• 4000004: Memory: Do you have enough?

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    AKB4000004: Memory: Do you have enough?

    By @CanadianTech

    Published 5 Feb 2017 rev 1.0

    It is quite possible your computer does not have enough of it! Virtually all computers that came with Windows XP or Vista are 32 bit systems. 32 bit systems cannot “see” more than about 3.25 gigabytes of memory. 64 bit systems can see much more. It is a truism in computers that increasing memory (up to some reasonable limit) is the most productive upgrade you can give a computer. If you want to know how much is installed in yours, right-click (or left if your mouse is set that way) on Computer and choose Properties. Many computers have only 1 or 2 gigabytes. That is fine for XP, but you want 3 for Vista 32 bit versions and at least 4, preferably 8 for Vista or Windows 7 64 bit versions.  For most uses, more than 8 gigabytes for a 64 bit system is not useful.

    There are many different types of memory, so you must find out what your system requires and how many slots there are for it to be installed in. In some cases you can install faster memory than what originally came with your computer.  However, performance will be no greater than the slowest memory component.  Pay attention to the specifications of your main board.  They specify the CL rating of the memory they prefer.  In some cases, if you do not provide the correct CL rated memory, the memory will not operate in dual mode which will cause performance to suffer.  Also pay attention to voltage specs.  Commonly 1.35 or 1.5v.

    In most systems, it is best to install pairs of duplicates.

    Computer manufacturers charge huge premiums for more memory. Buy your new computer with minimum memory. Then buy (not at over-priced xxxxBuy) more and add it yourself. It is surprisingly easy. The web is full of instruction videos. Notebook systems have 2 slots for memory (called SIMMs). Desktop systems have from 2 to 4. Memory boards (called DIMMs) are twice as long for desktops. Most systems will take more memory than their manufacturers show on their specification sheets.

    Installing memory is not difficult.  Remove any power source, including the battery in a notebook.  Hold the ON button in for at least 5 seconds. Notebooks have a removable hatch on the bottom.  Desktops are even simpler.  Remove the side of the case.  You will see the slots.  There are two spring-loaded clips.  Open them.  Line up the memory add-in board in the slot paying close attention to the slot on the board.  Press the board in hard and you will hear it click.

    Memory prices have a curious curve over time. When your computer is new, memory prices tend to be high. About 2 years later, they fall quite dramatically. Then after about 5 years they rise quite dramatically.  So, take advantage of this and add memory at about 2 years of age.

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    Viewing 5 reply threads
    • #90902

      Very good article.
      Thank you Canadian Tech and Woody

      I only want to add few notes:
      “It is a truism in computers that increasing memory (up to some reasonable limit) is the most productive upgrade you can give a computer.”

      In addition to the above, the other big speed-up tip is to get the fastest hard-disk possible for the budget.
      The notebook manufacturers generally put a slow mechanical disk in the systems that they sell to keep the selling price low. In many cases I have noticed 4200 rpm disks from the factory, which is extremely slow, but cheap. That hard-disk should be replaced ideally with SSD, but 7200 rpm mechanical disk would behave well too. Please be aware that very cheap systems do not cope well with 7200 rpm disks due to overheating and power supply being overloaded. This is not an issue with any SSD.

      Other tips refer to Windows 7 in particular, but can be applied to Windows 8, 8.1 and 10, although those later operating systems have improved behaviour out of the box. I apply those tips to Windows 10 too.

      There are few configurations which can avoid consuming large amounts of storage on the system disk C: and this is even more useful for those with small SSDs.

      1. Page file size is by default configured on Automatic which means that Windows 7 defaults to the same size with the RAM installed, to allow for a full Kernel Debug file created if needed. This functionality is not useful for most desktops and has very limited applicability even on servers. What this means, is that a typical system with 8 GB RAM will use a 8 GB page file. The maximum amount of page file in use by any typical system with such an amount of RAM running Windows 7 and higher (probably Vista with SP2 as well) and monitored in the long term is around 200 MB. I prefer to configure 512 MB to allow for some extra if needed. At the same time, Write debugging information should be configured for Small memory dump or None.
      Give a go to Adjust for best performance of: Background services. This is the least know tip which can make a huge difference. No need to restart for this last configuration.



      2. Most people do not use the Hibernate option or Fast Boot / Fast Startup which is related.
      This would save you other 8 GB space on disk for a system with 8 GB RAM or equivalent RAM for systems with other amounts of RAM. Not using Fast Boot by disabling the Hibernate function will also allow full memory reset between reboots.
      At a command prompt run as Administrator, type powercfg -h off. The hiberfil.sys will disappear like magic.


      3. Another big space eating configuration is the Error reporting back to Microsoft. I have seen 32 GB logs only for this one, but they are not typically this size.
      In Windows 7 can be configured in the GUI – configure it from Action Center, disable error reporting for all users. In later operating systems it can be configured only in Group Policy.


      This policy which is global will actually configure another one on which the user should not do anything… to be continued

      3 users thanked author for this post.
      • #216237

        1. Regarding your suggested instructions in this post, Woody, are there any changes I should make when following them for my particular desktop PC?

        16 MB GB RAM
        Windows 10 Home 64-bit
        SSD 256 MB GB
        2 TB hard drive

        2. Regarding your suggestion #2, to change the size of the page file, I have to click on Change… which takes me to a rather complicated looking page. Can you show me what to change here:


        3. When I open the Command Prompt, this is what I see:


        How to I get to C:WINDOWS? Do I type the same thing even though my Windows 10 is 64-bit?

        Thank you for the hand holding! More coming up, I’m afraid, as I read your second post in this thread. . . .


        • #216248

          Re 2: Untick Automatically Managed, then click the Custom radio button. Add (as suggested by @ch100) 512MB as Initial Size. You might want to try 1024 as the Maximum Size. Click Set to save it.

          Re 3: type at the command prompt:
          cd c:\windows
          (cd is the command for “change directory”, then a space, then the drive you want to change to).
          This is to enable the change to disable hibernation. You will also have an option to do that within your power settings.

          I would suggest you leave the Error Reporting unchanged until you have seen the effects of the other changes.

          2 users thanked author for this post.
        • #216250

          @artistann deselect the button and the top of configure memory settings that says “Automatically configure paging file for all drives” then enter the values below that wish to enter for the particular drive to tweak you Paging file/Virtual Memory.
          As for getting windows Admin CMD prompt right click on short cut for CMD prompt and select “Run as an Administrator” works at all shortcuts start menu entries I have mine set as default, probably not the best, but for the stuff I do it saves messing around hope that helps 🙂


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    • #90910

      … continued


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    • #91233

      @ ch100
      I long ago got rid of hiberfil.sys and turned off all windows error reporting via group policy, but making the dump file smaller and changing the performance options to background services did seem to make my Win7 Pro noticeably snappier. Thanks.

      Win10 Pro x64 22H2, Win10 Home 22H2, Linux Mint + a cat with 'tortitude'.

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      • #91739

        @Steven S. Thank you for confirming your findings.
        The Performance Options setting configures a specific registry value

        Value Win32PrioritySeparation REG_DWORD

        There are few more combinations for those values which can be configured in GUI and this has been documented very long time ago (in computer years) by Microsoft.
        I found the only one really useful to be the value 24 (decimal) which is set by the Priority for Background Services.
        The net effect is that every process with the same priority has the same CPU time slice, which is more useful on the current systems with multiple CPU and CPU cores and which are performing without exception multitasking.
        Only gamers while playing games might still find a good use for the Foreground Priority setting, which allocates exponentially more CPU time slices to the process in focus, while making the background processes somehow idle.
        There are few other factors which set the allocation of the CPU resources managed by Windows, but they cannot be tuned by the user, other than changing the priority of the process of interest (not recommended).

        • #216244

          Kirsty specifically recommended I look at the second link you gave here, but the link is broken. . . . However, the other articles were very illuminating.

          Noticed threads were mentioned a lot, though. In case it matters to your instructions, my baby has an Intel Core i7-8700 processor with six cores and 12 threads. Hmm, typing that sort of makes me appreciate the beast more. Maybe I’ll wait another day or two before swinging my desk chair at it. . . .


    • #91503


      I disagree with this sentence in your article, “It is a truism in computers that increasing memory (up to some reasonable limit) is the most productive upgrade you can give a computer.”

      I refurb computers and donate them to low income seniors. I’ve refurbished 1400 computers, and based on my experience, replacing a HD with an SSD generally provides a greater speed boost to the computer, than does a memory upgrade.

      Gary Cahn.

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      • #91505

        I appreciate your observation!

        Much depends on how the computers are used. Try running Outlook all the time, and your memory usage soars. Chrome’s a bit of a hog as well.

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    • #91673

      I have a Dell Windows 8.1 (64-bit) laptop. It came with 4 GB of RAM and a 750 GB hard drive. It ran slow when browsing the web.

      I replaced the hard drive with a 240 GB SSD. That helped some.

      I replaced the 4 GB of RAM with 8 GB of RAM. That helped a lot.

      In my case, there always seemed to be a lot going on in the background when I was surfing the web. Therefore, doubling the amount of RAM provided a lot more elbow room for the background activity to run.

      For what it’s worth, in my laptop there is only one memory slot, so you can’t add to what you’ve got; you have to replace it with something else.

      Group "L" (Linux Mint)
      with Windows 8.1 running in a VM
      • #91758

        I have seen laptops with only one accessible memory slot. Mostly older ones. As I recall, there is another slot that is deep inside the PC.


        • #242081

          Some of them have no RAM slots at all, like my Dell Inspiron 11 and Acer Swift 1.  What’s soldered on the motherboard is all you get… 4GB, in those two cases.  They’re both low-end units, and while the Dell’s dual core is painfully slow at times, the Swift’s quad core is pretty decent.  I wish Acer would offer it with 8GB, but they probably won’t, as they don’t want to cannibalize sales from more expensive units.  All of the more expensive units have active cooling, though– not having a fan, or the requisite inlets where dust can (and will) be ingested is a nice feature.

          Dell XPS 13/9310, i5-1135G7/16GB, KDE Neon
          XPG Xenia 15, i7-9750H/16GB & GTX1660ti, KDE Neon
          Acer Swift Go 14, i5-1335U/16GB, KDE Neon (and Win 11 for maintenance)

          • #242620

            I suppose for the Inspiron with 4 GB RAM you have few options:
            1. Donate it 🙂
            2. Use a 32-bit Windows OS with very light load. IE may be the best choice for a browser in such conditions, but IE was also known to leak memory when left running few hours.
            3. Use another OS which is less resource intensive like older versions of Linux 32-bit.

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            • #242625

              The Inspiron and Swift are both 4GB models. I bought the Dell (new) about a year ago (on sale for Christmas) to be a cheap “goes anywhere” Linux laptop with long battery life, and a few months later I saw the Acer (same role as the Dell, also new) for a price I couldn’t pass up.  I mention them here to note that some units don’t have any RAM slots at all, unfortunately.

              Both of these laptops are too new to use (without extra effort) any version of Windows other than 10… but they work quite well with KDE Neon 64-bit.  The associated desktop environment isn’t the hog it once was!

              Browsers all seem to want to gulp down whatever memory I have in general, but I’ve tried opening a lot of tabs and seeing what it takes to bog it down on the Swift.  It does better than I thought it would, paging to the internal SSD and keeping it responsive (or as responsive as an Atom-based SoC can be) even with a lot (I forget how many, but it was in the dozens) of tabs open.

              More RAM would be very welcome, but 4GB isn’t hopeless.

              It seems that all of the OEMs that offer these super low power SoCs (that are capable of passive cooling in a laptop case, which I really like) will only offer them with 4GB or less.  At least Acer was willing to pair the Apollo Lake SoC with an IPS full HD display and a motherboard with a M.2 slot for a real SSD (as opposed to the internal, also soldered on eMMC drive).

              I really like the Swift, even with its small RAM and the, er, suboptimal Insyde UEFI.

              Dell XPS 13/9310, i5-1135G7/16GB, KDE Neon
              XPG Xenia 15, i7-9750H/16GB & GTX1660ti, KDE Neon
              Acer Swift Go 14, i5-1335U/16GB, KDE Neon (and Win 11 for maintenance)

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            • #242626

              Not sure what the deal is with the limitation to 4 GB of RAM.
              I had a Dell netbook a while ago and it was sold with 1 GB RAM. It accepted 2 GB, but there was a licensing limit imposed by Microsoft to use only 1 GB, which was never enforced and in practice most people used 2 GB regardless.
              I have seen this style of configuration using paging on SSD due to lack of enough RAM which behaves reasonably well due to the enhanced performance of the SSD, but I am wondering if this affects the reliability of the SSD in the longer term, due to many writes performed on it, many more writes than would otherwise be the case.

    • #242073

      Browsers are the main culprits for high RAM requirements for normal usages.
      I have 16Gb and I reach 6-8 with Firefox opened (old version with lots of tabs, though).

      About the pagefile: some people just disable it or add a very low values, but on Win7 that created problems to me.
      If the pagefile fills up for whatever reason (e.g: demanding\unoptimized programs, leak), you’ll start getting those scary “out of memory” errors in Event Viewer.
      I tried various numbers, but it seems that only the same value as the RAM worked (min\max 16Gb).

      I don’t know if Win10 is better at this, however.

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      • #242608

        Hm, browsers will eat all you give them if you don’t clean up old tabs and windows every now and then… also some of the dynamic pages will apparently keep and grow internal state indefinitely if kept open.

        There *are* much worse memory hogs still, like that one thing that I tried to feed aerial photo data in .jp2 format into, once… 6 GB RAM per aerial frame just to render the image at all, heh, and of course what I tried to do with it needed multiple frames processed simultaneously. (Since then there’s been a new version with much improved .jp2 support, I’m told.)


        As to memory management in Windows 10… that does seem to be somewhat variable, with major internal changes from 1607 to 1703 and still significant changes from early 1703 to 1709, and also dependent on hardware and drivers – and I haven’t checked 1803 and 1809 closely enough to say anything about those. Apparently there was improvement from early 1703 to late 1703 too so comparing just major versions is NOT enough for any hard data…

        The old rule of thumb, 2*RAM in a fixed-size pagefile, does apparently tend to cut down on unpredictable behaviour at least, compared to the current default of a dynamically sized paging area with a small initial size.

      • #242619

        About the pagefile: some people just disable it or add a very low values, but on Win7 that created problems to me.

        In fact this creates problems on any version of the OS if it fills up.
        However this tells you one of 2 things:
        1. You are running a poorly written application which leaks memory or commits too much memory without actually needing it
        2. You need to increase the RAM amount in your system.

        If you have a larger page file and do not monitor your page file usage while it actually gets used significantly, then you would never know what is the root cause of slower performance.
        My current recommendation is actually to set min max to 800 MB and the value is related to what is estimated just enough to do a kernel dump if needed and to avoid warning messages from Windows if the debug type is not reconfigured.

        On a normal Windows 7 and above system with enough RAM, your Page File usage should sit somewhere around the 200 MB value and this is for internal Windows functionality.

        Never disable the page file, unless temporary for troubleshooting or other purpose like deleting a suspected fragmented file and allow windows to recreate it.

        • #242630

          I’m on W7 w/16GB and a Hotfix installed to allow a memory dump to be saved without a page file but, as I frequently test Alpha/Beta software and sometimes have hundreds of browser tabs open for weeks during testing for stability, I have for several years settled on 3x1GB fixed page files, one on each of my SSDs.


          I would hope that the Hotfix was incorporated into later Windows versions but I’ve seen no details either way.

          My experience suggests that the critical point is ~92% of the memory limit, at which point the next program to call for some page file space will likely just ‘disappear’, if the PC is also under excess kernel usage stress (‘lag’) during that period, several processes might be impacted/’force killed’ within a very short time span.

          [Well written browsers don’t eat excessive amounts of memory, badly written web pages (and some Extensions) do, – esp. when left open for long periods – I’ve caught a page using 10.4GB after being left open overnight, finding and killing that tab allowed me to recover that memory and continue the browser session.]

          If you’re regularly approaching the memory limit during normal usage, seeking out and using x86 versions of eg. browsers, will free up resources – unfortunately the current fad is for x64 everything – not good for the longevity of older or memory-limited devices unless you reboot frequently.

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          • #242668

            If you’re regularly approaching the memory limit during normal usage, seeking out and using x86 versions of eg. browsers, will free up resources

            An excellent suggestion that I never thought of!

            Group "L" (Linux Mint)
            with Windows 8.1 running in a VM
          • #243045

            Lol I just had a browser leak (old Firefox version).
            I took a screenshot just to show you *** it does every now and then (infrequent and mostly on heavy pages, though).
            I closed Firefox just in time, as all the pc was becoming sluggish.

            Please respect the –Lounge Rules


            • #243048

              From about:memory > Measure > the top site is the one to kill the tab(s) of, then from about:memory again > free up the memory > GC, CC and minimise memory usage, should clear it within 30 seconds to allow you to continue the session if you caught it quickly enough.

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    Reply To: 4000004: Memory: Do you have enough?

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