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More RAM doesn't mean more programs?

Discussion in 'Windows XP' started by natv, Jul 13, 2007.

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  1. natv

    natv Thread Starter

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    Hi guys,

    I always thought that the more RAM a system had, the more programs you can have open at the same time.

    My previous laptop had 1GB of RAM, and I'd have to close some programs sometimes to be able to open another one up

    (I use some memory hungry programs, Photoshop, Illustrator, Quickbooks, ACT!, Thunderbird)

    I just bought a new laptop and ordered it with 2GB of RAM, thinking this would allow me to run more programs at the same time.

    But it really hasn't made a difference.

    Did I misunderstand the significance of RAM in a WindowsXp system?

    Or, do I have to do some tweaking?


    Thanks
    Nat
     
  2. TerryNet

    TerryNet Moderator

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    You are correct in general--more memory means less swapping means more programs can be running. Maybe one (or more) of those applications grab more memory if more is available?
     
  3. tecknomage

    tecknomage

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    Did you resize your Virtual Memory (Swapfile)?

    WinXP defaults to 1536mb/512mg-of-RAM.

    Your Virtual Memory should be 4 x 1536mb = 6144mb for 2gb RAM.
     
  4. WhitPhil

    WhitPhil Gone but never forgotten Trusted Advisor

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    Where did this formula come from?

    And, why wouldn't you just leave it to windows to manage?

    natv
    You said "I'd have to close some programs sometimes to be able to open another one up"

    What would happen if you didn't close one?
     
  5. natv

    natv Thread Starter

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    Hi guys,

    Thanks for the help so far.

    What happens is if I have a lot or programs open, and then try to open something else, the program either won't open at all (nothing happens when I double click the icon), or it will open for a split second and then close, or give some error (not enough memory)

    I did just now check my virtual memory settings, and it was set at a custom size of 2046MB (which is how much RAM I have)

    I will put it on the "System Managed Size" and see what happens.


    Here's the thing though, my physical RAM isn't even maxed out when this happens. For example, as a test (and I haven't yet switched the virtual memory to automatic yet it's still set at 2046), I just now opened a bunch of programs and now I'm trying to open ACT! (once of the fussy ones if a lot of other things are already running)

    ACT! quits right away. However, in Windows Task Manager, it shows:

    Commit Charge: 1556M / 3939M

    Which means there's still about 500MB left of the physical RAM unused right? Or am I reading that wrong. I don't think ACT! even needs that much, but that's still before the Swap (virtual mem) would even be needed.

    So I'm really not understanding what is preventing me from running it.

    Same thing happens with Adobe Illustrator, it opens and then says "cannot complete the requested operation" and I have to close the program.


    Anyway, I'll try putting the virtual memory to automatic and see what happens.


    Thanks for the help
    Nat
     
  6. tecknomage

    tecknomage

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    Humm.... now that I think of it, the "formula" is an assumption on my part that has its origins in the pre-WinXP world. The actual formula (by guru convention) in those days was 1024mb-VM/512mb-RAM.

    I came up with the WinXP "formula" based on the old convention and that WinXP defaults to 1536mb=VM_max. Until this year, all the desktops I've dealt with had 512mb-RAM, therefore I assumed in WinXP the formula would be 1536mb-VM/512mb-RAM.

    OPPS - could be a wrong assumption. I suspect this is the case because a brand new Dell desktop with 1024mb-RAM still had 1536mb-VM_max.

    But there is one convention from the "old days" that is still advisable, you should make VM_minimum = VM_maximum. This prevents problems caused by the dynamic resizing of VM during heavy file operations. Especially resource-hog games.
     
  7. natv

    natv Thread Starter

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    Hi

    I tried it both ways (letting Windows manage, and a set VM) and had problems both ways.

    Yesterday though I finally got a blue screen error:


    Hardware Malfunction
    Call your hardware vendor for support
    NMI: Parity Check / Memory Parity Error
    ** The System has Halted **



    I called Dell and gave them the error and explained the problems I was having, they had me run boot up diagnostics on the system and memory, and it passed all the tests.

    So Dell is saying it must be something software or OS-related since it passed the test.

    I argued with them that the blue screen said it was a hardware error, and that it's an intermittent problem so that could explain the test passing.

    They had me delete my windows prefetch contents and do a disk-cleanup and will call me later today to see if there is any improvement.

    I haven't really used my system that much today so know if it's better yet. I did get one memory error last night trying to open something.

    Does their explanation of software or OS causing the bluescreen that said "hardware error" make sense?


    Nat
     
  8. TerryNet

    TerryNet Moderator

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    "Does their explanation of software or OS causing the bluescreen that said "hardware error" make sense?"

    In my opinion: possible, yes; probable, not at all.

    When you talk with a hardware manufacturer it's ALWAYS the OS or software! We software types know better! :)

    If your 2GB RAM is on two chips you can remove one at a time to see if you get the problem with one chip but not the other.

    You may want to add memtest86+ to your tool chest: http://www.memtest.org/ Of course that will have the same problem as the other diagnostic with an intermittent error.
     
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