Since the beginning of recorded history, the human race has always sought the unobtainable. The Holy Grail, the fountain of youth, the silver bullet, the miracle pill – a day without the dreaded Window’s Blue Screen of Death, or worse yet, the distinct impression you are now looking at nothing more than a screen shot of what used to be a responsive and functional operating system.

Having been a faithful Windows user (like I really had much of a choice until recently) since it was first released, and having tried almost every software program that claims to monitor and prevent Window’s crashes, I do believe I have found a $15 solution that works far better than First Aid, Norton Crash Guard and all the rest – and it doesn’t even claim to be for this purpose. (we do now)

Release RAM is a small program that constantly monitors the amount of available RAM on your system. Sure, we all know Windows is notorious for using too much RAM and memory leaks. Add to that all the third party applications that load huge DLLs into RAM and then leave them there even after the application is terminated – but I had no idea how bad the situation was until I could see it happening in real time – constantly updated right in my task bar.

I must admit I push my Windows 98 machines pretty hard. Most only have 128 MB of RAM which you would think would be more than enough as long as I not messing with full length pirated DVD movies or something. Anyway, after installing the trial version of Release Ram, I was amazed to see how much of my available RAM was used – and never returned – during the course of opening, using and then closing the various programs I use throughout the day. Its not uncommon to see a newly launched program take 10 – 30 MB of RAM. But to see it only return 1 -5 MB when its closed gets a little discouraging. Do this a few times with various programs and you soon find Windows acting very strangely (or not at all) because it simply does not have any available RAM to use to do whatever it is that Windows does.

Before installing Release RAM, I would experience a total Windows crash at least once per day. On many days such crashes were a constant companion. After installing Release RAM and setting up some of its many automated functions, I sat back in amazement about a week later to realize that I had not experienced a single Windows crash since firing up this little gem of a program. I have my copy set to launch with Windows, wait 60 seconds after all those nasty little Terminate and Stay Resident programs load – then to automatically free up at least 88 MB of RAM. I also have it set to check every 30 minutes and make sure I have at least 64 MB free, and if not, to make it so. If my system every drops below 5MB of available RAM, the program automatically jumps in and frees up all the available RAM that is not being currently used by the programs I have open.

Well, being very busy and all that, I let my trial version go past its 30 day evaluation period. I was automatically notified of this by the program which also informed me that many of the automated monitoring features were now disabled. However, the one feature still intact was the ability to right-click on the little Release RAM icon in the System Tray to automatically release my designated 88 MB of RAM. I used this feature often as I watch the amount of available RAM drop like a thermometer in the Arctic the more I used my machine.

Then, after 60 days of the trial version all features were disabled except the little Task Bar area that displays the amount of available RAM in real time. I watched in horror several times as I noticed my RAM had gone down to less than 1 MB (aircon servicing) and I mistakenly launched yet another program. Kaazam! Man, I could swear my keyboard and mouse used to do something here – after waiting about 5 minutes for some kind of life from Windows, I resorted to the old reset switch.