Saturday 5 June 2010

Minimizing and Restoring Apps under Windows

I have no idea why, I'm just reporting the facts. Others more technically knowledgeable than me can possible explain it.

Within the Windows operating system, there is a utility called the Task Manager. This tool allows you to see the various programs and processes running on your computer plus details about their operation: number of clock cycles used, amount of memory used, for instance.

If an application remains open, it will frequently eat up more and more RAM. Examining the memory used column shows figures which may slowly climb but not come down. If you minimize the main window of the application, the amount of current memory used by the app drops off by about a factor of what? 90%? It is startling. This apparently holds true for just about all Windows apps including Microsoft Word and Internet Explorer.

Over the years, I have noted that as the number indicating the current amount of RAM allocated to a program or a process increases, there may be a point where the app crashes. I have noted that by periodically minimizing an app, which makes the current amount of RAM decrease dramatically, then restore the app, I can sometimes avoid the potential crash which always seems to happen if that number of currently allocated RAM is allowed to increase and increase.

Why does this happen? Beats me. But I can't argue with success.

Of course, the other option is to just shut down an app and start it up again. Unfortunately this is annoying especially if you're in the middle of something. Note that this seems to hold especially true for applications that use graphics intensely but I have also noted that apps like Internet Explorer or Firefox will eat up more and more memory when playing videos and minimizing the window does not seem to reduce the memory. In this case, closing the app may be the only option.


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