If your anti-virus and anti-spyware are up to date (your ARE running both, aren’t you?), the problem usually falls into one or both of these categories:
- There are too many slightly-valuable programs running all the time
- Not enough RAM — not enough physical memory in your computer
WinPatrol and WinPatrol Plus can help you control the first of those situations. (This week’s email newsletter included an article about WinPatrol and WinPatrol Plus. If you subscribe, you can get the last 2 issues sent to you automatically.)
When Windows runs low on Random Access Memory (RAM), it starts using some of your hard drive as pretend-memory, which is usually called "virtual memory". Windows will write the content of some of the RAM to the virtual memory, and bring back some of the contents it previously wrote to the virtual memory. This process is called "paging" and the virtual memory on the hard drive is called the "pagefile".
Of course, RAM is tremendously faster than virtual memory, so Windows slows way down when this happens. You’ll see the hard drive spinning, but Windows either won’t respond to you or will respond extremely slowly.
Of course, you could turn off Windows ability to use virtual memory. But, when Windows and your programs used all your RAM, Windows would come to a screeching crash. This is not a good thing…
If you’re running Windows XP with less than 512MB of RAM, you’ll see a huge benefit from more RAM. If you’re trying to edit photos or videos, you’ll want even more RAM. I use 1GB (1,024MB) on my computers because I like to have a lot of applications and windows open at one time.
Fortunately, adding more RAM is one of the fastest, easiest and cheapest expansions you can do for your computer.
Just buy and add more random access memory(RAM) modules. Opening your computer case is usually very easy — either 2-4 screws or a quick-release latch. If you have open memory slots, the memory DIMM modules (Dual Inline Memory Modules) pop in easily. So, the big question is do you have open memory slots? Or, will you have to replace your existing memory with larger modules?
If you don’t know how many you have or if you can add more, the free program Belarc Advisor can tell you the brand and model of motherboard you have, how many memory slots it has, and how much memory you have in each slot.
There’s one other detail — there are a number of different types of RAM modules. Not just brands, but different types. Most of these are incompatible with each other. Your computer requires one specific type.
The next step is to go to Crucial Technology
‘s web site to find out what type memory you have. I have ordered several times from them and I like their memory. You can buy directly from them, you can order elsewhere or buy memory locally, too.
Crucial has a good memory wizard that will tell you, for any given manufacturer and computer model, which memory you need, how many memory modules it will support, the maximum size for those memory modules and more. They’ve also got a tutorial on adding memory.