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How much memory?

Also, stand by for standby. Tech Advisor hed: How much memory? dek: also, stand by for standby. by Stephen J. Bigelow

Q: I’m trying to print a 400KB PostScript file, but the file won’t print properly even though I have 4MB of RAM in the printer. What’s the problem?

A: PostScript is a language that describes the image that must be printed, but that language eventually must be converted within the printer to the individual dots (pixels) that compose the image. In actual practice, a large image can easily require several megabytes of RAM-even though the PostScript representation of the file is considerably smaller. In most cases, the following formula can help determine the minimum amount of available memory required for PostScript files:

Image size x Resolution x Color bits / 8 =

File Size (in bytes)

As an example, a 10-by-10-inch four-color file at 300-by-300dpi would require 4.5MB (100 x 90000 x 4 / 8). Other features such as downloaded fonts will demand even more memory. Wide lines, raster fill patterns, polygon mode and polygon fill, and user-defined line types are a few types of PostScript vectors that require substantially more memory.

The bottom line is that there is no easy way to tell just how much memory is required to process any given PostScript image. If you find that the printer hasn’t enough memory to handle the image, check the printer’s diagnostics to verify that all of the internal RAM is detected. If not, there may be a RAM fault in the printer. When RAM checks properly, try reducing the dimensions of the image (i.e. try a 5-by-5-inch image rather than a 10-by-10-inch image), try reducing the color depth or the resolution. If the image prints properly, you may simply need to add more RAM to the printer.

Q: I know that I should keep my hard drive defragmented, but can you tell me why defragmenting a drive is important. Is there any way to set up my system to defragment a drive automatically?

A: Hard drives store files in one or more “clusters” (groups of sectors). The problem is that files may be broken up and stored in any available cluster. As files are added, modified, and deleted, it’s not uncommon for large files to be scattered across a drive. This doesn’t really affect the file, but the drive itself must work harder to seek out and load all of those clusters later on. The added time it takes to seek these scattered clusters also slows down the apparent performance of the drive. The process of defragmenting a drive rearranges the clusters of every file so that they are all together (or “contiguous”).

You can use Microsoft’s Task Scheduler to run Disk Defragmenter while the system is idle. To set up this weekly maintenence session, click Start, Programs, Accessories, System Tools, and choose Scheduled Tasks (if you have Task Scheduler running in your System Tray, you can just double-click on that icon). Double-click Add Scheduled Task and click Next. Select Disk Defragmenter from the list of programs, and click Next. Select the frequency at which you want the program used and click Next, then choose the day and time. Keep in mind that you’ll need to leave the computer on during the days and times that you select.

Q: If I use the Standby button, my system goes to black and won’t come back if I move the mouse or press a button. I have to reboot the system. If I leave the screen saver on too long, the same thing happens.

A: The type of symptom you’re describing relates to the PC’s power-saving mode (standby). When a PC enters standby mode properly, all the devices in the system must shut down properly so that they will use only a bare minimum of power-yet be ready to return when needed. If any device in the system (or the system BIOS) does not fully support the protocols of APM (Advanced Power Management) or ACPI (Advanced Control and Power Interface), the system may crash when it attempts to return from standby.

There are several things that you can try. First, check the system’s Device Manager and see that there are no conflicting or disabled devices. If your system is working properly otherwise, the devices are probably OK. Next, check with the system maker for BIOS updates or other information relating to this power problem. If the trouble is BIOS-related, an update will almost certainly correct the problem. In the mean time, you can work around the trouble by disabling the standby mode. Click Start, Settings, and Control Panel. Double-click the Power Management icon. In the “Settings for Home/Office Desk power scheme” entry, select Never from the drop down menu, click Apply, then click OK to save your changes. Now the system will not go into standby, so it shouldn’t crash.

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