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I have a windows XP installation on a A7N8x machine with an Athlon XP processor and 1GB of RAM. I'm using this as a development machine with just Firefox/Chrome (usually a 10-15 tabs open) and Eclipse open with MySQL/Oracle Express running in the background.

After a while of leaving the PC on I've noticed that there's a lot of disk I/O and displaying of windows becomes sluggish (it's as if window content had been offloaded). This is despite having 400-600 MB of free RAM available.

Any ideas on why this is happening? The only solution I've found is to switch off the PC then boot it again.

P.S: Just spent 15 minutes killing Eclipse and closing browser windows before it became usable enough to post here. RAM is 638 MB right now so not sure what is causing this intense disk I/O.

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Have you checked to see which files get accessed? –  Daniel Beck Jun 13 '11 at 12:11
    
@Daniel Beck: How can I go about monitoring file accesses? –  James Poulson Jun 13 '11 at 12:22
    
You can monitor it with Windows Performance Toolkit, running a Idle trace. msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/hardware/gg463386.aspx –  Diogo Jun 13 '11 at 12:29

1 Answer 1

up vote 2 down vote accepted

This sounds exactly like a lack of memory issue. Windows will page applications out to disk even if there's a little bit of memory free (and so will most linux installs) once you start getting to about 60% RAM usage.

Memory is dirt cheap these days; I think the easiest fix for this problem would be to simply put more in the system, especially if you're using it like you describe (eclipse + two web browsers + other misc applications.)

Depending on how many projects you have open and how large the projects are in eclipse and how many extensions you have installed, it can easily chew through 500MB of RAM all by itself. MS SQL Express uses 200MB of ram. Oracle is using 800MB. Your web browsers are probably using about 200MB with 10-15 tabs open. Your system should be swapping hard with only 1GB of memory.

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+1 - Eclipse, Oracle, Firefox, Chrome? All RAM-heavy programs. –  afrazier Jun 13 '11 at 15:12
    
You're right. The trick question would then be why was it working more smoothly before :) . –  James Poulson Jun 13 '11 at 15:28
    
Working inside a single program and not tabbing back and forth between them will work fine. It's only once you start moving between them is when the system has to start swapping. Programs and OSes are getting bigger and bigger these days. Nobody cares about optimization because it's not needed. With 4GB of memory about $50 USD, programmers are writing more and more memory intensive applications simply because they are now able to. –  Darth Android Jun 13 '11 at 15:46
    
Understood. I should probably move my stuff over to my quadcore during the holiday period. In the meantime, I forgot to mention that Eclipse sometimes hanged which along with Chrome seemed to bring the system to a crawl. I've turned off all visual effects in XP and reduced the options in the Eclipse.ini (-showsplash org.eclipse.platform --launcher.XXMaxPermSize 256m -vm C:/Program Files/Java/jdk1.6.0_24/bin/javaw.exe -vmargs-Xms40m -Xmx512m). Fingers crossed, this seems to have reduced disk chatter by a big factor. Free RAM is about 295MB with Eclipse and a few Chrome tabs open. –  James Poulson Jun 13 '11 at 15:58

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