RAM or Random-Access Memory is part of a computer where programs and data are temporarily stored while they are actively being used. If your system needs to access that data as fast as possible without having to talk to storage, it can swiftly retrieve it from the RAM and process it much more quickly. Therefore, whenever your PC needs to access something fast, it keeps that in RAM. You might have heard the word “cache” before and CPUs have built-in cache inside them. Although that cache is extremely fast and closest to the CPU, it has a very small size; thus, RAM is needed to perform essentially the same function. Sometimes your PC fails to utilize memory but if you end up using up your computer’s entire available RAM, it may run slower than usual because it lacks the resources to adequately finish all of its processes. That’s why it is imperative that you free up any RAM that has been unnecessarily occupied by something in your PC.
How to free up your RAM?Let’s take a look at some strategies for freeing up RAM on your system. Although latest systems do not require any such activity due to inbuilt processes dedicated to freeing up RAM, these techniques are useful if you ever experience such an issue.
1. Restart Your ComputerWhen you restart your computer, all open programs and data in RAM are flushed and the system basically starts again from scratch. It will terminate any unnecessary background processes that could be causing memory issues. In many instances, users are unaware that background processes are taking up too much RAM. This quick fix can just solve the problem instantly.
2. Verify Memory Utilization using Windows ProgramsWindows has features to let you see what programs are using how much resources. Task Manager allows you to monitor each process individually and determine the exact amount of system RAM it is currently consuming. Start by searching for “Task Manager” in the Start menu. Alternatively, you can also use the keyboard shortcut Ctrl + Shift + Esc to open it. Next, click on the “Memory” column heading in the “Processes” tab to arrange running programs in descending order of memory consumption. Next, click on the programs that are using the most memory, and click “End Task“. This will eliminate those programs and help you free up RAM. Keep in mind that more RAM is required for more resource-intensive applications, so high RAM usage may not necessarily indicate a problem. A graph can show your RAM use over time. Head over to “Performance” tab and click “Memory“. To learn more about this tool’s Memory settings, click “Open Resource Monitor” at the bottom. The amount of available RAM can be seen in the accompanying graph. To quickly identify which applications use the most memory, sort the top list by “Commit (KB)“. You will see an option to terminate these applications. By terminating such RAM-hogging applications, you can free up some RAM easily. If you’re a pro user, and prefer an advanced version of Task Manager, you can check out Process Explorer. It’s a third-party app that does the same thing, but with much more granular control.
3. Disable or Remove Unused ApplicationsReducing RAM usage can be as simple as closing unused applications. You should get rid of programs like that since they are doing nothing except eating up space on your computer. To do this, choose the program you want to uninstall from Settings > Apps > Apps & Features. Click any application you find unwanted. Next, click “Uninstall” to remove the application from your system. If you rarely use an application but would rather not remove it, you can disable it from starting up automatically. Many programs are programmed to launch when you log in, even if you rarely use them.
4. Update Your AppsMemory leaks occur in some applications when they do not return unused memory to the system properly. Such applications tend to require more and more memory as time goes on, leaving less for your other programs to utilize. If a program has a memory leak, updating to the most recent version should resolve the issue. In addition, recent software updates may feature optimizations and changes that reduce the amount of RAM used by the program. Make sure that not only all your apps are updated, but also your Windows installation and your drivers. The programs you use the most frequently or any outlier who have unusually high memory consumption should be the first one to check for updates.
5. Switch to Lighter Apps and Control Your ProcessesWhat if the RAM-hogging programs are essential to you, and you still need to clean your RAM? There are two options for dealing with this. First, whenever possible, switch to a less resource-intensive app. A lighter tool like Paint.NET or GIMP can be used in place of Adobe Photoshop if the latter causes your machine to stutter. Alternatively, you can use online programs as well as these will not cause excessive load to the system’s RAM. Check out our list of the best, free Photoshop alternatives if you’re interested. Second, focus more intently on the windows you have already opened. Do not forget to exit any programs you are not using. When you are finished with a file, save it and then exit the program it was opened in. If you have a lot of tabs open in your browser and wish to save them for later reading, you may dismiss them or save them to utilize a read-it-later service like Pocket. By reducing the number of processes active at once, more RAM may be made available.
6. Change your BrowserWhen it comes to memory use, Google Chrome is in a league of its own. If you often use your browser, you may want to choose an alternative to Chrome (like Microsoft Edge) that uses less memory. Check out our list on the best browsers available today, even for low-end devices. No matter the browser you use, it is a good idea to uninstall any unused add-ons. Eliminating browser extensions is a simple approach to free up even more RAM since each one uses some of your computer’s system resources. If you can let go of the Chromium ecosystem, consider trying Mozilla Firefox, known for its lightweight design that is less demanding on system resources. Arc is also another intuitive browser that is currently in development for Windows. You can sign-up for its waitlist and be notified when the Windows version is ready.
7. Check for MalwareIf your computer’s RAM keeps jamming up, it can be a sign of malware. Malicious programs designed to steal data will inevitably use a lot of all of your memory. Windows Defender in of itself is enough to detect any viruses in your system but there are also third-party tools that can help you achieve the same result. Check for any unusual-looking processes in Task Manager first to see if you can manually sniff out the culprit to kill it. But even if you do find it, it’s still recommended to run an antivirus check on your PC to ensure everything is A-okay.
8. Windows Virtual Memory SettingsIf you are getting warnings that your system has run out of virtual memory, increasing it should help. Go to Menu > Settings. To access further configuration options, type “Advanced System Settings” in the search bar. In Windows 11, search “Device Specifications” and look for the setting in the Related links row. Simply click on it and you should get to the destination window directly. For Windows 10, after accessing “Advanced System Settings“, you will see “Performance” section. Here, click the “Settings” option. Next, you will see “Performance Options“. The best choice here is to set it to “Let Windows choose what’s best for my computer”. This will allow Windows to optimize the memory and usage itself. However, you can also set it to “Adjust for best performance” if you feel that automatic adjustment by Windows isn’t effective. The “Custom” option is also a good idea; however, it is not advised for beginners, as it can cause glitches in your system.
9. Clear the Page File then RebootThe Page File can be used to keep your computer running smoothly even when RAM is low. However, unlike RAM, it is not cleared whenever the computer is restarted. You need to do this manually. When your computer restarts, you can set it up such that the Page File is deleted.
A page file is a space on a computer’s storage used for virtual memory management. It is used when a computer runs out of physical memory and temporarily stores inactive memory pages. The page file helps manage memory efficiently and avoid crashes due to insufficient memory.
- Enter “Registry Editor” in the “Start” search field. Respond “Yes” when prompted to allow the Registry Editor to make changes to your device.
- On the search bar, type the following “Computer\HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\Session Manager\Memory Management”
- Check the box labeled “ClearPageFileAtShutdown“. Type “1” into the “Value Data” box, and then choose “OK”.