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Few basic performance questions

performance tuneup tips

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#1 Guth

Guth

    Alba Gu Bráth

  • Joined: 30-December 05
  • Location: Scotland
  • OS: Windows 8 Pro
  • Phone: Nokia Lumia

Posted 20 October 2012 - 00:04

I'm looking for answers for a few things that always cross my mind when I'm on the computer and have never gotten answered.
I'm quite good at web design and writing code, but never learned too much about the hardware side of things.
Recently I've noticed my computer has slowed down quite a bit. Its not a great computer, but I don't play games or anything and it has usually been quite fast for what I need

I guess I'd best start with my specs. I built this PC years ago, it was my first self build and I was super excited and was saving up for it. I ran out of patience so I went ahead and ordered lesser parts than I initially wanted because I was fed up saving. So its not a top of the range computer, I know that. I would love something better, but I just don't have the money. Basically, don't make fun please :)

I have:
Intel® Core™2 CPU - 6400 @ 2.13 GHz
2GB of RAM
Graphics are crappy ones built into motherboard.
1TB Seagate HDD
Win 7 Ultimate (genuine before anyone asks xD )

With windows running and a few background apps I like (rainmeter, evernote, utorrent, dropbox, avast internet security) my RAM use is usually at 50% (1GB)

My first question is;
  • Is 50% of RAM alot, and does this affect my computers performance?
  • If not, what sort of percentage does it start to have an impact.

My HDD is 87% full - only 120GB free(Windows installation is on this drive). I believe that your HDD being full can impact performance? (I like to torrent xD)
  • Is this true, if so, by how much with mine being at 87%.
Would a separate cheap HDD with only windows on it make my computer run faster. (I know an SSD would but that's not an option as its too expensive)
  • I've heard that defragging isn't needed for windows 7. True or not?
  • Do those clean up programs really make a difference? (CCleaner, Tuneup utilities etc. - I know crap cleaner cleans crap, but I mean performance advantage)
Lastly, Ive started keeping 2 tabs pinned in chrome. GMail so that I get a popup when I get a new email, and my hotmail aswell because a customer I am working with uses live messenger for communication and hotmail has web messenger.
These two tabs are using 100MB of ram each. Is 200MB a significant amount when I have 2GB total?
Chrome has 20 processes running, one for each extension and one for each tab! Its using 600MB of ram in total just now with 6 Tabs open and my 2 email ones pinned and has sent my RAM to 83%.
This goes back to my first question, does RAM use that high affect performance?

I will say that my computer isnt slow. Not by my standards anyway. It takes a while to open photoshop for example, but it runs fine. It doesnt crash often and as I said before, I dont play games on PC and it has been fine for my needs up until now. I'm starting to get into more advanced coding/developing and have much more software installed and use more software too.
I think its starting to get out-dated and in need of upgrade/replacement. When I can afford it, I will replace it.
However, for now I'm just looking for answers to these questions, to see how I can better distribute the resources I have and perhaps buy an extra RAM stick or something else.
Suggestions are welcome.

Sorry for the long winded post
-Guth


#2 theyarecomingforyou

theyarecomingforyou

    Tiger Trainer

  • Tech Issues Solved: 1
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  • OS: Windows 10 Preview
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Posted 20 October 2012 - 01:20

RAM usage: While your RAM usage may be at 50% at the time of posting the likelihood is that you'll be using considerably more than that in every day usage, particularly if you keep a lot of tabs open in your web browser. With only 2GB of RAM you're certainly at the bottom end of modern PC specs, though as you don't game that's not as much of an issue. How often do you use programs like Photoshop and what is your typical usage? With batch processing you can easily consume over 12GB of RAM but if you're processing images one-by-one then you're probably fine. When you max out your RAM usage it writes data to a pagefile on your hard-drive, which leads to excessive I/O usage and will impact system performance (unfortunately you only have one drive and can't simply store the pagefile on a secondary drive to mitigate this).
Verdict: An upgrade would certainly be beneficial but isn't essential if you're not regularly hitting 100% usage. You really need to monitor your usage closely, as I wouldn't be surprised if you're hitting 100% usage more often than you think - if you are then adding more RAM is a cheap way to improve performance.

HDD capacity: Low-disk space can lead to performance issues, especially when combined with 100% RAM usage. However, if you've got 120GB of free space on your Windows drive then you've got nothing to worry about - you'd need to be looking at less than 5-10GB to be concerned. You don't mention that your drive is partitioned, which leads me to assume that all your data is stored on a single partition on the same drive. If that's true then that's about the worst way you can store your data, as it means it's considerably more difficult to recover your data in the event that your Windows install becomes corrupted or you need to reinstall. An SSD would have a huge impact on performance if you can stretch that far (you say you can't but prices have dropped recently and they're worth considering - £65 gets you a decent 120GB model, though you can pick some up for around £53) but if not then adding an extra HDD would be recommended.
Verdict: Add another drive, create a 200GB partition and install Windows 7 on it. That alone should dramatically improve your performance, as your Windows install is likely cluttered and you've said you're running low on space.

Clean-up programs: Don't bother, they're more hassle than they're worth. Some people swear by them but I've found them to be unreliable.
Defragging and Windows 7: Modern versions of Windows automatically defrag drives as a background process - it's all automatic and you don't need to worry about it.
GPU: Given the age of your system your GPU is likely quite dated, which will affect general performance and will be most noticeable when viewing videos on YouTube or that you've downloaded. Even a cheap standalone card should offer you better performance. Not essential but it's one of the weakest links in your system.

At the end of the day if your performance used to be fine and has degraded then the obvious remedy would be to reinstall Windows. Reinstalling Windows should up your performance and doesn't cost anything, other than the time required to reinstall all your programs. The only thing you need to be careful of is protecting your data, especially if everything is one the same partition. If that's the case then you really need to add a second drive. Under no circumstances should you store general data on your Windows partition.

PS - I think I covered everything but feel free to message me if you have any questions.

#3 Clearskies

Clearskies

    Neowinian

  • Joined: 10-November 11
  • Location: Ottawa, Canada
  • OS: W8 / Xubuntu
  • Phone: Samsung Galaxy SII X

Posted 20 October 2012 - 01:24

Regarding cleanup programs: you should not be relying on them for performance boosts, but they are sometimes useful to free up hard drive space if that ever becomes a concern.