Multitasking on your computer should be painless, but it often leads to slowdowns, freezing, crashing, ... and lots of needless frustration. The reason? If you don’t have enough RAM to handle everything you’re doing – every word you’re typing anywhere, every photo you’re viewing, every spreadsheet you’re editing, every video and browser tab you have open – your system will slow to a crawl. That’s why adding more memory is the key to multitasking faster and avoiding system slowdowns. It’s even more important because everyone is a multitasker. Every computer operation, from what you see to what you don’t, consumes memory and this limited resource gets depleted fast.
No matter if you’re using a Windows® PC or Mac® system, it’s common (and completely normal) to have your computer doing more than 100 things at once (called “processes” or “tasks”) and each one drains your pool of available memory. When your RAM can’t handle everything it’s being asked to do, your system slows to a crawl because it can’t process the backlog of operations it’s trying to run.
PCs and Mac® systems have ways to see exactly how much RAM your computer is using and which apps and processes are running in the background and eating away at your available memory. Here’s how to see how much memory you’re using.
|On a PC system||On a MAC® system|
|Press CTRL + Shift + Esc at the same time||In the Finder app, click Applications > Utilities > Activity Monitor|
Once you’ve opened the program on your system, here’s what you’ll see and how you can use this information to improve your multitasking and work faster.
Once Task Manager is open, click the Processes tab at the top of the window to see everything your computer is doing. Each activity is consuming RAM. Note: If you’re using older versions of Windows® (anything before Windows® 8), what you see will appear different, but you’ll still get the same information.
The more you do on your computer, the more RAM you need. Period. It pays to quickly see how much memory you’re using and how much room you have left to do other things. Depending on your system and the apps you’re using, when you’re using about 70% or more of your RAM, your computer is in danger of significantly slowing down, freezing, or crashing (if it hasn’t done so already). This threshold is even more pronounced with smaller RAM capacities, as each MB of memory represents a greater percentage of your total memory capacity. This is why there are different danger zones for different capacities.
|Percent of RAM you’re using||60%||70%||80%|
The less RAM you have available, the slower and more painful your multitasking will be. Since your OS uses memory even when you don’t have anything open, it’s a tight squeeze with either 2GB or 4GB of memory to just run everyday tasks.
Since there are processes running in the background, it takes about 3GB of RAM to run the most basic apps. If 3GB is the minimum, then 2GB of RAM is inadequate, 4GB will barely work, and 8GB or higher is preferable.