Slow PC - Not accessing all available RAM?

  Barrykneeshaw 10:02 05 Jan 2011

Over the last few weeks my PC has got increasingly slower at doing everything from routine stuff like changing between applications and especially gaming.
It's not a fast machine and elderly but there has been a sharp decline in performance.
I have an Acer Aspire T180 with Vista Home premium, see details below. I don't like the bit about total physical memory. Can anyone assist with this speed problem?
System Model Aspire T180
System Type X86-based PC
Processor AMD Athlon(tm) 64 X2 Dual Core Processor 5000+, 2600 Mhz, 2 Core(s), 2 Logical Processor(s)
BIOS Version/Date Phoenix Technologies, LTD R01-B4, 27/04/2007
SMBIOS Version 2.3
Hardware Abstraction Layer Version = "6.0.6002.18005"
Installed Physical Memory (RAM) 4.00 GB
Total Physical Memory 3.00 GB
Available Physical Memory 1.99 GB
Total Virtual Memory 6.24 GB
Available Virtual Memory 4.45 GB
Page File Space 3.29 GB
Page File C:\pagefile.sys

  sunnystaines 10:06 05 Jan 2011

use this free download from memtest86 to check your memory for faults.

click here

consider spyware, virus infection.

run chkdsk and defrag for the hdd.

run ccleaner to clear out junk files.

  Woolwell 10:15 05 Jan 2011

Not sure that it is a memory issue. Vista32 bit will not use all of the 4.00 Gb for example my Vista machine shows Installed 4 Gb - Available 3.25 Gb. Do you have an onboard graphics card or a separate card? Graphics could be using your ram. My available Physical RAM is showing less than yours yet my system is not slow..

I would suggest that a good clean up is required. Have a look through the posts for Fruit Bat /\0/\'s advice for a slow pc which is very good.

  Fruit Bat /\0/\ 16:17 05 Jan 2011

1. Software

a) Clear out all temporary files and folders -- use Crap Cleaner click here

b) Scan for malware spyware and viruses --Free Anti Spyware :-
Superantispyware click here
Malware removal tool click here

Free Antivirus software
MicroSoft Security Essentials click here
Avast4 click here
AVG antivirus click here

c) Clean the registry -- Use the tool in Crap Cleaner its very safe and also allows you to back up the registry first.

d) Pagefile (Virtual Memory) -- Right click MY Computer - select properties - Advanced tab - Performance -
advanced tab - Virtual memory click change, you can put the page file on a different drive (if you have one), click
custom size and set Initial size to one and a half times the amount of memory you have fitted i.e. 512MB memory
= set to 768MB, set maximum to double your memory amount i.e. 512MB memory = 1024MB click ok.
If your hard drive is full and there is not enough room for the pagefile this can slow down, freeze or even cause the
PC to crash (restart).

e) Cut down on the programs that load at start up -- Start - Run type msconfig - start up tab- untick everything
except for firewall, antivirus and antispyware

and the services that run in the background. click here

f) Force Windows to Unload DLLs from Memory
Windows Explorer caches DLLs (Dynamic-Link Libraries) in memory for a period of time after the application using them has been closed. This can be an inefficient use of memory on low memory systems, and may cause problems or delays for programmers developing with Windows DLL files.

Open your registry and find the key [HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer].
Create a new sub-key named 'AlwaysUnloadDLL' and set the default value to equal '1' to disable Windows caching the DLL in memory.
Restart Windows for the change to take effect.

  Fruit Bat /\0/\ 16:19 05 Jan 2011

2. Hardware

a) Hard drives /

i) IDE Channels: (Not required if you have SATA drives)
Check the transfer rate, you need to have the transfer mode set to DMA not PIO.
Right click My Computer - Properties - Hardware - Device Manager - Expand (click the + ) IDE ATA/ATAPI controllers right click Primary Channel - Advanced Settings Tab -
If transfer Mode is PIO then follow the instructions at click here to change.

ii) Check for errors and defrag your hard drives -- My Computer - select drive - properties - tool tab - Error checking / Defragmentation.

ii) If you are using Windows XP, Vista or Windows 7 it's a good idea to convert your system drive to the NTFS file system if you have not already. In addition to providing numerous security and data recovery improvements over FAT32 (the file system of choice for Windows 9x/ME and XP Home) it can also speed up your system slightly.

In fact, the only real reason for sticking with the FAT32 file system for any of your data is if you have more than one operating system on your PC and the other OS's can only see FAT32 partitions (as would be the case with Windows 98, for example, which is incapable of reading NTFS data).

To convert your drives to NTFS:
Right click on 'my computer' and select 'manage'
From the computer management window, expand storage and select 'disk management.'
Using the 'file system' column of the upper pane of this window, you can easily check what file system each of your logical drives is using. Make a note of this information.
Now open a command prompt window by going to 'start\run' and typing 'cmd'
To convert a disk to NTFS, type 'convert (drive letter): /fs:ntfs'
So for example, if you were going to convert your C: drive, you would type 'Convert c: /fs:ntfs' at the prompt.

b) Drivers
Obtain the newest drivers for your hardware
This may seem a bit obvious, but keeping your system's drivers up to date can give both your performance and stability a boost. Video card manufacturers release updates especially often, and these can often give "significant boosts" to gaming performance as video card in question is "optimized."

Don't neglect the other components of your system either. Your motherboard manufacturer may have released newer versions of its Input/output drivers for your board, and sound cards and other peripherals can also benefit from newer software.

c) Memory
Add more physical memory, this of course means opening the "box" and fitting a memory module, make sure you buy one that is suitable for your PC. Crucial .com click here will guide you through the process of selecting the correct memory. click here for a guide to fitting memory.
However a 32bit system can only access 3.5 Gb of memory so any thing more is wasted unless using a 64bit operating system

  Barrykneeshaw 14:20 06 Jan 2011

Well, thank you all. Working my way through all this. I can say that so far I have updated all my drivers and run CCleaner (incl. the Registry cleaner) and checked everything out through McAfees for spyware etc without any improvement. I can't put any more RAM in as it already has the max of 4 gb.
I did all of the above and when I re checked the 'Windows Experience' rating it dropped from 5.2 to 4.8! Note that I have an NVidia 9500 512 mb graphics card in there which should be shouldering some of the load. Could there be a problem with that card? I have updated the drivers for that too.
I will check out evrything else suggested over the next two days and see what happens.
Somebody said something about a motherboard controller failure to me. Surely the whole thing would just 'stop'?

  Woolwell 14:31 06 Jan 2011

How much dirt is there inside the case? Is it starting to overheat?

  Fruit Bat /\0/\ 15:31 06 Jan 2011

Hard drives in PIO mode is most likely explanation if still slow.

  Barrykneeshaw 13:37 07 Jan 2011

Well, a bit reluctant to mess about with the Registry but I suppose if I back it up?
Anyway, I looked at the pagefile (Virtual memory) and it was still set for dealing with 2gb of RAM! i reset this as per above and immediately got my 5.2 rating back. There is definitely significant improvement here. So, a few of the other things to do (including cleaning out the inside of the case - may have mice in there...)and the PC may run better than it did originally. I will provide one more response to let you know how it finishes up. Thanks to all... particularly Fruitbat...

  woodchip 13:49 07 Jan 2011

physical memory 3GB if this 32 bit I would say it wants only 3Gb the Extra may be the problem, if you have two sticks remove one at a time and try the PC

  Woolwell 16:03 07 Jan 2011

I don't think it is the extra as I have 4Gb on 32 bit. The 5.2 rating isn't bad. Mine is 5.4.

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