Mind of Murph
How much RAM is enough?
My simple answer is, as much as your operating system and pocket book can handle.
When you are using QuickBooks whether on a stand-alone computer or in a server environment, my answer is always the same. You need as much RAM as your operating system(s) can handle and you can afford. I can’t tell you how many times I see people spend an extra $100 on a new computer to add an extra terabyte of storage but refuse to hold off on the storage and spend the extra $100 on additional RAM. Nothing will make your QuickBooks perform better than “more RAM”, even if you are working within the confines of the default RAM-cache the various QuickBooks products configure.
People will call me up and tell me that they are getting a new file server and it isn’t going to be running anything but QuickBooks; they then ask if 4 Gig of RAM is sufficient. My answer is always, ”‘expletive’ No!” Here is the thing, people always think that a computer isn’t doing anything other than just burning electricity if they are not actively using a program; for a file-server, they don’t even recognize that the computer uses memory at all, they think all it does is ‘store their file’.
I bet if you opened Task Manager on your Windows computer right now, as you are reading Intuitive Accountant you would see that your physical memory was in the 35-65% range, unless you are lucky enough to have 8 or more Gig of RAM, and I am not talking about having any other ‘active applications’ open. As I write this I just checked and my physical memory was at 60%, there are 80+ processes running on my computer, and yet in my way of thinking the only thing ‘open’ is the Firefox browser I am using to post this to the IA website. Looking at those processes, oops, there is Microsoft Outlook, yes ESET virus protection is there; hum, Intuit Data Protect is running, as is a version of the Intuit (QB) Database Management Server. Gosh, ‘host process for Windows’ is running, times about 4; and one thing after another all consuming RAM. No (my mind tells me) my computer isn’t doing anything but browsing the web, NOT!
Just as a disk drive performs better when the percentage of use is low, so does your computer in terms of RAM. If you are using 70% percent of RAM for just routine tasks occurring in the background, and one or two applications in the forefront, a major query of QuickBooks as in find the most obscure of details, or running the verify utility, or an ‘all transaction’ historical report can suddenly throw your computer resources into the far reaches of Flatland (as in ‘flat’ performance).
Even though Intuit will tell you that QuickBooks needs only 1 Gig of RAM for single-user and 2 Gig of RAM for Multi-user, that is pure 'poppy-cock', unless you consider that as 'what you need to add' at the bare minimum to what you already have in your computer. RAM is all essential.
So while I am a firm believer that ‘speedier’ disk-drives are one way to improve performance (even more than ‘bigger’ drives), the real key to computer, and application performance, will always be RAM; you simply can’t get ‘enough memory’ until either your ‘pockets are empty’, or ‘your operating system can’t support more’.