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CNET Membership newsletter October 29, 2004 


The 5 that matter

Dear CNET members:
This week's winner, Thomas L. of Silverton, Oregon, is no stranger to this newsletter because this is his third win in our Q&A. He has done a thorough job of answering Jared's virtual memory issue and really has set a precedence for a given solution. So Jared, I hope you find Thomas's answer, the great honorable mentions, and special section of "it happened to me" recommendations a great head start in resolving your issue. I encourage all of you to join in each week's discussion because the questions we ask and the advice we share make winners out of all of us. For those of you who are dying to participate each week, before you submit anything new, please review our Q&A submission guidelines on how to send in your questions and answers. Thank you, everyone!

BTW, many of you e-mail me asking about a previous newsletter; well, I finally found enough time to create a newsletter archive page just for you. So if you missed a week or two or just need the newsletters for reference, click here to check them out.

1I am running Windows XP and continue to get a warning message from my computer telling me that my system is low on virtual memory. Can someone tell me why this is and how to fix it?

--Submitted by: Jared Y.

Before you can begin troubleshooting virtual memory, you need to understand what it is and how it works.

The easy answer would be to increase your RAM, but there are several factors that could contribute to your issue, so we'll start at the top.

If you are running a Windows XP machine and typically have several programs running, I would recommend no less than 512MB of RAM. A lot of manufacturers recommend only 256MB of RAM, and I believe Microsoft says that 128MB is sufficient. I would argue both of those by saying that most users do more than one thing at a time on their computer and from personal experience, more is better in the world of RAM.

RAM vs. virtual memory:
RAM is the amount of physical memory installed on your computer. It acts like short-term memory, enabling programs to load and operate faster. When you start a program or an application, it uses a part of that memory. Most programs will require at least 32MB of RAM. If you look in your system tray (next to the time), there are usually four or more programs running (antivirus, firewall, and so on). Those background programs alone require 128MB. Then if you use any programs, such as a Web browser or a word processor, it requires more memory.

Windows makes up the difference for that amount of RAM requirement by allocating or reserving a portion of your hard drive to act as though it were RAM. That's what is referred to as virtual memory, or page file. The less RAM you have the more virtual memory is allocated. Windows typically... Read more

--Submitted by Thomas L. of Silverton, Oregon, USA

Please click the following links for this week's:
Honorable mentions and It happened to me, here's what I did.

For Thomas's efforts, we’re sending him his choice of any Help.com Learning CD.

Check out next week's question:

I run Windows XP Pro and am experiencing a couple of problems with my computer. I use Windows Update regularly. After doing an update, I usually defrag the hard drive. However, I now receive a message saying that the hard drive cannot be defragged. What is the cause of this, and how can I solve the problem? Also, I find at various times of the day or night that my computer turns on all by itself. What causes this, and how do I get it to stop?

--Submitted by: Jim H.


We feature a new question every Friday. If you have the answer, e-mail us at messageboards@cnet.com. If we choose your response, you'll get a free Help.com CD. Click here for Q&A submission guidelines and check out our previous Q&As here.


Best regards and enjoy!

Lee Koo
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