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8 Ways to Clear Memory and Increase RAM on Your Windows Computer

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Are you concerned about RAM usage on your computer? Seeing messages that your computer is low on memory? Don’t fear—we’re here to help.

Let’s take a look at some practical steps to free up RAM on your PC. You’ll be back to a smooth experience in no time.

What Is RAM?

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Before we dive into RAM usage tips, we should briefly describe what RAM does in case you’re not familiar.

RAM stands for Random Access Memory. It’s a short-term storage that holds programs currently running on your computer.

The more RAM that’s in your machine, the more programs you can run at once without negatively affecting performance. When your computer runs low on RAM, it uses a part of the hard drive called the page file that acts as “pretend RAM.” This is much slower than actual RAM, which is why you notice slowdowns.

Because RAM is volatile, you’ll lose its contents when your computer shuts off. Anything you want to keep must save to a hard drive or other permanent storage.

Check out our quick guide to RAM A Quick & Dirty Guide to RAM: What You Need to Know A Quick & Dirty Guide to RAM: What You Need to Know RAM is a crucial component of every computer, but it can be confusing to understand if you aren’t a tech guru. In this post, we break it down in easy-to-grasp terms. Read More for more background info.

1. Restart Your PC

This is a tip you’re probably familiar with, but it’s popular for a reason.

Restarting your PC will also clear memory and reset all running programs. While this obviously won’t increase your total RAM, it will clean up processes running in the background that could be eating up RAM.

You should restart your computer regularly to keep it from getting bogged down, especially if you use it all the time.

2. Check RAM Usage

Windows Power Usage Task Manager

You don’t have to guess what’s using your RAM; Windows provides tools to show you. To get started, open the Task Manager by searching for it in the Start Menu, or use the Ctrl + Shift + Esc shortcut.

Click More details to expand to the full utility if needed. Then on the Processes tab, click the Memory header to sort from most to least RAM usage. Keep the apps you see here in mind, as we’ll discuss more on them later.

For more information, switch to the Performance tab. On the Memory section, you’ll see a chart of your RAM usage over time. Click Open Resource Monitor at the bottom and you can get more information.

Windows Resource Monitor Memory

The chart at the bottom will show you how much RAM you have free. Sort by Commit (KB) on the top list to see which programs use the most RAM. If you suspect you have a deep problem based on what you see here, see the complete guide to troubleshooting memory leaks How to Troubleshoot Low RAM or Memory Leaks in Windows How to Troubleshoot Low RAM or Memory Leaks in Windows Do you have 4 or more GB of RAM and does your computer still feel sluggish? You may suffer from a memory leak or shortage. We show you how to troubleshoot all your Windows (10)… Read More .

3. Uninstall or Disable Software

Now that you’ve seen what apps use the most RAM on your system, think about whether you really use them.

Apps you haven’t opened in months are just wasting resources on your computer, so you should remove them. Do so by navigating to Settings > Apps and clicking Uninstall on any app you want to remove.

Uninstall Chrome Windows 10

If you don’t want to uninstall an app because you use it sometimes, you can instead prevent it from running at startup. Many apps set themselves to automatically run every time you log in, which is inefficient if you rarely use them.

Take a look at our guide to startup programs How to Use the Windows 10 Startup Folder: Everything You Need to Know How to Use the Windows 10 Startup Folder: Everything You Need to Know The Windows 10 startup folder lets you manage which programs run at startup. Here’s how to find the startup folder and manage its programs. Read More for help.

4. Use Lighter Apps and Manage Programs

Chrome Task Manager

What if you really need to cut down on RAM usage, but the apps hogging RAM are necessary to your workflow? You can work with this in two ways.

First, try using lighter app alternatives when you can. If your computer struggles when you have Photoshop open, try using a smaller app like Paint.NET for minor edits. Only use Photoshop when you’re fully dedicated to working on a project.

Second, pay closer attention to the programs you have open. Close any software that you’re not actively working with. Bookmark open browser tabs that you want to read later, then close them to free up RAM. Keeping a tighter leash on what’s open will help free up RAM.

Google Chrome is in its own category here, as it’s notorious for gobbling RAM. See how to control Chrome’s memory usage How to Control Google Chrome’s Memory Usage and Free Up RAM How to Control Google Chrome’s Memory Usage and Free Up RAM Chrome has a reputation for hogging memory. Even Google has shared tips on how to reduce its browser’s memory use. We show you how to keep Chrome RAM usage at a minimum. Read More for tips.

5. Scan for Malware

It’s worth checking for malware on your PC. Rogue software stealing resources will obviously suck up your available RAM.

We recommend running a scan with Malwarebytes. Hopefully it won’t find anything, but at least you can rule out the possibility.

6. Adjust Virtual Memory

We mentioned the paging file earlier. If you see error messages that your system is low on virtual memory, you can increase this and hopefully keep performance stable.

To do so, search for the Control Panel on the Start Menu to open it. Switch the Category view in the top-right to Small icons (if needed) and choose System. On the left side, click Advanced system settings, which will open a new window.

Here, on the Advanced tab, click Settings under Performance. Switch to the Advanced tab once again and click the Change button.

Now you’ll see the paging file size for your main drive. In most cases, you can leave the Automatically manage box checked and let Windows take care of it. However, to resolve problems, you may need to uncheck this and set the Initial size and Maximum size to higher values.

Virtual Memory Management Windows

See our guide to virtual memory Is Your Virtual Memory Too Low? Here’s How to Fix It! Is Your Virtual Memory Too Low? Here’s How to Fix It! The curse of Windows is its slowing down over time. Often, low memory is to blame. Here is one more way to virtually unburden your RAM. Read More for more help.

7. Try ReadyBoost

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If your computer still has an older mechanical hard disk drive (HDD) in it, you can try a lesser-known Windows feature called ReadyBoost to increase RAM Need A Memory Upgrade? Outsource RAM & Speed Up Your Computer With ReadyBoost Need A Memory Upgrade? Outsource RAM & Speed Up Your Computer With ReadyBoost If you’re looking to give your computer a quick & free speed boost, try ReadyBoost. The Windows feature adds additional memory to your system. All you need is a compatible flash drive. Read More . This allows you to plug in a flash drive or SD card that Windows effectively treats as extra RAM.

While it sounds great, this feature offers limited use today. If your computer has an SSD, ReadyBoost won’t do anything. This is because an SSD is faster than a flash drive.

Plus, since computers have more RAM installed by default now, you won’t see as much gain from ReadyBoost as you would on an anemic system from a decade ago. The “pretend RAM” from ReadyBoost doesn’t offer the same performance gains as actually adding more RAM.

8. Install More RAM

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If you’re really low on RAM or want to run more programs at once, there’s really no way around it: you need to add some more RAM to your machine. While it’s not cheap, adding RAM will grant much-improved performance if your computer hasn’t had much until now.

On a desktop, this is a pretty simple upgrade. But due to the confined space on a laptop, it may be difficult or even impossible. You’ll also need to make sure you buy RAM that’s compatible with your system. So ask yourself some important questions before making any upgrade 5 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Upgrading Your PC 5 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Upgrading Your PC Thinking about upgrading your PC components? Great! However, before you do, there are a few important questions that you should ask yourself. Read More , and decide how much RAM you need How Much RAM Do You Really Need? How Much RAM Do You Really Need? RAM is like short term memory. The more you multitask, the more you need. Find out how much your computer has, how to get the most out of it, or how to get more. Read More .

What About RAM Cleaners?

You’ve likely seen RAM cleaning utilities that promise to help you boost your RAM in various ways. While these sound great, we recommend avoiding them.

Have a look at our coverage of CleanMem CleanMem – A Windows Memory Cleaner That Works? CleanMem – A Windows Memory Cleaner That Works? CleanMem claims to reduce your computer’s RAM usage. Even if it succeeds, you don’t need it. Here’s why, and what to do instead. Read More , one such app, for the reasons why. In summary, RAM boosters are placebos at best, as they “free up” RAM by taking it from programs that probably need it.

Memory management is a complex computing issue. The developers of Windows, who are experts in their field, have a much better grasp on how to do this than some random developer who publishes a RAM cleaner.

RAM Is Important, But Don’t Neglect Other Upgrades

We’ve taken a look at several ways to manage the RAM on your computer. Ultimately, adding more physical RAM to your machine is the best solution for RAM-related issues. Walking through the above steps will help you decide if this is necessary, though.

Amongst all this talk of RAM, don’t forget that other PC upgrades are important too. Find out what upgrades will improve your computer’s performance the most Which Upgrades Will Improve Your PC Performance the Most? Which Upgrades Will Improve Your PC Performance the Most? If you need a faster computer but aren’t sure which component would be most beneficial to upgrade, then here are the guidelines you should follow. Read More .

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