If you’ve found your laptop is acting strangely or slowly, then you may need to clear the RAM usage of your computer. RAM stands for random access memory and is your computer’s temporary storage that has all of your recent files. It acts as a necessary part of speeding up the processing power of your computer.
If your RAM storage is overused or full, your computer will begin to process your requests the long way, which is likely why your laptop may be slow. If you want to learn how to clean laptop memory and possibly increase your laptop speed then you’ve come to the right place!
What is RAM anyway?
Before we tackle how, let’s just take a moment to dive deep into what the virtual memory that RAM is. Somewhere on your computer, there is a memory chip that sits on your motherboard, which stores short-term data. RAM stores all the temporary files for your active programs and activities, which your computer uses to very rapidly store and draw upon the information as you navigate your laptop.
That’s why your laptop begins to slow as soon as your RAM fills up, as the computer can no longer take the quick and easy route for all the files you’re using, but instead, the RAM forces it to store and draw upon the bigger virtual memory.
5 Easy Ways to Lower RAM Usage
There are plenty of easy and quick ways to lower the RAM usage of your laptop, especially if you follow our tips and tricks to do so! Best of all, you don’t need to have a computer science or data science degree to complete any of these tips and it doesn’t matter what kind of Windows PC you have.
Let’s not waste any time and dive right into it!
Restart Your Computer
If you’re finding that your memory chip is being filled up and slowing down your laptop, the easiest bit of disk cleanup you can do is to restart your computer. Restarting your computer will ensure that your RAM will be wiped clean and your programs will be rebooted.
Your laptop will likely offer better performance once it’s been rebooted and restarted.
Clear the Browser Cache
Browers take up a lot of RAM, so clearing your browser’s cache is an excellent way of clearing up your RAM! The cache is your device’s storage that it draws upon to reload pages quicker and easier, so if you want to save your RAM for other programs, clearing your cache is one of the best ways to clear it.
Non-gamers who use their laptop for work, internet browsing, and more are more likely to have a bloated cache – especially if their laptop’s memory is low (4 GB or less).
Update your Software
Windows 11 is the latest software for Windows users, so if you’re still running the previous or older version of Windows services then updating may increase your RAM. Laptops are optimized to run on the latest software, so keeping your laptop on outdated software will cause it to use more RAM.
Updating your Windows computer is a great way to decrease RAM usage, especially when you factor in our other tips.
Switch your Browser
Certain browsers are notorious for using up your computer’s RAM, so it’s in your best interest to switch to a browser that doesn’t. Chrome is one of the famous RAM eaters, so if you primarily use this browser and are finding that your laptop is underperforming, then you may want to switch to another like Firefox, Edge, or Opera.
Remove Browser Extensions
Speaking of browsers, another factor that can determine how much RAM you need to free up is how many browser extensions you have attached to your browser. And although your work may be made easier with the use of extensions, it may also be a problem that is using an excessive amount of RAM.
5 Ways to Increase RAM on Windows 10 & Higher
If you want more permanent ways to increase your computer’s RAM capabilities, then you’ll love our 5 ways to increase the RAM, remove unused files, and improve your memory management on Windows 10 or higher.
While our previous list detailed things you can do to decrease RAM usage, we’ll now be covering certain things that you can do to increase your RAM overall. Don’t miss out on offering your Windows laptop the most disk space it can use.
Disable the Start-Up Processes
Have you ever found a flurry of random programs that begin to open when you start your laptop? We’re talking about anything from Zoom, Discord, AVG, and others that prompt you with something as soon as you begin your day, it’s an absolute nightmare. What if I told you that these start-up processes are also draining your RAM?
If you want to disable your start-up programs, here’s how to do it:
- Navigate to your Task Manager, either by holding “Ctrl + Alt + Delete” at the same time or typing it into the Search Bar of your laptop.
- Find the Startup Tab within the Task Manager.
- Click on any program you don’t want to start up when you boot up your computer and click disable.
If you don’t nip these in the bud now, they’ll become background apps that continually suck RAM from your computer’s memory as you use it.
Track What’s Using Your RAM
A great habit to start incorporating into your workflow is to check what’s using your RAM when your computer begins to show signs of slowing down. Thankfully, the Windows task manager is built specifically for this. Here’s how your open your task manager and see what’s using your RAM:
- Open your Task Manager once more — we’ve outlined how in a previous section but for ease you can always press Ctrl + Alt + Delete and then click on Task Manager.
- You should be shown the Processes tab as soon as you open Task Manager, but if not then click it.
- If you click on the Memory tab, you’ll be shown what’s using your RAM, from the program that is using the most space to the least. If you see anything you don’t want, then you can always choose to end the task and free up the space.
Limit Background Apps
Once you’ve found apps that consistently consume RAM when you’re not using them in Task Manager, the next best practice is to either limit or remove these unnecessary files and apps. Background apps are annoying because many programs default to working in the background when you’re not using them, causing your RAM usage to increase substantially if kept unchecked. Here’s how to clean laptop memory by removing background apps:
- Navigate to your computer’s settings through the Search Bar.
- Once you’ve reached your settings, find the Privacy tab and click it.
- Within Privacy you should find a section called Background Apps, click that.
- Scroll through the list of apps and find anything that you don’t use regularly. We often find that apps from college, past work experiences, or games frequently show up from ages ago so ensure you’ve disabled those.
Clear your Page File When You Shut Down
Page files are an extension of your RAM, and act as storage space for programs and files that you don’t regularly use but are still worth keeping for quick and easy access. Page files don’t clear themselves when you restart your computer. Luckily, there’s a way to set your Page File to automatically clear RAM when you shut down your laptop, here’s how:
- Navigate to your Search Bar Menu and type “Registry editor”.
- You’ll have to grant access to the registry editor to make changes to your computer, so when it sends a pop-up asking for permission, click yes.
- There may be a lot of options to scroll through on the left side panel, but you’re looking for “HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE”.
- Open that and find “System” within the folder.
- Next, you’ll have to find “CurrentControlSet”, then “Control” and “Session Manager”.
- From there, search for “Memory Management” and click it. Once you’ve found it, select “ClearPageFileAtShutDown”.
- Change the numerical value data from a 0 to a 1. Hit OK.
Now, whenever you shut down your laptop your Page File will also clear itself of any RAM that is stored in-page.
Reduce Your Visual Effects
When we talk about visual effects, we’re referring to the various animations and effects that your computer will use. Most of these are unnecessary for you to have on and drain your RAM instead. Reducing your computer’s visual effects are a great way to save RAM.
- Navigate to your file explorer and click on “This PC”.
- Choose the “Advanced System Settings” tab and click on “Advanced” within.
- Under the settings category, there should be a tab for “Performance”. Click it and mark the “Adjust for best performance” option.
This will remove all the animations that your computer would have used and saves your RAM for the important files and apps instead.
Frequently Asked Questions
We often receive a few questions again and again regarding how to clean laptop memory, so we’ve included a frequently asked questions section to answer any question that may have cropped up while reading our article.
How do I clean my laptop to make it faster?
We’ve outlined a lot of great ways to clean up your laptop’s RAM and make your device quicker, so we recommend coming back here whenever you’re experiencing a slow laptop. Otherwise, your laptop may also need a physical clean as well as a digital one.
Dust collects within your computer’s fans and hardware, causing insulation that leads to overheating. Your computer tries to run as cool as possible, so physically cleaning it of all its debris is also important.
Why is my laptop running slow?
There are numerous reasons why your laptop may be running slowly compared to normal. We’ve listed the most common reasons why your laptop may be running slowly:
- Your computer is broken or damaged.
- Your internal storage is filled up.
- Your RAM is filled.
- Your computer is overheating due to dust.
These are only a few reasons for your laptop running slowly, but if you’ve resolved these issues and you still find your laptop is slow then it’s best to contact your computer’s support system.
How do I check how much memory my laptop has?
The easiest way to check out the RAM of your laptop for Windows 10 and above is the following:
- Find your Computer settings from the Start menu.
- Right-click on Computer and choose Properties.
- Underneath the System, you’ll find the RAM of your laptop.
Cleaning your laptop’s RAM is easy and simple if you follow our quick and easy steps. We recommend you check in with this article whenever you find yourself running low on RAM because these issues can pop up again and again.
Writer Graham Grieve brings two decades of technical communications experience to The Holy Tech coverage. Isaac contributes articles on laptops, tablets and PCs, alongside various software and hardware guides. Isaac is a former newspaper journalist who also worked in tech communications for some of the country’s biggest corporations. He also counsels and creates material for other technology publications and hosts a podcast.
Isaac’s in-depth reporting and knowledge of hardware and software issues helps The Holy Tech’s readers learn how to choose the right products, or solve tricky problems.