Archive for May 6th, 2011
More Is Better
More is certainly better when it comes to memory, whether you’re talking about physical memory or hard disk space. In some cases, the computer uses hard disk space as a substitute for physical memory, so having extra hard disk space available is always a good plan. Keeping your hard disk from filling to capacity will help improve your computer performance.
You can configure the amount of hard disk space your computer reserves for use in memory-intensive operations. Your computer will use hard disk space as temporary file storage, especially if it needs to transfer data in and out of physical memory. This act of swapping data between physical memory and hard disk space is called paging. Paging is normal, but you don’t want your computer to page too much. If your computer does a lot of data swapping between physical memory and hard disk memory, you really need to consider a physical memory upgrade.
You can set aside a certain portion of your disk for use as “scratch space.” If nothing is defined, your computer will set aside a certain amount of disk space for these paging processes anyway. If you completely fill up your hard drive, your computer has no memory to use for paging. Performance problems are guaranteed at this point.
To avoid this, clear out files you don’t need anymore. It’s not enough to drag files to the Recycle bin; you need to empty the bin too! Once you’ve created extra space on your disk, your computer can page more efficiently. Candidates for immediate removal include temporary files, downloaded files you no longer need, and cache files from browsers. Disk Cleanup, a built-in utility from Microsoft, will eliminate the obvious clunkers from your file system and free up some space.
If you’re a pack-rat when it comes to computer files, consider moving “collections” off to DVD or some other near-line storage. Perhaps an external hard disk would fit the bill? Transfer your file collections off to external storage and leave your main hard disk open as much as possible. The general rule of thumb is that when your disk usage exceeds 80%, it’s time to add disk storage space.
In the next post, I’ll cover what to do once you’ve cleaned out your hard disk and freed up a little extra space.
Photo Credit: Ody5iu5, via Flickr
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