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2011-12-08

A+: Getting Windows Optimized, Virtual Memory, Performance Monitor, and System Monitor

If you run short of money, you can borrow some from the bank (assuming your credit’s in decent shape). However, there’s a penalty: interest. Similarly, if your system runs short of memory, it can borrow hard disk space and use it as virtual memory. The penalty for this type of borrowing is performance: Virtual memory is much slower than real RAM memory. However, you can adjust how your system uses virtual memory to achieve better performance.

    To minimize the need to use virtual memory, increase the physical memory (RAM) in a Windows system to at least 1GB (1.5GB on a system with integrated graphics; 2GB for Win 7). When additional RAM is added to a computer running Windows, it is automatically used first before the paging file.

The Windows Vista Performance Monitor and Windows XP System Monitor can be used to determine whether more RAM should be added to a computer.

    • To access the Windows Vista Performance Monitor, open the Run prompt, type perfmon.exe and press Enter. This opens the Reliability and Performance Monitor window, click the Performance Monitor node.

    • To access the Windows XP System monitor, open the Run prompt, type perfmon.exe and press enter. This opens the Performance console window. Click on the System Monitor node.

Many different types of performance factors can be measured with these programs. This is done by measuring objects. Objects include physical devices such as the processor and memory, and software such as protocols and services. The objects are measured with counters. For example, a common counter for the processor is % Processor Time.

To see if additional RAM is needed in a system, select the object called Paging File, then select the counters % Usage and Pages/Sec as shown in the following steps:

    Step 1. Click the + sign or right-click in the table beneath the graph and select Add Counters.

    Step 2. Choose Paging File as the Performance Object and then choose % Usage. In Windows Vista, simply add pagefile.sys.

    Step 3. Choose Memory as the Performance Object and then choose Pages/Sec. In Vista, this is shown as a drop-down menu within the object. In XP it might be added already.

    Step 4. Click Add.

    Step 5. Click Close and then run normal applications for this computer.


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