Easily Troubleshoot RAM-Related Problems On Your PC

There are many situations that can cause a Windows PC to misbehave, crash, slow down, and generally not be as efficient as you might hope.  One such situation is a shortage of working memory, or RAM.  This is different to hard disk space, of course.  Even if you have lots of spare disk space to store the things that you're not currently working on, you might still be running short of RAM because a certain program, utility, driver, document file or somesuch has been loaded.

If you want to troubleshoot RAM-related issues, or you simply want to know what's taking up all your memory, then RAM Map from the SysInternals team (which is now part of Microsoft) is a great place to start.  It's a tiny utlity of less than 0.5 MB, is virus-free, runs on all recent versions of Windows including 8, and is free.  You can get it from http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/sysinternals/ff700229.aspx and it needs no installation - just unzip the .EXE file and run it.

As you can see from the screen shot below, my antivirus program (Sophos, and specifically savservice.exe) is currently using 153 MB of RAM where as Dropbox is using 48.  It all adds up.




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by Jessica Bell (not verified) on 13. September 2012 - 7:20  (99191)

I've been using a little prog with a tiny footprint on my XP computer for years that does the same things. It is called MaxMem and is available (free of course) from http://www.analogx.com/contents/download/System/maxmem/Freeware.htm

He has a number of little useful progs on that site worth checking out but MsxMem is absolutely awesome.

by P J (not verified) on 4. September 2012 - 14:22  (98750)

Would love to find a program that does what this one does and also tells me which programs or services I can shut down to conserve on my RAM. I am running XP on a 6 year old Toshiba laptop. I cannot afford a new computer and need to keep this one running as effeciently as possible. Are there any programs out there that tell a person what programs can be shut down safely when your RAM is low?

by PeterW (not verified) on 8. September 2012 - 10:16  (98953)

PJ. I am also running XP on a Toshiba laptop probably a bit older than yours and was about to bin it it was so slow. I took it in and upgraded the RAM from 128mb to 2x512mb (1 gig) it cost $30 and it is nearly as fast as my Lenovo with I5 processor and 8gb RAM - most computer shops have these upgraded RAM lying about 2nd hand and for $30 you won't know yourself...

by Charlie Mangs (not verified) on 5. September 2012 - 20:44  (98836)

@ P J:
You may try XP-AntiSpy - it allows disabling several features, including Windows updating that you can re-enable when you see fit (as any other feature). There is a brief explanation about each feature to make it easier. It has a small footprint and it is quite effective. I've used it in a XP and now in a 7. Hope it helps.

by TechHelpSite (not verified) on 5. September 2012 - 1:40  (98782)

Whilst not a ram/memory cleaner I have found Soluto to be useful
it runs at start-up and monitors all the things that start when your PC does
It then can recommend what programs and services can be switched off or delayed to start later
Delaying speeds up boot times but doesn't fix low memory problems
My guess though is that you have lots of programs and processes that start at boot that could be stopped
Itunes, Old camera and printer services, etc
These are often the difference between a long running PC and a 'freshly installed' windows
Be aware that Soluto itself uses some memory but it usually saves more than it loses
You could run it and identify things to uninstall and then uninstall Soluto and delete programs and services manually - Worth a go

by Jazz (not verified) on 4. September 2012 - 18:01  (98764)

Not sure, but I can not remember having ever seen software that would make it as easy as you seem to require.

Have you tried this?:


You may also conserve some memory by manually disabling unnecessary start-up processes, Windows eye-candy and services that you do not require, as well as a few monitoring apps that you may have running in the background, but it will take an effort and lots of research (read Google) to do all of this correctly if you are not an advanced user.

Blackviper, for instance, has a comprehensive list that describes Windows services in layman's terms.

Apart from that, have you looked for sites where general Windows XP tweaks are described?

by JohnFly5 (not verified) on 4. September 2012 - 12:45  (98747)

Firefox is too patchy. The latest updates have been filled with compatibility issues. The same as IE9. Maybe thats why Google Chrome is the best all round browser there is at the moment. (Just my opinion)

by Muzikgod (not verified) on 3. September 2012 - 16:34  (98706)

@j b spence

don't talk about Firefox and Chrome when your not a professional, it's just your opinion. What I've noticed is Firefox without add-ons is great and have fixed many of their memory leaks. It's the add-ons that cause most of the memory problems, Chrome acts the same, at least on my computer it does. Not sure why people rate Chrome so high, personally Opera works better and faster than Chrome but then again that's my computer.

by Jazz (not verified) on 3. September 2012 - 17:54  (98711)

Been using Firefox for years and, while it uses more RAM than others, the RAM issue has never bothered me. Even with six add-ons running, my 1GB RAM PC handles it with ease. Is this issue an example of mass hysteria?

by j b spence (not verified) on 3. September 2012 - 16:02  (98704)

Process Explorer from Sysinternals shows this as well.
When I boot up, I start PE and click on VIEW, the SYSTEM INFORMATION. Watch PHYSICAL MEMORY and when it falls too far, reboot.

BTW, Firefox is a terrible memory hog - use CHROME instead!!

by redstick (not verified) on 3. September 2012 - 14:00  (98701)

Ah, the gratitude! Makes your work worthwhile, eh? This looks like a pretty good little program, and I would certainly give it a shot; as I happens, however, I use Codestuff Starter, a freeware prog which provides an enormous amount of info on start-ups, processes and services.

That said, I can stll appreciate the amount of work that you and your compatriots expend at Gizmo's. Thamks!

by Anoynmous (not verified) on 3. September 2012 - 12:39  (98694)

there are several similar tools i have used that contain this functionality. my favorite is Process Hacker - free, open source, maintained, configurable...

by DILIP (not verified) on 3. September 2012 - 12:14  (98691)

can support with windows-7 or 8 ?

by JohnyG (not verified) on 3. September 2012 - 11:21  (98686)

Can't you get the same information with Window's own Task Manager under the Processes tab? Am I missing something here?

by Jazz (not verified) on 14. September 2012 - 4:11  (99236)

Windows Task Manager (at least up to XP, but most probably on newer versions too) has always been somewhat barebones compared to the the third party apps mentioned here. The third party apps give you a more detailed breakdown of ALL the processes running, whilst Task Manager tends to lump some of them together under single entries, such as "svchost", without showing you all the processes running inside "svchost".

by Anonymous_xpbutnowwin7 (not verified) on 3. September 2012 - 11:16  (98685)


Firstly, does this provide more information than processes in task manager?

Secondly, why is everything still measured in kilobytes? Megabytes would be more appropriate these days right?

Even low specced XP computers have a minimum of 64Mb whereas high specced Windows 7 machines are 8Gb or even more.

I am a tad inaebriated on my first ever bottle of Penfolds Grange to celebrate the birth of my baby girl last week so forgive me if I'm also not recognising the obvious :-)

And yes, from the wine I am obviously Australian :-)



by PeterW (not verified) on 8. September 2012 - 10:22  (98954)

Well done Tony. Congratulations to both yourself and your wife on the birth of your little girl.

by pottster on 3. September 2012 - 7:01  (98678)

...and your "memory management" program is taking up 86 meg ;-)

by Karl K (not verified) on 3. September 2012 - 20:48  (98720)

Apparently, you didn't read the text of this article. Either that or there's something wrong with your computer. This utility uses just a hair under 500 KB.

by pottster on 3. September 2012 - 20:58  (98721)

Apparently, you didn't look at the screenshot. Just pointing out the irony. It amused me anyway.

by Amanda Tyson (not verified) on 2. September 2012 - 20:04  (98663)

Is there a comparable piece of software for XP?

by Anoynmous (not verified) on 3. September 2012 - 12:47  (98696)

take a look at Process Hacker...

by Piero (not verified) on 2. September 2012 - 18:38  (98657)

Does not work with XP, requires Windows Vista or higher.

by Jazz (not verified) on 3. September 2012 - 17:30  (98710)

Greater the pity. It seems like all the programmers and other geeky authors are focussing only on Windows versions from Vista onwards. Do they not realise that a huge part of the great outdoors still employ Windows XP SP3, because of the big jump from XP to 7 or 8. And who wants Vista, a generally perceived failure? I had it and discarded it to return to XP, which does everything I need and keeps me smiling.

by richtea (not verified) on 3. September 2012 - 18:15  (98714)

So, another Vista basher - it would be good to know the specifics of your "general perception". My Vista runs just fine, and is preferable to W7. XP is well over the hill, and the only reason I would keep it as legacy, strictly off-line OS is some nice, forcibly defunct MS and HP software.

by Jazz (not verified) on 4. September 2012 - 4:57  (98730)

To each his own. If Vista is your comfort zone, then I respect that. Obviously, various factors influence our preferences.

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