Program that uses a lot of RAM

August 5, 2010 at 14:58:43
Specs: Windows XP

I am hoping for a second opinion on a RAM problem we are having with a new database software program. Our work computer has 1.5 GB of RAM.
We just upgraded the software at my business to a new online version that stores our database on their servers and we access the program locally on our computer.
Everything worked fine until we installed this updated program.
Now this program runs smoothly but eventually slows down and become unusable. I called their tech support and they had me use a built in diagnostic program and with the results learned that the problem is with RAM.
As the day goes on we would eventually end up with around 100 MB of free RAM which would slow the program down.
I called their tech support they said that the program only requires 500 MB of RAM to operate and they blamed windows saying that this is a windows problem and that sometimes windows doesnt free up RAM and to solve the problem we just need to reboot when it happens.
I wanted a second opinion on this because we did not have any problems before installing this software and I dont believe its a windows problem.
This is what we have done to help clear up anything that might be causing problems on our computer. We have
- scanned for spyware and viruses
- defragged harddrive
- cleaned old files
- tested RAM and it is fine
And these are the only programs we use in addition to the database software.
- Outlook
- Credit card processing program
- Microsoft word/excel
- Web browsers
It doesnt seem to me that any of these programs would cause a problem with RAM.

I would like to find out if this really is a "windows problem" or if it is this new version of the software that is at fault.
Any suggestions on how I can troubleshoot on what is causing the RAM problem?
Thanks for any help

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August 5, 2010 at 15:50:38

I tend to agree that it is not a Windows problem. Windows XP is actually pretty good with memory management, a huge improvement on previous versions. If there were some inherent fault in Windows memory management it would have shown itself a long time ago.

Having said that, free RAM is not a good indicator of how well memory is being managed. Windows will use all the memory it can get it hands on which is good thing as unused memory is wasted. It will free up allocated but currently unused memory as and when required,

If the application requires 500 Mbs Windows will make 500 Mbs available by either freeing up allocated memory or swapping stuff out to virtual memory.

How do you have virtual memory configured? It should be configured to allow Windows to manage it. Setting values yourself can cause untold problems unless you are very familiar with Windows memory management and the applications you are using. Make sure there is enough space on the drive where the swap file is stored. There should be at least 3 Gbs with 1.5 Gbs of RAM.


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August 5, 2010 at 15:57:43

Task Manager -> Processes -> View -> Select Columns -> (check) Memory Usage

How much memory does the new program take up when it starts slowing down? Does it start at 500 MB, and end up at 1.5GB? How do you access their site? Though some application, or though a web browser?

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August 5, 2010 at 16:05:11

ok im not familiar with virtual memory and we have never adjusted it on this computer.
I have checked and it is currently set at 2046 MB.
Ill try increasing it to 3000 MB and see if that helps

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August 5, 2010 at 16:15:03

When I reboot the computer, turn the program on and run the diagnostic program it shows 550 MB free RAM. so almost 1000MB of RAM is being used by the program and whatever else is running the background.
It seems to slow down around the 100-150 MB range. today the RAM dropped to 80 MB and I had to reboot.
The program accesses the internet I think through a SQL server that was installed at the same time but it is not through a web browser.

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August 5, 2010 at 16:28:09

Don't set virtual memory to anything. Set it to system managed and let Windows take care of it.

Did you do what Razor suggested and check how much that particular application is using. Not necessarily all memory used. There will be quite a lot, the whole Operating system in fact running in the background.


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August 5, 2010 at 16:51:53

ok i changed the virtual memory setting to "system managed size" and then it asked me to reboot.
after a reboot and starting up the program I checked the system manager and the database program is using 120 MB of ram and the sql server application is using 110 MB of RAM

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August 5, 2010 at 17:41:52

That seems perfectly reasonable. Windows has probably paged a lot into the swap file ready for when it is needed. Keep an eye on it and see if it get much more it becomes.


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August 5, 2010 at 19:34:58

When Windows runs slowly......

Task Manager - Processes - click on CPU twice.

That lists programs dynamically in the order of their cpu usage, highest on top.
Ignore the line for System Idle Process

Are any programs pigging out on cpu usage ?

What anti-malware software are you using ?

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