Ways to Increase Computer Memory Without Buying RAM

By Erik Devaney

Random access memory is the primary storage technology that personal computers rely on for running programs and for executing other operations. Unlike hard drive storage, RAM storage only retains data while a computer is on. When a computer's RAM runs low, regular computing operations take longer to execute and error/warning messages can be a regular occurrence. Instead of having to purchase more RAM in such situations, computer users can increase computer memory in other ways.

Increase Virtual Memory

Unlike RAM, which stores data at physical addresses within physical hardware modules, virtual memory stores data at virtual or imaginary addresses. A computer is able to generate virtual memory by using a hard disk drive to imitate the presence of additional RAM modules. Computer users can increase virtual memory, for free, by accessing their computer's performance settings and increasing the amount value for virtual memory size. While increasing virtual memory can help low-RAM computers run programs by providing additional, RAM-like storage space, the downside to virtual memory is that it functions more slowly than RAM.


Defragmenting a computer will not increase computer memory in that sense that it will add new, physical RAM modules to computer circuit boards. However, the process can free up RAM and hard drive storage space that a computer is using inefficiently, which can have positive, measurable effects on computer performance. Defragmentation is an automated program that users can access through a computer's utilities or tools menu. The program searches for related fragments or bits of data that a computer is storing across various memory locations and then conglomerates those fragments in a single location. By storing the fragments that comprise particular folders and files close together, a computer can access such folders and files using less RAM.

Clean System Registries

A computer's system registry is an avid consumer of RAM. This is because system registries store all of the data from all of the operations that computers execute. While some of this data helps computers repeat operations more efficiently during subsequent use; much of the data is useless. To clear this useless data from system registries, computer users can run registry cleaning software programs. As with defragmentation, these programs do not add RAM modules to computers, but they do make more RAM storage space available.

Eliminate Startup Programs

Another way computer users can increase computer memory without buying and installing additional RAM is through the elimination of startup programs. Startup programs are the programs that open on computer desktops automatically following a user starting up the computer. While some users may find them convenient, startups drain available RAM space. To shut off or deactivate startup programs, users must access a computer's services menu.