Dear Computer Lady,
I have a fairly new computer and its running very slow.
There is plenty of room on the hard drive so I just don’t understand. One of my daughters friends said that the memory may be full.
What’s the difference between the memory and the hard drive?
Also can I clean out the memory?
Thanks so much for your help in advance, I have learned a lot from your newsletters…. keep it up!
There are two different kinds of memory in your computer.
One, is memory that is used for storage, usually that is your hard drive. When your hard drive gets too full, your computer will slow down, however, with the large hard drives in systems these days, that is not usually an issue.
The other type of memory is working memory, usually referred to as RAM memory. RAM cannot hold onto information when the power is off, so it gets cleared out and re-loaded each time you restart your computer. That is why re-booting your computer often fixes problems.
There are two ways you can speed up your computer if the RAM is too full. One is to purchase more RAM, and the other is to stop some of the programs that are loading when the computer boots.
If you are running Windows 7, 8 or 10, you really want to have at least 8GB of RAM in your computer. If you use your computer for photo and/or video editing, you want to have even more. I currently have 32GB of RAM in my computer, which keeps it running nice and fast.
If you have plenty of RAM, but your computer is running slower and slower, you have too many programs loading when your computer starts. Take a look at the icons in your system tray, located in the lower right of your screen. Are there more than 5 or 6 icons there? They all represent programs that are loaded in memory and running the whole time you use your computer. There can also be other programs running that didn’t put an icon in the system tray.
To see all the items that are loading when your computer starts, open the task manager. You can open it easily by pressing Ctrl, Alt and Del on your keyboard at the same time, or just tap the start button and type, task manager.
Once in the task manager, click on the “Startup” tab, and you will see a long list of items. Every item that is enabled is running. To stop items from running the next time you start your computer, just click once on the item, then click the “Disable” button in the lower-right corner of the window. Your changes will take place when you restart your computer.
You can turn off any items you wish, but some you will want to keep running, especially, things like your antivirus.
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Elizabeth Boston is a Web designer, Social Media Consultant and managing editor of, “Ask The Computer Lady”.
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