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Computer question

Discussion in 'Technology' started by hps, Jan 28, 2004.

  1. hps

    hps Formula Junior

    Nov 3, 2003
    338
    Canada
    Hey all ;

    I have a question to ask of anyone who is good at computer support.
    Actually, I have a couple...

    1) What exactly is meant by "virtual memory".....(english please...)
    2) Should I let the computer set it's own memory settings, or should I specify my own ?
    3) My system resources are 69% free, and someone told me that it should be at least 79% free....am I pushing the envelope ? Is this a problem ? How , (or should, ) I fix this ?

    Anyone have a minute to answer ?
    Would be appreciated....

    Cheers !

    hps
     
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  3. PSk

    PSk F1 World Champ

    Nov 20, 2002
    17,673
    Tauranga, NZ
    Full Name:
    Pete
    Virtual memory is where the computer uses the hard disk as extra memory. You will hear this if your computer needs it because hard drives are noicy and slower than real memory (ie. RAM) and your computer will probably have to swap some data around.

    Yes let the computer set it's own. With all due respect if you do not understand what virtual memory is then your computer will probably do a better job at assigning the right settings.

    While computers do struggle if they are really full, especially the hard disk (because you are restricting virtual memory and thus will cause a lot more swapping, thus more read and rights to the disk ... which is never a good thing for performance) you have plenty of resources free. I had a computer at home that is up to 90 something % full and it worked okay ... most of the time. I have since upgraded it, but I would not worry about your resources until you get to close to 90% full. What you should then do about it is remove old files that you no longer need from the computer to free up some disk space. You then should run a disk defragmenter program (your operating system probably already has one, under Administration ... assuming Windows) to tidy up the location of the files on the disk.

    I hope that makes sense as I tried to write it in english as requested :)

    Pete
     
  4. MikeZ_NJ

    MikeZ_NJ Formula 3

    Dec 10, 2002
    1,533
    Southern NJ
    Full Name:
    Mike Z.
    Agreed. :)

    If you care for more detail on how things get stored on your computer, read further. If not, I apologize for my computer ramblings.

    Your computer has a CPU (Central Processing Unit). The CPU executes commands, which are stored in "registers" within the CPU. A 1 Ghz CPU basically means that it can execute 1,000,000,000 commands per second. The registers in the CPU are the smallest form of memory in your computer. Where do the registers get the commands from? The cache. The cache is the memory on the CPU. Some CPUs have more or less cache than others (ie Intel Celeron processors were originally Pentium 2's with less cache). The cache gets it's info from the main memory, or RAM.

    Now, the main memory is large, so you can see why cache is important - if there was no cache, the CPU would constantly be polling the main memory for information. The main memory gets its information from programs on your Hard Drive. However, the main memory can only hold so much, so if you have a lot of programs running, it has to move things in and out of memory. The virtual memory helps with this. Instead of completely removing something from memory, it is just "swapped out" to virtual memory, where it can easily be "swapped in" if necessary.

    Remember, the CPU is the fastest, then cache -> main memory -> hard drive. On the flip side, the hard drive holds the most, then main memory -> cache -> CPU.

    I had a professor once liken the process to baking. When you're baking, you've got the ingredients you know you need right now right in front of you (the cache). For the next step in the recipe, you have the ingredients on the other side of the counter (the main memory). Everything gets stored in, and comes from the closet or cabinet (the hard drive). You're the CPU. As an extension, if you don't have a large counter, and you need to move things between the counter and a spot in the closet, the spot would be the virutal memory.

    That's way more info than you needed, but since the question was already answered, I figured I'd pass on the computer education. ;)
     
  5. lesterm

    lesterm Formula Junior

    Nov 3, 2003
    608
    Durham, NC
    I would disagree on the virtual memory point...

    I would suggest setting your virtual memory to something in the range of 2 - 4 times the amount of RAM you have in your system. That number should be both the minimum and maximum. Contrary to popular belief, Windows doesn't really handle the virtual memory all too well.
     
  6. MikeZ_NJ

    MikeZ_NJ Formula 3

    Dec 10, 2002
    1,533
    Southern NJ
    Full Name:
    Mike Z.
    Windows generally allocates a minimum of 1.5 times the memory though... normally that's plenty.
     
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  8. hps

    hps Formula Junior

    Nov 3, 2003
    338
    Canada
    Cool....you guys are great...., but now I have another question...
    Do I specify my own memory settings, or not ?

    Maybe if I clarify...

    I have a standard IBM PC, that myself, my wife and kids use for lots of things.
    I have had the memory upgraded to 320 MB or RAM. I have an AMD processor...(came with it...the Ferrari connection is coincidence !!)
    The drawback, is that it also came with Windows ME....I have worked out most of the bugs, and it works OK...nothing fancy, but I do run a DSL internet connection, and it has never crashed....

    Now....Do I set my own memory settings , or not...and if so, to what ?
    So far, it is 2 people saying No, and 1 saying yes....

    Anymore input ?

    hps
     
  9. lesterm

    lesterm Formula Junior

    Nov 3, 2003
    608
    Durham, NC
    By default, yes, Windows does set the page file to a minimum of 1.5 times the amount of your RAM; however, the maximum is at 3 times the amount. I always like to keep the page file at a constant file size to prevent Windows from constantly resizing the file as needed. You might notice a performance upgrade if you keep the page file constant rather than flexible. It is really contingent upon how much hard drive space you have available. I usually like to keep a few gigs free. Just me advice, but what do I know?
     
  10. PSk

    PSk F1 World Champ

    Nov 20, 2002
    17,673
    Tauranga, NZ
    Full Name:
    Pete
    Yes I agree with this and this is what I used to do if I cared :), but personally (again not trying to be disrespectful at all) with out the knowledge it is best left to Windows ME to sort it out. Somebody pretty clever wrote that program, and they had a lot more computer knowledge than the general user.

    But theoretically you are 100% correct and a fixed size is optimal.

    Pete
    ps: A little knowledge you can do more harm than good.
     
  11. PeterS

    PeterS Four Time F1 World Champ
    Silver Subscribed

    Jan 24, 2003
    40,438
    95370
    Full Name:
    PeterS
    I flat out admire people that can field these questions (and then some). When I get IT help, the knowledge just boggles my mind. I have been in electronics / field sales for 22 years. Though I have made a great living at it, I will never understand it! Like the Elton John song Rocketman, my life is the line 'For all the science I don't understand, it's just my job five days a week'.....
     
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  13. hps

    hps Formula Junior

    Nov 3, 2003
    338
    Canada
    Thanks All !!

    You guys Rock !!

    Cheers from snowy Toronto !!
     

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