Users are now prompted with a startup message regarding not having the minimum amount of memory to run ShoWorks and are confused as to why they have not received this message before and how this affects them.
Most users may click "OK" to continue using ShoWorks as they have always in the past, however it is noteworthy to explain why we have chosen to now implement this message, despite no changes in ShoWorks related to memory demands since 2009. Concerned users or those who have experienced program instability should please read on…
ShoWorks, like all programs, requires a specified amount of available RAM (memory) to operate. This minimum requirement has increased to 8GB after years of experience and understanding the demands and limitations of running ShoWorks on less memory (i.e. 4GB) (http://fairsoftware.com/commonquestions.aspx ). As with all programs, once a threshold of needed memory is exceeded, the program becomes unstable and may crash - usually resulting in no damage or data loss, but rather an inconvenience of restarting the program. In order to increase the awareness of possible unpredictability, a verification of this minimum amount of memory has been added to ShoWorks upon startup and if encountered, a warning is displayed with an option for the user to continue using the program.
The memory demands of ShoWorks have not changed. We simply re-evaluated the production experience among thousands of users and added this message as a feedback mechanism about their system resources. With regards to memory, there is no difference in how stable ShoWorks is now versus in prior builds. The bottom line is that if you ran ShoWorks fine before, it will run fine now under the same usage.
At one time I read that the minimum amount of RAM needed was 4GB and bought 4GB – why the message and what is the difference between "minimum" and "recommended" requirements?
Yes, ShoWorks can run on as little as 4GB under some conditions with no problems if one does not use process intensive functions such as report building. Those who do experience problems have a machine with significant amount resources (other programs running at the same time) taking away from memory needed to also run ShoWorks. In this case, these users should follow our "recommended" amount of 8GB or more. We understand that most users will have a modest amount of programs running continuously (such as anti-virus, communication apps, etc.) and therefore only display the message when the available RAM falls below 3.3GB. It is notable that most software manufacturers lists both the "minimum" and "recommended" requirements. For example, Microsoft Office has a published memory requirement minimum of 256MB but a recommend requirement of 512MB or more; and users should expect a performance difference among the two scenarios depending on how "hard" or "light" they choose to run this platform.
The statement above is best understood using the analogy of driving a vehicle up a mountain. The minimum requirement to achieve the goal may be a small economy car, though more is recommended depending on the additional demands one places on the machine. If a driver attempts to pull a boat trailer up a mountain using only the minimum requirement (economy car), the performance would be severely hampered and may result in blowing a radiator hose unless the driver pulls over every few miles to let the engine cool off. It would best be suited for this person to choose a pickup truck or SUV given that they are loading the vehicle with more than the minimum demands, or at least warn the driver with a temperature gauge, making them aware of behavioral changes they should take. In summary, a user should place no more than the absolute minimum demands on a system that is configured with the absolute minimum requirements. Users who place demands on a system that meet or exceed that of an average user should follow the recommended requirements of a system configuration.
What are my options?
Users who receive the message have less than 3.3GB available to ShoWorks because they have more resources being utilized by other running applications. In this case the user can perform one or more of the following options…
No further action may be needed if the user has ran ShoWorks without problems in the past on the same machine assuming no changes are made in configurations. In this case, they are not "driving the program" with a heavy load and do not risk a program crash and may ignore the message, though frequent backups of both data and custom reports should be made.
- Increase the amount of physical (installed) RAM to the recommended 8GB or more. Though the cost may be as little as $50 or less, this may or may not be technically feasible since some variations of Windows (32-bit) cannot utilize more than 4GB of RAM. Only users having the 64-bit variation of Windows may increase the amount of RAM beyond 4GB. To check your version of Windows, right-click on "Computer" and select "Properties" then look under "System Type".
- Increase the amount of Virtual Memory (a way to "trick" or "fake" the needed RAM by using free hard disk space). See instructions (Part E step 8): http://fairsoftware.com/articledetail.aspx?AID=115000#checklist
- Reduce the load (memory) that ShoWorks requires by:
- Turning off all in-program reminders (Tools>Options>Reminders>Turn off all reminders).
- Avoiding having more than one menu open at a time (i.e. close the Exhibitors menu before opening the Entries menu).
- Exiting ShoWorks frequently to release accumulated memory as the program is used. (i.e. after creating or editing a few custom reports, close ShoWorks to flush the memory and start it up again "fresh").
- Increase the memory available to run ShoWorks by:
- Closing all other open applications while running ShoWorks (i.e. do not have Excel, Word, Outlook, etc. open at the same time as ShoWorks).
- If running a resource hungry anti-virus program such as Norton/Symantec Endpoint Security, change to a less demanding virus protection such as Microsoft Security Essentials (free).
- Download a modification file to remove the message. This option is not recommended, as removing the message does not solve the problem of the machine not meeting the minimum requirements, but available as a courtesy to those who understand the risks but need to continue using ShoWorks in the interim while they pursue resolving the memory shortage issue with one of the other options above.
- Close all programs including ShoWorks.
- Click the following link and choose 'Open': http://fairsoftware.com/downloads/ShoWorks2012starterNOMEMCHECK.zip
- Unzip the file by choosing the 'Extract all files' button at the top left of the window.
- Click the "Browse..." button to navigate to the "System" folder where ShoWorks is installed. By default, this will be: C:\Program Files (x86)\ShoWorks 2012\System
- IMPORTANT! When you extract to the correct location, you will be prompted with a warning if you want to overwrite an existing file with the same name. Do this. If you do NOT see this warning, then you are not extracting to the correct location.
- You may now run ShoWorks without the warning message.
It is our opinion that such warnings contribute to a better experience in the end when a user is made aware of the levels of resources needed for a system to operate smoothly.