Adding more memory to help system startup drainage?

Discussion in 'Computers' started by Ronald Epstein, Oct 18, 2005.

  1. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Founder
    Owner

    Joined:
    Jul 3, 1997
    Messages:
    47,670
    Likes Received:
    5,060
    Real Name:
    Ronald Epstein
    Hey Guys!

    You are going to laugh at this, but here I go....

    I bought a mega-expensive computer from Velocity
    Micro. It is a top-of-the-line dual pentium with
    2 gigs of memory installed.

    It cost me a bundle, but it is the absolute best
    computer I have ever owned.

    I am so glad I went with 2GB of ram. It enabled me
    to load my system with all the startup programs I need
    with very little drainage on my resources....

    ...that is up until now.

    No kidding...and here is where you will laugh...I have
    at least 36 programs running in my startup even
    before I bring up my browser. These range from background
    utilities to spysweepers to antivirus to windows themes
    and modifications.

    My system shows I am now running 44% free physical
    memory/954M free physical Memory. The computer is
    running very smoothly.

    Now....

    If I add another 1GB-2GB of memory (I have an open slot
    available) bringing the total up to 3-4GB....

    Will I be able to boost the free physical memory
    and add even MORE startup programs if I want to...or...
    just improve the overall system performance under
    the current system load?

    Look forward to youyr responses.
     
  2. StevenFC

    StevenFC Second Unit

    Joined:
    Aug 23, 2003
    Messages:
    481
    Likes Received:
    0
    Well, if you add more RAM you could probably make your swap file much smaller which would free up hard drive space and also prevent the possibility of using the much slower virtual memory (although some programs may still utilize it). It won't really improve your performance as far as the current load goes. But that's just a baseline load before you open any programs.

    You can't address more than 4 gigs of RAM, so think of that as your limit when considering running more TSR programs and the effect that it will have on programs that you use.

    Depending on what you use your pc for, you may not get any benefit from adding more RAM. In that case you'd just be wasting money.

    Congrats on the new system and be sure to keep it cool. [​IMG]
     
  3. Paul Padilla

    Paul Padilla Supporting Actor

    Joined:
    Jan 15, 2002
    Messages:
    767
    Likes Received:
    0
    More memory is always better but you may have already reached the point of diminishing gains. With that much going on there may be no way to know without trying the extra RAM. One thing to check is that your page file (virtual memory) is set correctly. The page file should be set to 1.5 times the physical RAM...between 3000 and 4000MB. You can find it in system properties>advanced>performance-settings>advanced.


    OK...now the question that you know is on our minds. Just for clarification, are we talking about startup programs or processes viewed in the task manager? If you do indeed mean startup programs (ala msconfig) then it begs the question, why do you need so many programs running? The stats you list have your computer running under higher memory load that my Exchange mail server with 100 clients. Economizing your water might serve you better than building a bigger dam...if you get my meaning. [​IMG]
     
  4. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Founder
    Owner

    Joined:
    Jul 3, 1997
    Messages:
    47,670
    Likes Received:
    5,060
    Real Name:
    Ronald Epstein
    Guys,

    To answer your questions....

    These are the programs that are in my taskbar
    located in the lower right corner. I am aware
    that some are not necessarily running, but rather
    are quick startup icons.

    Here we go...

    Mailwasher
    WeatherBug Pro
    Spysweeper
    Trillian
    Microsoft Antispyware
    Harmony Remote Client
    Object Dock Plus
    Logitrech Mouse and Keyboard
    StickyNote
    Rainlendar
    Nomad Jukebox Zen
    Konfabulator
    Evernote
    CoolTick
    Smart Butler
    WinVideo Cinema Manager (WinDVD)
    Ashampoo Magic Defrag
    Directory Opus 8
    Style XP
    Online News Agent
    GigaRange Handset compliant (For home phone)
    Window FX
    Microsoft ActiveSync
    Retropect Express Backup HD
    Creative Volume Control
    Roxio Drag-To-Disc burner
    OmniPass fingerprint scanner
    Trend Micro PC-Cillin
    Quicktime
    WinFast PC TV


    I checked System Properties -> Virtual Memory.
    It is currently set at a range of 2046-4092

    Let me know if I need to adjust that further.

    As I noted in my previous post, I have 44% free
    physical memory. My virtual memory is 97% free.

    You guys still think adding another 1-2GB ram isn't
    going to make a difference?
     
  5. DaveF

    DaveF Moderator
    Moderator

    Joined:
    Mar 4, 2001
    Messages:
    17,968
    Likes Received:
    1,543
    Location:
    One Loudoun, Ashburn, VA
    Real Name:
    David Fischer
    Hopefully an expert can support/correct me, but a bit of searching and reading suggests that if you move to 4GB of RAM, you will need to turn off virtual memory. WinXP can only access 4GB inclusive of physical ram and virtual memory. If this is true, you'll want to make the appropriate changes to make sure Windows fully uses your added RAM.

    It doesn't address this issue specifically, but here's a tech note about Windows memory usage.

    http://www.microsoft.com/whdc/system...AE/PAEmem.mspx
     
  6. Ken Chan

    Ken Chan Producer

    Joined:
    Apr 11, 1999
    Messages:
    3,301
    Likes Received:
    0
    I do not believe that is correct. There are two separate factors: first, the OS must be able to address physical memory. With WinXP, you're limited to 4GB of RAM. Second, the OS provides 4GB of address space for each application. This will be some combination of physical RAM and virtual memory.

    With PAE, the server OSes give you access to more physical RAM, which will can be portioned out to each application/process, but still limited to 4GB each. You can also change the address space split from 2:2 for the app/OS to 3:1. According to the linked article, one odd restriction is that the OS will not see more than 16GB of RAM if you choose 3:1, because 1GB is not enough room for the OS to manage more than 16GB of RAM.

    To answer Ron's question: definitive answers may be dicey, because of how complex virtual memory management can be. In the abstract sense, if you had no virtual memory (meaning that the disk is used to store data that is not actively in use), then as long as you never run out of physical memory, you never need any more. For example, if you run between 40% and 5% free all the time, then you're just fine; any extra memory would just be a waste, because you're not fully using the memory you've got.

    Of course, the issue is how close do you get and are you too close for comfort? That's partly what virtual memory is for. If you go a little over, chances are not all the memory is actively being used. Those programs in the taskbar are just waiting for something to happen. So some of it is "paged" off to the hard disk, and the now-free physical RAM is used for what you're actively doing. If that old application becomes active again, its memory is paged back in, after something else is paged out.

    When it gets bad is when you have lots of things that are active, and you're constantly moving data between physical RAM and virtual memory on disk. This is when you will notice the performance suffering quite a bit -- the hard drive will also be constantly busy.

    Where it gets complex is that the OS may page things out to virtual memory, even if there is plenty of free RAM. Or the OS may be more aggressive about paging out if it sees that physical memory is starting to get low. You may not have any direct control over these rules.

    As far as an actual answer: after you've loaded full-blown applications (in addition to all the taskbar stuff), and have been using them for some time, check the memory usage. If you have some free physical RAM (at least, say 10%) and the virtual memory usage is low (say, less than 10%) then you definitely don't need more RAM. It would just be a waste.

    If you actually notice things are slower -- specifically, switching between apps is slow and the hard disk is working a lot even though you're "not doing anything" -- and checking memory usage shows that free RAM is low and virtual memory is high, then more RAM should help.
     
  7. StevenFC

    StevenFC Second Unit

    Joined:
    Aug 23, 2003
    Messages:
    481
    Likes Received:
    0
    I really don't think you need more RAM, Ron. Those programs in the taskbar are taking up memory because they're loaded on Windows startup. But you're not going to be actively using every one at the same time.

    Like I noted before, You can play with your page/swap file if you add lots of RAM. Even turn it off. This may be a great benefit if your hard drive is constantly being accessed because of the swap file. You could also put the swap file on a separate drive, that would eliminate that problem. Playing with the swap file is always tricky, it may work great, or you may find that your particular system doesn't react well to it.

    But that's the only possible benefit that I can see to adding more RAM. You'll find out soon enough if you need more RAM just by using your PC. But you said it's humming along with no problems, so why mess with it?
     
  8. StevenFC

    StevenFC Second Unit

    Joined:
    Aug 23, 2003
    Messages:
    481
    Likes Received:
    0
    Ditto what Ken said.

    PAE is definitely something I need to read up on. It's a bit confusing.

    For now let's just say that normally 32 bit anything can only use 4 gigs of RAM. 2 to the power of 32 equals 4,294,967,296--or 4 GigaBytes of memory. If the couple of billion bytes that Ron has is being used and he needs to use more, then he will need more RAM.

    My head hurts. [​IMG]
     
  9. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Founder
    Owner

    Joined:
    Jul 3, 1997
    Messages:
    47,670
    Likes Received:
    5,060
    Real Name:
    Ronald Epstein
    You guys are great! So much helpful information here.

    Am I correct in assuming that VIRTUAL MEMORY is the
    more important factor here over PHYSICAL MEMORY?

    Therefor, if PHYSICAL is 47% free but VIRTUAL is 97%
    free, I am in good shape?

    I am assuming that when VIRTUAL drops, then I have
    a problem?

    Thank You so much for taking the time to explain
    all this to me. This has been a highly enjoyable
    thread to read.
     
  10. Ken Chan

    Ken Chan Producer

    Joined:
    Apr 11, 1999
    Messages:
    3,301
    Likes Received:
    0
    Short answer: yes. If you start using up virtual memory, that means you've run out of actual physical RAM, and the OS is forced to use virtual memory on-disk.

    Note that as your numbers indicate, Windows will always use some virtual memory, even if there's plenty of physical memory. What you're looking for is a heavy usage of virtual memory.

    You should check this after you have real apps open, not just the stuff in the taskbar.

    What are you using to report those numbers?
     
  11. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Founder
    Owner

    Joined:
    Jul 3, 1997
    Messages:
    47,670
    Likes Received:
    5,060
    Real Name:
    Ronald Epstein

    Ken,

    I am using a MEMORY MONITOR guage that I downloaded
    and am using in conjunction with Konfabulator.
     
  12. StevenFC

    StevenFC Second Unit

    Joined:
    Aug 23, 2003
    Messages:
    481
    Likes Received:
    0
    You're fine Ron.

    Like Ken said, if you're using lots of virtual memory, then you might want to think about adding more RAM. You definitely don't want to be running off of your swap file. WAY too slow. Just listening to your machine will give you a good hint if you're using your swap file a lot. It will thrash your hard drive like a mother.
     
  13. Rommel_L

    Rommel_L Second Unit

    Joined:
    Apr 25, 2000
    Messages:
    355
    Likes Received:
    0
    Ron,

    You don't need to add anymore RAM. It's fine as it is. Change the virtual memory minimum and maximum file size setting to 768.

    It's also in my opinion that you don't need all 36 programs in the system tray. The only programs that NEED to be in the systray are anti-virus/spyware programs, everything else are unecessary fluff. If you need a program right away, put a shortcut link in the quick launch menu instead.

    Hope this helps...

    Rommel
     
  14. Ken Chan

    Ken Chan Producer

    Joined:
    Apr 11, 1999
    Messages:
    3,301
    Likes Received:
    0
    If he's not short on disk space, why bother? In a pinch, having more available could make the difference between slow but working vs. crashing to a halt.
     

Share This Page