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Available Memory

Posted: Thu, Mar 25 2010, 12:17 PM
by Jeepster
When I check "system tools" "system information" on my laptop (512 MB of memory installed) I noticed that "Total Physical Memory" reads as 512MB. However, "Total Available Memory" is at about 256MB with no programs running. Right now with Firefox loaded (five tabs up) and Thunderbird running the "Total Available Memory" is down to 100MB. Windows 98 is the OS.

My friend and I talked about this last night (the blind leading the blind) and he checked his computers and found this:

1) Newest laptop running Vista... Only background programs running

Installed memory: 4 GB (Did not see this term on other computers)
Total memory: 3.5 GB
Available: 1.7 GB

2) Inspiron E1705 laptop running XP... Only background programs running

Total memory: 2 GB
Available: 1 GB

3) Inspiron 8600 laptop running XP... Only background programs running

Total memory: 1.5 GB
Available: 1 GB

What gives with the sharp drop in memory available? Why is it so different for each computer?

Yes, I know my computer is from the ice age. It was only supposed to be for e-mail and forum surfing while traveling. It has no personal info on the hard drive in case it's stolen. But, I've started using a program that I can only load to about 60% capacity before it chokes. So, will be looking at upgrading my home laptop and moving memory down to this one.


Re: Available Memory

Posted: Thu, Mar 25 2010, 12:47 PM
by Jeff
You'd have to know exactly what programs and services are running in the background to really understand where the memory is going. It's surely going to be different between computers. Plus, different hardware in the computer, video cards, network interfaces, etc, require certain amounts of memory to be put aside. Also the OS is managing the memory, so what it uses or frees may be based on the total, or some other configuration.

Note that with the newest computer, there is 4GB installed, but only 3.5GB listed as total. For the OS to be able to "see" a full 4 GB, it needs to have the 64 bit version of the OS installed. The more commonly installed 32 bit version cannot access the required address space to see all 4GB of RAM, it stops at 3.something.

Re: Available Memory

Posted: Fri, Mar 26 2010, 06:34 AM
by Babbman
There are quite a few programs out there that will tell you what is running in the background. as for comparisons, apples to apples... 1st thing is doing the comparisons on newly installed apps with all of the proper drivers running. That's the only time you can be sure you are looking at something real. Load one badly behaved program and forget it.

Win98? lol... Well, you can count on it not being well behaved. My opinions, in order of best behaving to least...


Why is win2K in there? Because it was the most stable OS that MS has produced other than Win7, which I have had excellent luck with in all respects.

Jeff was dead on in his comments. These days, with computer prices so damn reasonable, there isn't any reason for anyone running anything less than XP. For instances where all you want to do is email or web browsing, I recommend netbooks... You can get a reasonably powered machine for sub $250... they are absolutely portable and handy.

I've pretty much told anyone who comes to me with a problem that I won't be helping them out unless they are at least at XP. Not because I'm being a jerk, but because there just isn't any reason to be running any less. And I don't even have tools or the Install disks for anything less than that anymore.

Finally, if you HAVE to run an old OS, Win7 and XP mode is a great way to maintain compatibility...

Re: Available Memory

Posted: Fri, Mar 26 2010, 08:38 AM
by Mike
re netbooks: just make sure older eyes can read the screen, and you're comfortable with the touchpad.
If so, the long battery life and small size are great. Rose loves her netbook.

Re: Available Memory

Posted: Fri, Mar 26 2010, 08:40 AM
by Jeff
Speaking of netbooks, I just ordered one.

Not sure if it's really in the netbook class, it's a hair bigger than the 10 inch ones, but if not, it's certainly between netbook and laptop. Seems like a lot of bang for the buck. ... 777&sr=8-9