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Windows 7 Resource Monitor IconOperating systems have become more complex over time. For an every-day user, it’s really a hard task to find what programs are slowing down their machine and for what reasons.

The most common performance problems are related with physical memory.

As I wrote in a comment answering a reader, Ben, in another post:

5 Things You Should Know About Microsoft Security Essentials

Programs use more RAM (another name for physical memory) if there is more available. Thus, you cannot associate high memory usage with bad memory usage. If your machine has resources (one of these resources is RAM), there is no problem using them if they’re available for use. But what about when you hit the limits of your physical memory?

What can an every-day user do to find out if their machine is using all of it’s current physical memory and, therefore, needs more RAM?

This not an advanced way to  look for performance problems but, if you are using Windows 7, why not use a free tool that this great operating system offers?

To achieve our goal, we need to open the Resource Monitor. Do this by pressing WinKey and typing resource monitor in the search box:

windows 7 search resource monitor

Go to the Memory tab and sort by Hard faults/sec; you will see something like this:

Windows 7 Resource Monitor Sorted by Hard Faults sec

What is that column?

The numbers are the average of the hard page faults per second in the last minute by a process.

Modern operating systems use the hard disk for additional memory. If the system thinks that a portion of memory is not going to be used right now, it saves it to disk so it can release some physical memory.

This way, your system can open and work with more programs than if it uses only physical memory; however, problems appear when the operating system needs to access the drive more often.

A page fault occurs if your operating system has to look for a portion of memory in the disk. The hard drive is one hundred thousand times slower than memory so it is easy to see this is going to slow down the computer.

See what happens if you open several programs:

Windows 7 Resource Monitor several opened programs

As you can see this is not the ultimate way to know if your computer needs more RAM but it’s an easy way to see if you are hitting physical memory limits and, at least for me, it’s worth to trying when your computer is under “normal” use to evaluate whether you need more RAM.

About Angel Luis

I am an Engineer of Telecommunications that love computers. My first computer was a Commodore 16kb, about 25 years ago and since then I am always fighting computers problems. Please visit my entries and ask me about whatever problem you have, I will be pleased to help you. My email is discoveryourpc [at] gmail [dot] com. You can follow me on twitter @agenlu or read my blog www.discoveryourpc.net

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6 thoughts on “Do I Need More RAM? Find Out with Windows 7’s Resource Monitor [How To]”

  1. Dyensnek says:

    This is good info, but what about when your memory is max'd out? My desktop PC is running Vista Ultimate 64 bit os with 8Gb of ram. (I haven't upgraded this machine to 7 yet.but run 7 Ultimate on my 2Gb laptop) VU only recognized 6.9Gb of ram; when I went to the BIOS and opened up all eight Gb I started having problems, went back to the default settings and things run normal again. Back in Dos days using Hi-mem sys, you could assign things to high memory, but it looks like those days are gone, or at least I can't keep up – Can 7 handle the full 8Gb It is supposed to handle more, I think

  2. Rich says:

    Windows 7 supports the following memory amounts:
    – Starter: 8GB
    – Home Basic: 8GB
    – Home Premium: 16GB
    – Professional: 192GB
    – Enterprise: 192GB
    – Ultimate: 192GB

    If you're having problems (hard to determine the real issue without further detail) then this could mean any number of things are not right — hardware, BIOS version — (if you need help with this, please visit the forums.)

    1. badie says:

      hi as i know windows 7 any version handles 3.7 gb ,it might recognize more ,but not using it ,so please explain support it ,,or please confirm your source

      1. yodacohen says:

        32 bit version of Windows 7 will not recognize more than 3.7GB.
        64 bit 192GB

  3. fafa says:

    what about if you have windows 8?

  4. Zaexar says:

    So, how do you suggest to interpret those hard fault numbers? At what point do you suggest the RAM is ‘getting too low’? At anything except no hard faults at all? At a total for all processes together of 5, 10, 100 etc.? If one (2, 5, 10…) or more processes show more than 5 (10, 20, 100….) hard faults per second?

Comments are closed.

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