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View Full Version : RAM, hard drives and swap/virtual memory



Inclusa
2012-Mar-05, 04:54 AM
We all know that adding RAM improves computer performance greatly, but many computers have upper limit for RAM, and some RAMs are obsolete. If you have something pre-DDR, you are probably out of luck.

One of my family member is completely computer illiterate and insists on using Firefox on a computer just with 256 RAM and 40G Hard drive; beside Firefox, only Google IME is installed. This is an old Windows XP box, and I guess it is totally dependent on virtual memory. I don't know if changing the hard drive will improve the matter or not?

I just upgraded my laptop from 512MB of RAM to 2G, and started running swapless (no virtual memory) for a few days. I just realized how big the difference is. The memory does run up to 800-900 MB for once, but even at this point, it is still way faster when it took 350-400MB out of the 486-493MB. The laptop has been a Linux lab for a few years now, since I wiped out Windows XP default a few years ago.

One fun thing: This system is a definite hybrid: It runs Linux Mint Gnome, Cinnamon, KDE, Lubuntu all at once.

JCoyote
2012-Mar-05, 06:29 AM
I would agree that with the amounts of RAM floating around out the these days that the swap space is an atavism. Bad coding, poor OS resource management, and poor user habits are the only reasons to have one if you are not in a job with intense memory demands.

Van Rijn
2012-Mar-05, 07:26 AM
Much like using extended memory drivers with DOS, there's a company that has ramdisk software that works with RAM beyond 32-bit Window's 3.2 GB limit, so you can put your swapfile on Ramdisk (Ramdisk Plus 9 from Superspeed). I haven't tried it, probably not much point, but it's amusing to me to see sort of a repeat of an old idea in a new form.

HenrikOlsen
2012-Mar-05, 08:47 AM
I would agree that with the amounts of RAM floating around out the these days that the swap space is an atavism. Bad coding, poor OS resource management, and poor user habits are the only reasons to have one if you are not in a job with intense memory demands.
aka Windows :)

I've yet to see a version of Windows that isn't a memory hog, no program ever gets slimmer with time and there's currently an extremely nasty tendency that anything that's ever been run on a machine will have set itself up in memory so it's ready for instant action next month when you want to use it again.

Inclusa
2012-Mar-05, 09:23 AM
aka Windows

I've yet to see a version of Windows that isn't a memory hog, no program ever gets slimmer with time and there's currently an extremely nasty tendency that anything that's ever been run on a machine will have set itself up in memory so it's ready for instant action next month when you want to use it again.

Even Windows XP? I know Windows Vista "walks" with 4G of RAM, though.


Much like using extended memory drivers with DOS, there's a company that has ramdisk software that works with RAM beyond 32-bit Window's 3.2 GB limit, so you can put your swapfile on Ramdisk (Ramdisk Plus 9 from Superspeed). I haven't tried it, probably not much point, but it's amusing to me to see sort of a repeat of an old idea in a new form.

This is beyond the point, my laptop can only handle 2G; the last time I gave it 4G it simply won't start.

HenrikOlsen
2012-Mar-05, 09:36 AM
Even Windows XP? I know Windows Vista "walks" with 4G of RAM, though.
Compared to Windows 98 it was a massive hog even though it's considered lightweight these days. And with any modern version of application software such as IE9 or Excel 200x it'll be unuseably swappy at 256 MB. I have the misfortune to occasionally use a machine where the morons in charge had upgraded Windows Office to a fairly late version on a machine that's woefully under powered for it.

Inclusa
2012-Mar-05, 10:09 AM
Compared to Windows 98 it was a massive hog even though it's considered lightweight these days. And with any modern version of application software such as IE9 or Excel 200x it'll be unuseably swappy at 256 MB. I have the misfortune to occasionally use a machine where the morons in charge had upgraded Windows Office to a fairly late version on a machine that's woefully under powered for it.

Windows XP walks on 256M of RAM, especially when Firefox is "walking"; do you consider Firefox 10 a modern version of application?
Seriously, how much RAM does Windows Vista or Windows 7 take? I have no experience with latest Windows technology.
When I ran Linux with just 512MB of RAM, it often gets unusably swappy, too. Now I run swapless, but I haven't run above 1G yet, fortunately.
(It hovers fairly high with Libreoffice, Evince, Thunderbird and Firefox all opened, but even that runs high to about 800M.)
If RAM uses go over 50%, it is considered fairly high memory use; I guess swap was used because they did not develop the RAM for those applications yet.

HenrikOlsen
2012-Mar-05, 11:07 AM
I haven't heard "walking" used as an IT term before, please define it.

Vista gets cranky if it's below 2GB 4 is better, I haven't tried 7 but I think you can expect to need at least 4GB, the machines I hear of where people claim 7 is fast have had 8GB.

Solfe
2012-Mar-05, 11:56 AM
In 2002 or 03, a friend of mine bought the wrong ram for his computer and couldn't return it. It was 2 - 1 GB sticks. He sold it to me for my iMac for a really amazing low price... for the time anyway.

After installing it, I used the Virtual Memory feature to make the computer display 4 or 8 GB of Ram in the "About this computer" window. That used to raise some eyebrows with my nerdy friends. I loved that computer.

Its death was something of a legend too. I took my daughter to see Wall-e when she was 3. Afterwards she would cycle the power on the iMac to play with "Wall-e". It died when she stuck movie tickets into the slot drive followed by a CD and cycled the power a couple of times. There was a loud pop and that was all she wrote...

glappkaeft
2012-Mar-05, 03:26 PM
I think that 4 GB RAM would work in Win7 for most non-Powerusers or non-gamers. My 8 GB machine uses less than 2 GB with a dozen or so IE8 windows and some other apps running and if I close everything it's around 1GB. Win7 also has some additional tricks compared to Vista and allocates memory in a smarter way that can use both less memory (when idle or when swaping between windows) and reduces the amount of short term swaping needed when allocating additional memory.

Inclusa
2012-Mar-07, 11:08 AM
"Walking" is my term for slow operation on computers; "walking" is always slower than "running".
Sorry, it may be my silly wordplay again.

Elukka
2012-Mar-07, 11:26 AM
I think that 4 GB RAM would work in Win7 for most non-Powerusers or non-gamers. My 8 GB machine uses less than 2 GB with a dozen or so IE8 windows and some other apps running and if I close everything it's around 1GB. Win7 also has some additional tricks compared to Vista and allocates memory in a smarter way that can use both less memory (when idle or when swaping between windows) and reduces the amount of short term swaping needed when allocating additional memory.
I think it would work for most gamers. I have 4 GB and play lots of games, some RAM intensive, and I've never seen my RAM usage above about 75%.

glappkaeft
2012-Mar-07, 08:28 PM
I think it would work for most gamers. I have 4 GB and play lots of games, some RAM intensive, and I've never seen my RAM usage above about 75%.

It could just be my weird usage habits. Often I can have a windowed game running (say Hearts of Iron 3), with 20+ browser windows, Visual C++, solitaire, astronomy stacking programs, etc running simultaneously. Even then I don't think I have ever seen much more then 6 GB used.

Celestial Mechanic
2012-Mar-08, 05:02 AM
"Walking" is my term for slow operation on computers; "walking" is always slower than "running".
Sorry, it may be my silly wordplay again.Most people use the word "crawl" for slow computer operation. But "walking" might be a good term for an intermediate speed, and not silly at all. The only problem is that one person's walk might be another person's crawl.

Inclusa
2012-Mar-08, 05:58 AM
Most people use the word "crawl" for slow computer operation. But "walking" might be a good term for an intermediate speed, and not silly at all. The only problem is that one person's walk might be another person's crawl.

Thank you! Firefox literally crawls on that computer with just 256MB of RAM。

ggremlin
2012-Mar-08, 10:59 AM
"Crawling" is the correct (or most common) term for a slow computer, that can be said in polite company anyway.

"Walking" used to be the term when a computer device (usually a printer, sometimes a real disc device) was in use so much load that it was actually visibility moving. If the device wasn't anchored correctly, it could really walk across the floor.

A "running" computer is CPU based device that is powered on and working correctly, this of course, is subject to personal experience.