Suicidal because of memory problems with MS Vista OS
March 26, 2008 4:47 PM   Subscribe

Help me flip the switch that keeps my RAM freed up on my pain-in-the-backside MS Vista O/S machine!

Bought a laptop, Acer Aspire 5610-4182, a very advanced machine with lots of RAM (2GB). But my new laptop would wouldn't run Adobe CS2 for my graphic design applications so I had to invest ANOTHER FBOMBING GRAND into Adobe CS3 Premium, which works for about a half a day at a time, but eventually all my RAM gets used up, even after I shut all other windows and close all other applications. The problem is that this one time Adobe Photoshop CS3 was the only program open, I had been working on a project for a while and just wanted to save it, and even though I closed everything, yes even all the other windows within photoshop, I didn't have enough RAM to save my only open file! What the FBOMB! I can't risking losing my changes and having to start over! MotherFBOMBING GREEDY FBOMBING BILL FBOMBING GATES YOU ARE FBOMBING KILLING ME CHEESE'N FBOMBING CRACKERS S-H-1-T! GOT ALL MUDDY!

So I'm watching my RAM %ages in the Task Mangler and I see that during the course of the day as I open and close files and programs my used RAM steadily climbs to 100% and never comes down even after I close everything!

So I got smart and I turned off the stupid FBOMBING supposedly intuitive SuperFetch and the other fetch crap too, but not even that has helped. CHEESE'NCRACKERS WHAT THE FBOMB AM I SUPPOSED TO DO I CAN'T KEEP REBOOTING ALL DAY TO GET MY MEMORY BACK DOWN! NOR CAN I DOWNGRADE TO XP CUZ I INVESTED A GRAND IN CS3!


By the way I occasionally open MS Excel, which came bundled with MS Office XP, which I used with my old machine, but don't tell me Vista can't run Office XP that would be fbombing stupid. Please don't tell me that!
posted by tosteka to Computers & Internet (34 answers total)
The thing to do is to see what is using the memory. In the task manager, look under the "Processes" tag and see who has it all. Once we know that, it will be easier to find an answer for you.

Don't be too sure that this is Vista's fault, or Microsoft's. There are quite a few possibilities besides that.
posted by Class Goat at 4:54 PM on March 26, 2008

Um, I think the word you search for is 'fuck'.

But a couple of things. You can in fact downgrade to Windows XP if you would like, I am certain that it will work in XP SP2. You aren't losing anything since you still have the added functionality that CS3 gives you. Also, Office XP will run just fine in Windows Vista.

So, in Vista, you can do a few things to try to help your situation. Uninstall any demonstration/trial/adware that came pre-loaded with the machine. PC Decrapifier is a great application to do this. Also, you can us a utility called "msconfig" to disable applications that load with Windows. You can unload and disable services that are unnecessary for your use by opening "services.msc".

When you run the task manager to examine your usage, are you sure all the RAM is being used, and not just being cached? Only active matters, all items 'cached' in RAM are unloaded as primary processes require it.

How large are the PSD files you are working on; could you try saving more routinely in different revisions to aid with this problem? If Vista is so terrible, just downgrade.
posted by cgomez at 5:01 PM on March 26, 2008

Response by poster: Photoshop.exe has nearly 38%, or 754,648k , nearest runner up is iexplore with 3%. But why should it not just clear whatevers sitting there that I don't need in favor of whatever I'm trying to do that I do need memory for? By the way, if I turned off superfetch, would I have needed to reboot to make that take effect?
posted by tosteka at 5:03 PM on March 26, 2008

Vista actually has some tools that make it easier to track down memory hogs, you'll want to investigate performance monitor while you're experiencing the issues.

Also, I do believe that CS3 runs just fine on XP, so that's probably an option for you still.
posted by iamabot at 5:03 PM on March 26, 2008

You might want to read this page:

Coding Horror: Why Does Vista Use All My Memory?

It's true that Vista uses more memory for the OS than XP does, but it's not actually "using" 2 or 3 gigs of ram with nothing open. It's just keeping information in your ram that you might access later to speed things up. The cached data is easily discarded when a program needs to run in memory.

The developers who write operating systems (even Vista) and pretty tuned in with memory management and performance. It's one of the major jobs of the operating system. If Vista really had a bug that made it so all of your ram was truly unavailable after doing a day's work and then closing down every program, it would have never made it to production. It's not a conspiracy.

So my point is, don't freak out about what you are seeing in the task manager unless you know how to interpret the data.

Your actual problem sounds like an issue with CS3. I don't know a definitive answer, but this may help. In photoshop, choose Edit, Preferences, Performance. In this window in the "Memory Usage" section, bump up the amount of memory photoshop attempts to allocate.
posted by reishus at 5:05 PM on March 26, 2008

Another thing to check is the "Scratch Disks" section of the Performance window I noticed above. Ideally, Photoshop should have an active scratch disk with a large amount of free space on it.
posted by reishus at 5:08 PM on March 26, 2008

Response by poster: Files are very large, like 4MB each, and I'll be manipulating several at a time. I just closed Photoshop and finally memory went down to 45% of system, but still, I shouldn't have to do that twice a friggin day, should I? (Sorry cgomez, I have an aversion to cursing, but I don't mind if other people do it). Good news is that's better than rebooting. Thanks Class Goat!
posted by tosteka at 5:11 PM on March 26, 2008

I came in here to say the same thing as reishus. Using all available memory for caching is a 'feature' in Vista. Is it possible to downgrade to XP?
posted by Mach5 at 5:22 PM on March 26, 2008

Response by poster: So this is my problem, my Adobe Photoshop is apparently treating cached memory as active memory, which bogs down everything else, including itself. Is there any way to make sure that the memory is being labeled correctly? Something is getting lost in translation between Vista and CS3. I know I'm an amateur, but I'm not making this up. Why won't Adobe deprioritize unused data in the RAM in favor of something I'm actually using?
posted by tosteka at 5:26 PM on March 26, 2008

This may be helpful.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 5:28 PM on March 26, 2008

Did you try what I suggested in the performance menu?
posted by reishus at 5:32 PM on March 26, 2008

Response by poster: reishus: yes, but I did already have 7.68GB of scratch memory and I bumped my allocation from 55% to 71%, but the point is that I was already at 55%, which was the recommended setting and should have been fine.
posted by tosteka at 5:54 PM on March 26, 2008

How about turning off drive "indexing": right click drive (C:) > properties > uncheck indexing.

Also, Black Viper's Vista recommendations. I like using Codestuff's Starter program to deal with services, start ups, etc.
posted by rumbles at 6:00 PM on March 26, 2008

Well, Vista can't give Photoshop more memory unless Photoshop asks for it. That's what moving the allocation up does, it tells Photoshop to ask for more memory.
posted by reishus at 6:01 PM on March 26, 2008

Response by poster: Sorry Reishus didn't mean to come off like an ingrate. I do appreciate the suggestion, and for all I know, that will have fixed the problem, but I don't know yet until I start in on another day's work.
posted by tosteka at 6:02 PM on March 26, 2008

I think your problem is Photoshop's undo trail. That consumes a hell of a lot more memory than you might realize. I don't own Photoshop, myself, but other equivalent tools I've used permit you to control how many undo steps they will store. If Photoshop has such a configuration choice, try reducing its value.
posted by Class Goat at 6:03 PM on March 26, 2008

Best answer: 4mb files are not "very large" files for photo shop to work with. I routinely work on files 10-100x bigger, on machines with 1-2gb of ram (photoshop 7, not cs# though). It sounds like cs3 has a memory leak. You aren't the first to complain about it's poor memory management.
posted by nomisxid at 6:08 PM on March 26, 2008

A word of warning you contemplate the "It's possible to downgrade to XP" path - while it should be painless, laptops are often thorny when it comes to drivers for the (semi-)proprietary hardware they contain, and modern laptops often don't have XP drivers available for all their components any more. Microsoft have been pushing Vista acceptance very hard and have worked with manufacturers through their Vista Certfication Scheme to ensure that going back to XP is difficult, if not impossible, so check the hardware and driver availability very carefully before embarking on any downgrade plan...
posted by benzo8 at 6:16 PM on March 26, 2008

I've been using Vista for about 5 months now on a machine with 2G of RAM, and while I'm not in love with it, it isn't really a horror to use. I put my computer into hibernation when I'm not using it, which means I don't reboot when it comes back up. I haven't had the kind of problem you're describing; it goes weeks between reboots with no trouble. Most of my reboots have been part of software installation.

Vista has gotten a bad rep, and I think it deserves some of it. But it's also getting blamed for a lot of things that aren't really its fault. I very much doubt Vista is your problem here. Almost certainly this is an issue with Photoshop. Either it's a setting that's out of control (e.g. too many undo steps being stored) or it's a memory leak.

Especially since you've now found that killing Photoshop and restarting it gets all your memory back; that strongly fingers Adobe as the villain here, not Microsoft.
posted by Class Goat at 6:16 PM on March 26, 2008

yeah, I'm totally with nomisxid on this. Usually a problem like this is caused by a program, and not Windows. Pretty sure Photoshop has a memory leak. I that is the case, then saving often and closing & restarting photoshop is the only fix available until Adobe releases a patch.
posted by ArgentCorvid at 6:34 PM on March 26, 2008

I'm really not sure why you were told you had to upgrade to CS3, unless you're getting files from someone else with some weird magic in them.

My recs for making Photoshop run faster?
1) get rid of extraneous services in Windoze.
2) make your undo history smaller. Like, 25, not 50.
3) in c:\Program Files\Adobe\Adobe Photoshop CS3\Plug-Ins\Extensions\Bigger Tiles, get rid of the tilde in front of the 8BX file
4)stop using 16 bit. I've got 8 gigs and a pair of Raptors for a scratch disk, and the difference between 16bit and 8bit is night and day.

If I think of more things, I'll comeback.
posted by notsnot at 6:44 PM on March 26, 2008

it is hardly microsoft fault that you purchases an operating system that adobe cs2 does not run on.

googiling for "adobe cs2 vista" returns this official adobe pdf which details which of their products run on vista. they have the following to say about cs2:
Q. Does Adobe support Adobe Creative Suite 2 on Windows Vista?
A. Adobe Creative Suite 2 was released almost two years before Windows Vista became publicly available and is not recommended for use on this new operating system.

like class goat i am able to run vista for weeks at a time without the issues you describe. it seems likely this is an issue with cs3 and not your os. googiling for "cs3 memory leak" returns a bunch of interesting results, this one looks particularly interesting.
posted by phil at 6:58 PM on March 26, 2008

Go spend more dough and get an external hard drive. Set it to be Photoshop's scratch disk. Separating the OS virtual memory and Photoshop's virtual memory is always a good idea.

Vista SP1 will be out very soon and resolves many performance issues. It's very likely it will play better with photoshop - wait two weeks.

And, follow the many paths to resolving CS3's memory problems.

(my experience: I got a copy of CS3 as a gift and it was so unworkable I set up my Vista laptop to dual boot XP - now I run CS2 on XP as needed - mainly Acrobat - and go back to Vista when I'm done).
posted by disclaimer at 8:07 PM on March 26, 2008

Response by poster: Phil:

Not impressed by the snarky remark, bud. It's obvious that cs2 doesn't work with Vista, but you don't consider the possibility that:

I hadn't even heard of Vista when I bought this new laptop last summer. I just went out and bought an IBM compatible laptop, thinking my previously purchased IBM compatible software should work, because it always has in the past.

I live in a national forest. I'm still trying to figure out where Billy Ray Cyrus went, and cannot name a single song his daughter may or may not sing. I use computers, I don't live them. The point is that when I realized cs2 didn't work with windows, I dutifully trecked out and bought the cs3 thinking that all my problems were solved. Which they aren't!

OK OK to all ye faithful I concede that this is probably not a conspiracy on Bill Gate's part to fuck with me. Still, I doubt MAC users are having these compatibility issues. So I'm still switching when I can afford to.
posted by tosteka at 8:21 PM on March 26, 2008

my intent was not to be snarky. if i offended you i apologize.
posted by phil at 9:32 PM on March 26, 2008

Still, I doubt MAC users are having these compatibility issues.

Likely you're right, but that's because at its heart Adobe is still a Mac house, who reluctantly support PC users because there are so many of them and that's where the money is.

Adobe has screwed over PC users a lot of times in the past. Version 6.0 of Photoshop was released for the PC with all the debugging code still included, which made it huge and ridiculously slow. It turned out to be a mistake by the release person, who set a flag wrong in the makefile. Mistakes happen, but what's really astounding is that no one at Adobe noticed it before the release CDs were burned, and it was months before Adobe released an update that fixed it, apparently because they just didn't think it was important. Somehow, I think that if it had been the Mac version for which that mistake had been made it would have been caught before shipment, and if not an update would have been made available nearly immediately.
posted by Class Goat at 9:33 PM on March 26, 2008

Side question:
Is there any way you can accomplish your graphics goals without Photoshop ?. There are tons of free alternatives (such as GIMP, Paint.NET,etc). There is even a version of GIMP called "Gimpshop" where the layout / menus,etc are similar to Photoshop. It looks like the advice above has kinda isolated the memory problem to CS3, but testing with a free alternative may help you further prove the memory leak only happens in Adobe. (Rumor has it Adobe will also soon be releasing a free (advertisement-supported) online version.)
posted by jmnugent at 11:18 PM on March 26, 2008

FWIW, I had a lot of problems with CS2 on Windows XP being really slow. CS3 has been much better for me in that regard. If you have access to them, you might try different versions of Photoshop to see if you experience the same problems with all of them.
posted by !Jim at 12:20 AM on March 27, 2008

at its heart Adobe is still a Mac house, who reluctantly support PC users

You mean "At its heart Adobe has given up on the Mac and now produces many products exclusively for the PC, or produces Mac versions that are significantly crippled." No Mac version of FrameMaker (how hard is it to port a UNIX program to UNIX, anyway?), crappy Mac versions of Acrobat that didn't properly preserve hyperlinks in Word document (Microsoft has finally addressed this in Word 2008, it appears, by eliminating Adobe from the picture entirely), completely skip some versions of Photoshop Elements on the Mac... even ostensibly Mac versions of their applications are often festooned with toolbars and icons inherited from the Windows version with little regard for the aesthetics of the Mac UI.

Many of their products remain essential for Mac users, but they are a PC software company now and have been for at least a decade.
posted by kindall at 1:20 AM on March 27, 2008

Best answer: I have had good luck with the free SweepRAM, it is not a typical memory optimizer. But please, lets NOT get into the "Memory optimizers dont work" conversation. I have heard it all before. SweepRAM just plain works for me (with AutoCAD, on Win-XP, for 40+ hours a week). It's quick, small, and non resident, so there is no harm in trying it. I have not tried it with Vista, but people say it works with it too.

Best of luck!
posted by Wezzlee at 5:32 AM on March 27, 2008

Response by poster: I had never heard of a memory leak, but that's exactly what I'm dealing with. I also deal with batch processes, like the people who've written in to Adobe Forum. What would be really helpful is if anybody could point me in the direction of a patch.

Things are supposed to be getting better with each iteration of software, but it looks like they're getting worse because the players can't get on the same page. What the hell? The richest most successful software designers in the world are doing shoddy work!? And in the name of greed, like I said before. Here's how it plays out:

Microsoft rushes it's new operating system to market and doesn't give competitors enough time to test and use it in order to release their own new versions of popular software. This is corporate bullying! By making the waters choppy for other software companies that release software based on whatever Windows is doing, like Adobe, Microsoft only hopes to bolster sales of it's own design software. They are looking out for the shareholder, not the consumer, and it's a sign of what's wrong with the current order.

Business ethics, where have you gone? The only way to bring them back is to drag Microsoft back into antitrust court and force them to either play fair or produce OS exclusively. The whole idea of capitalism is that competition drives quality up and prices down, which is why we the consumers acquiesced to the system in the first place. If the system begins to fail us, we need to take action, through the courts. We should force Microsoft to spin off it's IE and Office and other design software to PROTECT THE CONSUMER. The monopoly, as in my case, is keeping us from getting the best possible utility from the product we pay exorbitant prices for.
posted by tosteka at 6:39 AM on March 27, 2008

Response by poster: wezzlee: Good call. This works, and like you side, it doesn't keep running, I just click it when I want to free up unused RAM. Diggin' Sweep Ram!
posted by tosteka at 8:12 AM on March 27, 2008

I'm certain this has nothing to do with Vista. The only problems I have had with Vista have been 100% tracable back to bad hardware, bad 3rd party drivers, or bad 3rd party software. Vista itself is fine.

It sounds most likely that it is a Photoshop problem. Are you working on the same image all day? Maybe try clearing out the undo history after a while and see if that makes it go away.
posted by jon4009 at 8:45 AM on March 27, 2008

While it looks like thing's are already beginning to resolve (per above), I signed up here specifically to respond to this thread. Came here with a problem very similar to tosty. The compelling detail that confirms it's not PRIMARILY Windows (never let an MS OS entirely off the hook though ;o) is that in Task Mangler I watched CS3's memory performance and it sucks! Opening and handling 2-4 files in PS (5-20 MB ea.), watched both RAM and VM climb to 700-900mb each, or even more. (BTW, 2gb ram and duo-core 2.8 Intel, scratch disk dirve D: 50GB+ avail.). At this point doing ANYTHING in PS-CS3 became an exercise in futility. All the while CPU usage fairly low.

The clincher was that closing files in CS3 MADE NO DIFFERENCE in the memory stats. I closed everything but PS-CS3 itself, still 700-900mb memory tied up (same for VM). I remembered some old utilities I used to work quite abit in W9X - AnalogX maxmem for example. I dusted it off, ran it (not even using the "aggressive" option) and PS-CS3 RAM used went down to 100mb. PLUS, system cached memory, which had been around 725mb dropped and stayed below 100mb until I got busy again. (Told ya' not to let MS off the hook entirely!)

CONCLUSION: CS3 has serious memory issues. PC rendition in any event. Obviously fails to release memory on its own. Also the idea of using VM from the get-go was definitely a mistake, at least as implemented.
posted by thorshammer at 6:23 PM on May 1, 2008

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