1. TechSpot is dedicated to computer enthusiasts and power users. Ask a question and give support. Join the community here.
    TechSpot is dedicated to computer enthusiasts and power users.
    Ask a question and give support.
    Join the community here, it only takes a minute.
    Dismiss Notice

Laptop working only off of virtual memory after reformatting hard drive

By Homeschool Mom · 25 replies
Nov 21, 2008
  1. Hi all,
    I can barely maneuver my way around a PC, but I've managed to reformat the hard drive, due to painfully slow operation. It has a 40gig hard drive. I went into the BIOS, restarted from the Operating XP CD, deleted and created the C: 38156 (or some odd #) drive. For each - the delete and create drive options, it stated that it was the 38156 drive I was working with, NOT the 8mb info storage, and proceeded to do the quick install that I asked for. I've done this 3 times thinking maybe I chose the wrong thing, because each time at finish, I went to install a kids software cd requireing 3mb of space, and got an error saying I only had 2mb left. In the computer memory section in My Computer, it states just that - I only have 256mb of space. Thanks to your wonderful posts, I am now in the Virtual Memory (file paging) window, where it is telling me:

    Drive: C:
    Space Available: 36858 MB
    Custom Size is selected
    Initial Size (MB) is 384
    Maximum Size is 768
    System Size and No Paging File are NOT selected
    Below that is the Total Paging file size for all drives
    Minimum allowed: 2MB
    Recommended: 381MB
    Currently Allocated: 384MB

    From your posts I gather that my machine is operating on virtual memory, not actual RAM. How did this happen on the reformat if it was telling me that it was installing XP on the 38156? It didn't give me any other options. How can I get the computer to run off of the 36gig drive, NOT virtual memory? And it looks like I'm supposed to have some memory allotted to virtual, but how much should that be for a 40 gig drive? (There were only 2 partitions - the original 38156 and the 8mb).
    I appreciate any help - I homeschool my girls and the majority of their work is on the PC. Be easy on me- this is the first PC I've owned since 25 years ago when I took a Basic C: language class so I could get into my graphics programs on the 386!
  2. SNGX1275

    SNGX1275 TS Forces Special Posts: 10,729   +409

    I gather this is a restore disk rather than a retail XP disk, am I right?

    If its a retail xp disk we have some flexibility, if its a restore disk, it is restoring to the correct partition on the drive. 8Meg is pretty minimal for a partition unless it is a DOS partition or just one set up to hold a bootloader.

    The problem may be that you are installing an old DOS based game in XP and XP doesn't want to support it. Have you used it before in XP?
  3. Cybelex

    Cybelex TS Rookie Posts: 46

    The 8 MB "partition" is just OS workspace and not usable.

    You are confusing disk space and memory. Memory has nothing to do with how much space you are using, and you need do nothing about virtual or real memory--the OS will handle that very well.

    What you need is disk space. It appears that you may be installing another version of XP to a drive that already has one on it.

    But please answer SNGX1275's questions about what kind of installation you are doing, what kind of CD, and whether you have a recovery partition on that drive already (Was there a second "drive" in Computer, besides the CD-ROM?).
  4. Homeschool Mom

    Homeschool Mom TS Rookie Topic Starter

    This is an operating system restore disk, and we've used the kids game for about 3 years without any trouble.
    The only other option was the 8MB. I'm positive that there's not a second drive. Every once in a while the whole thing would just shut down - completely off while in use. I didn't think I was installing over, since I chose to delete the 38gig partition and then create a new one.
  5. SNGX1275

    SNGX1275 TS Forces Special Posts: 10,729   +409

    The 8 meg thing isn't a partition at all then, I'm not sure how you describe what it is, but it will happen if you make a new partition to a cylinder cut off that the drive can't do.

    So that leaves you with your OS on the only partition you can make in that drive.

    Unfortunately, I don't know what to say then. Cybelex is right, and this has nothing to do with virtual memory. A default install from the manufacturer or a retail xp disk will have virtual memory on anyway. You don't run or install programs to virtual memory, that is used in conjunction with real memory (RAM). Hard drive memory (storage space, where the files and installation goes) is different, the only time they are similar is in virtual memory, where a file on your computer (pagefile.sys) is a physical file on your hard drive that acts as virtual RAM.

    But your problem doesn't make any sense, I can't think of any reason a program would say you have 256 megs of space left (is that RAM or hard drive its saying?) when you have gigs of hd space free.
  6. Homeschool Mom

    Homeschool Mom TS Rookie Topic Starter

    When I go to My Computer and click on View System Info, it brings up the System Properties window and under Computer:, it states the processor and says 256mb of RAM. I just noticed that when I run my mouse over the icon of the hard drive C:, it says there is 35.6 GB of space-Groan. I thought that the 256mb was the hard drive space since the kids software cd gave me the error message that it needed more memory and there was only 256mb left. (Why would it say that if there's actually 35gigs open?) I was being honest when I said I was PC illiterate!:) I can't believe I actually managed to reformat! I guess when I saw the PC error message and then was digging around to see how much space was left, and saw the 256, that just made sense, since the game error had stated the same thing. I guess I stopped thinking rationally at that point, panicking that I'd ruined the computer. Please don't Groan!
    I just tried to install Nancy Drew software, and it's telling me it can't initialize the Direct Sound. This is also something that has worked for years. Help.
  7. Cybelex

    Cybelex TS Rookie Posts: 46

    OK. The problem is not that you need disk space. You have plenty of that. And chances are that you do not need memory, either. So, what is the exact wording of the error?

    Memory is built-in and will be the same no matter how many programs you install.

    What operating system does the game say it is designed for?
  8. SNGX1275

    SNGX1275 TS Forces Special Posts: 10,729   +409

    Cybelex, I think you are thinking what I'm thinking on trying to run the program (or the installer) in compatibility mode for 98.. But if she had it working before, it probably doesn't need that..

    Homeschool - Can you play any sounds at all? Can't initialize direct sound seems like it could be an audio driver issue (ie, you don't have one installed, but that would be odd if you used a restore disk..).

    I don't know what the solution is at this point, but I guess if you keep replying to Cybelex and I's posts we may eventually hit on something that can get your problem solved.
  9. Homeschool Mom

    Homeschool Mom TS Rookie Topic Starter

    It looks like DirectX8.0 isn't even for XP:(
    Boy, I'm just chasin' my tail!
  10. SNGX1275

    SNGX1275 TS Forces Special Posts: 10,729   +409

    It should be. But they are up to 9 for XP right now, and its supposed to be backwards compatible. But I don't think that is your issue right now anyway, if its an old game it won't require DX8.
  11. Homeschool Mom

    Homeschool Mom TS Rookie Topic Starter

    Did I lose my prior quick reply? I posted one with all of the answers to your questions and sent it, then a couple of minutes later I sent the one above. Did this one cancel my prior one?
  12. Rick

    Rick TechSpot Staff Posts: 4,572   +65

    Because you formatted and reinstalled XP, some of your drivers are missing. Drivers are the software which make your devices work properly. You should have a separate disc which contains drivers -- or you may have lost it. Don't sweat it though, you should be able to download them for free from your manufacturer's website.

    You can find which ones are missing by going to Start > Run and typing devmgmt.msc and press OK. Looks for any yellow icons and let us know what the names of those icons are. Each of those represent a device that does not have a driver. Some may say "unknown device', others will be more descriptive.

    Please give us the model number of your computer and we can help you determine what drivers you need and point you in the right direction. It sounds like you at least need your audio drivers at the moment. :)

    The model number might look like Dell Inspiron 530, Compaq SRX1620 or HP Pavilion DC7001 etc... It's usually located on the front of the computer, but sometimes you have to look in the back to find it.
  13. Homeschool Mom

    Homeschool Mom TS Rookie Topic Starter

    Thank you - you guys are so awesome!
    Under devmgmt.msc, under other devices, there's a yellow question mark next to:
    Base System Device
    PCI Modem
    SM Bus Controller
    Video Controller (VGA compatible)

    The Laptop Model is a Compaq Presario R3000
    I felt my way around online and installed an nvidia audio driver, which appears to work, so I might not need that one anymore. Wherever you lead me, I'll be sure to burn the drivers to disk. The only other disk that came with the computer was the Recovery Disk, which I thought is used if you can't get windows to load.
  14. nobardin

    nobardin TS Rookie Posts: 256

    Do you know if the CPU(processor) in the computer is an Intel or an AMD? I am looking at the support page for your laptop now and there are a few entries for this model

    I know Rick and SNGX1275 have been helping you through this, but in their absence I thought I would direct you to the drivers page for your laptop. Just wanting to make sure we send you to the right place.

    If you could post back with the information requested we can send you off to the correct drivers page.
  15. Homeschool Mom

    Homeschool Mom TS Rookie Topic Starter

    Its AMD, and I'm on the same page! Which ones do I need to download? There are quite a few.
  16. nobardin

    nobardin TS Rookie Posts: 256

    Base System Device <------ Driver - Storage (TI PCI1520 and PCI1620 Driver for Windows 2000/XP)

    PCI Modem <-----Driver - Modem (Agere Systems AC'97 Modem Driver AMD)

    SM Bus Controller <----- If I am not mistaken you need to install the chipset drivers to fix this one..I believe your laptop uses the nforce2 chipset, but without being 100 percent certain I would not want to tell you to install the wrong driver.

    Video Controller (VGA compatible) <----Driver - Graphics (NVIDIA Graphics Driver)
  17. Homeschool Mom

    Homeschool Mom TS Rookie Topic Starter

    Thank you - I will install these and see what happens. Is there somewhere I could look to see if mine uses the nforce2?
  18. nobardin

    nobardin TS Rookie Posts: 256

    trying to find that out now, will let you know as soon as I find out one way or the other
  19. Homeschool Mom

    Homeschool Mom TS Rookie Topic Starter

    No hurry - have to take my daughter to an appointment right now. Thanks for your help!
  20. nobardin

    nobardin TS Rookie Posts: 256

  21. Homeschool Mom

    Homeschool Mom TS Rookie Topic Starter

    Hi all,
    I haven't even had the opportunity to install the drivers you suggested. While I was gone last night, my daughter said the computer completely shut down 7 times in 1 hr. while online with friends. I thought maybe a virus had slipped in, as I forgot to install the antivirus before downloading Adaware, so I was just in the process of reformatting again, and again the computer shuts completely down with a tongue-cluck sound when it gets to the 'installing video driver(s)' on the XP installation CD. It won't even go as far as the installing options. Is the hard drive going?:(
  22. nobardin

    nobardin TS Rookie Posts: 256

    It could be the hard drive, or it could be a heat issue. Is the hard drive making any abnormally loud grinding, clicking or scraping noises other than the "tongue -cluck" sound when it shuts down?
  23. Homeschool Mom

    Homeschool Mom TS Rookie Topic Starter

    No other noise, but there has always been a heat issue since purchase if it's on for more than an hour. I was finally able to update all of the drivers in between shutdowns last night, and it hasn't shut down so far. :)
  24. nobardin

    nobardin TS Rookie Posts: 256

    That's good news!!! Please keep us posted on how it is doing. Perhaps it was just buggy without the drivers installed. Time will tell though.
  25. Homeschool Mom

    Homeschool Mom TS Rookie Topic Starter

    I'll do that. Thank you all for your immediate response, and for sharing your knowledge!
Topic Status:
Not open for further replies.

Similar Topics

Add New Comment

You need to be a member to leave a comment. Join thousands of tech enthusiasts and participate.
TechSpot Account You may also...