A "screaming" CPU and RAM
Posted on 2005-04-19
Can someone explain to me how a CPU and the RAM works and what the different tabs in the Task Manager (TM) are really good for?
I'm a quadriplegic and so I've got a lot of applications running all the time including Dragon NaturallySpeaking voice recognition software which (supposedly) takes up a lot of RAM. I've been frustrated with how slow things are so I recently upgraded my RAM to 1.5 GB. I've got a 3.00 GHz Pentium 4 and a 60 GB HD (the computer is a Toshiba Satellite P25 laptop). Someone told me that by upgrading (I previously had 750 MB of RAM), my system would "really scream". However, I really haven't noticed that much of a difference. I know that lots of junk (spyware, etc.) can slow things down but I actually just got it back from the factory where they put in a new HD because the old one died a couple of weeks ago, so there's no junk on it right now. (It came back with the factory software reloaded: Windows XP Home.)
The problem is that when I do different operations like transfer a large file, it slows things down. What puzzles me is that the TM Processes tab shows the "System Idle Process" to be at 95 in the CPU column. Doesn't that column show which % of the CPU is doing what? If so, why is 95% of it idling while there is an operation going on? And what does the Mem Usage column tell you? Also, on the Performance tab, the green CPU Usage scale shows that less than 15% is being used and I don't know what the PF Usage scale is telling me. It would seem that the system should throw everything it's got at getting done whatever is processing but it doesns't seem to do that. Also, if several processes are happing at once, how does it determine how much of each resource goes to each? Finally, what do all the numbers at the bottom of the Performance tab mean (handles, threds, Physical mem, cache, Kernal mem, paged, etc.)?
Anyway, I would really love it, if one of you really smart people would jot down here, 1) the basics of reading and using the Task Manager and some real practical stuff on how it can be used to evaluate and increase performance and 2) (this is probably more important than 1), is to show a nice concise list of all the things that can be done (and how often they should be done) to get the maximum performance and speed out of a PC or laptop.
I just have this feeling that my ignorance is keeping me from getting as much as I can out of my system and I would really like to know how to make it "scream", at least as much as it's capable of- and I'm sure there are lot of others out there that would too.