This is a desktop computer, the problem is the difference between the installed memory versus the available memory. I search everywhere, for a fix to this problem.

  • Installed Physical Memory (RAM): 4.00 GB
  • Available Physical Memory: 536 MB- 2.20 GB

  • System information: HP-Pavilion, Windows Vista, Home Premium, 64-bit, Service Pack 2

  • Motherboard Model: FK522AA-ABA a6544f
  • Graphics (video card): Intel(R) G33/G31 Express Chipset Family
  • Total Available Graphics Memory: 286 MB
  • Dedicated video Memory: 0 MB
  • System Video Memory: 128 MB
  • Shared System Memory: 158 MB
  • Processor: Intel(R) Core(TM)2 Quad CPU Q600 @ 2.40GHz, 2400 Mhz, 4 core(s), 4 Logical Processors
  • BIOS Version/Date: American Megatrends Inc. 5.23, 4/21/2008
  • SMBIOS Version: 2.5

In the BIOS settings I am not seeing an option for Memory Remap. In fact, the only options I have is to set boot order and password.

If I go to msconfig to manual force maximum memory in the advanced options of the boot tab, it makes no difference, even though the changed settings do stick after restart.

However, if I start the pc in Safe Mode, then the available memory accesses all the memory. Hence, there must be a way to fix this issue?

I made no changes or upgrades to the computer, I bought it new from the HP website. But I still did a full memory diagnosis (passing 2 times), with no problems found.

It's registering everything in memory correctly, except for "Available Memory":

  • Installed Physical Memory (RAM) 4.00 GB
  • Total Physical Memory 3.99 GB
  • Available Physical Memory 1.82 GB
  • Total Virtual Memory 8.17 GB
  • Available Virtual Memory 5.81 GB
  • Page File Space 4.28 GB

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Why is there 4 GB of physical memory installed but the pc only has access to 2 GB of memory?


When Windows starts, lots of programs run. As well as several dozen services, there are also a number of programs scheduled separately to run either when the computer starts or when a user logs on.

A few of these programs check something and then exit, but most wait for some condition which they are monitoring. As long as there is free memory available they will remain in memory: new programs will run in the free memory.

When a new program is scheduled and there is no free memory for it, then existing programs will be written out to the swap file and their memory becomes available for the new program.

Programs will not be swapped out "on spec", in case their memory is needed, because the next program to need that memory may be the very process which has just been swapped.

However, there are "RAM booster" programs which will force swapping of suspended programs: these can be useful on systems where high-priority programs need to be started as quickly as possible, and cannot afford to wait until other programs are swapped out before they can run.

This is a very simplistic overview. In fact, programs are not swapped in their entirety, but in pages of a defined memory size (hence the name "pagefile" for the Windows swap file), but the principle remains the same: RAM will continue to fill up until the total memory requirements of all the running programs exceed the physical memory available.

I hope this allows you to see that your memory is not lost: it will be made available when it is needed, but it is not immediately free for new programs (or expanded memory requirements for existing programs).

As for why an "out-of-the-box" Windows system needs 2GB of running programs, now that's another matter ...

  • Yes, I understand how memory works but I appreciate the time and care you took to explain it, perhaps helpful to others. Indeed, brand new out of the box, the memory was showing 2.20 GB available. I have installed a few programs since then but nothing that would be taking up 1.80 GB of memory. – Loop Nov 27 '14 at 0:44
  • Of course 286 MB of that memory is going to graphics and other memory going to odds and ends in windows system and programs but how to figure out why the rest of the memory is gone? – Loop Nov 27 '14 at 0:46
  • If you look Task Manager's Processes tab and tick Show processes from all users you will see just how many processes there are and how much memory they require (make sure Memory Usage is ticked in View -> Select Columns...). Any unaccounted memory is probably in kernel caches. – AFH Nov 27 '14 at 10:47
  • About 60% of the memory is going to "svchost.exe (LocalSystemNetworkRestricted)" is that normal? – Loop Nov 28 '14 at 0:59
  • My W7 system has a dozen instances of svchost.exe, with a total memory requirement of ~200MB, so your figure does seem abnormal. You can try restarting the associated services. (My W7 system is a media server, so it is not set up for doing system investigations.) – AFH Nov 28 '14 at 13:05

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The solution was a combination of many different things:

  1. The "Task Manager" calculates all the memory, but in the list of processes it doesn't list every instance. I downloaded a program called "Process Explorer" which gave a very detailed list of every instance.

  2. One of the processes in the list is: "svchost.exe (LocalSystemNetworkRestricted)" which "Process Explorer" reveals is called "Superfetch". Supposedly it's described as "Maintains and improves system performance over time."

Research suggests that SuperFetch doesn't work well in Windows Vista, it just hogs memory and resources. So, I disabled it by right-clicking on the "My Computer" icon on the desktop > "Manage" > "Services and Applications > "Services" > Finding "Superfetch" and right-clicking it to see properties, then "Disable".

  1. Using "Program Explorer" I discovered that if you download "RealPlayer" then there is an option to download any audio or video, which shows up when you hover the mouse over any media, like for example youtube videos. This takes up a lot of memory (I rarely use it but it's always active in the background). I also disabled this is "Computer Management", it's called "RealNetworks Downloader Resolver Service".

  2. I am not sure how I got this program and had no idea it was even running but there was an "Amazon Toolbar", called "Smart Search" or something similar. This uses A LOT of memory. I had a difficult time finding it in the computer because it's not in the install/uninstall section. I finally discovered it in my Programs folder and used the uninstall icon.

  3. The worst cases were Zonealarm firewall and AVG Antivirus. I uninstalled both and researched for a lightweight but powerful antivirus. Research suggested "Panda Cloud Antivirus". Huge improvement!

  4. I also discovered that Windows Vista processes and stores "Available Memory" differently than Windows 7, Win 8, & Win 8.1 - so it shows up differently in "System Information".

Thus, if I am using Vista then it's going to show less "Available Memory" than other operating systems because Vista handles memory differently and uses as much memory as possible; instead of trying to reserve as much as possible. It's designed that way so that the unused memory is not just "sitting there" but actually being used. Hence the computer fan will kick in higher gear quite a bit too.

  1. When I discovered that there are many programs that start automatically in "Computer Management" and are not being used or needed, I researched which programs in Vista that could be disabled or set to "Manual". I used this link to determine which ones: http://www.optimizingpc.com/vista/optimizing_windows_services.html That improved the memory performance too.

    1. I also put "msconfig.exe" in the "run..." of the "Start" menu and within the "Startup" tab I unchecked (disabling) programs and processes that didn't need to be started at startup.

In conclusion, when I first bought the computer, brand new, I never saw the available memory above 2.20 GB out of 4 GB, mostly because of the "Superfetch" ("svchost.exe LocalSystemNetworkRestricted") - among other unneeded programs and process that come default to factory settings. And I didn't know how Vista processed memory differently. I cannot remember which Antivirus came standard, but I am sure it was a huge source of memory usage too.

I bought the computer with 4 GB of memory because I like to have many tabs and windows open simultaneously and I didn't want to be slowed down but Vista is pretty chunky, so I am looking to upgrade to Wins 7 soon too, which should help heaps.

Thank you all for your answers and help, I am very grateful! I hope this information helps others.

  • Almost everything you've said above is wrong and you've just made things worse. Memory that before might have been providing you some benefit is now just being wasted. – David Schwartz Nov 29 '14 at 5:55
  • Despite what you say, this answer has been extremely effective. Before my computer was sluggish & slow when many processes were open. But now I can have those same processes running simultaneously without lag or slowing down (since I got rid of the memory hogs). Plus, I trust my research and the working results, not one persons opinion. Especially an opinion from one who downvotes the question, downvotes the answer & also gets some kind of satisfaction out of making unconstructive comments that have nothing to do with pointing me in a direction that you consider more productive or effective. – Loop Nov 29 '14 at 8:16
  • If that's true, then you asked the wrong question. You should have asked why your computer was sluggish and slow and what you could do to speed it up. It's possible that by coincidence or luck you got the answer that would solve your problem, but the net result is that you still don't understand what the problem was. Your system is now wasting memory is was using before. If that makes things better, it's due to a problem you never diagnosed. – David Schwartz Nov 29 '14 at 8:53
  • I asked this question because I was unsure why the "available memory" was only 2GB (when after restart and sitting idle - even after brand new out of the box) when I had 4GB in total (hence more memory = faster computer). Some of the answers here revealed that 2GB was being used and simultaneously I have 2GB of available memory "ready to be used" (thus 4GB in total). So my task then was to find out what programs/processes were taking up the 2GB of the 4GB total memory... – Loop Nov 29 '14 at 9:13
  • ... and I discovered that most of the memory was being used on programs/processes that I didn't need or want which was hogging the memory, thus the answer is based on those discoveries and as icing on the cake I also discovered the computer was faster and more effective. Hence, if someone else is wondering why their 4GB Vista computer is hogging up 2GB of their 4GB memory, then this would be a helpful answer. – Loop Nov 29 '14 at 9:14

Based on your screenshots:

The "Available Memory" in the System Info (screenshot 3) is showing you the amount of RAM that's currently available to you to use.

You're currently using a little more than 2 GB of your 4 GB total RAM (see memory graphs in second screenshot), so you have just under 2 GB left and "available" to you.

If you were using only 1 GB of RAM, then it would report about 3 GB available. If you were using 3.5 GB it would report about 500 MB available, etc.

  • Yes, it does show that. But the way the computer functions is not handling itself in that manner. If I overload the computer with many processes, instead of accessing the remainder memory, it simply slows the computer down because it cannot access the remainder memory available. – Loop Nov 26 '14 at 22:05
  • You've got another problem then because Windows is seeing and using all your memory. Next time it's acting slow, use the Resource Monitor and or Perfmon (both built into Windows) to determine what's actually busy/stressed (CPU, memory, disk, etc.) – Ƭᴇcʜιᴇ007 Nov 26 '14 at 22:07
  • If I load it in Safe Mode, the available memory says: 3.20 GB because it's not using much memory in Safe Mode. Do you get what I am saying? – Loop Nov 26 '14 at 22:09
  • If you load it in Safe Mode less stuff is running (because you're in Safe Mode), so you're using less memory, and therefore more is available to you. – Ƭᴇcʜιᴇ007 Nov 26 '14 at 22:11
  • Exactly my point. But if I don't load it in safe mode, then the available memory is at 1.80 Gb - 2.20 GB, when it's just sitting idle. Where is the other 2GB of memory? Where is the pc using the memory? Why is there not 3.20 available to me (unless I am in safe mode)? That's what I am trying to figure out. It's like there is a memory leak somewhere because at tops there is ONLY 2.20GB available, so where is the other memory out of the total 4 GB installed, where is going to? How is the computer using that memory? – Loop Nov 26 '14 at 22:15

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