Solved Does an OS need more RAM over the years?

Haydon

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It is easy to add RAM, but I am curious, does an OS need more RAM as it grows and is further developed?
Edit for clarification: I don't mean the 1GB RAM for 32 bit W7, 2GB RAM for 64 bit W7, 4GB RAM for W11, and the like, those are specified and fixed for the life time of the OS. I mean the actual usage of the RAM as the OS runs without any other apps running. Generally speaking, if an OS/software is further developed and provides more services, it will require more resources, including more RAM.

How much more over an OS life cycle? For W7/8/8.1/10 so far
Edit for clarification: Is there any data for the actual usage of the RAM? (OS only running, no apps) At the beginning of the OS life cycle? Somewhere in the middle of the OS life cycle? At the end of the OS life cycle?

Enough to slow down a machine at minimum system requirements?
Edit for clarification: The actual usage of the RAM won't exceed the specified minimum system requirements, but if it comes sufficiently close, then a machine at minimum system requirements will slow down (again with only the OS running, no apps)
 
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BunnyJ

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Not likely. Typically Windows uses up about 2GB of ram so having at least 4GB would work.. but just barely. IMO.,,, a PC should have at least 8GB and I would opt for at least 16GB,

More is better but there's a point of diminishing returns.
 

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zbook

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The RAM requirements for the new Windows 11 still are 4 GB:

If there is sluggishness then try clean boot:
 

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LeLibran

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It's far more likely that more RAM may be required when/if the software you install needs it to perform effectively it rather than the existing OS needing more, e.g. if you install RAM hungry applications such as video editing software, or begin using Virtual Machines which require a dedicated RAM allocation when in use.
 

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Haydon

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Oops, I will put the following clarifications into the OP.

Edit for clarification: I don't mean the 1GB RAM for 32 bit W7, 2GB RAM for 64 bit W7, 4GB RAM for W11, and the like, those are specified and fixed for the life time of the OS. I mean the actual usage of the RAM as the OS runs without any other apps running. Generally speaking, if an OS/software is further developed and provides more services, it will require more resources, including more RAM.

Edit for clarification: Is there any data for the actual usage of the RAM? (OS only running, no apps) At the beginning of the OS life cycle? Somewhere in the middle of the OS life cycle? At the end of the OS life cycle?

Edit for clarification: The actual usage of the RAM won't exceed the specified minimum system requirements, but if it comes sufficiently close, then a machine at minimum system requirements will slow down (again with only the OS running, no apps)
 

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Ghot

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As you know, you can keep track of overall RAM usage via Task Manager.

In particular, Windows itself, may over the years, function a bit better with more RAM.
But... as mentioned above, if you have 16GB you should never be able to even get near to using that.

Various programs can seriously use RAM. Many browsers with many tabs open, image/video editing software... etc.

The secret to keeping Windows speedy, is to "keep it clean". For example...

Let's say you're testing a bunch of DVD ripping programs one day. After the testing, you can attempt to try to clean all the leftovers... OR, you can just restore from a backup, and then only install the program you've chosen.

Anything you do, in Windows or with 3rd party programs, leaves "tracks" all over the place. After a few years of this... Windows will start to slow down because of all the crud it has to deal with whenever you try to do something.

Intelligent use of backup software, can do wonders for Windows, and as we all know, for many problems that might arise.
But mainly.... backup software is very useful for keeping Windows clean and sharp. :)




/edit

Short version...

As soon as you first install Windows... make a full OS image backup.
Then test, play, abuse Windows all you want. When you're done and have made your choices of settings, 3rd party software etc... restore from a backup and use just those settings and 3rd party software, that you decided on.

Then make a fresh backup to use for the future testing, playing, abusing of Windows.

The "restoring" cleans out all the crud from the testing, experimenting, etc.
 

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Haydon

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Thanks, I truly appreciate that (y) What wonders me is how much more RAM is actually being used compared to minimum system requirements. I am typing this on a newish (less than 1 year old) W10 laptop that has only been lightly used. The OS (only) runs on 34% of 8GB = 2.7 GB which is bigger than the 2 GB minimum system requirement.

So, do a clean restore then if the OS runs on 3GB or so?
It would be a nice threshold indicator if it can be used as such.

(The device is eligible for upgrade to W11, so the GB numbers will be bigger because of the higher system requirements, but same principle, GB increase over initial number is indicator of the amount of crud > too much crud > do a clean restore)
 

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Ghot

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@Haydon

Like I said... right after a clean install of Windows ? ... make a full OS image backup.


Every time we install then uninstall a program, it leaves crud. Even little things like registry tweaks, leave crud.
The best we can do is to try to keep the crud to a minimum.

Let's say you are on Win 11 and trying to get back the Win 10 context menus.
You try a few things, try a few reg patches, maybe a few 3rd party apps claiming to bring the context menus back.

If one finally works or even if none work... all that messing around will leave a tiny bit of crud.
So after say... 3 days of of trying for the context menus... stop and restore from the full OS image backup you made before you started messing around.

Presto, you just erased the chalk board... removed the crud.
Now you're back to a clean slate again.


Rinse and repeat... forever and you will keep the OS clean.

For example... I installed Win 7 in Oct 2012. Ran it till May 2020, using backups/restores like I mentioned.
It was still just as clean as the day I installed it... 8 years later.

I installed Win 10 in May 2020, and did the same thing. ONLY problem I've had since May 2020, was going from 1909 to 2004.
So I made a full backup before I did an In-Place Upgrade to 2004.
The In-Place upgrade worked, so I made another full backup after the In-Place upgrade.

The In-Place upgrade was in July 2020... since then, haven't had any problems. More importantly, I've kept Windows 10 "clean" since then. So now, a year later, it's like I just installed Windows 10 yesterday.

My RAM usage is the same, my time to restart is the same... etc.
 

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Haydon

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Hey Ghot, thanks again! First of all, I am not a tech, but I do try and have kept my stable clean of horse poop since long. And the few times I needed to do it, I have always done bare metal restores for the cleanest restores, especially after it became so easy to do since W8

Anyway, I collected data from my W10 stable (the GB number after the = sign is the actual RAM usage of the OS)
  1. 48% of 4 GB = 1.9 GB (light use)
  2. 33% of 8 GB = 2.6 GB (light use)
  3. 34% of 8 GB = 2.7 GB (light use, the above laptop)
  4. 13% of 16 GB = 2.1 GB (medium use, my workhorse)
Looking at those GB numbers after the = sign, I am not sure if actual RAM usage of the OS (and its increases from initial value) can be used as an indicator for the amount of accumulated crud. At least not just this, there has to be other indicators.

Boot time? Time to open apps? Your own impatience? Other indicators?
 

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Ghot

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Well, I have a fairly simple, unencumbered install of Win 10, and Win 11 for that matter.

Just looking at total RAM usage (percent) in Task Manager, I notice that at the lowest (just after a reboot), I see about 12% (of 16GB), RAM usage. This slowly increases to a maximum of approx. 24% (mainly from browser, tracks, cookies, tabs, etc.).

It rises to and stays at 24% forever it seems, until I reboot again. Then it drops back to 12%.
Windows 7 did the same.

In short, my Windows installs seems to stay between 2 and 4GB RAM usage.
Right now (night time), it's hard to get down to 12%, because Bitdefender does it's thing, during the night.

Image1.png


When I mentioned "crud" that was about Windows slowing down, over... years.
 
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Haydon

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Yes, that's what I meant too 'over the years' as I wrote in the title of this thread. And the % that I posted in the above is right after a reboot, too, which translates to 1.9 GB to 2.7 GB of RAM usage by the OS alone (no apps) in the 4 machines with 4 GB to 16 GB of installed RAM.

Only machine #1 (9 years old, 4GB RAM for W10 Pro, upgraded from W7 originally) is beginning to slow down, although I did a bare metal restore a year ago exactly for that reason. Well, I don't think I should invest in the machine anymore.
 

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Berton

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I have 2 Dell Latitude 14" Notebooks, both with 4GB RAM and 1 has Win 8.1 Pro x86 and the other was running Win10 Pro x86 but 250GB HDD was failing, replaced it with a fully clean reinstall of Win10 Pro x64 on 500GB and working fine but I do have 2 x 4GB modules for it when more pressing issues let up a bit. Neither one will meet Win11 specs.
 

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Ghot

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Yes, that's what I meant too 'over the years' as I wrote in the title of this thread. And the % that I posted in the above is right after a reboot, too, which translates to 1.9 GB to 2.7 GB of RAM usage by the OS alone (no apps) in the 4 machines with 4 GB to 16 GB of installed RAM.

Only machine #1 (9 years old, 4GB RAM for W10 Pro, upgraded from W7 originally) is beginning to slow down, although I did a bare metal restore a year ago exactly for that reason. Well, I don't think I should invest in the machine anymore.


I don't know what hardware you have in machine #1, but you might try a clean install of Win 10, before you write it off.
 

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Haydon

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I did do a bare metal restore a year ago, 23.5" AIO Gateway with touch screen on top of that.
 

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Ghot

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I did do a bare metal restore a year ago, 23.5" AIO Gateway with touch screen on top of that.


Even backups get filled with crud after a while.
Since the clean install on that machine, you've probably gotten a lot better at using backups/restores.

But try a clean install, then start a new series of backups/restores.
 

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    Seagate 80GB 7200rpm SATA
    Lite-On LTR-52246S CD/RW
    Lite-On LH-18A1P CD/DVD Burner
    PSU
    PC Power & Cooling Silencer 750 Quad EPS12V
    Case
    Generic Beige case, 80mm fans
    Cooling
    ZALMAN 9500A 92mm CPU Cooler
    Mouse
    Logitech Optical M-BT96a
    Keyboard
    Logitech Classic Keybooard 200
    Internet Speed
    100/100
    Browser
    Firefox 3.x ??
    Antivirus
    Symantec (Norton)
    Other Info
    Still assembled, still runs. Haven't turned it on for 13 years?

    http://www.xtremesystems.org/forums/showthread.php?183088-5000-B-E-on-M2N32-SLI-Dlx-Overclocked&p=2891724#post2891724

Haydon

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True, I spent the $ to buy the full W10 Pro on a USB stick from MS, hoping for zero crud in the OS. Not sure what I can do about the crud in my own files, though, LOL. Long time ago, I received an email which was not important to me, and I forgot about it. The regular Defender scans detected nothing. About 10 days later, I scanned with a portable scanner, and wow, the attachment contained a trojan which was of course not activated, because I never even opened the email. However, the backup system had tons of unexploded bombs. Oh dear, I spent half a day playing bomb squad LOL

Edit: Bare metal restore = clean install, done that since XP days, although not as often as a tech would do, I am just my own IT department, janitor, ....
 

My Computer

System One

  • Operating System
    Windows 10 Pro

Ghot

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Yeah, I think the best anyone can do is use the backup/restore to try to keep the crud to a minimum.
But if the comp starts to slow down, do a clean install, and start over with clean backup/restores.
 

My Computers

System One System Two

  • Operating System
    Win 10 Home 10.0.22000.258 (x64)
    Computer type
    PC/Desktop
    Manufacturer/Model
    Built by Ghot®
    CPU
    AMD Ryzen 7 3700X
    Motherboard
    Asus Pro WS X570-ACE
    Memory
    G.Skill (F4-3200C14D-16GTZKW)
    Graphics Card(s)
    EVGA RTX 2070 (08G-P4-2171-KR)
    Sound Card
    (onboard) Realtek ALC1220P / ALC S1220A
    Monitor(s) Displays
    Dell U3011 30"
    Screen Resolution
    2560 x 1600
    Hard Drives
    Samsung 860 EVO 500GB,
    WD 4TB Black FZBX - SATA III,
    WD 8TB Black FZBX - SATA III,
    LG GH22LS30 CD/DVD Burner
    PSU
    PC Power & Cooling 750W Quad EPS12V
    Case
    COOLER MASTER ATCS 840 Full Tower
    Cooling
    CM Hyper 212 EVO (push/pull)
    Keyboard
    Ducky DK9008 Shine II Blue LED
    Mouse
    Logitech Optical M-100
    Internet Speed
    100/100
    Browser
    Firefox (latest)
    Antivirus
    Bitdefender Internet Security 2020
    Other Info
    Speakers: Klipsch Pro Media 2.1
  • Operating System
    Windows XP Pro 32bit w/SP3
    Computer type
    PC/Desktop
    Manufacturer/Model
    Built by Ghot®
    CPU
    AMD Athlon 64 X2 5000+ (OC'd @ 3.2Ghz)
    Motherboard
    ASUS M2N32-SLI Deluxe Wireless Edition
    Memory
    TWIN2X2048-6400C4DHX (2 x 1GB, DDR2 800)
    Graphics card(s)
    EVGA 256-P2-N758-TR GeForce 8600GT SSC
    Sound Card
    Onboard
    Monitor(s) Displays
    ViewSonic G90FB Black 19" Professional (CRT)
    Screen Resolution
    up to 2048 x 1536
    Hard Drives
    WD 36GB 10,000rpm Raptor SATA
    Seagate 80GB 7200rpm SATA
    Lite-On LTR-52246S CD/RW
    Lite-On LH-18A1P CD/DVD Burner
    PSU
    PC Power & Cooling Silencer 750 Quad EPS12V
    Case
    Generic Beige case, 80mm fans
    Cooling
    ZALMAN 9500A 92mm CPU Cooler
    Mouse
    Logitech Optical M-BT96a
    Keyboard
    Logitech Classic Keybooard 200
    Internet Speed
    100/100
    Browser
    Firefox 3.x ??
    Antivirus
    Symantec (Norton)
    Other Info
    Still assembled, still runs. Haven't turned it on for 13 years?

    http://www.xtremesystems.org/forums/showthread.php?183088-5000-B-E-on-M2N32-SLI-Dlx-Overclocked&p=2891724#post2891724

Haydon

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That's what I did a year ago, but the 9 year old machine is still a bit slow for my liking.

So the gory details is > do a 'Refresh this PC' > take option 'Remove Everything' > Install W10 Pro > copy files and folder back in > install apps. I think that's what you call 'clean install'. I call it 'clean install' too, but occasionally I call it 'bare metal restore' because after 'Remove Everything' only the bare metal of the machine is left, and you build the machine back up from that bare metal. But if the term is confusing, then by all means, we can agree on 'clean install'

After the 'clean install', the machine is of course more responsive, but it is a 9 year old machine (or 8 year old machine when I did the 'clean install') and I still find it a bit slow.

I could for example add RAM to speed it up a little. It has 4 GB of RAM in it, but maximum RAM capacity is 8 GB. So yes, it will speed the machine up a little for a couple of years. Is it worth the investment? My judgement call says no, it is not worth the investment. I even have a reference point for that. I had a Netbook that I loved, and I tried and tried to prolong its useful life with some success, but in hindsight I would have been better off buying a tablet.

So is life, I guess, our beloved toys become doorstoppers at the end.
 
Last edited:

My Computer

System One

  • Operating System
    Windows 10 Pro

Haydon

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I have 2 Dell Latitude 14" Notebooks, both with 4GB RAM and 1 has Win 8.1 Pro x86 and the other was running Win10 Pro x86 but 250GB HDD was failing, replaced it with a fully clean reinstall of Win10 Pro x64 on 500GB and working fine but I do have 2 x 4GB modules for it when more pressing issues let up a bit. Neither one will meet Win11 specs.
I am facing the same issue with 3 machines. I had many years of good use of the 3 machines, though. I am planning to buy 2 new machines in the next 3 or 4 years, and will reshuffle things to live with 1 less machine.
 

My Computer

System One

  • Operating System
    Windows 10 Pro

Colif

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Windows grows and shrinks to fit in the ram you have, the more you have the bigger it will get. Windows also uses the ram to speed up your PC resposnse time so having data in ram isn't a bad thing, clearing it out of ram can actually slow you down. Its much more likely to compress closed programs into ram than to write them to storage as you never know, you might need that soon. It only writes to storage if it needs that space or you are closing PC down.

windows 10 can boot with less ram than any previous version of windows until you hit XP
Win 10 - 140mb
win 8 - 168mb
win 7 - 192mb
Vista - 224mb
XP - 96mb

enlightening video:

its actual usage over time might grow depending on if any new features added that are necessary.
 

My Computer

System One

  • Operating System
    Windows 11
    Computer type
    PC/Desktop
    Manufacturer/Model
    Owner built
    CPU
    AMD Ryzen 5 3600XT
    Motherboard
    Gigabyte Aorus X570 Elite Wifi
    Memory
    32gb Corsair RGB Pro
    Graphics Card(s)
    RTX 2070 Super
    Sound Card
    N/A
    Monitor(s) Displays
    LG 32GK650F-B 32.0" 144 Hz
    Screen Resolution
    2560x1440
    Hard Drives
    1tb Samsung Evo Plus NVME
    3th WD Blue HDD
    PSU
    Seasonic Focus Plus Platinum 750watt
    Case
    Fractal Design Meshify S2
    Cooling
    Corsair H100i RGB Platinum 75 CFM Liquid CPU Cooler
    Keyboard
    Corsair K70 Mk2 RGB
    Mouse
    Steelseries Rival 600
    Internet Speed
    70 MB/S
    Browser
    Chrome
    Antivirus
    Bitdefender
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