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[SOLVED] Computer unbelievably slow, will more RAM fix it?

This is a discussion on [SOLVED] Computer unbelievably slow, will more RAM fix it? within the RAM and Power Supply Support forums, part of the Tech Support Forum category. My computer is extremely, extremely slow, for example opening the Windows Calculator can take 30 or more seconds, so just


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Old 05-28-2011, 03:30 PM   #1
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My computer is extremely, extremely slow, for example opening the Windows Calculator can take 30 or more seconds, so just imagine how slow doing actual work is.

When I built the computer I intentionally built it with too little RAM to save money to upgrade it later which I still have never done. I need an absolute minimum of 8 GB of RAM but I have 2 GB of RAM, and Windows makes 5 GB of virtual memory on the hard drive (can you start to understand why Calculator takes nearly a minute to load?) The reason is I normally have around 80 programs running at once.

One reason I haven't added RAM after nearly a year now is that a few years ago I doubled from 1 to 2 GB of RAM and I can tell you it made no difference whatsoever. Now I think the reason for that is is that I went from having 1/8th the RAM I need to having 1/4th the RAM I need, is this why my last RAM upgrade was nothing but wasted money (now that I think of it I should have returned it for a refund, it was that useless)?

I wanted to upgrade to 8 GB, but now I'm thinking that's repeating the same mistake because already I have 7 GB of RAM used with the virtual memory. So I'm thinking of upgrading to 12 or 16 GB.

So my questions are:
-Was my 1 to 2 GB upgrade all but useless because I went from having 1/8th the RAM I need to 1/4 the RAM I need?
-Will ANY amount of RAM allow the computer to run 80 programs without slowing to a crawl or can no computer do this regardless of RAM amount?
-If more RAM will make a noticeable difference, should I got for 8, 12 or 16 GB? I think 8 is close to repeating my last RAM upgrade mistake. I'd rather buy $300 of RAM and see an improvement than buy $250 of RAM to see no improvement whatsoever like before

If more RAM won't help, what about replacing my system hard drive with a quality SSD? Or what about a quality SSD plus 16 GB of RAM? All I want is my computer to not freeze for 1-10 minutes every time I click the mouse, which has been the case for the last year.

I work on my computer all having it this slow for a year certainly cost me way more in lost income than the RAM would have cost, if it will fix the problem.

If anyone can tell me how to get my computer to run fast even with 80 programs open you will save my life.

And BTW the rest of the computer is all top notch (quad core 3.2ghz AMD 64 bit CPU, 1 TB WD Black hard drive, Gigabyte 890FXA-UD5 mobo).

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Old 05-28-2011, 04:22 PM   #2
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Is this 64 bit XP?
If it is 32 bit the maximum RAM supported is 4 GB, of which roughly 3.25 will be accessible. There is no way around this.

As for the increasing RAM from 1 GB to 2 GB making no difference: This would normally happen if a shortage of RAM was not the major bottleneck in performance. Either 1 GB was adequate for your workload or there is some other serious problem.

It would help a great deal if you could post a screenshot of Task Manager - Performance tab. Do this when you have all the programs open you usually use at one time. This will provide basic information necessary to understand your problem. There will likely be more questions but until I see the display above I don't know what.

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Old 05-28-2011, 04:28 PM   #3
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if you are running 80 programs as mentioned in your post, no amount of ram will help. it is going to be slow going
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Old 05-28-2011, 04:57 PM   #4
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I did upgrade to 64 bit win7 to be ready for the RAM upgrade.

I don't think the problem is anything other than RAM, I know the bottleneck in a computer is normally the hard drive which is by very far the slowest component of any computer, and I've built lighting fast computers with stripe RAID arrays before. I no longer have striped RAID but have a hard drive that's faster than the RAID array I had back then. The computer is also lighting fast until I start having more than 50 or so programs running, if I limit myself to 40 programs everything runs in a flash even for months without a reboot.

By the way, my #1 RAM consumer is firefox, I often have 25-50 tabs across 15-20 firefox windows, firefox.exe uses around 800-1000 MB RAM to itself.

Here is a screen shot with the performance tab shown (I took the entire screen so you can have an idea how how many programs I run):

http://i56.tinypic.com/10rvndz.jpg
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Old 05-28-2011, 05:17 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sobeit View Post
if you are running 80 programs as mentioned in your post, no amount of ram will help. it is going to be slow going
The only way to fix this is to stop running so many programs at once. Extra ram will do very little with an overload like this, although having another 2 gigs might be a wise decision with the memory hogs that current OS's are.
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Old 05-28-2011, 05:23 PM   #6
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I'm not talking about an extra 2 gigs, I'm talking about an extra 14 gigs (an upgrade from 2 GB to 16 GB).

BTW when I say 80 programs I should say processes, see my screen shot above. And 90% of my open programs are firefox windows (nothing that processes much and you can see all 4 CPU cores are way relaxed at 7% usage even with all that running, so it's without a doubt not a lack of processing power).

You can see in the screen shot I have 2 GB of ram and like 5 GB of virtual memory which clearly shows I have a severe RAM deficiency.
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Old 05-28-2011, 05:57 PM   #7
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For your workload you definitely need more RAM. How much is hard to say but going to 4 GB should make a major difference. Unless of course there are issues not revealed in the screenshot.

How do you know you have 1/4 of the RAM you need? I am asking because there is nothing in either XP or Windows 7 Task Manager that will tell you this. The "PF Usage" graph in XP actually refers to the Commit charge and this tells you nothing about how much the pagefile is being used. Even knowing actual pagefile usage doesn't mean very much.

The hard disk is indeed the slowest component in a computer but that doesn't mean it is going to be a performance bottleneck. This could be an overworked CPU, shortage of RAM, Hard Disk, or even network performance. It depends on what the applications are doing.

If the CPU is not overworked (and it isn't in the display), and you have adequate RAM, there is no reason why you can't have good performance with 77 or even 100 processes. It is not how many processes are running that is important, it is what they are doing.

Please update your profile to show the update to Windows 7 64 bit. This will avoid a great deal of confusion.
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Old 05-28-2011, 06:00 PM   #8
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Thanks, but again I'm not talking about going to 4, I want to upgrade from 2 GB to 16 GB, that's a major upgrade.

The way I figured I needed 8 GB is that I have 2 GB and windows makes about a 5-6 GB pagefile, so I assume with 8 GB or more it wouldn't need virtual memory much at all.

Would it be safe and a good idea to disable the page file if I put 16 GB RAM? Would it really still benefit from a pagefile when it has more than double the RAM it needs?
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Old 05-28-2011, 06:24 PM   #9
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First of all, very few applications use more than 4 gigs of ram, but if you want to be brave and have some to spare, then I would go for 8 gigs. I don't know of anything that would require 16 gigs of ram with present usages. It is my opinion you would be wasting money with that much ram. However, your option, we advise, you choose.

If you are counting on more ram making a difference, then adding another 6 gigs much might help you (since 2 gigs is bare minimum), but if you are counting on it making a huge difference when you get beyond 4 to 8 gigs, I am afraid you will be disappointed.

Ram adding is not incremental, meaning adding a couple of gigs to take you to 4 gigs should help you and you should notice a difference. Adding 4 more gigs to make you 8 gigs should help you (with demanding applications) but to a lessor degree.

Otherwise, as you add more and more, the less bang for the buck you are going to get as you add. Let's say adding 2 more gigs (4 gigs total) might give you a 10% to 15% advantage, another 4 gigs, (8 gigs total) maybe another 5% to 8% advantage,.....another 8 gigs, rather negligible noticeable improvement. The more you add beyond needs, the less you will see any advantage for the additional ram.

That is my opinion which I think will be validated when you add that much ram. Good luck and let us know how this one comes out.
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Old 05-28-2011, 07:09 PM   #10
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I agree with Tumbleweed36

Increasing RAM from 2 to 4 GB should improve performance significantly, from 4 to 8 GB it will be less, from 8 GB to 16 GB, probably very little.

There is a popular misconception that the pagefile is simply a slow extension to RAM, used only when RAM is exhausted. But that is all it is, a misconception. Memory management in a modern OS is MUCH MUCH more complex than that. I won't even try to explain it here.

Understand that the Commit Charge of 4567 MB tells you very little about how much data is in the pagefile. And how much data is in the pagefile tells you very little about performance. What is important is how often it is accessed, and that is not easily measured. Also understand that paging is not confined to the pagefile, not even close. The situation is actually much more complex than the numbers might seem to imply.

Upgrade to 16 GB if you wish, but don't expect anything over 8 GB to be of much benefit.
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Old 05-28-2011, 07:18 PM   #11
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I'm well aware that from 8 to 16 GB will provide little if any benefit, but I prefer to put too much than not enough like last time. Anyway, it was like $229 for 8 GB or $235 for 16 GB, so I only have $6 to lose going with 16 GB.
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Old 05-29-2011, 01:24 AM   #12
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[And BTW the rest of the computer is all top notch ]

what video card

what psu
brand
model
wattage
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Old 05-29-2011, 02:13 PM   #13
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Video card: ATI HD2600 Pro 512 MB (I don't do any gaming at all, not that I could if I wanted to on this PC)
PSU: I don't remember but it's something like an Antec 550-750 watts

Anyway I know enough to know without a doubt it's not the video card or PSU. All signs point to that I have far from enough RAM to load the programs I use. If I limit myself to 40-50 programs the computer will run lighting fast even if I don't reboot for 4 months (I've had that happen on this very same computer). But once I reach 80-90 programs it starts to slow to a crawl.
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Old 05-29-2011, 03:49 PM   #14
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Brand & Model of the Mobo?
What CPU?
What configuration (how many and what size sticks) is the 7GB of RAM?
Is all the RAM identical in brand & specs?
Antec PSU's are questionable for quality & reliability but if your's is 550 to750W it "should" have no problem with that AGP GPU.
You can identify the PSU by removing the case side and looking at the label.
As mentioned by my Team Mates, running that many open apps simultaneously is going to be a burden.
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Old 05-29-2011, 05:39 PM   #15
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Mobo: Gigabyte 890FXA-UD5
CPU: AMD Phenom X4 B55 3.20 Ghz Quad core
RAM: I have 2 GB of RAM, the other 5 GB I mentioned is my 5 GB page file, I think it is a single stick of 2 GB, if it is 2 sticks of 1 GB they are identical (I under no circumstance put non identical sticks of RAM in a computer and I built this computer)

Long story but I can't move the computer now to see what PSU I have, but I'm sure it's not the problem. I don't even know if it is an Antec but I think so.

I just noticed you said AGP GPU, the card is a pci express card, this computer was built less than a year ago, everything is top notch except my severe RAM deficiency. Also the video card is from my old PC, I didn't upgrade it since I never, ever play games, even my old PC had PCI Express.
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Old 05-29-2011, 05:45 PM   #16
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CPU: AMD Phenom X4 B55 3.20 Ghz Quad core
Do you mean a Phenom II X4 955 quad or an X2 555 dual core with the third and fourth cores unblocked.
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Old 05-29-2011, 05:53 PM   #17
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It is a dual core with the 2 other cores unlocked.

Well today I decided to do a small cleanup of my open programs, I had some Windows opened since over a year! I now only have 6 firefox windows open instead of the usual 20, firefox.exe is now using 290 MB RAM instead of 900 MB like before.

My Commit size in system performance has also fallen from over 4500 MB to 3000 MB. The number after the / is still 6611, what is that 2nd number?

Even just closing these Windows and without rebooting, the computer is already back to do everything INSTANTLY, and remember I didn't even reboot, but now the computer runs like a superhero rather than snail. Before only maximizing an open program that's already running would cause the hard drive light to go solid ON, the system to freeze for 15 seconds to a few minutes, and then the window would start drawing itself one component at a time and be done drawing itself after several seconds or minutes. Now maximizing any window is INSTANT.

Doesn't this confirm that the problem is, surprise surprise, that 2 GB RAM is not enough to run 90 programs at once in Windows 7 64? I think it's more than obvious that 2 GB RAM can't run 90 programs at once.

My question is, will upgrading to 16 GB RAM (it's $6 more than 8 GB) allow me to run 90 programs and have it stay fast? And these 90 programs together barely do any processing at all so it's not a lack of processing power, my CPU was a 7% usage with all 90 programs active.
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Old 05-29-2011, 08:37 PM   #18
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Faster, yes, it most likely will be faster since you should have at least 4 gigs of memory with what you have, and when you add the 14 gigs of memory, you are up to an acceptable ram for that rig which would nominally be 4 gigs........., however with that many programs open, it will never be fast, so the answer is no, not fast, even with 16 gigs of ram!

That is my opinion. Please let us know how that one comes out.
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Old 05-29-2011, 11:56 PM   #19
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Keep in mind the programs I run are like Firefox, notepad, msn, so it's nothing that needs much memory or processing power. And as I mentioned above by closing several firefox windows I reduced the page file usage or whatever by 1.5 GBs, firefox is by very far my #1 memory hog, and now everything runs instant, and I still haven't rebooted in about 2 weeks (which to me is a recent reboot, I normally go months without rebooting).

I think with 8-16 GB it will be able to run 20 firefox windows with no lag.

I have a new option though, at my local store it's not worth getting 8 GB because 16 GB is a few bucks more. However I looked online and I can get 8 GB for less than half the price of the 16 GB at the local store, that means I can buy 8 GB, and if I want more later I can add more without it costing me more than buying it all at once (they ship for free over $50).

I was thinking maybe I could do that and get "only" 8 GB of ram, and with the money saved get a 60 GB SSD that runs at 275 MB/Sec which is more than twice my hard drive's speed.

Would that be a better idea than 16 GB rams? It of course means a complete system re install which I want to do like I want needles in my eyes but I'm sure 8 GB RAM and a 275MB/Sec SSD as the system drive would make a lightning fast machine even with 20 firefox windows open. And if that's still not enough ram I can add another 8 GB later.

Would there be a way to move an image of my hard drive onto the new SSD to avoid re installing and reconfiguring every program? Could I restore my full system backup done in Windows Backup to the SSD and have everything like before, minus the slowness?
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Old 05-30-2011, 12:58 AM   #20
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I just realized, does having 16 GB ram mean ill have a 16 GB hiberfil.sys?

If so that means I need a bigger C: partition or SSD if I decide to get one... wait a minute, could the hyberfil.sys be placed on the hard drive or does it have to be on the windows drive?

I need hibernation enabled so I don't loose my 90 running programs in case of a power failure, the system is set to hibernate when the UPS drops under 90% battery power (leaving most of the backup power for my website server).

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