You may have received messages that your Windows computer is running low on RAM. Do you want to know how to free it? We have many tips that will help you reduce the RAM consumption of Windows.
Let’s look at how to clear RAM and keep your computer operating smoothly. These steps are applicable to Windows 10 as well as Windows 11.
What is RAM?
Before we get into the tips for clearing RAM on Windows, let us briefly explain what RAM is. For more information, see our complete explanation of RAM.
RAM stands for Random Access memory. RAM is a temporary storage medium that stores programs and other processes currently running on your computer.
Your machine’s RAM will allow you to run more programs at once, without reducing performance. Your computer uses part of your storage drive called the page files to pretend RAM when it runs out. This is slower than actual RAM and is the reason why Windows experiences slowdowns.
RAM is volatile and you will lose all of its contents if your computer turns off. You must keep any data you wish to save to permanent storage like a hard drive, solid-state drive or flash drive. For example, if your computer turns off, you will lose any open Word documents that you haven’t saved.
How to free up RAM on your Windows PC: 8 Methods
Let’s take a look at some ways to decrease the RAM that you use. These methods are not necessary, but they can be very useful if you have a memory problem.
1. Restart your PC
This tip is one you are probably familiar with to troubleshoot other problems. However, it is popular for a reason.
Restarting your computer will also clear all RAM and start any running processes. Although this won’t increase your RAM, it will clear out any background processes that might be consuming memory. You might not be aware of some processes that are running.
It is important to restart your computer every now and again in order to prevent it from becoming slow, especially if it is used all the time. If your computer feels slow or hasn’t been restarted for more than a week, it is time to reboot.
2. Windows Tools: Check RAM Usage
Windows has tools that will help you see what RAM is being used. You can open Task Manager by searching in the Start menu for it, or you can use the shortcut.
Click For more details, click the link. Next, click on the Processes tab and then the memory header. This will sort all processes according to their RAM usage. We’ll be discussing more about the apps that you see here. Remember that heavier apps require more RAM. However, a large amount of RAM doesn’t always indicate an issue. For example, a browser that has more tabs than a notepad app will use more RAM.
You can find more information at the Performance tab. You’ll find a chart showing your RAM usage over time in the memory section. You can click Open Resource Monitor to see more information about this utility’s memory tab.
The chart at the bottom will tell you how much RAM is available. To see which programs consume the most RAM, sort by Commit at the top. If you think you may have a serious problem, refer to the complete guide for diagnosing memory leaks.
3. Unneeded software can be uninstalled or disabled
Now that you know which apps consume the most RAM, you can start to think about how often you actually use them. It is possible to reduce RAM usage by preventing programs that you don’t use from using it.
You should delete any apps that you haven’t used in months, but are still running in the background. Navigate to Settings > Applications > Apps and features, then click Uninstall for any app that you wish to delete.
You can stop an app from running at startup if you don’t wish to uninstall it. If you don’t use the app often, many apps will automatically start when you log in.
4. Keep your apps up-to-date
App updates should be installed promptly for security reasons. However, this will help reduce RAM waste.
Memory leaks can happen to some apps when they don’t return RAM back to the pool after using them. These apps can use more RAM over time, which causes a shortage of resources for other apps on your computer. Installing the latest version of an app will fix any memory leak issues.
Apart from that, new versions of apps may include optimizations and improvements to reduce RAM usage.
5. Run lighter apps and manage running programs
What if RAM is not clear but you have to delete apps that are consuming RAM? There are two options.
Try to use lighter apps whenever possible. Try a smaller program like Paint.NET for minor edits if Photoshop is crashing on your computer. You should only use Photoshop if you are 100% committed to a project.
Pay attention to which programs are open. You should close any programs that you aren’t using. When you are done with a file, save it and close the application. Bookmark browser tabs you wish to open later, or use a read-it-later service such as Pocket, then close them to free up RAM. RAM will be freed if you keep a close eye on all the running programs at once.
Click the small arrow to expand the System Tray area of the taskbar. It is located at the bottom of your screen. You should right-click on any program with an icon and choose close or exit to stop it from running at startup.
Google Chrome belongs in its own category because it is notorious for consuming RAM. For more information, see How to Control Chrome’s Memory Usage. It might be a better idea to switch to Edge if you use Chrome a lot. Edge is much more efficient on RAM.
No matter which browser you use, you need to inspect your browser extensions and delete any that you don’t require. You can reduce the RAM consumption by getting rid of extensions that you have added to your browser.
6. Malware scanning
If your RAM seems to be disappearing, it’s worth looking for malware. Your RAM will be sucked up by rogue software that steals resources.
We recommend that you run a scan using Malwarebytes. Although it may not find anything, you can still rule out the possibility.
7. Windows Virtual Memory Adjustment
We mentioned earlier the paging files. You can increase the virtual memory if you get error messages that indicate your system is running low. This will hopefully help you keep your performance stable.
Go to Settings > Systems > About. Click the Advanced system set to open a new page. This link is not visible in Windows 10. To make it appear, expand the Settings window horizontally. It’s located under Device specifications in the related links section on Windows 11.
Click the Settings link under Performance in the new box. This will open a new tab. Switch to the Advanced tab and click the Modify button under the Virtual Memory section.
You’ll now see the paging size of your main drive. You can leave the Automatically Manage paging File Size for All Drives checked and Windows will take care of it. If you have low virtual memory, it is possible to uncheck the box and change the Initial and Maximum values to higher levels.
8. ReadyBoost is a way to increase RAM
You can increase the RAM of an older computer by using a less-known Windows feature, ReadyBoost. This allows you to connect a flash drive or SD card, and Windows will treat it as additional RAM.
Although it sounds fantastic, ReadyBoost is only limited in its use today. ReadyBoost will not work if your computer has an SSD. Because an SSD is faster than a flash drive, ReadyBoost won’t work. The paging file works better than using the USB drive to store RAM.
You won’t get the same performance gains from ReadyBoost if your computer has more RAM than it did many years ago. ReadyBoost’s “pretend RAM”, however, doesn’t provide the same performance gains that adding RAM.
ReadyBoost can only increase the RAM available for older systems. You can only add RAM to your computer if you have the necessary hardware.
9. Add RAM
You can’t run more programs simultaneously if you are constantly running out of RAM. Although it comes with some costs, RAM can give your computer a much better performance.
You can only increase your RAM by adding physical memory sticks to your computer. Online claims of “downloading more RAM” are laughable. It’s impossible to increase memory in this manner.
An easy upgrade to your RAM on a desktop is usually the easiest. It may not be possible to increase the RAM of a laptop due to its limited space. For a detailed walkthrough, see our guide for upgrading your laptop’s RAM.
You’ll need RAM that is compatible with your system in either case. To find out which RAM is compatible with your system, consult the documentation from your PC manufacturer. This information can also be found on the internet.
We’ve made it easy for you to make the most out of your upgrade by comparing RAM speed and RAM total.
RAM Cleaners: What are they?
RAM cleaning tools that claim to boost RAM performance are common. These sound great in theory but we recommend that you avoid them.
Our coverage of CleanMem is a good example. RAM boosters can be described as placebos. The “free up” RAM and take it from programs that may need it.
Memory management is an important computing problem. Windows developers are more knowledgeable than any random developer publishing a RAM cleaner. It’s not a problem if your computer uses most of its RAM. Instead, it’s optimizing the use of what resources it does have.
RAM is just one important computer upgrade
We have looked at several methods to free up RAM in Windows 10 and 11. If you have RAM-related problems that are persistent, then adding more RAM to your computer is the best option. The above steps will help determine if you need to add more RAM.
All the talk about RAM is important, but don’t forget other components of your PC. You will see a greater impact on the performance of your computer if you upgrade certain hardware types than others.