Make My Computer Use it's RAM

How can I talk my machine into using more of the RAM on a day to day basis?
I’ve got scads of RAM that never seems to get used.


Get some memory hog programs. A nice CAD/CAM program ought to do it. Or maybe an intense video editing program.

Make your page file smaller (start by halving it) and enable all of Windows’ graphical features. You can access both of these by pressing win + pause/break. Also, never reboot your computer and keep a lot of programs open at once. Also - find a beautiful and ridiculously high resolution photo and set it as your desktop background. (Lots of icons on the desktop and a really full recycle bin will help you out as well).

Have fun…

Perhaps I haven’t explained myself well.

I want the programs that I use regularly to take advantage of having scads of RAM. It seems that they keep using the paging file despite the abundance of unallocated RAM.

Is there some way to put this RAM to use in the course of my normal activities?

Yes, make your paging file smaller.

A few programs, such as Photoshop give you the ability to specify the how much ram vs. hdd to use.

Why do programs use paging file if ram is available, in the first place?? I thought the paging file existed, essentially, as overflow ram. What benefit is achieved by going to disk first?? Why should you have to limit the amount of pagefile available to get programs to use the RAM??

(feeling very confused about this.)

Windows uses it for various things, and it is always smart to cache rarely accessed data that would otherwise reside in RAM. If you want to force everything that you reasonably can into the paging file, set it to 2MB. Hell, you can set it to 0, but Windows won’t be able to log errors.

Bottom line: Having gobs more RAM than you need will not improve system performance. A better idea is to sell the extra GB and buy a disk that rotates faster. You probably have a 7200 rpm hard drive, and you will experience a notable difference going to a 10k, and if you can fork out the dough you’ll never again wait for your computer with a 15k rpm drive :wink:

With 2GB of RAM, I doubt the OP’s computer is hitting the page file very much at all, and we need to know how he’s arriving at this conclusion.

This is a pretty complicated question and it comes up from time to time. If I recall correctly, nobody’s ever come up with a definitive answer to “Can’t I just install a whole bunch of RAM and get rid of my page file?”

As with any layman’s oversimplification, the following will probably contain some minor distortion and error, but you’ll get the general idea. The reason is that most OS’s are designed with a philosophy of constant housecleaning to have the maximum amount of physical RAM free, while most programs try to grab for themselves as they can get. Thus the programs try to cheat the system by reserving more memory than they will ever possibly need. In response, the OS cheats the programs by letting them reserve “fake” memory (virtual memory whose addresses map to the disk). Thus, you could have a lot of your paging file “used”, but it is only reserved, not actually being written to. Thus, the programs think they have a surfeit of memory, and the OS thinks it has left the maximum RAM free for whatever important thing might suddenly need it.

For what it’s worth, I have an excess of RAM and tried my system both without the page file and with it. Its response time seems to be better with the paging file.

You can set up a ramdisk and force windows to locate its pagefile on the ramdisk. Then you effectively have tricked windows into only using ram.

I suspect that’s not going to help much.

Windows manages the system pagefile. Programs don’t intentionally read or write to it. Programs read and write to ram. Programs may have their own disk cache that they use, but it’s not the system pagefile and the system has no control over how the programs decide to use the disk. Some programs may have settings that you can play with, others won’t. Depends on the whim of the programmer who made the software.

This was going to be my suggestion as well for a impractiable answer.

But back in the day when 2mb was the norm, 4 was a lot and 8 was way out there I went up to 20 mb’s. Just for the heck of it I somehow set it up that upon bootup a ramdrive of 16 mb or so was created, windows 3.1 and dos was copied along with the system files like and somehow set so the computer would look for the files on the ramdrive (set comspec comes to mind).

Once the files copies upon boot the thing flew - no delay on anything, even complete win 3.1 startup - it was just there. But with the OS and Win loaded there was no room for programs on that ramdrive, so it was sort of useless, but it was just an experiment anyway.

If the little 'activity light is not blinking, I’m not using the HD.

What programs do you think are using the HD excessively?

This is probably a wash at best, and could really backfire on you at worst. Be very careful in trying this. By creating a RAM disk, obviously you decrease the available amount of physical RAM. The OS will react to this reduction in RAM by being more aggressive about paging out, so you end up burning more CPU cycles than you ordinarily would.

I have a related question.

Every morning I go to my PC (which I leave on) to check email, look at the boards, and other whatnot before I leave for work. I leave firefox open, usually with two or three tabs, and it’s minimized. When I got to my PC, I click on the firefox area of the taskbar to maximize the window.

Then…I wait. Because the HDD activity light goes off like a madman, and it is a minute or two before I can get any real response time to browse around.

I have 768 MB of RAM, which would seem like enough. Apparantly, my pagefile is set at about a gig. The task manager tells me I am using about 300 megs of that, and 205 MB of my RAM. If I had a smaller pagefile and used more of the RAM, would this sovle the problem? Should I close out my programs every night before leaving my PC? I also run MS anti-spyware every night to do a system scan, could that affect things?

You could try this registry tweak which is supposed to force Windows to keep its core components in memory instead of the pagefile. In theory this should make Windows run faster but won’t affect your programs’ memory usage. As the note says, it may cause problems with some things like Photoshop.

I’ve used it on a system with 2GB of RAM but didn’t really notice much of a difference in performance. YMMV.

Firefox has a known memory leak. It’s been around for a long time and is present in the latest version. Nobody seems to know why it hasn’t been fixed yet.