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I am looking for good Windows 7 software to free up RAM memory on my PC... I tried some ones I found on Google but they were bad stuff... with viruses, spamware etc...

I want a free, clean, professional looking piece of software. If you don't know a good one that's free, please recommend a paid version.

Also, please recommend other tips/software to speed up my PC (on win7-64bit) and other such utilities. Also software to measure temperature would be great... If you can make a "must have" list of such software, that would be nice.

I am a graphic designer, usually using this stack exchange for graphic design questions, now I realised there is this superuser one... nice :) [I usually have a lot of running programs, such as Photoshop, Flash, Illustrator, InDesign, running at the same time... with only 4GB of RAM memmory.. any tips to improve my PC perfomance would be great... I have a Asus K50IP Notebook]

EDIT:

About the USB thing on Win7 in the comments:

Screenshot of Windows ReadyBoost

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closed as not constructive by Paul, random Nov 17 '11 at 2:24

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4 GBs isn't quite enough for Windows 7 for running many applications. Instead of fighting an uphill battle against application RAM usage (which only promises to be a never-ending battle), I suggest you upgrade to 8 GBs (or at least 6 GBs) as I find that this results in a system that runs much more smoothly. However, since you're a graphic designer, if you're regularly working with a lot of really large graphic images then 8 GBs might not even be enough -- I have a few clients who are graphic and/or 3D artists, and 16 GBs seems to work well for nearly all of them. –  Randolf Richardson Nov 17 '11 at 0:30
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@Randolph - the trouble is, depending on the laptop, he may not be able to install 16GB. I'd be surprised with the amount he spends on software, though, if he couldn't afford a laptop with at least 4GB built in and space for a further 4GB to be installed - maybe a further 8 if he can install pairs of sticks for dual-channel. If his laptop can't cope with that, it suggests false economies. –  Steve314 Nov 17 '11 at 0:56
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@Steve314: When I first tried to buy a laptop with Windows 7 on it I had to return it because it couldn't be upgraded beyond 2 GBs and the swap file activity was non-stop when just loading up Solitaire (other applications took longer) -- it was as if I had purchased a laptop with viruses pre-installed. Removing various pre-install software definitely helped, but the system was frustrating as soon as I tried to run an application (or even install one). Since XP also wasn't an option (due to a lack of drivers available to support it), I had no choice but to return it as defective. –  Randolf Richardson Nov 17 '11 at 1:01
    
@Randolph - I actually have an old P4 laptop with 256K memory built in plus 512K extension - yes, a grand total of 3/4 GB memory - and I still use it. And it's easily fast enough for what I use it for, too, which is mostly Notepad++ and Foxit Reader in XP. I have Adobe Creative Suite CS2 and Macromedia Studio MX2004, and from past experience I know they're usable on that laptop, though they're much happier on my desktop. Basically, I'm not against using an old cheap system - but if your livelihood depends on a the performance of your system, be careful where you economise. –  Steve314 Nov 17 '11 at 1:18
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Good lord, when the heck did 4GB become not enough. When Windows 7 first came out, laptops regularly sold with 2 to 4GB, and no one was like "Wow Windows 7 is slow". Has application workloads really increased to the point where you gotta double your memory to have an effective user experience?? –  surfasb Nov 17 '11 at 5:08

2 Answers 2

up vote 9 down vote accepted

Freeing memory will make your system slower, not faster. If you have 4GB with 2GB free, your system will be no faster than if you only had 2GB. Free memory does nothing, it just sits there. It's memory that your system is using that makes it faster.

If your system is painful with 4GB in use, it is because the working set exceeds 4GB. Having memory free means that less and less of the working set is resident at the same time, meaning more paging and a slower system.

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"If your system is painful with 4GB in use" is usually due to the system needing more RAM (and I agree that it's the most likely scenario), but there can be other reasons for poor performance such as a SpyWare (e.g., Sony's root kit, KaZaa, etc.) or a virus infection. +1 for your Answer, although I think it would be helpful to mention how to use Task Manager to monitor swap file activity to verify that insufficient RAM really is a likely candidate. –  Randolf Richardson Nov 17 '11 at 0:43
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Very likely. I remember people complaining that Windows 7 had 100% memory usage all the time, where Windows XP had quite a bit free on an otherwise equivalent system. The complaint implied Windows 7 is bloated. Not so - if any memory is unused for other things, Windows 7 tries to use it for "active caching" - reading things that are likely to be needed into memory so they're available immediately when they are needed. If this memory is needed for something else, it is freed for something else. Active caching improves performance by using memory that would otherwise be wasted. –  Steve314 Nov 17 '11 at 0:49
    
+1: Free memory != faster OS. –  surfasb Nov 17 '11 at 5:09

Windows 7 isn't that bad at managing memory. There are no doubt things that can be done to force it to use less memory, but I'd expect most of them to result in worse performance most of the time.

"Optimizer" type programs should usually be treated with skepticism - there's a lot of promise-the-impossible programs out there, usually (as you've found) with an ulterior motive, and even the few commercial products that deliver a marginal benefit usually deliver less bang for your buck than simply buying some more memory.

In this comparitive review, the "high praise" they have for their best-of-class is "Set it and forget it! Schedule to clean memory at user-specified time intervals. Seems to actually work. Doesn't work like other memory optimizers! It is also available in a portable format for those thumbdrive junkies (which is a determining factor for some)." (my emphasis). "Seems to actually work." doesn't seem that impressive to me - it sounds more to me like "we're sure it doesn't do any damage, which is better than the rest, though we can't quite be sure of any benefit".

What may be much more worthwhile is tweaking the options of all your various programs to better suite your priorities, and disabling any unnecessary background programs.

For example, any "quick starter" applications only give you a net gain if you're constantly opening and closing the application it promises to quick-start. Otherwise, they result in a performance drain at startup loading files that may never be used, plus wasted memory the whole time the PC is switched on.

A useful free tool for that kind of thing - CCleaner. Though it's not the only way. Microsofts Windows Defender, IIRC, also includes a tool to allow you to easily enable or disable auto-starting programs.

CCleaner also includes registry cleanup and hard-drive cleanup utilities. The registry cleanup sounds good, but will be better for keeping the PC stable - performance improvements are mostly marginal.

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