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With the advent of multiple processes grouped together to comprise one application like IE8 and Chrome uses processes for each tab/group-of-tabs, I'm seeing an effect that I hadn't seen since Windows 3.x.

After returning from lunch, ALT+TAB'ing to one of these applications, and then changing tab inside them, yields a painfully slow gradual redraw of the page, down the screen, a line at a time. It's like the 8-bit computing era where the 'loading screen' would be loaded from tape.

While this happens, the mouse is frozen, the disk is thrashing its head off and I just have to wait - up to 30 seconds - to regain control.

I fully understand that some apps may get swapped out , even preemptively, but surely an application draws its' window contents with graphics and text functions straight-to-the-screen (or off-screen composition). Is there a bitmap for all application window contents, persisted to disk when the app is swapped out? It sure feels like it.

I'm using a Dell Latitude D810 with 1.25gb of RAM, Windows XP Pro SP3, usually running just Outlook 2003, Chrome or IE8, Visual Studio 2008. Everything is perfectly usable until I come back from lunch.

What can I do to reduce/avoid this issue?

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up vote 1 down vote accepted

The simple answer - more RAM.

XP may be performing some system activities during idle time so it may be pushing your apps into the page file. More RAM would mean that this would not happen. (see the section Idle-Time Activities in this Technet article)

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..but this only happens after I've been away for lunch, approx 1 hour.. – JBRWilkinson Jul 1 '10 at 10:27
does this happen for the rest of the afternoon, or just for a little while and then sorts itself out? – Shevek Jul 1 '10 at 10:30
I've updated my answer.. – Shevek Jul 1 '10 at 10:33
Just when I come back to the machine and ALT+Tab through the apps I was previously using. After that, it's all smooth again. – JBRWilkinson Jul 1 '10 at 10:45
I understand about the Idle Time Activities may swap out some apps, but why the painful line-by-line redrawing action? – JBRWilkinson Jul 1 '10 at 10:46

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