Coly Computer Help

Short of Memory?

Slow computers can be made faster by an increase in RAM (Random Access Memory). Before buying extra RAM memory make sure you ask for the correct type.

Check how much is currently installed.
Click Start-->Control Panel and then double click the System icon. On the first item which pops up you will see the amount of RAM memory you have.

Look in your motherboard manual and see how much RAM it will take. Some motherboards can only take a limited amount of RAM. Your operating system will also help you determine the amount of RAM needed. Windows 98 will not benefit from anything over 512MB of RAM. Windows XP can benefit from a maximum of 1Gbyte. Windows Vista Home can take up to 2 GBytes. 

If you have misplaced your motherboard manual, all is not lost. Access the website. Enter the make and the model of your computer; you will be told what memory to fit and how much it will cost. You may also discover that you already have as much memory as the computer can take.

On-line memory check: If you are nor sure about the make and model of your computer, Crucial has an online checker which will examine your computer and then tell you what additional RAM you could fit and the cost. Go to

To fit the RAM to a desktop computer:
Do not handle the RAM when it arrives,
you could ruin it. I always put a plastic sandwich bag on each hand before handling and fitting RAM, this  prevents static electricity wrecking the memory (or the computer). Disconnect the computer from the mains and open the casing. Locate the RAM slots and make sure the little end-catches are right back and down. With plastic sandwich bags on your hands, fit the RAM module the right way round, the notch or notches are deliberately nearer one end of the RAM module. Ensure that the module is lined up properly along the empty slot. Push down carefully and rock the module gently from end to end until it sits down properly.

If the RAM will not sit down in the slot: DO NOT FORCE IT or you will crack your very expensive motherboard
. RAM module
Hold the RAM (using the plastic sandwich bags) and very carefully file a little chamfer on the two outer corners of the slot (shown arrowed above) using a nail file. You may even have to file or scrape a little from the bottom of the slot.

Don't let the nail file touch any other part of the RAM.
Try again to insert the RAM.
When the module is properly seated you will be able to flip the end-catches into position.
Before refitting the computer casing, check that you have not disturbed any connections within the computer.

Virtual memory: This is also known as the Page File or the Swap file. Windows creates this area on your hard disk which it uses as a substitute for RAM. If a process or program runs out of memory because the RAM is not sufficient, the virtual memory takes over and supplements the RAM.

If the computer slows down during an operation and you see a message saying that you do not have sufficient virtual memory , you can remedy this on Windows XP as follows:-
Click Start-->Control Panel . Double click the System icon then click Advanced-->Performance Settings-->Advanced-->Virtual Memory (the panel also refers to to the virtual memory as the Paging File). Click the Change button. Select the hard drive that contains the virtual memory file then select System managed size. Windows will automatically adjust the size of the virtual memory. If you find this is already selected, then you need to (i) fit some extra RAM or (ii) you have run out of hard disk space. Windows XP needs  at least 1.5 Gbyte of free space.
If you have plenty of hard disk space left, you could manually adjust the virtual memory. Click Custom size instead of System managed size . In that section enter a figure equal to twice the RAM in each of the two fields. If you have 512MB RAM then enter 1024 in each field. Click Set then OK .

Vista and ReadyBoost: If you are using Vista and you already have as much RAM as the motherboard will take, or if you would rather not open the computer to fit extra RAM, Vista has a way of using a USB pen drive (flash drive) as extra RAM. The problem is that not all pen drives are suitable. To see which pen drives are suitable, go to and then examine the ReadyBoost Compatibility Chart. Try selecting well known USB pen drive makers such as A-Data, Crucial or Kingston.

To use Vista's ReadyBoost: Insert the pen drive into a USB port. The Autoplay dialog box will appear. Click Speed up my computer . Now click Start-->Computer. You will see a page showing all the drives on the computer. Click the pen drive icon (it will be something like 'Removable disk (F:)'). Click Properties . Click the tab labelled ReadyBoost . Make sure that Use This Device is selected. Lower down in this window you will a statement saying something like ' Windows Recommends reserving ... ' Move the slider to select the memory size recommended in the statement. Click OK . Most authorities say that USB pen RAM is not as effective as RAM which is installed inside the computer.




Go to top of page Go to top of page

Adrian West  © 2007 computer problems solved
A West web design  click here for an example

Jargon    Troubleshoot    How To...    About this site     Suggestion    Donation    Home Page