable, but, in the end, it will always take ten times as long to write your 5000 contacts as it takes to write my 500.  That’ll be true if we’re writing into flash, RAM, a hard drive, a network share, or holographic storage.  

    We do know that for every one of our users with > 1000 contacts there are literally twenty with less.  Everything anyone can do in a constrained system involves tradeoffs.  We knew that persistent storage had great benefit for the twenty and that it would make life worse for the one.  But the benefit to the twenty was high enough that we decided it was the best way for us to go.  

    We’re always working to improve things, and I can imagine us making things better for >1000 contact people in some future version.  But 5000 contacts is really extreme.  I’m afraid that you’re going to continue to be angry with us for a while.  I wish I had a better answer for you, but we won’t be going back to the days of limited storage and lost data.


  78. MikeB says:


    Great Blog.  We have a data critical application and had to store data in RAM and ROM before WM5.0  Great improvement.  Couple of questions: 1) Is there a registry setting that controls when a low battery warning will appear? (percentage?)

    2) What would be the biggest battery consumption activities?  This is a field application and we have to take out spare batteries currently.


  79. MikeCal says:

    Mike, to answer your battery consumption questions, check out these two entries.

    "Power to the Smartphone"


    "Power to the PocketPC"



  80. greg says:

    I’m a medical resident and am using an iPaq running Windows Mobile 5.0 for several reference programs.  From day one, I have had daily problems with the device either locking up, taking 1-2 minutes to be responsive to inputs, or simply not turning on at all.  When it doesn’t turn on, I remove the SD card and then it’ll start but apparently the lock up uses a lot of energy since the battery will have lost a noticable amount of charge.  I have removed all medical programs and still have similar problems.  Other residents using the same iPaq have the same problems.  Our hospital tech guru says he has had the same problems on ALL PPCs running WM5.  Any suggestions other than going back to my old trusty iPaq running WM2003?

  81. MikeCal says:

    If you’re talking about the iPaq 4700, HP has recently released an update that makes the device work better.  

    We’ve had many reports of the experieces you’re describing on two WM2003 PPCs that were updated to WM5 (see my various "Compaction Thread" posts here).  On non-upgrade devices, we’ve had reports that devices are slow when they have thousands of contacts, but people with < 1000 contacts are generally pretty happy with them.

    The only other major issue I’ve been hearing about is that some devices have had problems in their OEM SD drivers (they sometimes crash when there’s an SD card in it).  

    I’ve regularly used 8 different WM5 devices without seeing these problems, so it’s definitely not all of them that act this way.


  82. Pawel says:

    So, is there any chance that WM5 use RAM instead of ROM ? Any kind of switch?

  83. MikeCal says:

    Upgrade devices that didn’t have enough flash memory to do persistent storage were allowed to keep their storage in RAM.  And some vertical market devices (hardened industrial devices) have been allowed to be RAM based.  But no commercial WM5 native device is allowed to store its data in RAM.  


  84. jpmahala says:

    I would like to echo the feelings of Seth and David.  There is really no excuse for a handheld device to be crippled to the point where you have to unload appointments/contacts/etc. in order to get acceptable performance.

    Unfortunately, I did not have prior exposure to WM2003, but with all of the PalmOS based devices I have had, 5000 contacts has never been an issue.

    I have had a nightmare of a time in trying to pacify all of our salesmen who opted to get WM5 based smartphones.  Every one has had issues with loading their respective territory into their contact list.  This should in NOT be a problem.

    For an OS that is trying to target business users, you have missed the mark.  We need devices to manage our information and data.  Yes, persistant storage is a noble and attractive feature, but at the expense of our necessary data, it is not welcome.

    My intention is not to merely bash the developers, but if I knew then what I know now, nobody in my company would have a WM5 device.  The inclusion of persistant storage was just too premature.  Let me know when you have an usable solution.

  85. boytse says:

    I think speed is utmost important for handheld device, how can one afford to wait almost two mins for wm5 loaded after reset to make a call! PDA data should normally backed-up in desktop, any lost of data in the device can be restored soon from pc.

  86. Plato Guerra says:

    I store > 2,000 contacts on a database & export them regularly to Outlook, to be ActiveSync’d with my PPC. Since upgrading to Windows Mobile 5.0, I’ve not been able to store these contacts in a miniSD storage card.

    Unfortunately having this data stored in PS isn’t good, as it slows down all the PPC / Smart phone.

    Frankly, I don’t care if the contacts are volatile & are all lost / erased on the Mini SD, since my data repository is the database.

    Is there a way to ActiveSync directly to the Storage Card?, or do I have to purchase 3rd party software?

    Thank you

  87. JD says:

    My utstarcom 6700 pda phone is slow as a dog with anything network related.  I get the hour glass for minutes at a time while it’s figuring out what to do.  The task switching in this thing is slower than a 286. I can’t believe they tested this thing in a real environment.  

    It’s a device with everything.. except it isn’t good at anything! For something that cost me over 400 I would think it would work better.  It locks up all the time. Because of it’s poor task switching it isn’t a good phone either.  Forget browsing your email and having someone call you.. if I’m online my phone almost never rings.  

  88. Michael says:

    I have an HP iPaq rxl955 running WM 5 (in fact I’m using it now to write this) and it runs fine until internal storage memory is low (software, not contacts). When storage memory is reduced to about 1 MB, performance goes to hell. This prompted me to buy a 1 GB high speed SD card from SanDisk, and I have made minimal use of my device’s PS since then.

    Slow downs are far beyond obvious when I am downloading a file with Windows Media Player running. Eventually I get an error message saying something like "Storage memory is critical. Delete some files or programs may not run". This seems understandable, except I’m downloading the file to my storage card!! What’s more is my device’s storage actually goes down to like 0.02 MB!!! Why is Windows Mobile 5 using the PS as program storage?! That’s what the RAM is for, and I didn’t get a critical warning for that! RAM is fast, flash is slow. Flash is storage, RAM is program memory. What happened?

  89. Michael says:

    Whoops, forgot to add this. "Eventually I get an error message saying something like ‘Storage memory is critical. Delete some files or programs may not run’". My storage card has about 600 MB free, just so you know.


  90. Kent says:


    Great blog, but it is evident that the market research for WM5 was incomplete and a HUGE number of windows-based phone users who have decision-making roles in companies have been alienated by the assumptions and changes made.

    It appears safe to summarize here after reading the entire thread that WM5 may be the system for the casual, non-business user with minimal contacts, calendar, data needs but is clearly not the system for anyone in business who needs and values readily accessible, high-quantity data on their phone, as most business owners and business people do.

    The high emphasis MS placed on preventing data loss due to power issues at the expense of performance for real data users was an expensive mistake for MS and hopefully one that MS is taking note of here.  How many businesses, sales organizations, power users, and small business owners are in the >1000 contacts group?  Clearly the number is VERY significant, if not the majority of the market, particularly the segment of the market that adopts technology early on and frequently upgrades it.  Our real estate organization averages 4,000 contacts on all our devices.

    It is VERY disturbing to read the comment that " I wish I had a better answer for you, but we won’t be going back to the days of limited storage and lost data."  The message MS needs to get is that for the vast majority of users the risk of temporary loss of data due to poor user power managment (forgetting to charge the phone or have a car charger on hand) is truly a non-concern for anyone who sycs regularly and particularly a non-issue for those who sync wirelessly via exchange and not tied to a cradle), especially when it comes at the cost of performance and readily accessible data.  We like battery life, but would rather charge three times a day than be without our quickly-accessible, business critical, >1000 contact data.

    From your comments above "Upgrade devices that didn’t have enough flash memory to do persistent storage were allowed to keep their storage in RAM.  And some vertical market devices (hardened industrial devices) have been allowed to be RAM based.  But no commercial WM5 native device is allowed to store its data in RAM" there are some exceptions that have been made that would give users what they really need rather than what MS thought they wanted.  

    If you want to sell phones to soccer moms and folks who can’t or won’t use half the features available on your product, that’s okay.  But if you want to sell to the business and power user market, MS must change its stance on limiting data and performance in favor of power management, or find a way to prioritize performance over battery life, if a choice has to be made.  If handled wisely, MS should be able to offer a product equally desireable for the serious business user and the casual one.  But time is running out.

    I had to unfortunately return my I-mate Jasjar for the same reasons discussed in this blog.  My company needs many phones to support a thriving real estate business and I can’t even consider a WM5 phone for anyone in my company, which is sad, as I used WM2003 personally for years, but its on its last legs….  What to do….?  Just bought another new Windows server for synchronization too…..   Any ideas?  Any upcoming release to really address this issue on the horizon?  This is a huge dilema shared by large numbers of potential customers and not seeing any proactive solutions so far on this front from what I’ve read….


  91. Kent says:


    How will Windows CE 6.0 address memory and performance?


  92. nina says:

    i’d like to squeeze in a question….. getting off the thread a bit….

    so, i have an ipaq rx3715 and it does have the "format storage" utility.  i believe my file store is corrupted.  the bundled utility won’t work, so how do i get around formatting the folder?  is there any other utilities that can be used?  or is there any other work around on this?

    thanks!  any input will be a great help. πŸ™‚

  93. MikeCal says:

    Kent, I’m sorry to disagree with you, but our sales numbers don’t match your assertion that going to persistent storage was a mistake.  We know who we’re selling to (many more business users than soccer moms), we know how many we’re selling (hundreds of percentage points more WM5 than WM2003), we know what is generating the most PSS calls (it’s not users with >1000 contacts), and we know the main reasons for returns (also not people with >1000 contacts).  By comparing this data to the previous release’s, we can even tell the amount that returns have decreased due to not losing contacts on power loss to the amount returns have increased due to people with >1000 contacts.  

    We base our decisions on hard data and we always validate our decisions with the data we get after the fact.  The data tells us that persistent storage was the right thing for us to do.

    The blogs are a very valuable source of information for us, but they’re not a replacement for hard data.  

    That said, as developers we hate to hear that we caused our users pain.  We know that we have to run a business here and we have to make choices that benefit the most users. And we know that, sometimes, those choices hurt a smaller number of users.  We know things have to be this way.  But we don’t have to like it.  

    I can’t announce upcoming features in unannounced products.  That’s marketing’s job and developers don’t go there.  I will say that we’ve heard your pain and want to make it better.  There’s no way we’ll cast users back into the dark ages of ram-based storage, but we CAN optimize our flash-based performance and do a better job with >1000 contacts.  However, no matter what we do, there WILL be an upper bound on the number of contacts we can do performantly.  If that upper bound is 3000 contacts, people with 5000 will write that we’re terrible.  If we make the upper bound 5000 contacts, people with 10,000 will tell us that we obviously don’t care about real business users.  If we make it 10,000 contacts, people with 20,000 will scream and yell at us.  We can’t win, but we’ll keep trying.


  94. MikeCal says:

    nina, most devices have a way to format storage while booting. It usually involves holding a bunch of different buttons and hitting reset, but if this doesn’t correctly format the storage, then most likely the flash is damaged.  I don’t know the right keys to hold for the rx3715, but you might do some web searching for it.  Look for "format storage" or "reset to factory defaults."  

    Sorry I can’t be of more help.


  95. nina says:

    that’s a help. thanks πŸ™‚  

    i have come across the "buttons" and already did a hard reset. several times, i must say.  well, the file store folder was not touched, unfortunately.

    i’m just looking around for ways to fix it, other than going to the HP service center.  i guess, i’m destined to give them a visit. πŸ™‚

    thanks a bunch!

  96. Curly says:

    ‘Upgraded’ from a Palm T5.  >1000 Contacts, > 1000 Tasks and very, very , very poor performance.

    Totally disappointed in this useless OS.

  97. Treofan says:

    I thought is was time to retire my Treo 270: 16 MHz processor; 16 MB RAM and bought a Fujitsu-Siemens LOOX 815 WM5 based Phone with 400 MHz processor and 128 MB of storage.

    But what a frustrating experience: the new device is in almost all situations slower than my 16 MHz Treo.

    Worst application ist contacts: the Treo handles 3000 contacts easily. Entering the first characters of a name shows  immediately all possible matches. On the T815 it takes 10-20 seconds.

    For a businessphone this is unuseable. The argument that only a minority of customers has that many contacts is ridiculous.

    Microsoft and the OEMs are targeting the busines users with that kind of device (cost more that 700 $) .  With the company phonebook and external contacts I guess that the majority of professionals have several thousand contacts. And if the don’t have that many contacts they have notes or tasks or any other kind of information (eg. product catalog).

    Why isn’t Microsoft warning prospectice customers,

    that WM5-devices cannot handle more that 1000 records

    in their applications?

    Every tire is only certified for a certain max speed.

    But I should have been warned: I am using Windows for years.


  98. Kane Elson says:

    Ohh man you guys are a bunch of wingers, if you don’t want wm5 then don’t use it. Go back to Palm or your old wm2003 devices.

  99. Brian Wiseman says:

    Well, in January I bit the bullet and upgraded my iPAQ 2740 to Windows Mobile V5 from 2003SE.

    I was surprised at the lack of Backup software, but read that with Persistant Storage I didn’t need it.  I couldn’t completely agree because there had been a couple of times when I needed to retrieve an earlier version of a document that I had saved a couple of weeks earlier (I took weekly backups and kept a months worth of them – I’m from the mainframe days of grandfather, father, son backups!)

    I was hoping that the built-in IE was closer to IE6 as the UK meteorological office website didn’t display correctly and the Yahoo site said I was running IE4 or earlier.  However, no change was seen.

    I use it as my day-to-day diary, portable spreadsheet manager and Sat Nav.

    After upgrade the performance seemed a little sluggisn, but I was prepared to persevere.

    However, I was unable to get my SatNav software running correctly with POIWarner (an addon to watch for speed cameras) and ActiveSync-ing became a lottery as to whether I would fall asleep before it finished, or else have to delete and reload all my PIM files because of some unexplained error.  Google showed I was not alone with these problems.  Loading software was also a challenge – it often hung before the installation completed and a reset was required to allow the installation process to complete.

    I struggled on for over a month, with performance getting slower and slower, Avantgo update was a joke, I’m sure I could tyoe the webpages quicker than they were being added. Programs were beginning to just hang and soft reset didn’t help.  Finally, I opted for a hard reset and that allowed me (sorry required me) to reinstall all applications and PIM data again and it seemed a little better.

    Then last week I hit an impenetrable barrier.  For some reason I got the message that I was "critically low on storage" when restarting.  I had Pocket Informant and Resco to the default directory but SatNav and other applications to a separate storage card.  I found I could not complete the restart to allow me the opportunity to remove something from this "critically low storage".  It just came back to the same error.  No matter what I tried, I hot the same barrier.  So I decided that enough was enough and re-installed the Windows Mobile 2003SE.

    I was amazed at the difference in performance.  It took less than a couple of hours to re-install all my applications and data.  No hanging problems in installing that I had experienced with V5.  Pocket Informant is much "snappier" and is much more responsive.  ActiveSync runs much quicker.  Avantgo updates from the internet quickly now.

    All in all, the usabiity is now back to an acceptable level.

    I’m sorry to say it but, for me, V5 was a waste of money (literally) and time … many hours of unproductive struggling.  Persistant Storage may be great in concept, but in practice it seems to require a much more powerful processor to compensate for the additional overheads.  It makes people think they don’t need a robust backup regime (untrue) and appears to put greater restrictions on how much software you can install on a PDA before the storage becomes critically low.

    No, I’m not a beginner at this, I’ve been in IT since 1964 – IBM Sytem/360 etc and was with IBM’s PC team in UK from 1984 to 1998.

    I hope Windows Mobile 2007 learns from these experiences.


  100. Mark says:

    I have an ipaq rx1950 that’s running wm5. I have noticed that over time the ‘Program’ memory reduces (RAM). This happens while the ipaq is sat there in its cradle doing nothing, and eventually it gets to the point where I have to reset the unit. It then has 11mb free again. Is there any way to stop this from happening? (And why does it do it?)

    Also, when I try to run windows media player, I sometimes get an error message stating that there is not enough memory to run the application. Is there any way of rectifying this?


  101. ocnsss says:

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  102. Robert says:

    Does anyone know if the WM5 problem not having as quick an access to the ROM as WM2003 had to the RAM (where contacts and calendar entries were stored) has been solved finally in Windows Mobile 6.

    Personally I think it would be a shame in MS will not be able to support Power Users with their operating system/ hardware requirements…

    I personally have over 4000 entries and have already returned two WM5 devices when I tried to upgrade from my QTek S110…

  103. MikeCal says:

    I know that the contacts people optimized for people having more contacts in WM6, but I’ve never tried a device with 4000 contacts to tell you how well it will work for you.  If my memory serves me correctly, I think WM5 aimed for 1000 and WM6 aimed for 3000.  If that’s correct, I suspect you’ll find that your 4000 case works better than WM5 but not as good as the RAM case in WM2003.  I don’t know if you’ll find the difference acceptable or not.


  104. Pamuk Orhan says:

    I just want know how I can downgrade to WM2003

    I dont care what they say on microsoft

    If I just can put contact from the last 2 weeks , why do we need then a pda

    we will have more then sufucent , with just a data bank from a phone , or a peace of paper

    and about the more secure , I know there are lot of programs who are doing a very nice job , with backuping everthing when the battery level has reached 10% or something like that . so please dont tell you did all this for us

    PLease help me How can I downgrade to WM2003 ????

    thats all I need the know

  105. Fred says:

    Persistant memory is great until the File Store in your IPAQ locks up and you can’t delete or modify files anymore…. Pretty poor for a one year old device – too the bin it goes

  106. David says:

    Please tell how I can get away from WM2005; what is best solution for people with >5000 contacts. I have 12,000 and is growing 1000 every six months.

    What is best solution?

    1.) Can I load WM20003 on O2 Atom Exec and how?

    2.) Is Palm the solution and does it use different opertaing system, and if so can I access and sync in real time with my Exchange server via Blackberry solution or something?

    3.) Is Blackberry solution and can I access and sync with Exchange server?

    Note: Ideally, I also need a device with hand-recognition input and also keyboard too, if available. However, handwritting touchscreen is must as I use Asian character recognition software which I  must write.

    Please help. I cannot even make a phone call or send a message (unless memorized contact info in my head) without waiting for 5 minutes and I only have 2900 contacts loaded. Is ridiculous…



  107. MikeCal says:

    I’m sorry David, but I don’t have any advise for you.  I know that Windows Mobile devices aren’t optimized for 12,000+ contacts.  I don’t know which, if any, of our competitors are.  I’m sure that you can’t install previous OS versions on newer devices, and I wouldn’t expect there to be any WM2003 devices available this many years later.

    I hope you’re able to find a device that works for you.


  108. David says:

    Thanks. You state WM 2006 will support larger name database, how large?

  109. clark says:

    a virtual memory or page file program needs to be made for windows mobile phones so it can use the storage card for virtual ram because windows mobile 6 is a ram hog. I have a t-mobile wing and only one or 2 problems can be ran at the same time. very sad. Also Adobe needs to get their @$$ in gear and produce flash 8 for windows mobile 6. very sad too



  110. Omitted to protect the innocent. says:

    I work for a fortune 25 company that operates tens of thousands of mobile devices. I won’t name manufacturer names, but suffice it to say our introduction to the WM world has been less than satisfying. Our pre WM legacy devices still operate admirably today, but parts are no longer available. We made the switch to a WM/CE (’03/4.2) based family of devices, solely because every vendor we could find had switched to that platform. Though the developement/learning curve for the new devices was initially steep and the necessity of a large backend management system is annoying, we got the ’03/CE 4.2 devices to a stable state. They either work or they don’t and 95% if the time a cold boot restores them to operation. Halfway through our deployment however, we were told our current devices will be sunsetted soon and be replaced with a new and improved WM 5 / CE 5 based device because of "Microsoft’s timeline".

    We don’t do anything complicated beyond run security software to lock users out of the many features they don’t need and offer a few communication client apps. Lo and behold, the WM 5 devices are an ORDER OF MAGNITUDE slower than their ’03 predecessors. Tasks as simple as screen recalibration or loading a simple telnet client are painfully slow, logic necessary to perform a functional cold boot has become a rube goldberg affair and many of the useful features (registry merge behavior) has been dropped.

    You can tout marketing decisions all you like, but it’s painfully clear to major corperations that that CE 5 /WM 5 is a huge miss. We’re now stuck with the unenviable task of having to explain why our new devices with twice the memory and a processor 100 MHz faster is a dog compared to the old one. It’s so bad that we dream of a day when Linux, or ANY other operating system that doesn’t incure this huge performance and developement overhead is offered on an otherwise robust platform.

  111. apucizoli says:

    For Derald Grimwood, ivo and nina:

    I too had a corrupted IPAQ File Store on my IPAQ 5550. All the free space was eaten up by a failed backup and I couldn’t read, write or delete the files. After a lot of searching I found a great utility: psmformat1.exe (persistent storage manager by intel). I gave it a try and finally my file store is back. I launched the program, waited a couple of minutes (it seamed that nothing happens) and suddenly a messagebox appeared and said that format completed.

    I found psmformat on a czech page, here is the link:


  112. bonny and clide says:

    crazy… mad… 7,000 contacts and they take a few minutes to load. the pim file is only 9.something MB. What is the problem with microsoft engineers. can’t they get the job done. I’m sure there’s a way to do it without having to put all on RAM. Can’t they just distribute the data on the device, RAM, and external storage in a way to maximize access speed? i’m also sure that this can easily be solved with proper indexing. people with large databases don’t need to see all the details and scroll down. all that is needed is a search box and results should appear only when you press enter so that the whole thing doesn’t crash by constantly checking each letter you’re typing against the database. this is frustrating. paying so much money for a useless device… what a waste

  113. bonny and clide says:

    these devices use on average only 512 MB or memory. can’t this little amount of memory have a higher access speed? how much more is it going to cost 20 bucks? the device costs hundreds… i’d rather pay 20-50 dollars and get a device that works. why does microsoft certify devices that are lacking in basics?

  114. Rossi says:

    I was upgraded my HP4700 to WM 5.0. Now, there is problem, IPAQ file store disappeared, from File manager and other application. Under MEMORY is listed like STORAGE (82Mb), but not under STORAGE CARDS…. Help

  115. Robert says:

    I am sill using my WM 2003 device and just bought two more on ebay in case it breaks.. It is hard to believe and somewhat sad but it seems to have been the last device which is able to cope with 5000 contacts without freezing up.

    Now we are in 2007 and after reading this thread I get the impression that I will have to wait until at least 2009 until Microsoft gets its act together and produces an OS + hardware specifications which can handle this amount of data.

    WM2006 certainly did not do the trick!

    …does anyone have a solution for me before 2009?

  116. Colin says:

    I’ve read all the comments above, having found this thread because I also am having the slowdown problem in the calendar – click on a day, wait 10 secs.

    I don’t understand why the delay for reading the calendar for a single day has to be proportinal to the entire size of the calendar database.  Isn’t there some way using file indexing to just read the data for the day I ask for?  Then there’d be no scaleability problem.  

    Please help me to understand what my device is doing when I click on a day in the calendar, that takes so long, since the part of the calendar database that it actually needs to read is relatively small.


  117. MikeCal says:

    Colin, are you sure you’re talking about a Windows Mobile (PocketPC or Smartphone) device?  On my desktop machine, the calendar takes an unexplicably long time to open, but I’ve never seen that happen on WM.  


  118. Mikko says:

    Interesting post, I did a little performance testing myself, <a href="http://www.delaytolerant.com/mobile-storage-performance/">in my blog</a>. I have been thinking about medium term storage where the data could be either in RAM or in the flash. However, your post really encourages me to think the flash because of it’s power saving potential.

  119. colin says:

    Yeah, it’s a T-Mobile MDA, Windows Mobile v5.0 (5.1.195, Build 14955.2.3.0), CPU OMAP850, SPeed 195Mhz, Ram 64mb.  Flash 128 mb M-Systems.

    I don’t even keep the calendar history on the device, but I do have over 350 annually recurring all-day events.  Other than that, there’s just a usual scattering of appointments.  

    I particularly notice the slowdown when I switch to a day not in the current month, but it isn’t limited to that.  

  120. kral oyun says:

    I’ve received a few questions from users who have said that their WM5 device seems to slow down and speed

  121. STEVO says:


  122. Jason says:

    Dear, well reader,

    Persistent storage is a great thing to have no doubt about u and I both are on this page with the ideas being a good thing. As for problems being placed into one basket or money hording Microsoft-pilons, well wait a sec what did I just say Oh ya there doing away with other thing to make room for this guy here, so why is this a good thing again, well it stores your device info on the go and stuff. a(as explained by the oh so technically built In-techniques, that devised this and dropped this in our hot to purchase their burnt in pocket books, I mean pocket pc’s, as a larger picture and money is concerned the product line fails to solve the problem as a whole again.

    With s simple reason for p resistant data becoming lost upon a system reset, the fact of the matter is:

    .1) the active sync option was fine

    .2) the quick hardware solution isn’t thought trough

    If inconvenienced/convenience is payed out I think spending a day recalling people and asking for their phone numbers is my idea of a hard ware solution, that board room should listen to another power point , some how some slick sales charts latter we ended up with a incomplete product!

    A consumer and friend

  123. Shree says:

    Is there any virtual memory setting in Windows Mobile6.0??

    I am wondering why i am not finding any virtual memory in my WM6. My HTC PDA has got 64MB RAM and if during some processes running i try to open camara it delivers msg: no enough memory…!!

    Why there is no virtual Memory managment in WM6?

    This was even in early desktop system e.g.win95 which run on even lesser memory e.g.32MB.

    I wonder when microsoft will introduce this in mobile OS..

  124. kral oyun says:

    Why there is no virtual Memory managment in WM6? thanks

  125. oyunlar says:

    hello Why there is no virtual Memory managment in WM6? thanks

  126. dizi izle says:

    A continuation of my &quot;More Persistent Storage Stuff&quot; entry, which is a follow up to &quot;Why Persistent Storage…

  127. Zubair says:

    Hi Mike!

    Although its very late but since I have just started looking into wondows mobile I think I can still pay a complement for this nice piece of writing. It was a fun read.

    I have a connected question though and that is

    With the usage of persistent storage is it safe to say that object store is no more needed or used in WM5 and WM6. If it is not used then why are there registry entries in WM6 by the name of object store.

    While we are on the topic of storage in WM could you please do a post regarding the filesystem(FAT,TFAT) that WM5/WM6 uses for its internal storage and how does ROM & RAM/ ROM only files system work when it comes to windows mobile. I have been reading about them in context of windows CE but have no idea how WM does it.

    Thanks a lot

  128. firmalar says:

    hello Why there is no virtual Memory managment in WM7?

  129. yigit says:

    hi guys  i have a ipaq rw6815. I installed stroge manager program  and I tamper mount,unmount  and i can unmount msflash or windows file system   now my device not  boot windows .   I’ve tried the hard reset,i  tried to install the new  rom  bla bla  but My problems continue   my device not but   plss help me πŸ™

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