Where is all my memory going?

Question

Upon bootup, I only have about 55% of my 320Mb of memory free. I have observed that over a period of time, as I open and close programs, less and less memory is available, until finally my system locks up. Even after closing all open programs, I do not get back any appreciable memory. What is the likely cause of this and the solution?

Answer

This question was answered on January 10, 2003. Much of the information contained herein may have changed since posting.

The likely cause of the amount of available memory after startup, is that Windows is a memory hog and eats memory in a likewise manner (By the way, Linux is even worse.)

By itself, this is not a problem Windows uses a form of virtual memory, which shuffles data off and onto the hard drive to make up for its imprudent appetite The file used for this purpose is called a "Swap File", and it grows and shrinks with system requirements By default, Windows will take care of the swap file nicely all by itself This is not a difficult task On the other hand, the swap file size can be adjusted by the user, or even eliminated entirely Such adjustments may not make for a healthy situation.

Make sure your swap file default settings are in use The hard drive must have enough free space to allow the system to "breathe" in this manner, so make sure your hard disk isn't close to being full

In Control Panel, double-click System, click the Performance tab, and then click Virtual Memory to access the settings.

Microsoft has a TechNet listing which describes Windows 98 Swap files nicely Copy this entire URL into your browser:

www.microsoft.com/technet/prodtechnol/ win98/reskit/part5/wrkc26.asp

Another cause of your problem may be something called a "memory hole" which describes a poorly written application that uses more and more memory each time that it is accessed The application does not relinquish the memory when it is closed, or minimized It just keeps using more This can be especially true of Java or Internet applications Best thing to do is simply to reboot periodically, or figure out which application is causing the problem though the process of elimination, then find a substitute for it.

RG

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Author

Posted by Robert of Mesa Community College on January 10, 2003