Q: I have Windows Vista and I could really use a voice-recognition program. I see in reviews that installing Dragon with Vista is at best a challenge and, even if successful, just does not work well with Vista. Would I be best served by going back to Windows XP to load Dragon?
— Wally AdamsA: I’d urge you to go the other way — that is, forward to Windows 7. Windows 7 is more secure than previous versions and delivers better performance, too.
But more important, the latest software is optimized to work with recent versions of the operating system.
Q: I have one question regarding your recent article on home photo printing (Personal Technology, Dec. 8). How do the prints of the printers you reviewed compare with the ones I get at Walgreens, Costco or other online print services?
— Bob Derry
A: So long as you use quality photo paper, the quality of the prints should be indistinguishable from those you can get at commercial print services.
Q: My computer — an HP desktop with Windows 7, an Intel i7 CPU, 12 gigabytes of RAM memory, and a 500-gigabyte hard drive — is a pretty powerful unit. I am one of those people who leave the computer running 24/7.
Occasionally, upon returning to the computer I see a message that states: “Your computer is low on memory. To restore enough memory for programs to work correctly, save your files and then close and restart all open programs.”
I usually just close that message and go on with my business with no problems. There are programs running in the background of course such as Norton Security Suite, Malawarebytes, Dream Aquarium Screen Saver, System Mechanic and others.
However, given the amount of RAM I have, why would this occur? Googling the problem returns suggestions such as changing virtual memory limits, swap files and bad drivers leaking memory. What do you think?
— Doug Shirer, Federal Way
A: The first thing to make sure of is that you’re using the 64-bit version of Windows 7. The 32-bit version can make use of up to only 4 gigabytes of RAM.
And if you’re using the 64-bit version but it’s the Windows 7 Home Basic edition, you’ll be limited to using 8 gigabytes of RAM.
The Home Premium edition can handle 16 gigabytes, and the Professional, Enterprise and Ultimate editions can handle a full 192 gigabytes
Still, it certainly sounds like you have enough RAM. Unless you’ve changed the virtual memory settings, my suspicions would turn to a virus or a misbehaving program.
The first thing I’d recommend is calling up the Task Manager to see what applications or drivers are using all that memory. Just right-click on the Windows task bar and then select Task Manager. Next, click on the Performance tab and then press the Resource Monitor button. You’ll then be able to scroll through a detailed list of what programs and drivers are using not only RAM, but CPU time and other resources.
Q: Help! I have a secondary email account with Live.com.
About a week ago it stopped working. I can still access the account and it has not been hacked, but Microsoft has changed the layout and colors. When I click on inbox/trash/junk nothing happens. It shows I have mail and junk and deleted items but when I click (several times) nothing happens. It won’t let me open email or even preview. I tried to delete a junk mail, but all of the buttons at the top of the screen are missing, too.
— Randy Reynolds, Federal Way
A: My first suspicion would be that you have a piece of malware on your computer. I’d make sure your anti-virus is up to date and run a full scan.
Second, scan your computer with an anti-malware program, such as Malwarebytes AntiMalware.
You might also try accessing your account using a different browser.
Questions for Patrick Marshall may be sent by email to firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com, or by mail at Q&A/Technology, The Seattle Times, P.O. Box 70, Seattle, WA 98111.