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My hard drive is being accessed frequently when I work with applications but I work mostly with browser like Internet Explorer 8.0. It mostly happens after IE is being opened and not accessed for a while.

For example if I open a YouTube video and load it fully, I pause it and access later to resume. Then it starts to load from the hard drive for at least 30 seconds until the browser becomes responsive again. When I have 5 or more tabs opened, the laptop uses the hard drive whenever I switch to tabs I haven't used for a while and is very slow until it becomes responsive again. Same with minimizing and restoring browser or applications after not being used for a while.

Please take a look at my Task Manager and Processes screenshots below:

Task Manager


What looks strange to you?

Laptop Specs:

  • Intel Centrino Duo T2400 1.83Ghz
  • 1Gb Ram
  • 80Gb Hard Drive
  • NVIDIA GeForce Go7400

I do not use laptop for games, video editing or music editing, only for work so i don't think such configuration would not be enough for such task.

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4 Answers 4

up vote 2 down vote accepted

Going by your process list, either you have a lot of apps open, or your system is compromised by something masquerading as benign apps.

You're pretty clearly suffering from page file thrashing, either way. Once you're sure your system isn't compromised, it's time to consider buying more RAM to support your usage profile.

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I have 2x512Mb memory modules and only 2 memory slots. I will have to remove one of them to place bigger module, but what will i do with old one? –  Boris_yo Mar 25 '11 at 0:57
Use it as a paperweight? In all seriousness, a 512MB laptop RAM stick isn't highly valuable, although if someone else has a machine with only 512MB of RAM you could give it to them. –  Lukasa May 17 '11 at 9:30

You only have 1 GB RAM, but if you look at "commit charge" you are using about 1.9 GB. That means the operating system must move pages between memory and the swap file on your hard drive. This will be especially noticeable when you switch to an open program you haven't used in awhile, as its memory will have been freed to make room for other programs, so the system must retrieve it from the swap file.

Your best solution is to add at least another 1 GB of RAM. You should see a significant performance increase. If that is not possible, avoid keeping so many "large" programs open at once. Web browsers and Microsoft Office apps tend to be large consumers of memory, as will just about any productivity app such as graphics and video editors.

As @Matt suggested, go through your startup apps and load only the ones you absolutely need. Your Task Manager shows a number of tasks consuming memory that you may not need to be using at all times. Start by getting rid of them all, then add back the ones you really need as you need them.

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What is the biggest size memory module i can get? –  Boris_yo Mar 25 '11 at 0:58
You'll need to get the specs from your laptop manufacturer's web site to find out what kind of memory to buy and the maximum size it can use. You can probably buy memory from the laptop maker, but once you know what kind you can probably get it a bit cheaper from a reputable computer parts website or superstore. Memory often needs to be installed in matching pairs, so you may not be able to just buy one module, but see what your laptop maker says about it. Personally I would go with 4GB (2x2GB), especially if running Windows 7. With XP, 2GB (2x1GB) is fine for most uses. –  cantfork Mar 25 '11 at 1:49
You mean there is actually a maximum memory that my laptop can use? I thought the only limit is 2 slots, no matter how much RAM any module will have i.e 1st and 2nd slots can work with any size of RAM. And also if i leave 512MB in slot 1 and buy 2GB in slot 2 that might not work because i will need also 2GB in 1st slot? –  Boris_yo Mar 25 '11 at 22:42
It all depends on the motherboard in your specific laptop. Try the memory advisor tool at It will tell you the max memory your system can take and whether or not you need to install it in matching pairs. –  cantfork Mar 26 '11 at 1:40
I have ran memory advisor, please look at screenshot:… It says each memory slot can hold up to 1GB of DDR2 and then it says that my system does not support dual-channel memory? I thought DDR (double data rate) is dual-channel memory. –  Boris_yo Mar 26 '11 at 16:06

It sounds like a lack of memory to me.

You should check out what's using your memory using the Windows Task Manager, or even better Process Explorer which gives much more detail.

Tips for optimizing:

  1. Reduce the number of startup apps. Only load what you need to load when you need to load it.
  2. Check your system for malware - that can consume RAM if you don't watch it.
  3. Keep your system defragged.
  4. It looks like Firefox is using alot of memory. Try closing & reopening it regularly - the version you are running may have a memory leak or not be garbabge collecting properly.
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I have Process Explorer but in order to see how much memory process uses i need to checkbox specific columns. Here is a screenshot: What i should check? –  Boris_yo Mar 25 '11 at 0:53
Working Set Size is the total memory used by the process for its data. Page Faults is the number of times it has to load data from the swap space (pagefile.sys). A process with a large WSS and high Page Faults will be running slowly and accessing the hard drive alot. –  Majenko Mar 25 '11 at 8:05
Thanks, i have made a screenshot with Process Explorer. Here: –  Boris_yo Mar 25 '11 at 22:47

Yea! It did!

I bought 2GB of Kingston RAM, took away old 512MB Samsung module and left 512MB PQI module with new Kingston module and it worked! Samsung was the module which came originally with my laptop but i took it out because of the last different timing which is probably not that important, but i just wanted maximum compatibility. Now my laptop is smooth again! I guess i was a little sceptical and stubborn to do this earlier.

One question remains however:

How can 2 modules with different capacities work in dual-channel mode? Maybe 2GB module works with itself in dual-channel but only with 512MB of capacity and the rest is single channel?

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Consider adding your new question to the bottom of your original question. Anyway, uneven RAM memory sizes mean you have two single channels of memory access instead of two channels working together. Don't worry about it, as you have already noticed, the performance increase of having more RAM far outweighs that of dual channel. –  kmarsh Aug 11 '11 at 21:55

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