Naturally, the most obvious way to increase the RAM available in your computer is to install more memory, but it can be difficult to upgrade RAM in laptops and some desktop computers, and it's often completely impossible in other devices like phones and tablets. A solution that doesn't require you to open up your computer or get a new one is to take steps to reduce the amount of RAM particular programs are using so that you can free up memory for other software to use.
RAM and Software Performance
Random access memory, or RAM, is the working memory of a computer that it uses to store information about the programs that are running on it. It's different from the storage on your hard disk or a flash drive, which is used to store data for more long-term purposes and to save files.
Computers with more RAM often run faster, because there's less need to move data between speedy RAM and slower disks. They can also usually run more programs at one time without slowing down as much, which is naturally useful when you are multitasking between apps.
Most RAM in a computer or other device is general purpose and can be used for any application, but there is also specialized video RAM that is used for graphical operations like displaying websites and video games, as well as rendering and displaying video. More video RAM generally means video operations can work faster and applications that do real-time animation such as games can display in higher resolution.
Increase RAM in Your Computer
If you want to free up RAM in Windows 7 or a later version of Microsoft's operating system, or on devices running other systems like macOS, Linux, iOS or Android, the principle is largely the same. Close unnecessary applications, especially when you're running a RAM-intensive process like playing a game or editing photos or video. Adjust what programs start when you launch your computer so that you're not unnecessarily loading unused software into your computer's memory.
You can also see if various programs have a setting that might cause them to use less RAM. For instance, many video games have settings that will display lower-resolution graphics for computers with less memory. You may also be able to set intensive tasks, like processing video, to run overnight when you're not otherwise using your computer.
Within programs, try to close unnecessary files. In your web browser, close unnecessary browser tabs, taking notes of what websites you want to visit or saving them to your browser's bookmark system in order to remember them for later.
When to Upgrade RAM
In some cases, you may simply need to have more RAM in your computer in order to run certain software, even if you free up as much memory as you can by closing files and programs. This may be true of newer software that is designed for computers with more RAM than yours has.
In that case, you generally have two options: Buy more RAM to put into your computer or buy a new computer with enough RAM for what you want to do. If you're adept at working in computers, you may be able to install RAM or replace your computer on your own, but otherwise, you should consider the labor costs involved in either upgrading your computer's RAM or installing a new machine entirely as part of your decision process.
In some cases, you won't be able to install any more RAM in your computer due to physical limitations, and getting a new device may be your only option.