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Major Memory Malfunction


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#1 Strain Of Thought

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Posted 07 July 2009 - 08:08 AM

I am attempting to troubleshoot an Acer laptop running WinXP which has been suffering from atrocious slow-down for a long time. I've gone through many standard fixes such as AVG, Spybot S&D, CCleaner, Defrag, ensuring indexing is disabled, etcetera. Some marginal improvement may have occurred, but not much.

The computer's slow-downs are accompanied by continuous HDD activity, and I just recently made the connection with the computer's Page File. I found a website that explained how to read the Performance tab in Task Manager, and it appears that something is very wrong:

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This is what the performance tab looks like while the computer is idling shortly after its protracted startup. No applications are running, and the computer is already using 110% of physical memory. When basic applications such as Firefox and Word are actually run, this climbs to over 200%. I understand that the total physical is low for XP, but I am assured that the computer did not have this extreme slow-down problem when it was new. (It is about three years old) I have no idea what is using up so much of the computer's memory, but adding up the Mem Usage column in Task Manager's Processes tab only comes to about 25% of the total Commit Charge. The slowdowns seem to be a result of the computer having to go to the Page File for nearly every memory task.

I don't know how relevant this is, but the computer also has what seems a very peculiar partitioning arrangement: the physical drive is advertised on the case (the stickers have never been removed) as 40GB, but the computer instead has two partitions of 17 GB: one ACER (C:) that contains the operating system and all user data, and is very nearly full; and the other ACERDATA (D:) which contains nothing but 200MB of numbered files and appears to be dedicated to system recovery. I am not sure if it is safe to put user data on the recovery partition, but regardless the arrangement looks ridiculous.

Any help with this issue will be very greatly appreciated.

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#2 hamluis

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Posted 07 July 2009 - 08:37 AM

Frankly...that graphic is meaningless to me, I never even look at that aspect of Task Manager.

When I look at my comparable graph...I reflect 3.54GB of RAM installed while your graphic reflects 195MB. 195MB is not very much. That's less than the smallest modules available today.

I suspect that inreasing the RAM installed would produce a much better system.

Louis

#3 Romeo29

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Posted 07 July 2009 - 09:10 AM

You have only 195MB ram. When Windows has used up all of 195MB, it resorts to pagefile (uses hard disk as if it were RAM)
This explains when you run too many apps, the hard disk activity increases and computer goes slow.
Running AVG 8.5 on 195MB RAM would nearly choke the computer.

As hamluis has suggested, you need to upgrade your RAM.
I suggest you to install atleast 1 GB of RAM, more if possible and desired.
Before you try to upgrade RAM, first find out what kind of RAM and how much maximum RAM your motherboard supports.

EDIT: If you had more RAM (more than 195 MB), and now Windows is showing only 195 MB, then you need to make sure the memory module is sitting properly on your motherboard slot. Remove the RAM module, and clean the contacts with isopropyl alcohol, insert it firmly and check by starting your computer. There may be possibility that RAM has gone corrupt or got damaged and that is why only 195 MB RAM is being shown. You can verify RAM is okay by using a tool from http://www.memtest.org/

Edited by Romeo29, 07 July 2009 - 09:14 AM.


#4 Strain Of Thought

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Posted 07 July 2009 - 10:11 AM

I appreciate both your responses but I'd like to reiterate that the laptop is using all of its memory and then some while idling, with no applications running. As I already stated in the OP, I am aware that the laptop does not have very much total physical memory, but it did operate adequately in its original configuration for two years.

Romeo29, I took a closer look at the specifications sticker on the case, and it states that the laptop is actually supposed to contain 256MB of memory, and since it clearly doesn't, it looks like I'm going to have to open it up and see what is inside. So thank you for bringing the possibility of memory failure to my attention. However, that still doesn't satisfy me regarding how much memory the computer uses when idle. How much does XP typically require just to twiddle its thumbs?

#5 hamluis

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Posted 07 July 2009 - 10:18 AM

Well, regarding the memory reflected...that number looks reasonable to me.

Let's say you have 1 256MB module installed...take away 64MB for onboard memory...that leaves approximately 192MB to be reflected. Whatever RAM is allocated for onboard video...is not reflected in that useable number.

Continuous hard drive activity...could also reflect needed system maintenance (chkdsk) being performed on the drive. This will not show up in Task Manager as a running process.

Louis

Forget memory charts...if your System Idle process reflects 99% or so, your system is resting comfortably.

You may want to look into using Process Explorer, How to determine what services are running under a SVCHOST.EXE process - http://www.bleepingcomputer.com/tutorials/list-services-running-under-svchost.exe-process/

Edited by hamluis, 07 July 2009 - 10:21 AM.


#6 Layback Bear

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Posted 07 July 2009 - 09:24 PM

I don't want to step on any bodies toes. Stick more ram in it. I have found most of the time you are over using the hard drive is because it's running out of RAM. If more RAM doesn't solve the problem you didn't hurt any thing.




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