The lower displays on the Windows Task Manager shows page file usage. (A “page” is a contiguous group of memory.) However, on every XP machine I have ever seen the graph is just a straight line and does not show very much. For this reason I recommend FreeMeter.
The Freemeter Display
As its name implies it is free though there is a more robust version that you have to pay for. FreeMeter does show page file usage and is available from http://www.tiler.com/freemeter/.
But first, what is so important about page file usage is that it can indicate that you need more memory or one of your programs is utilizing a lot of memory. Now to explain this... Memory is permanently stored on your hard disk drive but a hard disk drive is too slow for a processor to directly access so it always runs programs and accesses data from the memory on chips. Most machines do not have enough memory to run all of the programs and the data these programs access simultaneously. The PC saves sections of memory that has not been used for a while in the Page file or swap file (older versions of windows) on your hard disk drive. When memory is referenced that has been stored in the swap file the computer makes space in memory by writing some data to the swap file on the hard disk and then reading the memory you need. This activity can really slow you computer down. It will occur most often when programs start up and you are switching between programs.
FreeMeter displays a set of meters that show up in the lower right hand area of your screen called Systray. (see picture above) You will be able to see what is happening so you can observe if one particular program is causing a problem or the problem is just not enough memory. It is a great program to have. The other nice thing about FreeMeter is that it also works on Windows 95 and up and older versions of windows did not come with a utility that like this.
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