I perform workforce analyse duties at work and have consistent performance issuers with my device. I spend ~5 hours a week waiting.

These devices are essentially thin clients. Mid grade i3's and 4GB of RAM.

I have analyzed the issues the best I can and have come up with the information that strongly suggests the performance issues stem from a lack of memory, not lack of processing power. My findings:

  • Memory is always at 95%+ usage, it sporadically drops during idle times (I assume paging to disk?)
  • CPU usage averages 5-10% throughout the day
  • When performing a memory intensive task, page-faults skyrocket and so does CPU usage and drive I/O
  • When opening a new browser tab, or any program that has been idle for a few minutes (even sticky notes) the page faults/s for that process spike (5,000 - 15,000 faults/s) and the application/tab hangs for a while before opening. Drive I/O also spikes during these times.
  • Applications, once open, perform fine. The performance issues hit when switching to another application or tab.

I also made a VM at home with a single core from my i7 and 4GB of RAM. I ran into the exact same performance issues, I doubled the RAM while keeping the allocated cores the same and the hanging completely went away while performing the same tasks.

I've approached the IT director with these findings, and he is convinced that RAM will not increase performance, that the issue is solely CPU and drive I/O bound. My program manager is starting to think I'm a fool for trying to push for more RAM while the site IT guy says that's not the issue.

What can I do to definitively prove this is a memory bound performance issue?

  • Did the IT guy offer some rationale for his beliefs? You've made some good arguments here. It is possible that the IT guy has some competing evidence in which case it becomes a matter of weighing various pieces of evidence. If the IT guy is making suggestions without evidence, that's a completely different issue. And is the issue that he doesn't have any reason to believe what he believes or that he just hasn't shared his evidence. – Justin Cave Jan 25 '16 at 22:04
  • 5
    I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because it is about hardware issues, not the workplace, and may be better suited to serverfault – The Wandering Dev Manager Jan 26 '16 at 0:11
  • 3
    Hey wandering dev, this has little to do with hardware troubleshooting and more to do with office politics regarding convincing the IT director. – Douglas Gaskell Jan 26 '16 at 3:41
  • 1
    @douglasg14b -not at all, in fact my first suggestion was to change it to fit. This is a workplace forum, and this encompasses all professions, not just IT. This could be a useful question about how to approach a senior who is refusing to see that his decisions are having a major effect on your productivity, and could be quickly solved, but it's too wrapped up in technology (CPU/RAM etc), that most readers will discount it as technical support. You could extract the root issue and it'd be fine, but as it is its not a good workplace question. There are other close votes, so it's not just me – The Wandering Dev Manager Jan 26 '16 at 9:28
  • 2
    @TheWanderingDevManager Well put. As-written the core question is too technical and is attracting technical answers as well. Your title is especially problematic. @ OP: just because your problem came up in a workplace that doesn't make it a workplace question. WanderingDev isn't grasping for a close reason, he's pointing out that your question isn't particularly useful as there are at least two potential reasons for closing it. – Lilienthal Jan 26 '16 at 10:53

It's hard to convince a man that he is wrong when his budget depends on him being right. I'd say that no matter what arguments you come up with, he will not budge. Especially now where it would mean losing face.

On the other hand, if your computer's RAM is upgradeable, then upgrades are so cheap that more money has been wasted discussing the matter between you, your director and your program manager, than the upgrade would have cost.

And then there's the matter that buying the upgrade would have created a much happier and much more motivated employee at a very low cost.

Sorry, this seems to have turned into advice for your program manager :-)

Seriously, in my experience as professional software developer, a fast hard drive and more RAM are the cheapest and easiest upgrades to make a slow computer a lot faster.

  • I'm imagining a 5-6yr old rig using an i3-XXXM/E/etc. and 800 or 1066 DDR3 RAM. I'd have resource problems too with that kind of setup, running MS Excel... – CKM Jan 26 '16 at 0:50

You can only prove with an actual physical proof. Without actually running it on a test machine, you also don't know for sure that RAM is the (only) limiting issue.

Depending on where you work, a day of work may already cover the cost of an entire test machine with identical CPU and twice the RAM. Less than an hour of your work probably costs more than a stick of RAM to upgrade the machine.

Spending any significant amount of time arguing this is insane. No need to worry, lots of insane stuff is being done in offices, but we should always aim to reduce the insanity.

Spend no more than 10 minutes drafting a letter/email that outlines the benefits (10-20 hours less idle time per month), risks (it won't work), and cost ($20?). If it's declined, your manager is immune to logic, at which point proof won't help.


The easiest way is borrow a device with 8GB and show the test result to both your boss and your IT.

Also even when the test may suggest your problem is RAM, arent conclusive because you didnt try it on a device with more RAM.


It definitely could be RAM, but that's the IT guys job to decide, if he says it isn't then you really need to work out whether you want to make a big deal out of it or not. Basically your boss employs the IT guy to answer those questions, not you.

Ask yourself, do you want the IT guys job? And, is this important enough to me to make a big deal out of?

Personally I would just soldier on and mention every now and then that my machine is very slow and eventually someone will decide to upgrade the RAM hopefully (assuming the RAM can be upgraded).

  • The reason I question is is because I worked in IT 5 years prior to this at a local hospital, and performance issues where common with our power users. The company is wasting more money arguing not buying an upgrade, whether it works or not, then just buying the upgrade. – Douglas Gaskell Jan 26 '16 at 7:54
  • unfortunately that happens whenever you deal with people and bureaucracy. I agree with your diagnosis of the problem, (I would at least test it on one machine before deciding anyway, if in fact they were upgradeable) just that in your position it wouldn't be my place to argue the details with the boss and the IT. There is another obvious possible culprit for the issue since you're using thin clients. But at the end of the day your boss has already gone the other way so it's a moot point. – Kilisi Jan 26 '16 at 8:18
  • I thought this site is exactly about getting positive results in the workplace. I wonder what brings about the attitude that people can't change their mind. – gnasher729 Jan 26 '16 at 8:49
  • @gnasher729 People can change their minds, logically what happens if the OP 'proves' he's right and the IT guy is an idiot. He's just made himself two enemies. The IT guy looks like an idiot and won't forget it (assuming the IT guy is wrong). And the boss has been made to look like an idiot as well who's decisions are open to question.What is positive about that? They have now changed their minds that the OP is no longer an annoyance for complaining. But is also a potential discipline problem and an active and malicious enemy who will go to quite a bit of effort to prove a point. – Kilisi Jan 26 '16 at 9:57

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .