News – Computer Resource Usage

Computers use resources too!
Addressing computer systems using Microsoft Windows

Many of you have heard the term “resource” in a conversation regarding computers.

What are your computer’s resources, you might ask — and I’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 work you want it to do. The most important two on the list are memory (otherwise known as RAM and NOT your hard disk) where most of the work you are doing (including what you see at the current moment) is being done and are small pieces on the main board in your computer. Secondly you have your hard disk (which is sometimes incorrectly referred to as memory) and is a piece inside of your computer that you 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 million bytes of data, with each byte being the equivalent of one letter, number, symbol, etc.

You computer has whatever memory that either you or your vendor put 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 see a number in front of “MB RAM”. If you look at the number, that is how much memory (or RAM) your system has.

Your computer uses memory as a workspace. When you start the computer, 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 of that program to memory to be able to do your work. Likewise, when you open an existing data 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 and b) the more you have, the more work (or larger files) your computer can do comfortably at any one time.

My minimum memory recommendations for any speed of system running Microsoft’s products are as follows:

Operating system………Memory (RAM)

The storage requirements for Windows operating system are as follows:


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 last three years. For example: Microsoft’s Windows v3.1, circa 1991, used 12MB of hard drive space to install fully, whereas Microsoft’s Windows 98 uses 350MB for a full install — around a 2,916% increase! Luckily, the cost of that storage space has dropped relatively. (By the way, the quality of that storage space has dropped as 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-click on the “My Computer” icon, right-click on the drive C: icon, click on the “Properties” menu item.

You will see a pie-chart indicating your hard drive’s capacity condition. 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-chart and to the right is another number with a “MB” after it, this is the available, or free space on your hard drive. If this number is below 100, and you 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 called a “swap-file” or a “page-file”. These (as they indicate) are first off, files. Files are stored on your hard drive. These files are necessary to all versions of Microsoft’s Windows, and used as temporary storage spaces while your computer is running. If your hard disk space is low, so will the space for this file be low, and your system’s performance will suffer. To be specific, if you are running Windows, you should have at least 100MB free for your 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 similar to your filing cabinet, in other words, it is a storage space. The larger drive you 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 above will 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 as its 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 manner that you would organize your paper data, so you find it easy to use.

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