Perplexing Vista memory issue

By bradthegreat ยท 22 replies
Oct 24, 2007
  1. Hey all - this is not necessarily a problem but more of a befuddling thing that happens. First off, I run Vista Business 32bit on a slightly (hehe) outdated comp (Athlon XP Socket 754, 1GB SDRAM, NVIDIA GeForce 6200, MSI K-8MMV mobo). I've been running it since this summer without any showstoppers. For some reason, the hibernate doesn't work, but this is a separate issue.

    Anyway, I normally boot it up and my memory/CPU meter shows me that about 50% of my memory is being used. It stays about level as I do my thing, which involves Outlook, Winamp, Firefox and MS Office 2007. I can play games or do anything and the thing seems to stay around 50% when I am done.

    Now, when I leave the computer running (b/c of my stupid hibernation/standby issue), say, overnight with Outlook and Winamp open, when I get on it in the morning, it drags a little. I notice that the memory meter is up to about 75%. It stays there when I do my thing again. Then, I leave it and go to work and class, and when I get back, the stupid thing is up to about 85-90% used memory. I can tell that there is an obvious lag - sometimes it takes 5+ seconds just to bring up a minimized program like Firefox.

    I can't for the life of me figure out why it eats up that memory. There has to be some process that gobbles it up and doesn't give it back that I can't figure out. I leave my XP machine on all week at work with no noticeable difference. So far the only cure I have found is to restart Vista and get it back to 50%.

    Like I said, this is not a huge problem per se, but definitely an annoyance that would be great to have some light shed on the matter. Any thoughts?
  2. N3051M

    N3051M TS Evangelist Posts: 2,115

    if you copy lots of files, reboot your pc, since i've heard there's some problem with vista and some sort of memory leak problem relating to file copying.. i'll see if i can find the article again to confirm the proper info..

    With hibernation, you may need to do a BIOS update to fix it, or look for what is causing the hibernation to cancel.

    In task manager, go to Processes tab and click on the column header "Memory (private working set)" to sort it in order of programs using little or lots of memory. There it will tell you what is eating up the most memory (from one program). Although it could be more than one program doing it, so you can investigate and monitor what changes occur in task manager when you leave the laptop then come back.

    If you suspect a virus or other nasties, check this out and post back.
  3. Mictlantecuhtli

    Mictlantecuhtli TS Evangelist Posts: 4,345   +11

    I think it's by design - you can try turning off SuperFetch service.
  4. bradthegreat

    bradthegreat TS Enthusiast Topic Starter Posts: 104

    I've looked through the task manager and services and nothing seems to be overly consuming memory space. Even when I turn off every program, the memory usage stays relatively the same! Is superfetch what Vista uses to "predict" what you're going to open next? Do you think that has some effect on the memory?

    I actually run a desktop...I know the hibernation problem is with the video card: it resumes but I get no video. I have tried about every trick in the book and have resigned myself to no hibernate or standby. Maybe this is the problem...but you should be able to leave your computer for an extended length of time!
  5. N3051M

    N3051M TS Evangelist Posts: 2,115

    vista is happy to be left alone by itself for a while... try running memtest (faq below) or use window's memory tester (type in memory in the start search)
  6. SNGX1275

    SNGX1275 TS Forces Special Posts: 10,742   +421

    Vista does manage memory differently from XP/2000, although I'm not convinced that is your problem. I'm not on my Vista machine right now, but there is some pretty detailed information you can get on the processes running (more detailed than in task manager). Sounds like you've got a program leaking memory, you aren't leaving firefox open are you?
  7. prometeus

    prometeus TS Rookie

    regarding the stupid sleep/hibernate issue, you can try to disable the "wake up from stand by" option for the mouse and keyboard (from the device manager window). if your bios is set up right then it shoul work (it did for me). as for the memory, vista probably sets a fixed starting percentage (first time i installed vista i had 1gb ram and after startup the task manager reported 25% ram usage; now i have 2gb ram and after startup task manager reports 25% ram usage...)
  8. Mictlantecuhtli

    Mictlantecuhtli TS Evangelist Posts: 4,345   +11

    Take a look at this image from my work computer:


    How many different figures do you see for free and allocated RAM?

    Which one do you think matters?

    As you can see, Superfetch works because I have 0 MB of physical memory "free".

    During (or a bit after that, to be more precise) Vista startup, you can see it in action if you open Resource Monitor and take a look at the Disk section. You'll see svchost.exe PID which corresponds to "SysMain" service in Task Manager's services tab, description "Superfetch". If you look at the physical memory section in Task Manager at that time, you'll see free RAM drop near zero.
  9. bradthegreat

    bradthegreat TS Enthusiast Topic Starter Posts: 104

    I definitely understand how Superfetch works with getting programs you use ready and jazz like that. That's what I don't understand - the three main programs I use are Outlook 07, Winamp and Firefox. I normally leave Outlook and Winamp open. After leaving the computer on for a few days, Firefox takes FOREVER to open, and it runs choppy for the first little bit. If Firefox is always what I have open, why isn't superfetch superfetching it into my memory? I'd think it would be at the top of the list!

    Oh, here's an example I thought of - I had my computer running for 2.5 days earlier. I had Outlook & Winamp open only. I put in a DVD, fired up Nero Showtime and hit play - the video was frozen stiff as the audio played for about 2 minutes. Then the video choppily caught up, but was never synced correctly. I managed to reboot, popped in the DVD and had no problems. Where did all my CPU/Memory go? Why can't I leave it for 3 days and watch a movie on it? I leav my XP machine on at work all week and never run into any can I troubleshoot this?
  10. Aolish

    Aolish TS Enthusiast Posts: 171

    many ppl consider vista with 1gb the absolute minimum. Its recommended to go with 2gb if you can. but i think its just a vista thing. Its always been known to be a huge memory hog.
  11. SNGX1275

    SNGX1275 TS Forces Special Posts: 10,742   +421

    Oh come on, did you read anything in this thread or did you just spout out a bunch of nonsense you've 'heard' from people based on the thread title?
  12. prometeus

    prometeus TS Rookie

    when you were runing xp 24/7, was it tweaked, or it just ran smooth and flawless by default settings?
  13. N3051M

    N3051M TS Evangelist Posts: 2,115

    we're talking about vista here..

    xp has a totaly different design (from what i can tell) on how it manages programs and other stuff. At least that would explain why old stuff doesn't work sometimes.

    i don't know why your pc is choppy as such, but i do remeber when i first bought my laptop in march, and it came with a gig of ram. Sad to say i wasn't impressed, since my style of use is lots of multitasking and stuff opened at the same time kindof thing, as well as the odd photoshop/audio stuff. N!sung (in his defence) does have a valid troubleshooting element/point. Try boosting your ram if you can, even to 1.5 (it made all the difference for me) and/or maybe use some high speed 2gb+ USB drives for your vista readyboost... may/may not help i'm not sure.

    firefox itself, have you tried uninstalling all those addons and then see if it makes a difference? i know from experience that FF uses a lot of resources if you don't watch what you're feeding it. same goes with doing lots of multitabbing all the time..
  14. bradthegreat

    bradthegreat TS Enthusiast Topic Starter Posts: 104

    I actually have a 2GB flash drive acting as readyboost at the moment. Also, Firefox doesn't have many add-ons - I think a theme or two. My performance is fine in the beginning and even after a day or two. It is after a few days that it seems to really hang. Maybe I need to find some kind of a memory blaster or something - do you know of any such program? Something that could remove all unused memory or something? I don't even know if that exists.

    I know I need 2GB, but I really am at the end of my mobo's life and I really don't want to spend the $$ on old school RAM (I think I'm running a AMD Socket 754 mobo!) I realize that it is underpowered, I just want to know why it dies after being on for a few days. There has to be some kind of memory leak or something.
  15. tweaks_sav

    tweaks_sav TS Rookie Posts: 186

    Did you upgrade to Vista from XP or do a clean install of Vista?
  16. bradthegreat

    bradthegreat TS Enthusiast Topic Starter Posts: 104

    clean install all the way - Vista Business.
  17. bradthegreat

    bradthegreat TS Enthusiast Topic Starter Posts: 104

    This is driving me crazy! What is the cause of this? It's not so much that I can't use the computer; I just don't want to have to shut it down every few days. I like to be able to sit down at my desk and hop right in! Is that too much to ask?
  18. SNGX1275

    SNGX1275 TS Forces Special Posts: 10,742   +421

    Absolutely not, I don't know what your problem is. Here is a quote from me in our IRC channel:
    So as you can see, I'm currently at my record uptime..
    I'd have much longer uptimes if it weren't for the required security updates. I've never had to restart this machine because of performance or memory issues in Vista.

  19. bradthegreat

    bradthegreat TS Enthusiast Topic Starter Posts: 104

    that is what is so bizarre...I know that there isn't memory issues with Vista, just for me. I guess I am plagued by Windows downfall - they don't make all their own hardware like Crapintosh does, so you're bound to run into something that doesn't gel quite right. Well, if anyone else can think of something, shout it out. Otherwise, I guess I'll wait until I upgrade again... :)
  20. SNGX1275

    SNGX1275 TS Forces Special Posts: 10,742   +421

    Not sure if you saw, but I apparently edited since your reply, I have a taskmanager screen shot now.
  21. bradthegreat

    bradthegreat TS Enthusiast Topic Starter Posts: 104

    maybe it just needs 2 GB to run smoothly. I have a friend whose probably upgrading and may have some spare memory for me...maybe I'll give that a whirl. Yeah, your processes seem to be pretty stable - do you ever do anything with your computer? :) Anyways, I always knew my box was a bit underpowered - maybe this is one unfortunate side effect!
  22. SNGX1275

    SNGX1275 TS Forces Special Posts: 10,742   +421

    Not too terrible much, I it has trillian, mirc, opera, winamp, lastfm open all the time. I occationally play Command and Conquer 3 and have played the Crysis demo on it a few times. I guess I do about as much with it as most people on these boards.

    I'd do some transcoding of video on it, except that the program that does that in OS X is so much nicer and easier than anything I've used in Windows, so I sacrifice speed for interface.
  23. bradthegreat

    bradthegreat TS Enthusiast Topic Starter Posts: 104

    So, I turned on my Vista laptop and my Vista desktop at the same time and left them both running overnight. In the morning, I looked and the desktop was using 10% more RAM than the laptop. It kept climbing up while the laptop stayed solid around 45%. So, I have concluded that there must be something screwy with the desktop hardware.

    Actually, I just inherited another computer, so I'm going to move to that one. All I will be keeping is my video card, so we'll see if that is causing the problem. It is getting kind of annoying now!
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