How to Reduce Memory Usage

Computer random access memory, or RAM, is an essential hardware component that plays a large role in determining how fast a computer operates. RAM stores data temporarily from the hard drive to transfer it quickly to the processor when running programs on a computer. When the RAM is filled up, the computer lags as it has to wait for data to load from the hard drive. Reducing memory usage will help computer performance.

Image of a woman working on her computer.
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Step 1

Close windows and exit programs when you are done using them. Having many unnecessary programs and windows open wastes RAM. If your computer is running slowly, limit multitasking as much as possible to keep memory free for the programs you need most.

Step 2

End processes that you do not need to run. Sometimes your computer will run processes and programs that you did not open yourself. Hold "Control," "Alt" and "Delete" at the same time to bring up the task manager. Under the Processes tab, select any process that shouldn't be running and click "End Process" to close it. Under the Applications tab, you can force unresponsive programs to quit.

Step 3

Remove programs you don't use from starting up automatically. Too many startup programs make booting take longer and occupy RAM. On Windows 8, go to the All Apps screen by right-clicking the mouse and then select "Run." Type "shell:startup" in the Run text field and click "Ok" to open the Startup folder. Delete the program shortcuts in this folder that you don't want to run automatically when you turn on the computer.

Step 4

Alter program settings. Certain programs, such as video games, allow you to alter performance and graphics settings. By setting graphics settings to a low level, less memory will be required, which can boost performance.

Tip

Reducing memory usage is helpful, but you need a minimum level of RAM for decent performance. Windows 8.1 requires at least 2GB of RAM to run. Each version of Windows has a maximum amount of memory it can use. Windows 8.1 RT can access up to 4 GB of memory, but anything more won't be used. Windows 8.1 Standard can use up to 128 GB. Windows 8.1 Pro can access up to 512 GB.

Warning

Never end processes in the Task Manager unless you know exactly what they are for. Randomly ending processes could crash your computer or cause you to lose unsaved work.

Information in this article applies to Windows 8.1. It could vary slightly or significantly with other versions or products.

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