Archive for October 2014

Losing Memory Doesn’t Mean You’re Getting Old

Let me start by clearing up a common misconception.  In your computer there is memory and there is storage.  Many folks confuse the two, thinking that “memory” is the size of your hard drive.  Nope.  Your hard drive is your storage, like filing cabinets.  Everything you have is stored on your hard drive.

Memory is more like your desk.  When you need to work on something, you take it out of storage (or off the hard drive) and bring in to your desk (or in this case into memory.)

Memory is chips about the size of your index and middle fingers together that plug into the motherboard of your computer.  So why am I talking about this?

If your computer has just the minimum about of memory (or RAM – Random Access Memory) then you can probably only run 1 or 2 programs at a time before it really slows down.  When you fill up your memory with the operating system itself (whether Mac or Windows) and then open programs, if you don’t have enough memory – the computer will create “fake” memory by swapping data back and forth with the hard drive (that’s so the computer just doesn’t crash) to keep it up and running.  But that process is VERY slow.

What ADDS to that problem is that sometimes when you close a program, it doesn’t give back all the memory that it used while is was open.  If you opened a web browser (Safari, Internet Explorer, Firefox or Google Chrome) and let’s say it needed 200 megabytes just to open to your home page.  Then you open other pages, other tabs.  When you’re done you close it but it gives back all the memory used except for 50 megabytes.  That’s memory the system can no longer use.  That’s called a “memory leak”.  Do that a few times and you can have several hundred megabytes less available than your system really has.

At this point only a reboot of your system will give you back all your memory.  If you shut down or reboot your computer daily then it probably doesn’t affect you much.  If you seldom (or never) shut down your system completely, then it may be affecting you.

So what do you do?  First, if your computer is running slow, then shut it down and then turn it back on.  If it’s better after that – you found the issue and just need to reboot your system more often.

If your computer currently only has 2GB of memory (Windows Vista, 7 or 8) or a Mac then you should definitely upgrade to at least 4GB.  Memory is cheap and easy to install in MOST computers (a little to a LOT harder in some Mac’s) and can make a big difference. 

If you think additional memory can help your computer, let me know.  I’ll check it out and give you an honest opinion.

Bad News if You Were Waiting for Windows 9

imageThe bad news is that there WON’T be a Windows 9.  I guess they didn’t want anything to sound to close to Windows 8.

The GOOD news is that the new version of Windows will be called Windows 10, and starting today all us geeky people are getting a chance to play with what is called a “Technical Preview”, which basically means it’s going to be full of bugs and they are hoping we’ll report them as well as any suggestions we may have.  So as I’m writing this I’m installing it only my computer in a test environment.

What I’ve seen in the last couple of days online has been encouraging, and I think sometime next year when the final version is available, that whether you’re used to Windows 7 or Windows 8, moving to Windows 10 will not only be rather painless, but welcome.  I’ll keep you posted as I find and try features of this latest version.

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