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"Your computer is low on memory." But why?!

by Lee Koo (ADMIN) CNET staff/forum admin / November 30, 2012 8:11 AM PST
Question:

Your computer is low on memory. But why?!


Hello I hope you all can help. My Gateway M-73 (Pentium Dual-Core T4200 2 GHz) laptop keeps giving me warning messages that my memory space is low and I need to shut down programs. This is a recent occurrence (mostly while running Internet Explorer), and I've run multiple programs in the past with no problem. Running CCleaner, and its registry cleaner component, has not resolved the problem.

The pastor I bought this computer from switched out the original hard drive (320 GB, I believe) for a 60 GB SSD. I know that SSDs are supposed to be great, but that's quite a change in storage space. Wish I could afford to put a larger SSD in. Actually, I wish I could afford a new computer, but on disability retirement that is a luxury I can't even dream about. The operating system is Windows 7 Home Premium, SP1. I'm a little disappointed with the OS, because when I went to install a long hoped for program in XP compatibility mode I got the message that it wasn't compatible. I suspect it is because my system is 64 bit, while the program is 32 bit. And this program is no longer available.

How do I find out what is taking up so much memory, and how do I fix the problem? My RAM is already maxed out, so adding memory isn't an option. My Virtual Memory is also set high. Because of neuromuscular disorders that make typing difficult, I depend on my computer and programs that assist me. I need my computer to work as it should. Local computer shops say they "might" be able to fix the problem, but they want far more than I can afford on my disability pension.... especially for a "might". HELP!! Blessings to you all.

--Submitted by: Pastor Paul G.
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Need more info re RAM, msg source, & what's running.
by wpgwpg / November 30, 2012 8:49 AM PST

How much RAM do you have? Where is the message coming from? What do you have running when you get this message? Are you low on RAM or disk space or both? We could give you much better answers if you'd post the answers. 60 GB is usually not enough for a Windows 7 hard drive, if that's all you have. While you can install Windows 7 in as little as 20 GB, that's not a practical minimum because of many things including applications, restore points, paging file, hibernation file, updates, user data, etc. etc.
XP Mode runs very well in both 32 and 64 bit systems, but it's only available for the Professional, Enterprise, and Ultimate versions of Windows 7. You probably have the Home Premium version. Your best option if you need XP Mode would be the any time upgrade for $90, but understand that it will take more resource including disk space and RAM.
Please provide the requested information and we can give you more specific things you can do.

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RAM, what's running, etc.
by PastorPaul / December 8, 2012 9:50 AM PST

Sorry about the delay in replying. It's been a busy few weeks, and for some reason the newsletter with my question didn't make it into my Inbox. My memory slipped and I forgot to include the RAM. It is maxed out at 4GB. As to where the message comes from, I haven't a clue. It just pops up telling me something to the effect of my computer is low on memory (can't recall the exact wording) and I need to shutdow programs. It seems to happen only when I am in Internet Explorer. I was going to try to do a screen shot of the message box, but never got that done. Fortunately, thanks to Lee, a technician was able to find a number of problems (one being the small hard drive size, but I'm stuck with that), and cleaned up my computer much better than I could have. It appears the problem is solved, but I'm always open to advice. That's the best way I learn, and having something repeated is not a problem for me. In fact, due to brain atrophy, I often need that repetition.
Thanks for your reply!
PP

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Good to hear the problem is solved for now.
by wpgwpg / December 8, 2012 10:35 AM PST

I'm glad you've got your PC working normally. Before I upgraded my laptop from 4 GB to 8, I would get a similar message about memory from my Norton Security Suite, and like in your case it was always in regards to IE. I've found that Chrome uses less RAM than IE, so you might want to download it from http://www.google.com/chrome and use it instead of Internet Explorer.
Regarding your tight disk space, if you can manage to scrape up as little as $47, you could replace that SSD with a 250 GB hard drive by imaging the SSD, replacing the drive, then restoring the image onto the new drive. It would be slower booting up and loading programs, but you'd have more than 4 times more disk space that way.
Regarding getting a new computer, I know some hospitals donate their used computers to members of the clergy, so you might want to put in a request and see what they could do for you, especially if you can find one administered by people of your religion. I did some volunteer work with a Catholic organization refurbishing some of these, so I know first hand.
Good luck. God bless.

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Hard Drive Replacement
by PastorPaul / December 8, 2012 12:04 PM PST

If I remember correctly, the original drive was a 320 GB, which the previous owner put into an external case for added storage (which I can't even get the computer to recognize,so I found a really great price on a 1.something TB external drive). The tech who helped me clean up my computer, as well as a few other people, told me that swapping out the SSD for the larger drive would be a "big" mistake. The tech explained it in some detail, but when I have trouble remembering the names of former church members I've known for 25+ years, those details were gone almost as fast as he went through them.

PP

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Why is it a big mistake?
by aztut / December 9, 2012 2:27 AM PST
In reply to: Hard Drive Replacement

If your drive is too small, you can't make a bigger mistake. The SSD speeds up booting and unless you're gaming or doing intense photo or video editting, a bigger mechanical drive is fine for email, internet, and everyday usage. You need a functional computer, not a super-fast setup. I would change out the drive so you won't have to watch every little thing you install or add to your computer and worry about running out of space. Good luck!

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Big Mistake
by PastorPaul / December 11, 2012 7:15 AM PST

I happened to run into a computer tech while out shopping today. His explanation, which is probably what I've been told before, is that there is considerable difference in speed between SSD and HDD (so many differing opinions on that are confusing), the HDD has a much higher failure rate than the SSD, and that Windows 7 does not get along well with HDDs (another one that I've gotten differing opinions on). If I talk to the techs at the various big box stores, they usually make it clear that HDDs are the devil's curse and I should buy a LARGE SSD... from them, of course. At least this guy wasn't trying to sell me anything; just giving me his professional opinion. But, as I said, the opinions on both sides of the issues can really be confusing.

I do some gaming, but it is mainly the free one hour trials from the popular game sites (probably another good reason to run CCleaner more often, and a few that I own on CD. Almost all are hidden object games (don't know if those are as memory intensive as other games are), and I usually only have one or two games loaded at a time.

PP

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Pastor Paul No Worries
by BMFTECH4126 / December 11, 2012 9:33 AM PST
In reply to: Big Mistake

That is not what people mean when they talk about online Gaming, The things that you are talking about require little more than the Operating system minimum requirements. When some one refers to gaming on a PC they are talking about Hard Core Gamers. These are the people that insist on everything being the most up to date, fastest, best possible hardware you can purchase to run very graphically intensive games. As far as the HDD Vs. SSD on Windows 7 you have been misinformed completely. The operating system doesn't care one way or the other what you install it on, the truth is you can run it off a 32GB Jump Drive. Of course I do not recommend this but it can be done.

You had mentioned previously that you installed the 64Bit Version of Windows 7 if I remember correctly and this may be where another big part of the problem lies. You see the main point of 64bit Operating systems is thought to be the extra security, But in fact the reason it really went main stream when Vista and Mainly Windows 7 Came about is because of the 32bit Memory hole. The 32bit versions of Operating Systems have what is called a Memory Hole, what this means in English is that 32 bit versions of Windows can recognize no more than a total of 4GB of RAM and the PC manufacturers were putting out 64Bit Processors with 8 GB's of RAM.

When you have 4GB of RAM and a Video card with Let's say 1GB of it's own RAM on a 32 bit Version of Windows you aren't able to use all the Physical RAM in the PC because the Video RAM accounts for part of that so you will typically see in the Properties of Windows something along the lines of 3.2GB of RAM rather than 4GB. That being said this was largely addressed in the 64Bit versions of Operating Systems as they Max out at 32GB of RAM instead of 4GB.

Ok All that being said, if you only have 4GB of RAM, take into account that Windows 7 64Bit was really designed for computers that came pre-manufactured with 6 GB or better in mind. I would say your best course of action at this point would be to do a Clean install of Windows 7 onto the system after backing up any important files and choose the x86 installation rather then the x64.

There are many sites out there with step by step screen shots on how to do this, just go to google and type the exact words "Windows 7 Clean Install" it will give you multiple results with step by step on that. From there I would come back and look at things like your PageFile Size. Also make sure that in your BIOS before you do this that the Sata Type is set to ACHI rather than IDE this will make a big difference in performance and speed as well.

PcTechPaul

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SSD's vs HDD's
by tumbleweed_biff / December 12, 2012 8:53 PM PST
In reply to: Big Mistake

PastorPaul,

"HDD has a much higher failure rate than the SSD ..."
While this statement is somewhat accurate as far as it goes, things are relative. While the HDD has a higher failure rate in comparison to the SSD, that failure rate is still very low. A quick peek at two different (somewhat random) drives shows the MeanTimeBetweenFailure of a Toshiba 320 gig HDD at 600,000 hours and an Intel SSD at 1,200,000 hours. Yes, the Toshiba HDD will fail twice as often as the Intel SSD, but just what does that mean to you? 600,000 hours of 24/7 operation is
well beyond the life of the machine. I have been using laptops for about as long as they have existed (my first being a Kaypro 2000 which predated internal laptop HDD's). I do not recall having a single HDD failing before the laptop. To the contrary, I have a number of obsolete HDD's sitting around gathering dust from laptops. Who needs a 2 GB IDE laptop drive? The drive is fine, the machine is long dead.

"Windows 7 does not get along well with HDDs ?" This tech doesn't know what he is talking about, pure and simple. Windows 7 gets along with HDDs just fine. The vast majority of machines running Windows 7 are doing so on traditional HDDs. It was designed, tested and released on traditional HDDs. The operating system doesn't care what type of drive is being used.

The techs at your box stores are not usually the best people to which to listen. A) They have a vested interest in selling you something B) their services are almost always way overpriced and C) if they were the sharpest knives in the drawer, they would be working for someone who paid a bit more.

Again, while the SSD is faster, it only affects - generally - a) boot time, b) application launch and c) battery life. It does not affect your system performance when writing documents, for example. If the original 320 gig HDD is still "setup" with Windows and such, I encourage you reinstall it and take it for a test drive and see just how much difference you experience when doing your work. Hard drive performance, whether traditional or solid state (SSD), does not have an effect on how fast you type, how fast things load/display on the internet, etc.

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Failure Rate
by Hforman / December 20, 2012 12:57 PM PST
In reply to: SSD's vs HDD's

One problem with SSD's is that they have a 100% failure rate in that SSD's have a limited life. If you look around for apps, there is one that will tell you when you are getting close. Old ones had issues where you would delete a file in Windows but the SSD didn't actually free up the space. I had a issue where one guy in the office had an SSD and he couldn't apply updates from Symantec and it kept giving an error code amounting to SSD disk error. The laptop also ran excruciating slow. I upgraded its firmware and that error went away.

Remember that, especially for the older SSD's, this was NEW technology fairly recently. Before getting one, I'd check on the read/write cycle ratings. That is one reason not to defrag an SSD as it only buys you a small amout of performance in Windows (contiguous clusters) for wearing out the drive (in a manner).

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SSD's have a limited life
by einkorn / May 8, 2013 6:50 AM PDT
In reply to: Failure Rate
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Yes, All SSDs
by Hforman / May 9, 2013 3:06 PM PDT

Try going to http://www.seagate.com and look at their SSD primer. The NAND technology that they all use has a limit on write cycles.

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Limited writes
by tumbleweed_biff / May 10, 2013 7:49 AM PDT
In reply to: Yes, All SSDs

Yes, all SSD's have a limited number of writes. That is one of the reasons why you don't defrag an SSD. However, the limited writes will last an awful long time, unless you do things like defragging it or using it for virtual memory. SSD's are best used for storing data which doesn't change like the system files.

Two years ago this was published by Storage Search (They assume an average of 2 million writes to each block - this is the number for flash memory two years ago and improvements have been made).

"To get that very high speed the process will have to write big blocks (which also simplifies the calculation).

"We assume perfect wear leveling which means we need to fill the disk 2 million times to get to the write endurance limit.

"2 million (write endurance) x 64G (capacity) divided by 80M bytes / sec gives the endurance limited life in seconds.

"That's a meaningless number - which needs to be divided by seconds in an hour, hours in a day etc etc to give...

"The end result is 51 years!"

That is well beyond the life expectancy or an current computer of which I am aware.

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low memory on my windows 7 Hp g7 pavillion
by cathy2086 / September 15, 2013 8:35 PM PDT
In reply to: SSD's vs HDD's

I have the same problem with windows 7 . In my case my computer is low on memory every time i open photo gallery and do editing and opening folders from desktop. it pop the message my computer is low on memory i must close the folder. I dont understand because i have enough memory on disk c ..where i stored all my pictures and just have a shortcut folder on desktop.. tnx

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We would need to know more
by MarkFlax Forum moderator / September 15, 2013 8:52 PM PDT

but in any case, low memory is not the same as disk capacity, so your comment that you 'have enough memory on disk C' is incorrect.

Disk capacity is how much data the hard disk can hold. The data is stored on the hard disk whether or not the computer is turned on. It is not lost when the computer is turned off.

Memory is RAM or Random Access Memory which are computer chips where data is stored temporarily by the processor whilst it is performing actions in programs and applications. When the computer is turned off, the data in RAM is lost.

To help resolve your problem you would need to state the following;

1] How much RAM you have.
2] |What the EXACT WORDING of the message is, and
3] How much free space you have on the hard disk.

HOWEVER - it is not recommended to use another discussion to seek help with your problems and you should create your own new discussion with all the details.

Mark

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not a big mistake
by camtheham11 / February 8, 2013 12:40 AM PST
In reply to: Big Mistake

a big hard drive is an important addition and you can get them for very reasonable prices, you don't need a ssd for basic work and mechanical drives do fail more often but even so they don't fail regularly so you should be fine, you should also try uninstalling programs you don't need
hope that helps

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Use of external 1TB drive
by dkiss63 / December 10, 2012 3:04 PM PST
In reply to: Hard Drive Replacement

Pastor Paul, if your external drive has a USB hook up cord. Plug the USB cord into a USB input on the laptop. Usually the laptop would recognize the external as another drive, and assign it a new drive letter. For example, usually most computers assign the main hard drive the letter "C". Then a different letter-such as "D" etc. Would be given by the operating system to any other secondary hard drive or other storage unit. Once this is done, go to the "My Computer" icon to bring up the layout of your various identified drives. Click on the drive letter of whatever the secondary was labelled. And, you would find the extra information stored. Hopefully, this information may allow you to alleviate any storage issues encountered.

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External 1TB Drive
by PastorPaul / December 11, 2012 7:38 AM PST

My big external drive is already plugged into a USB port on the computer. The only problem I have with that is getting messages that the automatic backup failed because some files/folders couldn't be backed up. Hmmm! I just looked at the backup log. Almost every entry says failed or skipped, but the summary only lists a dozen or two files skipped. Guess I have to get with tthe manfacturer when I have some free time in the next few days.


Could my problem with the computer not recognizing the original HDD drive (now an external) be the fact that it gets connected through the USB hub, instead of directly into the computer? I have three onboard ports. The 1TB is connected to one, the hub to the second, and the wireless keyboard/mouse receiver to the third. I didn't put the receiver into the hub simply to make it easier when I take my laptop with me somewhere, but if moving it will allow me to use the old drive I can deal with the receiver being on the hub.


PP

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External USB drives
by tumbleweed_biff / December 12, 2012 9:11 PM PST
In reply to: External 1TB Drive

PastorPaul,

take the USB hub out of the picture temporarily and connect the 320 gig drive directly to the computer through the USB port.

Press the Windows Key + 'R' and in the box type DISKMGMT.MSC <ENTER>
This will open the Windows Disk Management utility.
With your SSD installed, the 1TB drive connected, the 320 GB drive, and your optical drive (DVD), you should have a Disk 0, Disk 1, Disk 2, and CD-ROM 1.

Disk 0 will be the SSD and it will likely have 2 partitions: System Reserved partition of 95-100MB in size and then the C: partition of some 55 or so gigs. It should have a status of Healthy(Boot, Page File, Primary Partition).

Disk 1 and 2 will then be your 1TB and 320 GB. I don't know in which order they will appear.
Verify that both have Healthy partitions and are not unallocated. Let us know what you find.

If you would like to contact me directly, my name is mike and you can write me at theologicalmusings dot com.

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Attaching External
by PastorPaul / December 13, 2012 12:32 AM PST
In reply to: External USB drives

I suspected the USB hub might be part of the problem. I believe the old external drive had been wiped and reformated when I got the computer and I can't even recall if I ever got it to spin up. I may have ported it directly to the laptop, but it's been to long to remember. Now if I can figure out which computer bag I stashed it in.

Being up to my neck in Christmas prep, housekeeping, being a grandpa, and more than I can keep up with, hooking up that drive might have to wait until after the first of the year. Maybe I'll need a break from the chaos of running at break-neck speed, and just pull out that drive. But it won't be tomorrow evening!! Get off from an 8 hour shift volunteering at our local hospital, straight to my daughter's house, and an evening of exquisite dining (aka McDonald's) and watching a Barbie movie and/or playing Wii games with my six year old grandaughter. Life doesn't get any better than that!!

PP

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Enjoy!
by tumbleweed_biff / December 13, 2012 7:25 AM PST
In reply to: Attaching External

Enjoy the Holyday and the time with your family. My children aren't married yet so no grandchildren to drive me batty. As the years have passed, I have found the epicurean delights of such places as the Fallen Arches to be increasingly tasteless, unsatisfactory and undesired. Sadly, at this point, I find myself with "champagne tastes" but a budget that can't afford beer ...

Feel free to drop a dime on me, I expect we have quite a bit to chat about given our faith and educational background. My email address should be easy enough to figure out in my previous post.

M.Div, Fuller Theological Seminary

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XP Mode
by libertyunderlaw / December 9, 2012 2:02 PM PST

I've been running XP Mode on my HP Pavilian Desktop with four gigs of ram and AMD Athlon II quadcore processor. It's been a terrible idea; every time I open it it's horridly slow. Running XP mode on our friend's laptop would be a terrible mistake.

Vitualization (running an operating system inside an operating system) should be restricted to servers built specifically for virtualization. That's my opinion.

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Perhaps..
by JCitizen / December 11, 2012 10:37 AM PST
In reply to: XP Mode

It might be that your particular model of Athlon processor isn't suited for XP mode or any other virtual emulator. I personally wouldn't try it without a 64bit operating system and at least 6 Gbs of RAM. I know that in my Intel CPU model line, only mine and maybe a few other models were even rated for VM capability at all. YMMV with AMD.

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Let's see what's running.
by BrucetheWineGuy / November 30, 2012 1:43 PM PST

Often, the build up of the number of processes running in the background
can slow or even stop your computer.
First, see how many processes are running when you aren't doing anything. Press cntrl,alt and delete and select task manager. At the bottom left, the number of processes will be indicated. If the number is more than, let's say, 50, you can feel you're on the right tract.
Regardless, close task manager and find and open the run command, type "msconfig" press enter. Now, you can see what occurs when you start your computer. Click the 'services' box from the top menu bar. Click the hide ms services box. Now, disable all the remaining services. Next, click the 'start-up' box from the top menu bar. Turn off anything you don't immediately recognise. Click apply. Restart. All these,changes are reversable using the same method. Things should more along much more quickly. Play and learn.

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Processes
by PastorPaul / December 8, 2012 10:01 AM PST

As you will see in my reply to wpgwpg, I think the problem is solved, but I always appreciated learning as much as I can about keeping my computer in top shape. Processes have always confused me. I understand your suggestion about disabling those not connected with MS services, but my problem has always been when there isn't enough information to figure out what program some of the processes are connected to. That makes the task of sorting through the processes a real challenge.
Thanks for the advice!
PP

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Two Things
by Hforman / November 30, 2012 2:24 PM PST

I had a similar issue with a laptop. The problem was that the SSD was fairly old (64 GB).

1) Go to the the manufacturer's website, support section. Get the LATEST firmware for the SSD and follow the instructions CAREFULLY on how to install the firmware update. In our case, the old 64 GB drive had issues where the disk space was not being turned back over to the OS properly. It shows up as the system says that you have plenty of disk, but, when you try to copy stuff in (especially Windows patches), you get an error saying that there is something wrong with the disk. So, first, I'd upgrade the SSD firmware. Did the pastor tell you the SSD was brand new out of the store or did he pick it up elsewhere? A couple of boots after the firmware is successfully loaded should tell you if this was the problem.

2) "Why did I mention the SSD?" - It's because, depending on version, if the PAGEFILE can't expand when it is needed, it shows up as an out-of-memory issue. (PAGEFILE.SYS needs to expand unless it is FIXED)

So, this brings me to issue number 2: Your Pagefile. Be very careful here:

a) (I'm assuming XP here so, if you have windows 7, your experience may be different.)
b) Right-click on My Computer, left-click on properties.
c) When you get the property display, look for the "Advanced" tab and click on that.
d) Under "Performance", click on settings.
e) Under "Visual Effects" I select "Best Performance" but this is up to you.
f) On the next tab, also called "Advanced", you want to write down the paging file information and then click "Change".
g) Be careful here. Really.
h) I'm assuming you have only one disk here.
i) Note the recommended amount of space for the file. Make the minimum and maximum equal to that size.
j) Click "Set" and then keep clicking "OK" until back at the desktop. You should reboot after this.
k) There is a temptation to use 'system managed' as a setting but, if you HD is getting full (even if it doesn't look full) then there could be an issue with "memory".

Just because the computer is saying "Out of Memory", that doesn't imply that you are out of RAM. It could be your paging file on disk is either too small or just not set correctly. It could also mean that your disk is slow. Many old SSDs are VERY slow because of firmware issues.

Make sure you have absolutely the latest firmware for your SSD and then check on your paging file as well.

To find the make and model of the SSD:

If you can open the laptop, you can easily read all the information off the drive itself. Many laptops have an opening on the bottom or find some help. You can also right-click on My Computer and go to "properties" and select the Hardware tab. Open the device manager and expand the section on Disk Drives. That may help but you may have to look at the details to see if you can guess what the model number is.

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The poster clearly states using Win7
by hypercrit / November 30, 2012 7:29 PM PST
In reply to: Two Things

Read very carefully here.

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On WIN7, the pagefile system can be changed
by DChrisL / December 1, 2012 11:32 PM PST
I have just decreased that item, where I now have 434 GB free space. Start to Control Panel to System Icon; to System Properties, Advanced System settings to Advanced tab, select Performance. It will have an Advanced tab, bottom is Virtual memory click on change and then Select Custom size. it is listed there as what it is now in MB. I have created mine to read: Initial size: 4000 MB, Maximum size in MB 4400. I am thinking to reduce it further, when I run Defraggler page file sys is 4,096,000 KB. I had 23% defragged and now have 12% defragged. If you change that in there you have to reboot.
Also, if you have CCleaner 3.25 installed, a lot of space was diminished when I ran that. System Restore may have a lot of restore points, back to System, System protection and create a new restore point using day, month and the time plus 0one minute and wait until it changes. That will keep all you previous restore points. Now, Disk Cleanup has on another tab to delete all but that one restore point. I had too many restore points and once had "low on memory". All they did was drop me down to 83% free space - I now have 93% free space.
I haven't tried on item on Virtual memory, you can check no page file sys. Darrell
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Re: free space
by Kees_B Forum moderator / December 2, 2012 5:16 AM PST

Anything above 10% free space means that you could have saved some money by buying a smaller hard disk. Of course, with most people it gradually grows because they store more than they delete in the years they have the computer. But 93% free is outrageous. That's like having a 14-person limousine for yourself only.

It's recommended to let Windows manage the page file, although it won't harm to have it too big. But it surely will harm having it too small! And I shouldn't run without a page file!

Kees

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Hard Drive Free Space
by PastorPaul / December 8, 2012 10:20 AM PST
In reply to: Re: free space

I'm definitely no computer expert, but my problem is definitely having too large a hard drive. I keep most of my files stored on an external drive, and I still don't have much room left.
Thanks for the reply!
PP

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Correction
by PastorPaul / December 8, 2012 12:07 PM PST
In reply to: Hard Drive Free Space

I couldn't find a way to edit a post, so I'll correct it here. In my reply to Kees_B, that should read that my problem is definitely "not" having too large a hard drive.

PP

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