Defrag RAM utility and Memory Leak?

Dennis Faas's picture

Infopackets Reader Peter D. writes:

" Dear Dennis,

I'm running Windows 2000 Professional on a machine that uses a Pentium 3 processor. After around 1 hour online, a RAM defrag utility I use reports that most of my RAM has been lost and I need to defrag. Can you tell me why I lose most of my RAM, and why it's necessary to defrag constantly? PS: your newsletter is great. "

My response:

RAM is just that -- Random Access Memory -- which means that it will get fragmented *very* quickly as computing information is randomly written, read, and deleted from memory. It is true: RAM gets fragmented much more faster than a hard drive because it's used more frequently -- hence, the same reason why RAM is referred to as Primary Storage, and hard drive memory is referred to as Secondary Storage.

Getting back to your question ...

You say that your memory defragger is prompting to run after you've been online for an hour: this may very well be under normal circumstances, as RAM will retain program information so long as the tasks running on your system are in use (and providing that you have enough memory to temporarily store it).

In short: the more active tasks you have running on your system = the more RAM used by those processes. The more processes in RAM = a greater chance of reading, writing, and deleting information in memory, resulting in fragmentation.

RE: Memory Leaks

A memory leak is the result of a program which oversteps its memory boundaries and continually gnaws away at resources. If you suspect a program is causing a memory leak, press CTRL + ALT + DEL to bring up Task Manager. In Windows NT / 2000 / XP: go to the Processes Tab, and then click the Mem Usage (sub-tab) to sort by memory usage; this will allow you to see which program is eating the most resources.

You can end a task by highlighting the task name with your mouse (single-left click), and then press the DEL key on the keyboard. However, be plenty careful which task you end, as it may result in undesirable consequences -- especially if it's a critical system task or a program that you're currently working on!

A while back I wrote a review on WinTasks Pro: a Task Manager on Steroids. It's a fantastic utility that provides information on all the tasks running on your system, plus it helps to identify which tasks are critical (such as system tasks) and which are not. WinTasks Pro is highly recommended and very useful, especially if you suspect that your computer has a memory leak, or even in the case of a Spyware or virus attack. The article can be found here:

WinTasks Professional Review

I also wrote a review on SpeedUpMyPC, which explains more about defragging RAM and system optimization at the hardware level. It's a fairly interesting article and can be read on our web site as well:

SpeedUpMyPC Review

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