How to avoid ‘Out of Memory’ errors: 3 tips
by Christopher Elliott
reprinted with permission from the Microsoft Small Business Center
There comes a time in the life of every computing device when it says “enough!”
Can’t go on. Need . . . more . . . memory.
The dreaded “Out of Memory” error is relatively easy to fix when you’re talking storage (short-term solution: delete a file; long-term solution: buy a new hard drive). But when it comes to the other kind of memory, also known as RAM (random-access memory) — that’s the internal kind of memory your computing device uses — things can get a little bit more complicated.
“Inadequate memory is a productivity inhibitor,” notes William Kazman, chief executive of iTeam, a Westford, Mass., information-technology outsourcing company for small businesses. “A small business typically keeps a computer for three to five years. During that hardware lifecycle, operating system and application upgrades consume more and more computer resources — memory being key among them.”
In other words, small businesses are mindful of their software upgrades, but often oblivious to their hardware needs. And that goes beyond the computer workstation. It also extends to servers and personal computing devices, such as Tablet PCs.
Your poor, overworked PC
Are you running your machines ragged? OK, there’s no evidence that an insufficient amount of memory will hurt your hardware — at least none that I’ve seen. But you could be running yourself ragged (and compromising your company’s productivity) by ignoring a memory-deficiency within your own organization.
“Most people are too conservative when it comes to planning their memory needs,” says Doug Finke, director at SimpleTech, a Santa Ana, Calif., designer of open-standard memory and storage solutions. “I think it’s a big mistake to assume the base memory size installed by the PC manufacturer when you bought the machine will be sufficient. Manufacturers will sometimes scrimp on base memory to hit target price points.”
So how do you prevent the dreaded error message from putting a crunch on your profits? Here are three tips.
1. Know how much memory your devices need to begin with. Your PC needs at least 256 megabytes (MB), but 512 MB is preferable. A small-business server should have 512 MB, but I’ve spoken with memory experts who say they’re much more comfortable with 2 GB, or 2,048 MB. Tablet PCs being used by a small business should have at least 512 MB. For smaller mobile devices such as personal digital assistants (PDAs) or cell phones, a starting point is a 1 GB flash card. Not sure how much memory you have? Here’s more advice on troubleshooting your PCs’ system memory and optimizing your machine’s performance in Windows XP.
2. Be looking for warning signs. Don’t wait for an error message. A PC or PDA will let you know when memory is in short supply long before it starts screaming at you. Obviously, the machine will begin running slower. Frequent freezes or system failures could also be harbingers of a coming memory crisis. Don’t assume that you need more memory (although you most likely do). Sometimes, your existing RAM is faulty. You’ll probably get a Stop 0x2E error — here’s more on that. Then it isn’t so much a matter of adding new memory, but rather fixing the existing RAM.
3. Manage your tasks. As you add applications to your computing device, its memory requirements change. For example, on a Windows XP workstation running basic applications such as word processing,
spreadsheets, Microsoft Internet Explorer, and financial software, 512 MB might be sufficient. But, says Jay Greenwald, president of NerdE-Solutions, a Denver computer-support company for small businesses, all that changes when you add jobs. “Adding graphics programs or accounting software, and you’re talking [about adding] 768 MB or 1 GB,” he says.How much memory are the applications on your PC using? Ctrl+ALT+Delete will pull up the Windows Task Manager in Windows XP. Click on the Processes tab and scroll to the right to see “Mem Usage.” The more processes, the more memory is being used. Gauge your memory accordingly.
If you pay attention to your computing device’s workload, are attentive to its error messages, and have a good idea of what its memory needs are, you should avoid a memory crisis. Is that it?
Kazman, of iTeam, says there’s really only one more consideration: how to get the extra memory into your computer. That’s a task he believes small businesses should consider outsourcing.
“There are a variety of memory formats available and each computer only uses a particular configuration,” he says. “Memory resellers offer online ‘configurators’ to assist with this selection, but if you are unsure, it could be prudent to purchase your memory upgrade through a value-added reseller or PC repair depot.”
Carl Mazzanti is Co-Founder and President of eMazzanti Technologies, Microsoft’s four time Partner of the Year and one of the premier IT consulting services for businesses throughout the New York metropolitan area and internationally. Carl and his company manage over 400 active accounts ranging from professional services firms to high-end global retailers.
eMazzanti is all about delivering powerful, efficient outsourced IT services, such as computer network management and troubleshooting, managed print, PCI DSS compliance, green computing, mobile workforce technology, information security, cloud computing, and business continuity and disaster recovery.
Carl Mazzanti is also a frequent business conference speaker and technology talk show guest and contributor at Microsoft-focused events, including frequent prominent roles at the Microsoft Inspire (Worldwide Partner Conference / WPC).
Carl, a serial Entrepreneur, gives back to the community through Entrepreneur teaching engagements at Georgetown University, the company’s ocean wildlife conservation effort, the Blue Project, and Tree Mazzanti.