My PC (a Lenovo Laptop) is used for software-development, website-dev, graphics work etc., so there is quite a bit of stuff installed and running. Yesterday I tried to import a MySQL-Dump (100 MB) from the command-line and it took all night.

I'm happy to let it work when it has to work, no problem. But what's bothering me is that the CPU isn't really utilised - TaskManager is not showing anything really busy enter image description here

CPU is intel i5-2410 @2.3Ghz. I also did not notice any disk-activity (from paging or other stuff the O/S might be doing), but noticed Taskmanager often showing a high ram-utilization. Could that have the effect of slowing down the machine to a state where it is nearly unuseable and at the same time the infamous idle-process is #1 in CPU-utilization???

Or perhaps a virus? I'm using ESET NOD/32 and it does not report any issues.

I'm out of ideas! Do I need more RAM?

  • Run 'msconfig' > Startup Tab > Uncheck everything you don't absolutely need. Leave Antivirus, dropbox. Uncheck adobe, office, etc. Restart. See how it performs. Also, go through the installed programs list and remove any bloatware/stuff you don't need that came with the system. After that, use the processes tab to see which processes are sucking your memory up. Use the View/Select Columns option if the memory column isn't displayed. 175 processes... Yea, toss those startup items. Commented May 8, 2015 at 5:38
  • The operation you performed is now a processor intensive task its memory intensive.
    – Ramhound
    Commented May 8, 2015 at 11:06
  • 1
    post some pictures of RAMMap: technet.microsoft.com/en-us/sysinternals/ff700229.aspx Commented May 8, 2015 at 17:38
  • My wife also strongly believes in a good Defragmentation and I don't. (But I will look into it now...) We love to have battles about it! ;-) But I'm a bit hesitant about "snake-oil" (like ASC and "Registry Cleaners"), the only one I trust is "SpyBot Search & Destroy". Also I take care not to get the "savings" and have removed much of Lenovo's stuff. However, I love my utilits, absolutely need dropbox etc., so I admit that I have a large Autostart-list, but I wouldn't wanna do w/o these and will rather invest in RAM if there's a chance that it'll improve :)
    – MBaas
    Commented May 9, 2015 at 7:26
  • Thank you, MagicAndre! I didn't knew about RAMMAP, nice tool - and with it I found Windows Update using approx. 800MB to hold a mapped file which I deleted according to experts-exchange.com/OS/Microsoft_Operating_Systems/Server/… Will go through some of the other suggestions, too, now...
    – MBaas
    Commented May 9, 2015 at 7:50

4 Answers 4


noticed Taskmanager often showing a high ram-utilization. Could that have the effect of slowing down the machine to a state where it is nearly unuseable and at the same time the infamous idle-process is #1 in CPU-utilization???

Unlikely. The RAM use that Task Manager shows includes RAM used by the Windows disk cache, which Windows proactively tries to keep as well-used as possible (RAM without useful data in it is, after all, useless RAM). Any process asking for RAM will cause Windows to give it pages from free RAM, then from the disk cache; both those operations are in-RAM only, and happen at the same speed.

Only when disk cache RAM is completely exhausted by RAM allocation requests from processes does Windows start swapping process RAM out to disk, and since you're not seeing disk activity, that's not what's happening to you.

In my experience, unexpected sloth in Windows boxes has two main causes.

Most common is the presence of foistware like Conduit or SweetIM or Bandoo or the Ask toolbar, which you can usually fix by uninstalling every useless toolbar on your box using Programs and Features and then doing a cleanup scan with MalwareBytes Anti-Malware.

Next most common is failing sectors on the hard drive. The hard drive responds to these by resetting and reseeking multiple times until it's able to read them, then marks them for reallocation on a subsequent rewrite. Windows doesn't usually notice these until after they've actually failed completely, so it's quite common for that rewrite never to happen. You can find out whether your hard drive is affected by checking its SMART log using tools like Diskcheckup from Passmark: look for high numbers under Reallocated Sector Count and Sectors Pending Reallocation. 0-10 is usually normal wear and tear, 10-100 usually means your HD is unwell enough to be worth replacing soon, 100+ means OMG hope you've got good backups.

If neither of those applies, but the machine is still very slow especially on disk-intensive workloads, you might be able to improve things quite a bit with a competent filesystem defragmenter. The inbuilt Windows one is pretty useless. I like MyDefrag v4.3.1 from J.C. Kessels.

  • Thank you - and OMG, I must take care of my disc! Wasn't aware there were issues...
    – MBaas
    Commented May 9, 2015 at 7:58

To answer two points of your question:

Do I need more RAM?

Possibly, but the thing you really need is free RAM, because tiny amounts of free RAM force Windows to actively use the cache (disk) witch is pretty slow. To free up some RAM:

  • Ensure that there is the less possible running programs at the same time
  • Remove unnecessary startup items, it helps with the above
  • Check your system for any viruses

"the infamous idle process"

The Idle "process" isn't a process; it's a placeholder for the free CPU time. Its only purpose is to show the free idle CPU.


As RetroDroid stated already, your CPU does not seem to be the limiting factor, it's idling all the time. It's (probably) waiting for the data which comes really slow because of all the swapping done on your HDD.

You could use resmon.exe ("Ressourcenmonitor") to look at your hard drive usage. If your system has to swap a lot, you will probably see it there.

It was already mentionded that closing some programs could help you, but in some cases 8GB of RAM can be not enough for a development machine.

I have 8 GB RAM on the work machine as well and run into the limit quite often (especially when working with VMs). 16GB make a lot of sense there imho.

So maybe you should consider upgrading you RAM if possible or getting a SSD could help as well, the swapping will get considerably faster.


As a person who loves to get the best performance from my computers, I always make sure that

  1. I disable all services and startup software that I don't need.
  2. I do a complete defragmentation of my system to get a stable computer.
  3. Uninstall all software that is related to "savings" (usually adware/spyware)
  4. Use Advance System Care to scan and optimizeyou're computer to get the best out of you're computer. (It's free and very useful, but use what you know that works best for you.)
  • "a complete defragmentation of my system to get a stable computer." is utter nonsense.
    – Hennes
    Commented May 8, 2015 at 10:04

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