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I notice that my PC (Vista) writes to hard disk a lot.

My performance monitor show ...

Physical Memory (MB) Total: 2037 Cache: 762 Free: 67

Kernel Memory (MB) Total: 198 Paged: 125 Nonpaged: 71

What numbers do I look at to tell if I need more RAM for the particular type of work I'm doing on the computer?

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When you need more Random Access Memory Memory? – Phoshi Dec 18 '10 at 17:04

There is no hard and fast rule. The thing is, if you can run all software you needed to use at once without swapping, then it's enough. Generally you can do that with 4GB of ram nowadays (utilizing all means that you need a 64-bit OS).

As for the ram numbers in windows - you need to see what the proportion of "used" memory. from vista on, windows uses most free ram as cache, which makes read/write calls on disk much faster than before, but also confuses people in terms of ram usage. to me, used memory < 60% with usual application opened means reasonably large amount of ram installed for the task

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To determine how much RAM is installed on your system, right click on computer and then select properties. The window that appears will tell you the ammount of RAM. Also, in my experience, Vista is a HUGE memory hog. If you can afford it, consider upgrading to Win-7.

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Tests show that the memory usage of both operating systems really isn't that different, it's just that Vista is a bit slower in some areas and so the perception is that it's a resource hog, when it really isn't that bad. But I'd agree that the upgrade to Windows 7 is still well worth it. – Sasha Chedygov Dec 19 '10 at 1:55
I have 2MB of RAM. – Dec 20 '10 at 5:12 You mean 2 GB right? 2 MB wouldn't even work with VISTA – KronoS Dec 20 '10 at 15:34

I look at Task Manager's Processes tab. You can sum the "Memory (private working set)" column , at the bottom it says something like "Physical Memory: 38% used".

Note that none of these will really definitively answer your question because any modern operating system manages memory in very sophisticated ways.

Memory is cheap. Buy lots.

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