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Windows XP, Virtual Memory Too Low


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#16
wagjag

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Thanks so much for the input guys. I guess I still have a few questions that will help me decide what to do. Although I'm currently pretty much an unsophisticated user, I would say, meaning I mostly just surf/research/read the news with the occasional video clip or music video/email and play a few online games..mostly like backgammon, poker, scrabble and the like, boring stuff that I guess, for the most part, is not like resource/graphics intensive. I guess what I'm getting at is that my system is, or likely will be, after this RAM upgrade, sufficient for my current needs. Should I expect to see some drastic improvements beyond just not getting the virtual memory message...I mean, is start up, web pages loading, etc. going to be faster as well, or is that a processor speed/quality of computer type issue?

Also, I would like to do a few more things on the system that likely are more resource intensive...primarily with the online poker playing really, with a few applications running at the same time. Will this RAM fix make this happen or should I really consider a new system if I want to do these things?

I have a system in my kid's room that is 2.66 GHz and 512 MB RAM but has a much smaller hard drive. It is many times faster/smoother than this system. Start up is quick, the desktop icons pop up immediately, versus a lagging sort of loading time on this system...web pages pop up much quicker on that system than this... remember my system is 2.0 GHz and 256 MB RAM. Is the other system so much faster primarily because of the processor speed or the increased RAM? I may upgrade the RAM in that one and make it the primary system. If I wanted to consider doing that, how much of a factor should it be that it has a smaller hard drive...I think the HD on this system is like 75 GB and that one is actually smaller....50 GB maybe...I'm assuming that both of these are really small...what does this really mean to me, practically speaking?...that I can't have many programs/applications stored on the system? Does it affect performance?

If I purchase this RAM, do you guys have a suggestion as to where to get it? Best Buy and like electronics stores or online? Most cost effective suggestions?

Thanks for all the help, based on your confidence, I'm guessing that installing the RAM won't be very difficult...if the directions are clear and well written I'm sure it will be no problem...I may have no clue what I'm doing, but I can follow directions meticulously at least. I guess I should have formatted these questions better, sorry for the rambling form.
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#17
Facedown98

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The RAM will certainly make things faster for you. While the processor plays a major role, there is something to be said for RAM. I remember running XP on an older machine with 384 MB of RAM, and then upgrading it to 1.5 GB. My startup times were faster, and the PC behaved better when multitasking. I get the feeling you will notice the difference :)

Your processor is 2 GHz. Two is plenty for what you are using it for. You're only going to tap that out if you're doing work with heavy applications. Could it be faster, yes, but between the two PCs, you're not missing much. Now, because your processors are so close in speed, I would say that RAM is the major difference here. Once you install your upgrade, you will be amazed I'm sure.

Hard drive size is a little different. Smaller hard drives allow for less to be installed, such as applications. In addition, you won't have as much room for storage such as pictures. It's all going to the same place. In theory you could install the hard drive from one machine into the other and just use it as extra storage space, but that's getting a little more complex and may not be as worth while. Now when you said you wanted to make the other system the "primary" what does that mean? Did you want to get rid of the other PC? I'm just a little lost there.

As far as where to purchase your RAM, you have many choices. You can run to the local electronics store such as Best Buy and pick up the proper RAM type there, or you can order online. Sometimes the best thing to do is to purchase locally, because even if you find a deal online, you may have to pay shipping. Depending on the shipping cost, you might end up paying just as much as if you went down to the store and picked it up yourself. I would look at both if you want to compare prices. Find out what your local stores want for it, and see what you can find from crucial.com or other online stores such as newegg.com --- it's entirely up to you.

If you need additional assistance installing the RAM, you can also look on YouTube. For some people pictures are enough, but it's never a bad thing to have a second opinion. If you want to search YouTube on how to install RAM on a desktop machine, then that may help you more. I would suggest having a look in the case when you're ready to install it. If the paper directions work, then that's great. If you're a little nervous or unsure, then it would be good to look for additional resources.

Hopefully I've addressed your questions completely. If you have anything you want to ask, go right ahead, it's what I'm here for.

Good luck! :)
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#18
wagjag

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I think you've more than answered all of my questions Face. Gone above and beyond as far as I'm concerned. As for making the other system the primary, I just meant that, I have another system that has a faster processor and double the RAM, so I may consider buying more RAM for that one, or both, and using the other system for my own use. If I opt to do that I'm sure I can just run the Crucial Scan on that one and figure out the amount it will hold, as well as the type it needs....thanks to you guys talking me through doing that on this one that is. Maybe I'll get a 1GB stick for both, then make the other my primary..thus giving me 2.66 GHz and 1.5 GB ( the other has 512MB) on that one, and this one will be up to 1.25 GB. If I would notice such an extreme difference after an upgrade on this one, then I can only imagine that the system that currently has 512MB will be much faster too.

Thanks again for all the help. I'll do the research and decide shortly then use the guide you linked to install. I've been a member here for maybe two weeks and have received unbelievable assistance for the two issues I've posted about. In fact, my systems are still malware free, running faster/smoother, and soon to be upgraded thanks to the great help I've received. I really appreciate your time. Happy Holidays to you both.
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#19
Facedown98

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I'm glad we were able to assist you.

As a final note, I'd like to leave you with an opinion. The processor difference between the two PCs does not seem to be very dramatic. I would be surprised if you noticed much of a difference between them in that aspect. As I said before, you won't be using that processing capacity for everyday use.

In addition, please note that with a system which already has a decent amount of RAM installed, the chances that you will notice a large difference after adding RAM will decline. You should notice a big difference between speeds on the computer that has 256 MB of RAM simply because you are running Windows on "near minimal" hardware requirements. When you have so little RAM installed and you install a large amount of it all at once, you're bound to notice a larger difference than if you had 512 MB to begin with. Just remember that the RAM is only going to be used if the PC needs it. It will just sit there otherwise. I would say that if the other PC is just fine, then you might be better off installing the extra RAM into the computer with 256 MB RAM. This way you will have two working computers which are behaving rather well. It's always nice to have a backup PC as well - just encase the worst should ever happen. Anyways, that's just a personal thought.

If you have any questions, feel free to leave a reply, as I will continue monitoring this topic. Also be sure to keep us updated with how things are after installation. I'm curious to see how much this upgrade will help you.

Good luck :)
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#20
wagjag

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Hi Face. Yeah, I see what you're saying now. You're right ,the secondary PC is fast and smooth already, must be because, as you said, simply running Windows takes so much of the RAM on the primary. I'm not sure how I'll do it now, but I see your point, that adding a lot ( 1 GB ) isn't going to improve the performance, at least not during typical use, of the secondary system as it is not being stretched for memory. So, if that system runs so well, on only the 512 MB and the slightly faster processor, which you say shouldn't make much of a difference, then maybe I only need to add 256 MB or maybe 512 MB to the primary that already has 256 MB. That would put it at equal, or more, than the secondary system...does this mean I should expect the primary to run as well as the secondary with only 512 or maybe 768 MB ( can you do 768 MB)? Maybe if I just put 256 MB in each, and go ahead and make the secondary the main system anyhow...I think that would be maybe $20 on crucial. I'll keep you posted...might not do anything for a week or more though, we'll see how it pans out. Thanks for the input.
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#21
Facedown98

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That could work.

It's going to be hard to consider those two computer "equal" as there are different factors.

At the very least, make sure you have no less than 512 MB of RAM in the machine running 256 MB right now. Upgrading to 512 MB will show you a nice difference, but 1 GB is pretty smooth.

Whatever you think is the more cost effective approach sounds like it will work. From what you have listed, they seem logical.

Your current system has 256 MB of RAM. I would honestly add no less than 512 MB of RAM to bring you to 768 MB.

What might be a good idea is to look at the 1 GB stick. If you want to get it done in the most cost effective way, then I would be sure to have NO LESS than 512 MB in that machine by the time you close the case.

I honestly stopped noticing a difference in my system when I hit 1 GB. For everyday use, you really shouldn't tap that 1 GB. For gaming you obviously will, but that doesn't sound like what you're into. If you think the 1 GB stick is within your budget for this project, I would suggest purchasing it. You would then have just over 1.2 GB of RAM. Having a little extra is better than being just a bit short.

To summarize, here is a "lowdown" of possibilities...

256 MB + 256 MB = 512 MB --- This is the bare minimum I would suggest having inside the machine
256 MB + 512 MB = 768 MB --- This is a sound setup and should allow for additional multitasking without any issues
256 MB + 1 GB (1024 MB) = 1.25 GB --- This would be more than enough RAM for the machine. You should not need another upgrade after this.

Honestly, any of these setups will noticeably increase your startup time as well as overall performance. The higher you go, the more you can do.

Let me know when you have come to your conclusion. I would be happy to give you my opinion on the setup you are pursuing. Also let me know if you have any questions --- that's what I'm here for! :)
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