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Computers use resources too!
Addressing computer systems using Microsoft Windows

Many of you have heard the term "resource" in a conversationregarding computers.

What are your computer's resources, you might ask — andI'm glad you did because I needed an excuse to write this article...

A resource is something that your computer can use to do the workyou want it to do. The most important two on the list are memory (otherwise knownas RAM and NOT your hard disk) where most of the work you are doing (includingwhat you see at the current moment) is being done and are small pieces on themain board in your computer. Secondly you have your hard disk (which is sometimesincorrectly referred to as memory) and is a piece inside of your computer thatyou store all your data on (and backup regularly if you are wise).

First off, let me explain some terms for the newcomers:

  • Click indicates pressing the left mouse button once.
  • Double-click indicates pressing the left mouse button twice.
  • Right-click indicates pressing the right mouse button once.
  • MB is short for "Mega-byte" which means roughly, 1 millionbytes of data, with each byte being the equivalent of one letter, number, symbol,etc.

You computer has whatever memory that either you or your vendorput in it. This can be checked by right-clicking on the "My Computer"icon which is usually on the upper-left of your screen, and clicking the "Properties"menu item. Towards the bottom-right of the "General" tab, you will seea number in front of "MB RAM". If you look at the number, that is howmuch memory (or RAM) your system has.

Your computer uses memory as a work space. When you start thecomputer, parts of the operating system are copied to memory for fast access.When you load a program to do some work with, you also copy that, or parts ofthat program to memory to be able to do your work. Likewise when you open an existingdata file with that program. And when you create a new file with any program,you are creating it in memory to be later copied to the hard drive.

So, you should see that a) memory is an important resource andb) the more you have, the more work (or larger files) your computer can do comfortablyat any one time.

My minimum memory recommendations for any speed of system running Microsoft'sproducts are as follows:

Operating system.........Memory (RAM)

Windows 95 ................
Windows 98 ................
Windows NT ...............

Windows 2000 ............

Windows XP...............

48 MB

64 MB
128 MB

256 MB
512 MB

Windows 2003 ............1000 MB
Windows VISTA ..........1000 MB
Windows 2008 ............2000 MB

What about your hard drive?
Well, because of increasingly complex (read LARGE) operating systems, programs,etc.; the storage space demands for small computers has skyrocketed in the lastthree years. For example: Microsoft's Windows v3.1, circa 1991, used 12MB of harddrive space to install fully, whereas Microsoft's Windows 98 uses 350MB for afull install — around a 2,916% increase! Luckily, the cost of that storage spacehas dropped relatively. (By the way, the quality of that storage space has droppedas well, so again, smart users backup their data! To avoid extra unnecessary work,be smart!)

To find how much hard drive space you have, and have left, double-clickon the "My Computer" icon, right-click on the drive C: icon, click onthe "Properties" menu item.

You will see a pie-chart indicating your hard drive's capacitycondition. Below the pie-chart and to the right is a number with a "MB"after it. This indicates your total hard drive capacity. Just above the pie-chartand to the right is another number with a "MB" after it, this is theavailable, or free space on your hard drive. If this number is below 100, andyou are using any of the above operating systems, you need a larger hard drive!Even if you are "only doing word-processing"!!


Because all versions of Microsoft's Windows use what is calleda "swap-file" or a "page-file". These (as they indicate) arefirst off, files. Files are stored on your hard drive. These files are necessaryto all versions of Microsoft's Windows, and used as temporary storage spaces whileyour computer is running. If your hard disk space is low, so will the space forthis file be low, and your system's performance will suffer. To be specific, ifyou are running Windows, you should have at least 100MB free foryour swap file, and if this is all you have free, it's time for a new drive!

As your memory is your work space, your hard drive is similarto your filing cabinet, in other words, it is a storage space. The larger driveyou have, the more space for files, programs, etc.

Any final words of wisdom?
Sure! Any amount of memory (RAM) below the minimum recommendations I made abovewill slow you down and over-work your hard drive (remember the swap/page-file?)to the extent that you have less than these numbers.

Ok, now you have an idea of what your computer has, and uses asit's two main system resources. Other devices will affect the speed of your system,and some dramatically, but that's a title for another newsletter.

How can Computer Technology Solutions. help my business?
We can help you find out what hardware you really need for your business. We can help you install it, set it up, and organize your data the same mannerthat you would organize your paper data so you find it easy to use.

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