If your Windows computer feels mysteriously sluggish or refuses to load more programs, it may run out of working memory. When this happens, computers often fall back on using virtual memory, which can be much slower. This is how you see which programs eat up all your memory.
It is worth clarifying that we are only talking about memory as in RAM, which is temporary workspace for your programs, not disk space. The best tool to see which Windows programs can use too much RAM is a tool called Task Manager.
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Let’s open the Task Manager first. Right-click on the taskbar and select “Task Manager” in the menu that appears. (You can also press Ctrl + Alt + Delete and select “Task Manager” on the screen that appears.)
If you see the simple Task Manager interface, click on the “More Information” button.
In the full Task Manager window, navigate to the “Processes” tab. You will see a list of all applications and background tasks running on your machine. Collectively, these programs are called “processes”.
Click on the column heading “Memory” to sort the processes that use the most memory. The process with the largest percentage of RAM will be moved to the top of the list.
In this window, it is a good idea to look for programs that can use a suspiciously large amount of memory. What counts as “suspicious” varies depending on how you normally use your machine. If you frequently do 4K video projects or run complex computer games, it should come as no surprise that one of these processes uses a large amount of memory (maybe even several gigabytes).
However, if a process that you do not recognize uses memory, or if a memory application is unresponsive and you cannot finish the program normally, you may want to consider killing the process. To do so, select the process from the list in the Task Manager and click “Finish Task.”
Then the offending program closes (sometimes it takes a few moments). If it does not, try restarting your machine, which may temporarily resolve a variety of issues, including a runaway program that may be using more memory than it should.
If you have trouble running out of memory on a regular basis, it may be time to consider adding more RAM to your computer, if possible. Good luck!
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