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High usage of RAM (80%) in Vista

By deejoe747 ·
Why there is high usage - about 80% of RAM in Vista with sluggish performance, even after closing ALL visible running programs?

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Request for Clarification

by PurpleSkys In reply to Clarifications

how much ram is in the computer? what other programs could be running in the background? do any recent clean up maintenance on it?

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That's normal

by gechurch In reply to High usage of RAM (80%) i ...

Starting with Vista, Microsoft changed the way that Windows utilizes RAM significantly. Under XP, Windows tried to conserve RAM and release it when it thought it was no longer used. If you take the time to think about it, that isn't the best strategy. Vista takes the stance that if you just had a program open, then there's a reasonable chance that you will open it again soon, so it keeps it in RAM if it can, rather than releasing it. This works well in practise - I'm sure a lot of people here open a Word document, edit it for a while, close out of Word, then open the next Word document and work on that. Under Vista's strategy there's almost nothing to bring into RAM when you load Word the second time - it's all still loaded.

You may think that this means there is less RAM available for other applications (or new ones you open), but this isn't the case. Windows keeps tabs of each page of RAM and puts it on a list. In the example above where Word was opened then closed Vista has kept the Word executable and DLL files in RAM, but behind the scenes it has marked it as cached. If I now open Photoshop and I don't have enough free RAM to load it, Windows will throw away the cached RAM pages first to free up RAM (this takes almost no time). In a sense, pages of RAM used to hold caches are simultaneously used (they contain something that WIndows is deliberatly keeping around), and free (the contents can be throw away so that page can be reused). This is in fact exactly how Windows considers cached memory. If you look at the figures under Physical Memory in Task Manager, cached pages count towards the total used, Cached, and also Available (from memory).

So the short version is - it makes better use of the RAM you have by... using it!

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Reponse To Answer

by gechurch In reply to That's normal

Oops, I forgot to address the other part of your question - the sluggish performance. Generally performance issues are caused by:
* An underpowered or overworked CPU
* Not enough RAM
* A slow (or overworked) hard drive

If you're running Vista you probably have a reasonable CPU (unless you're running an Atom or Celeron). You can see if the CPU is overworked by looking at Task Manager.

For RAM, as a rule-of-thumb for Vista 512MB of RAM will give terrible performance and 1GB will give bad performance. In my experience you need 1.5GB to get ok performance, even on a fresh installation with not much else running. Of course, the more RAM the better.

For hard drive performance you can again use Task Manager. Tick 'Show Kernel Times' on the View menu. When you do that the CPU usage graph will then show user mode CPU usage in green, and kernel mode in red. User mode is used by 'normal' programs like Word and Chrome, kernel mode is used for drivers and the Windows executive (memory manager etc). If you have a lot of red usage (say, more than 10% quite constantly) it probably means the driver is waiting on hardware, which is often the hard drive in my experience. Since you're using Vista you've got a better tool built in though - click the Resource Monitor button on Task Manager. This will show you which process is generating how much IO.

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High usage of RAM (80%) in Vista

by deejoe747 In reply to High usage of RAM (80%) i ...

Laptop has 1GB RAM, running Windows Vista. No visible program running - but, the Task Manager says that 80% RAM being used all the time ! The CPU usage is around 2-4% only !

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Reponse To Answer

by Slayer_ In reply to High usage of RAM (80%) i ...

1gb is not enough for Vista.
Try to get 1.5 or 2 gigs.

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Reponse To Answer

by PurpleSkys In reply to High usage of RAM (80%) i ...

agree with Slayer_...you need more ram for sure, chances are your video is also using some of your ram resources

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High usage of RAM (80%) in Vista

by deejoe747 In reply to High usage of RAM (80%) i ...

Thanks. I understand that Vista requires more RAM - but, the laptop was working fine with only 1GB RAM so far with about 50% usage. Now suddenly it has gone to 80% ! Want to know what program is taking this much extra RAM and how to identify it? Thanks

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Reponse To Answer

by Slayer_ In reply to High usage of RAM (80%) i ...

It could just be a quirk of Windows.

On my windows 7 VM, I have it set to 512. When its done booting it shows around 200mb used. I know this is a lie.

My windows 95 had 256mb of RAM in it, and after booting it used 130mb. But 95 only required 16mb of RAM.

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Reponse To Answer

by PurpleSkys In reply to High usage of RAM (80%) i ...

have you installed any programs in lately or a new/different anti virus program? have you done a routine clean up as I suggested earlier?

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