• Patch Lady – the minimum amount of RAM

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    • This topic has 16 replies, 14 voices, and was last updated 3 years ago.

    …. so as I was building my 2004 version of Windows 10 in a virtual machine I built it with my “normal” RAM memory that I do for testbeds…. 2 gig. 
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    Susan Bradley Patch Lady

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    • #2260282

      Susan, I would never purchase a Windows 10 computer with anything less than EIGHT gigs of memory!  Four would just be too limiting for the number of apps to be run at the same time.  The computer I use now is admittedly a little long in the tooth, but I bought it with 8Gb of memory and it worked okay at the time, but nowadays I tend to run a lot of apps concurrently and I’m thinking 12 or even 16Gb would be a good idea to give it some additional life before I am forced to replace it.

      On the other hand, I have a 10+ year old laptop running with 3Gb of memory with Linux Mint 19.3 Cinnamon and it’s ticking over just fine.  I’m using it to test what apps I have on Windows that I desperately can’t live without can be replicated using native-Linux apps.  If and when I manage to find replacements for ALL my existing must-have Windows apps (that’s a long shot) without having to use WINE (which I hate), I might very well consider switching over to Linux lock, stock and barrel.  But that’s a tale for another day.


      Oops, just noticed: “Please follow the –Lounge Rules– no personal attacks, no swearing, and politics/religion are relegated to the Rants forum.” — is mentioning Linux a violation of the religion clause? 🙂


      • This reply was modified 3 years ago by KB6OJS.
    • #2260294

      I pretty much concur that the sweet spot for most physical machines tends to be 8 GB.  I’ve found that if a machine is running a browser and a word processor simultaneously, it struggles on performance in only 4 GB.

      On my own primary working machine, I do a lot of multi-tasking, and I have 16 GB of RAM installed, but the only time I really need more than 8 GB is if I happen to have more than one VM running Windows.  I typically configure my VMs initially at 2 GB, and I don’t do a lot more with the VMs other than maintenance and testing. However, for my Windows VMs, I’ve found that there’s enough performance lag that I’ve bumped most of them to 3 GB, and seeing better performance, even for my limited usage. On the other hand, I have no issues with leaving my Linux VMs at 2 GB.

      I’m finding that for most users, unless running things that are memory intensive (as I do with VMs) having more than 8 GB is usually not necessary. I know that there’s some that advocate “you can never have enough RAM”, but that’s not entirely true.  If you have a machine where memory usage is high enough that you’re having to do a lot of swapping (e.g, at 4 GB) then getting enough memory to limit the swapping is essential, and probably the most productive upgrade that you can make.  However, if you’re not memory-constrained, then adding additional memory only adds surplus capacity, and will do nothing to help performance, and any bottlenecks will be elsewhere.  Thus, if the memory needs of a browser and word processor together are in the range of 5 GB, you definitely want to get upgraded to 8 GB, but upgrading above that won’t provide any additional performance.

      Referencing Susan’s scenario, Windows 10 may be able to run in 2 GB, but getting acceptable performance for one application takes at least 4, and if running more than one application, you really want 8 GB. But after you get to 8 GB, if you have more money to spend, look at storage.  At that point, SSD will provide more benefit, although you have to make sure you’re not maxing out the capacity of a 128 GB SSD with user data.

      • #2260495

        I know that there’s some that advocate “you can never have enough RAM”, but that’s not entirely true. If you have a machine where memory usage is high enough that you’re having to do a lot of swapping (e.g, at 4 GB) then getting enough memory to limit the swapping is essential, and probably the most productive upgrade that you can make. However, if you’re not memory-constrained, then adding additional memory only adds surplus capacity, and will do nothing to help performance, and any bottlenecks will be elsewhere.

        There are definitely diminishing returns as you add more, but there is still a benefit to more RAM than the sum of all of the programs you intend to run at once will use.  Modern operating systems (including Windows, Linux, and presumably MacOS) will attempt to use all available RAM for caching things that would otherwise have to be loaded from the relatively slow hard disk or SSD.  SSDs are quite fast compared to HDDs, but compared to RAM, they’re slow.  This cached data can be thrown out at a moment’s notice without any data loss, so if the OS suddenly needs to allocate RAM for a program, it’s no slower to allocate it the RAM that has the cache data in it than it would be to give it some free RAM.

        More RAM is definitely better, but my little Acer Swift, with only 4 GB (which can’t be upgraded) does pretty well.  It came with Windows 10, but now runs Linux, and I’ve set the “swappiness” parameter to the maximum (100), so that it tends to use the swap file at the earliest opportunity, leaving the RAM available for whatever program I am using at the moment. A lot of the user guides out there advise doing the opposite, setting it from its default (60 on Ubuntu and related distros) down to as low as 5, but that’s just silly and counterproductive, IMO.

        I’ve had lots of things open at once, including my web browser with a number of tabs, and it works a lot better than it really should for a 4GB PC.  I’ve even run VMs on it, though there can be no doubt that this is not an optimal situation.  It would be better with 8GB, and if Acer offered such a configuration in the US, I would have bought that model, but the 4GB one it gets by.  Part of this is the result of using a SSD for the swap file.  The Swift has no 2.5″ drive bay, so using a traditional hard drive wasn’t really an option anyway.


        Dell XPS 13/9310, i5-1135G7/16GB, KDE Neon
        XPG Xenia 15, i7-9750H/16GB & GTX1660ti, KDE Neon

    • #2260329

      I’m not _quite_ embarrassed enough to not admit this: I recently forgot to adjust the default RAM allocation on a new VM before trying to install Server 2019 into the instance.

      Setup failed.

      That’s . . . all I needed to get off my chest tonight!

      ~ Group "Weekend" ~

      • #2260333

        Confession is good for the soul.

        My Win10 VMs are default at 64GB (test machines). I have installed the standard Win programs – Libre Office, couple of browsers, Thunderbird, BitDefender Free, Adobe Reader, etc. But the data amounts to the install files for the programs, as they are test.

        Feature upgrade – windows.old runs 19-24GB alone. I have had the VMs fill up to a non-functioning state during upgrade.

        1 user thanked author for this post.
    • #2260408

      For our charity’s usual work of browsing and using an online case management system, Word 2010 and Excel 2010 we find that 4GB of RAM is (slightly more than) adequate for our elderly laptops.

      We got 8GB of memory in our PCs, but this is really an overprovision.

      It will depend critically on how memory-intensive is your usual program mix.


      Plethora means a lot to me.

    • #2260412

      don’t buy a Windows 10 computer with less than 4 gigs of ram… it’s not going to be happy!!

      I would say, don’t buy a Windows 10 computer with less than 8GB of RAM.
      My laptop with 16GB of RAM just running Chrome with a couple of tabs, Kaspersky ant-virus, some apps in the background (Acronis, HitmanPro, Speccy..) and uses 8GB of RAM.

    • #2260418

      Susan, you only allocate 2 GB RAM for a Windows 10 virtual machine? 32 bit or 64 bit? If 64 bit I don’t think that’s enough, and even for 32 bit it would barely be OK.

      Personally I would also agree that 8 GB of RAM should be minimum if you are going to get a desktop machine with a 64 bit version of Windows (Are there still machines sold with 32 bit Windows?), especially if you will run more than one program concurrently.

      If you need to run multiple virtual machines at the same time (like me) you will need more RAM, I recommend at least 32 GB RAM in this case.

      For my VMware virtual machines, I allocate 4 GB RAM for 32 bit Windows 7 / Windows 10, and 8 GB RAM for 64 bit Windows 7 / Windows 8.1 / Windows 10. For a Windows XP virtual machine I would allocate 2 GB RAM.

      Right now I am running a Windows 10 LTSB 2015 virtual machine and a Windows 7 virtual machine on my host machine with Windows 8.1 x64 Enterprise as host and VMware Workstation 15.0.4, and also Firefox ESR 68 with 3 tabs open, and total RAM consumption is about 21 GB.

      Hope for the best. Prepare for the worst.

      • This reply was modified 3 years ago by James Bond 007. Reason: Addition
      • #2260528

        only Netbooks (or under-powered laptops) with certain Intel Atom CPUs may come with pre-installed 32bit Windows 10, James Bond 007.

    • #2260420


      that’s the part that ask you where you live, what language, etc

      Czech version here…
      I did some testing and all went well from downloaded x64 ISO – with 2 GB of ram, VMware 14.1.7 (not that I would recommend or use PC with this unsufficient ammount of memory), but I wanted to try and behold, its alive 🙂

      I did offline setup with local account – during set up, there is “limited experience” button. I like limited experience. I really do not want MS experience to be to much intensive 😉

      Dell Latitude E6530, Intel Core i5 @ 2.6 GHz, 4GB RAM, W10 20H2 Enterprise

      HAL3000, AMD Athlon 200GE @ 3,4 GHz, 8GB RAM, Fedora 29

      PRUSA i3 MK3S+

      • This reply was modified 3 years ago by doriel.
    • #2260432

      Disabling Spectre/Meltdown mitigations would have make OOBE work, even with 1 GB

      • #2260433

        I assume this is for 32 bit OS?
        On 64 bit OS I confirm that 2 GB works well for test machines doing not much, e.g. only testing patches. Even 1.5 GB RAM might do the job, but it becomes significantly slower.

        1 user thanked author for this post.
      • #2260531

        assuming you’re running recent versions of Win10 (like from v1803 and/or newer), abbodi86.
        older Win10 versions from 1709 & earlier don’t have Spectre/Meltdown mitigations enabled if their CUs from 2018 & later were not installed

        • This reply was modified 3 years ago by EP.
        1 user thanked author for this post.
      • #2260595

        Yes, x64 OS would require 2 GB RAM


        correct 🙂

        1 user thanked author for this post.
    • #2260631

      When you say “the minimum amount of RAM”, it depends on the result you are looking for. If you want Windows to run at a decent speed all the time, then I would say that you need a minimum of 6GB if you have 64-bit Windows, and a minimum of 3GB if you have 32-bit Windows. Bump it up a little, (8GB for 64-bit Windows and 4GB for 32-bit Windows), and you will be in decent shape.

      However, if you are going to run memory-intensive stuff (such as another OS in a virtual machine), you will need more memory than the minimum.

      My main computer has 12GB of RAM, and the host OS is Linux Mint 18.2, 64-bit. I run Windows 8.1 32-bit in a virtual machine, and I have allocated 4GB of RAM to the VM, leaving 8GB for Linux. I always have the Windows VM open, and everything runs very well in this configuration.

      If I had Windows 8.1 64-bit running in the VM, then I would allocate 6GB to the VM, leaving 6GB for Linux. I think that would be the minimum needed to make everything run decently, but I would prefer 8GB for each of those two environments.

      Group "L" (Linux Mint)
      with Windows 8.1 running in a VM
    • #2260718

      Why would you set up a virtual machine with less memory than is recommended for even the most minimally functional Windows machine in the year 2020? Even logicalincrements.com recommends that computers built using their “Destitute” tier guide have 4 GB of memory at least.

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