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Ok so I open the task manager, select show all processes from all users and about 20-30 processes come up totalling around 500mb usage max od memory, when I then click the Performance tab, it shows as 1.4GB being used! Where is it eating up all this extra memory? Is this a built in feature to reserve memory or something?

Also anyone know why the Hard Disk gets hammered so much too when its idle? Not badly hammered just constantly flashing..

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All this behavior is part of technologies introduced in Windows Vista such as SuperFetch and File Indexing. Your account of your available RAM and disk activity is normal and expected. I share with you similar numbers.

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For the RAM, caching. Your HDD is about 40 times slower than your RAM, so programs preloaded into RAM load significantly faster. For the HDD, indexing, which lends the search it's speed and flexibility.

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