General Computer Maintenance: Memory Issues

How many times have you said to yourself My computer has slowed down! or asked Why do I keep getting this hourglass/spinning wheel? Here are some memory management tips to keep your computer running up to speed.


Macintosh Computers

Quit applications instead of just closing windows

Clicking the red dot only closes the window, it doesn’t quit the application

To quit an application you can choose Quit from the application menu or use the keyboard shortcut of Command+Q

To tell if an application is still running or not, look at its icon on the Dock. If there is a white or black dot below it, that means it is still running. Here we can see Word, Excel and FileMaker are all running, but PowerPoint is not.


Windows Computers

Know what applications are running in the background

Frequently, applications will be running in the background without your knowledge. One way to tell what background applications are running is to check the System Tray.  This is the area of the Task Bar located to the far right, near the clock. Each one of the icons there represents some running application or process. Most are necessary (for instance anti-virus and data backup processes) but others aren’t necessarily needed and if you aren’t actively using them, they can be using up system resources. If you know what the icon represents, you can usually right-click it and choose quit or exit. If you have questions about what a background application in the system tray does and whether it is OK to quit, ask the Support Center at x4222 or support@colby.edu.


All Computers

Restart your computer regularly

One of the most important components of any computer is the random access memory (also called RAM). Much of the operating system and the running applications are stored in RAM. Through a phenomenon sometimes referred to as “software aging,”  the performance of a computer may degrade over time as the applications and operating system accumulate various errors.  Restarting your computer clears the memory so it can start fresh. I would recommend restarting your computer at least once every few days.