THE COCOON ™: Feb 2, 2010
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02 February 2010

stubborn PC problems you can fix

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Ever notice how each PC has a personality of its own? Or maybe even multiple personalities? In the course of a week, your computer may act friendly, moody, and sometimes downright mean.

However, don't take a hammer to your PC just yet. The following is a list of common symptoms and treatments to help even the most troublesome PCs. You don't even have to be a psychologist (at least not yet) to deal with your PC's neuroses.

Windows 7 and Windows Vista usually manage this automatically, but overall you'll find that these tips work for all versions of Windows, from Windows 95 to Windows 7.

1. You keep getting a "your system is running low on virtual memory" message

Perhaps you're more than familiar with this scenario: You're working on your PC and notice performance getting gradually slower and slower. Programs become harder to open and close. You wait forever for Web pages to be displayed. And then, you get some serious-sounding "virtual memory is too low" message, like the one in the following graphic.

Don't worry: This message isn't as scary as it sounds.

Example of a Virtual Memory is low message.

Virtual memory low message

Virtual memory is the space your computer uses when it's short of RAM (Random Access Memory), which is the memory used when running programs like Microsoft Office Word or Microsoft Office PowerPoint.

So what can you do to correct this problem and prevent this message from coming up in the future? The following are some solutions to keep your computer from displaying the "virtual memory minimum is too low" message.

Solution 1: Bump up the virtual memory size on your computer

The first solution is to increase your computer's virtual memory settings. To do so, you first need to determine how much RAM you currently have.

Windows 7

Solution 2: Add more RAM to your computer

If you keep getting that dreaded "Your system is running low on virtual memory" message—even after you increase your computer's virtual memory—then you may need to buy more memory for your computer. To really work well:

· Windows 7 needs at least 1 GB of RAM to run. See more system requirements for Windows 7.

· Windows Vista needs at least 512 MB of RAM to run, but for some applications (like gaming) 1 GB or more of RAM is recommended.

· Windows XP needs a minimum of 256 MB of RAM.

The more RAM you have, the better.

Find out how much RAM you have in your computer

If you're at work, contact your company's IT administrator before updating the memory on your computer. They may have some memory available and can help you install it.

If you do need to purchase some more memory, stop by your local computer shop. You can probably buy memory from them, and they'll probably install it for you. Or, you can buy memory online.

2. Your windows slide off the desktop—and you can't grab them

We're all familiar with moving program windows around the desktop. You can click-and-hold the window's title bar to move it around. But what do you do when you accidentally move a window's title bar off the desktop so you can't grab it anymore? The window is stuck in that inconvenient position.

Solution: Use your keyboard to help move your window

The trick to moving these stubborn program windows is to use your keyboard.

Use your keyboard to move a window:

3. Your taskbar has disappeared

The taskbar is that horizontal bar at the bottom or your computer screen that displays open programs on your desktop. The taskbar also contains the Start menu, which allows you to navigate to various programs installed on your computer. In many ways, it's your command central.

Thus, there's nothing more frustrating than going to start a program, only to find the taskbar gone. A computer without a taskbar will bring you to a grinding halt.

The good news is that the taskbar never disappears—it just hides. It may be hiding behind other open windows, or at the top or side of your screen. You can also (unintentionally) make the taskbar so thin that it seems invisible.

The following are possible reasons why your taskbar has vanished, as well as solutions to keep your taskbar from ever running away again.

Solution 1: Find your taskbar behind other windows

Solution 2: Find your taskbar elsewhere on your screen

Solution 3: Thicken your taskbar

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