My computer uses too much RAM; how to fix this ?

Discussion in 'other software & services' started by Fly, Aug 25, 2010.

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  1. Fly

    Fly Registered Member

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    This is about my old computer, Windows XP SP 2 Home Edition.
    Also: HOSTS file, Avira security suite.

    Not long ago this computer started to have performance issues, especially after boot.
    I think I know why. Sort of.

    The system has 512 MB RAM. At times, the system uses almost 512 MB RAM, sometimes more than 512 MB. Which could account for the slowness. Sometimes I can hear the computer accessing the harddrive when it's sluggish.

    It took me some time to figure this out, because I have difficulty using the task manager at times, it's that sluggish ! Also, my computer seems to freeze sometimes, or something close to that.

    When did this start ? I'm not sure. I restored a known clean image, and got the update for MS-Word. Since I have SP2 I won't get any updates for Windows, only for other Microsoft updates. I have seen the process for Microsoft updates (or Windows updates?) running frequently, consuming CPU resources. Also, svchost seems to take a lot of memory at times.
    I don't run third party applications (aside from the Avira security suite) that consume much memory, this computer is used for internet access only.

    Anyway, I know I can disable the paging/swap file, but what is the best way to deal with this ? I really don't want my computer to use the harddrive as memory since that's too slow. Perhaps full use of the 512 MB RAM is bad too.

    Any suggestions ?
     
  2. Cudni

    Cudni Global Moderator

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    The best course of action is to added another 512Mb ram.
     
  3. blacknight

    blacknight Registered Member

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    Two things to do:

    - check up how many and which Serivces are setted in automatic: when you install Windows, it sets in automatic a lot of services that can disabled or putted in manual, so at the start up they don't start automatically using much RAM uselessly. You can easy find in the Web guides to services to disable.

    - check up how applications start automatically without they need: i.e., Office, Acrobat Reader ( if you use it...), Nero, Java.. all applications that start up automatically - if you don't set them in manual - and eat RAM.

    - naturally, as Cudni advise, add RAM.

     
  4. Fly

    Fly Registered Member

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    Thanks, but I won't invest any money. This computer is more than 7 years old, and 512 MB RAM should be more than enough for regular internet access.
     
  5. Fly

    Fly Registered Member

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    My 'startup list' is as short as it could possibly be, aside from Avira processes and Windows services.
     
  6. PJC

    PJC Very Frequent Poster

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    -Why don't you buy a NEW Computer?
     
  7. wtsinnc

    wtsinnc Registered Member

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    Hello Fly;

    Question;
    Why is the MS update process running at all if you are still running SP-2 ?

    Any chance you could post screenshot(s) of Task manager when open ?
    Perhaps someone here can identify a problem.

    And you really should add RAM.
    I'm running XP Pro and XP Home, both with SP-2 and went from 1gb of RAM to 2gb to 4gb and experienced an immediate boost in performance with each increase.
    I also have disabled pagefile, indexing services, and Windows Messenger.
     
    Last edited: Aug 25, 2010
  8. wearetheborg

    wearetheborg Registered Member

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    I'm curious, what are the specs of the computer?

    And I also second adding 512MB (or 1GB) additonal ram; it should be quite inexpensive; and well worth it even for a 7 year old computer ($30 or so?)
     
  9. johnny_dacu

    johnny_dacu Registered Member

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    What processes use a large amount of memory. check it from task manager (ctrl+alt+delete). Many programs are now written with feet. Memory usage is no more a concern for programmers.
     
  10. majoMo

    majoMo Registered Member

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    I agree. Since RAM usage isn't an issue in newest PC's, some programmers are now lazy guys. And it isn't a good think, unlike it can appear...
     
  11. Fly

    Fly Registered Member

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    I did ! For the time being, I just use this one for regular internet access. As long as it works.
    Simple web browsing, email should be OK.

    I prefer to connect my new computer less frequently to the internet, a matter of privacy and security. I don't even have an AV on my new computer. The security setup is a work in progress.

    For basic web access and email this old system should be sufficient.
     
  12. Aaron Here

    Aaron Here Registered Member

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    While I believe Cudni's advice is best, as long as you're opposed to spending a few bucks for more RAM (and since you seem to be using this PC mainly for surfing), I would simply suggest a fresh re-install of Windows.

    Btw, do not disable the page-file, you need it!
     
  13. Fly

    Fly Registered Member

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    I don't know ! It's not running most of time time. I'm not sure if it's Microsoft update or Windows update. If I were to disable it, it would probably nag.

    Right now, nothing out of the ordinary.

    512 MB RAM with this AV and other suites have worked fine for years.
    What's new ? Not sure. Officially, SP2 is no longer updated. I did get one update for MS-Word. I've been using a HOSTS file for a couple of months, without any problems. I've updated the hosts file a couple of times. Maybe CCleaner interferes with Avira ? Never caused a problem before.

    These performance problems started at most a few weeks ago. Restoring a known clean image didn't fix this issue.

    Note: I was just watching a video while suddenly my computer froze. Frozen screen, no task manager, but the audio continued to be played through the speakers ! I turned off the power. I have done that a couple of times since I've had these issues. I know you're not supposed to do that, but my patience is limited. And at least once I restored a known clean image after turning off the power, but these issues have persisted.

    For all I know, it may be a hardware problem.
     
  14. Hiker

    Hiker Registered Member

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    Firefox alone is a third of his 512MB. He needs another stick.
     
  15. Fly

    Fly Registered Member

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    CPU: Athlon XP 2800 +, NVIDIA GeForce FX 5200, plenty of free space on the harddisk. Custom built, 7 years old.

    Extra RAM costs about 30 euros, but I'm not prepared to spend that. If this machine breaks down I'll simply discard it.

    Besides, 512 MB RAM has been sufficient for years, and as I stated it's for regular internet access (browsing and email) only. I have MS-Word and a few other programs, but they are not in the startup list of the computer.
    No new programs. No JAVA, .NET, Adobe download manager or similar stuff.

    So I don't see why I'd suddenly need more RAM.

    So what should I do ? Disable page/swap file ? Anything I could do to prevent the full 512 MB RAM being used ?
     
  16. Fly

    Fly Registered Member

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    I use IE 7, tightened security settings :)

    Sometimes it consumes a lot of RAM, perhaps especially if I block cookies.
    But rarely if ever over 100 MB.
     
  17. Fly

    Fly Registered Member

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    This is becoming a long thread :)

    I restored a known clean image. With Avira and some data though. I prefer not to restore my oldest image containing only the OS, drivers and updates. Not for the time being, anyway.

    Why do I need the page file ?
    Page file/swap file, it has been a while since I paid any attention to those.
    I mostly use Windows 7, but not on this computer.

    Any crude way to keep my computer from using the harddisk as if it's RAM ?
     
  18. ABee

    ABee Registered Member

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    Why do you keep saying that? DO NOT do that.

    And why on Earth would you want to do that?

    In your situation, you need all available physical RAM, and you need a large pagefile-- at minimum a 'system managed' pagefile.

    Btw-- your hard drive is a piece of hardware unto itself. It never serves as RAM.
     
  19. MerleOne

    MerleOne Registered Member

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    I have basically the same issue with an old Dell computer running XP SP2 and just 256 MB RAM. Now, windows update background work and avira put it to a crawl when active. It takes up to 20mn after boot before it gets usable.

    If I try to disable windows update (disabling the wupdate service), I get a warning from Windows Security Center with the little red shield in the tray.

    I wish I could also do something to keep just a minimal windows so that it works as it was when unboxed, so I am also interested in the suggestions here. Thanks.
     
  20. RobZee

    RobZee Registered Member

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    Given these factors, I suggest you run some free online AV and malware scans to see if something got past Avira, etc. and invaded your computer. The sudden onset of the slowdown leads me to suspect that may be a primary cause of the problem.

    For about 8 years, I ran a Dell desktop using XP3 and 512MB ram, 1.0 GB processor & it was quite adequate for browsing the 'net and normal use of other apps.
     
  21. andyman35

    andyman35 Registered Member

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  22. Fly

    Fly Registered Member

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    (after tweaking a few services)

    Aside from uninstalling Avira there is nothing I can do ?

    Btw, on occasion I noticed IE 7 using more than 100 MB RAM. But that's the exception, not the norm.

    I think this machine has two slots for RAM, each has a 256 MB stick.

    Swapping a 256 MB RAM stick for a 512 MB RAM one may not do much.

    And a 1024 MB RAM stick is just too expensive.
     
  23. J_L

    J_L Registered Member

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    Try CleanMem, it's free and you have nothing to lose. Does its job and closes every 15 min via Task Scheduler w/o any system slowdown.
     
  24. ABee

    ABee Registered Member

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    A couple of links merely for ballpark price comparison purposes:

    512MB: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produ...ption=&Ntk=&CFG=&SpeTabStoreType=&srchInDesc=

    1GB: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produ...ption=&Ntk=&CFG=&SpeTabStoreType=&srchInDesc=

    512MB in the $25 range, 1GB in the $40 range.

    If you're buying two sticks, that's $50 vs. $80.
    Assuming you're already willing to spend the $50 for two sticks of 512MB (that $50 being 'not too expensive'), that's $30 more for doubling that memory up to 2GB.

    $30 still "too expensive"?

    Not that I'm trying to prod you into doing anything you don't want to do or spending money you don't want to spend-- just offering a different spin on how you might want to consider it.

    Btw-- having twin sticks will then utilize the 'double data rate' (DDR) feature, giving better performance.
    DDR is something you won't get if one stick is 512MB and the other is 256MB-- though imo 768MB of RAM would still likely serve you better than 512MB, even at single rate.

    And I'd still recommend you utilize a large pagefile, regardless.
     
  25. Fly

    Fly Registered Member

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    ABee, thanks but I don't live in the USA.

    I pay in euros.

    And I wouldn't want to pay even 30 euros for 512 MB.

    For basic internet access my setup should be sufficient.
    I'll ditch Avira if that's necessary.

    Maybe 30 euros isn't a lot, but I have to draw the line somewhere !

    As I said, I'll use this computer for internet access till it breaks.
     
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