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More RAM, please


© May 2006 Anthony Lawrence
May 2006

Most of the Windows XP machines I see in my travels are fitted with 256MB of RAM. A few have more, and now and then I'll find a very unhappy soul suffering with 128MB, but 256 is the most common.

It's not enough anymore.

I first noticed this when my wife was muttering unhappily at her keyboard. I had done Microsoft Updates and a virus scanning update for her the night before, and she was not happy about it. "Everything is slow", she complained. I took a look. Yep, everything sure was slow, and painfully so.

I fired up the Task Manager and checked for unusual processes. Nothing. Maybe she had a virus? Well, maybe, but I had just updated that and run a full scan - if she did have a virus, it was something brand new. Malware? Nope - nothing in Task Manager, but I ran a scan anyway and it came up clean. That left the usual suspect: RAM.

It's amusing to us old-timers that most folks have more RAM than we had in hard drive space for many years. A 256MB hard drive would have been quite the thing twenty five years ago. But now that's a USB stick. My, my, my.

All our slack jawed amazement doesn't change reality, though. That 256MB of RAM really isn't enough for Windows anymore. Windows has grown with every new patch, and of course virus scanners demand more and more every week. Upgrade any of your apps and they are almost guaranteed to suck more memory. Your machine is hungry: you need to feed it.

I added a 512MB RAM chip to my wife's machine and it was like the sun coming out after weeks of rain. She's happy, her machine is happy, and I can work without listening to dark mutterings on my left. Our world is a better place.

But I've been hearing the same complaints eveywhere I go. "It's so sl-o-o--w!". And when I look (My Computer->About Windows) I almost always see 256MB installed.

Memory is still reasonably inexpensive. Adding 512MB to those machines will inject new life into them. There will be less waiting, less crashes, less complaints.

More RAM, please.

See Adding Memory.


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Fri May 26 14:47:25 2006: 2047   BigDumbDinosaur


It's amusing to us old-timers that most folks have more RAM than we had in hard drive space for many years.

Especially when you consider that back in the day, a machine with 64K of RAM was really something to brag about. My first home computer was a Commodore PET, which had 16K of RAM, no hard drive and a single 170 KB floppy disk drive. When Commodore brought out their first dual floppy drive (with an IEEE-488 interface bus), I ran out and bought one, and was in hog heaven. Imagine being able to do disk to disk copying without having to swap disks! It was almost better than hot sex. (Well, not exactly.) Later they offered a 48K RAM upgrade, which was really the cat's meow in computing. In 1982 I bought a Commodore 64, which did have 64K of RAM (of which about 39K was available for BASIC programs). That seemed like a huge amount of memory -- at the time, the standard IBM PC, which cost about 5 times as much, didn't have any more RAM. My, how times have changed.

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