What is RAM? All to often I hear customers saying they have 250GB of RAM. This statement is not even close to being true. What they were talking about is hard drive space. Random Access Memory is totally different than hard drive space. Today’s RAM on the market comes in 1GB and 2GB modules. Most systems that are built today have anywhere from 2GB to 4GB of RAM unless you specifically request more. RAM is used to store data temporarily for reading and writing by the Central Processing Unit, it is much faster than using Virtual Memory. Today computer systems use DDR2 and DDR3.
What is Virtual MemoryVirtual memory is used by operating systems like microsoft windows xp and vista. Vitual memory is usually set to 150% of your RAM. In otherwords if you have a computer that has 512MB of RAM then your virtual memory setting should be set to 768MB. The more RAM you have the better for your systems speed. It is alot faster to use RAM than virtual memory. If you notice your hard drive in your system is always active even if you are not doing anything with the computer then your virtual memory settings are to low. You either have to increase the amount of RAM in your system or increase your virtual memory settings. The hard drive is thrashing because there isn’t enough RAM in the system to complete tasks.
For example; lets say you have a word document open, an excel sheet open, internet browser session open, and maybe you are running photoshop all at the same time. You are also running background applications such as Norton Anit Virus or AVG, maybe a security suite of some kind. Other things are running too, like windows explorer, or your sound application, or maybe msn messenger. These are called background services and processes, windows runs a tonne of services in the background at all times. If you only had 512MB of RAM to accomplish all these tasks you would need a section of your hard drive to store extra RAM. This is called virtual memory.
If you are working on a word document and all of a sudden the power went off, you would lose all the data you typed, unless of course you saved it first. The data was in RAM until you saved it to your hard drive. Learn How To: Change Virtual Memory Settings In Vista and learn How To: Set Virtual Memory Settings In XP