RING! Computer Advisor
What to buy
What should you buy? > Software Requirements
"Load it up with RAM. The more the better!"
That's still true.
Today RAM is cheap. It's the temporary space the OS and the application use to really do the computing. The hard drive just holds the programs and data. RAM is where all the work is done. The programs you run AND the OS need space to exist when they run (since the don't RUN or execute on the hard drive).
New systems will usually have 128MegaBytes (mb) or 256Mb of RAM. Used systems may only have 32Mb or 64Mb.
Windows XP, Win2000 and later need at least 128Mb to run. If you can afford more, get it. It's cheap to add it and your system will perform much better.
You need to look at the requirements for EACH application you intend to run SIMULTANEOUSLY. Add up their memory requirements. If Office 2000 wants 64Mb minimum of RAM and Corel Draw wants 64Mb of RAM and Windows XP needs 128Mb of RAM, you will need 256Mb of RAM to run them all at the same time together without swap file issues.
Windows creates a very large swap file on the hard drive. If there is not enought room in RAM, portions of the programs are swapped in and out of RAM as needed. This causes disk thrashing and really slows things down. We'll get more into managing system resources in another session.
So add 'em all up and get enought RAM to handle them all at one time IF you intend to load them all up as active programs and keep them on your desktop.
This article is copyrighted by John Waters.