There are a few things that are as annoying as a slow computer.
As good as the Windows 10 operating system is, Windows computers still run a lot slower over time.
In this article, you will learn seven of the most effective ways to clean up old memory and increase the amount of available RAM on a Windows computer that is suffering from performance issues
Also, if you’d like to get it up and running quickly, watch our YouTube video from our Online Tech Tips subsidiary. If you liked the video, be sure to subscribe to the channel!
Why do computers slow down
If you have owned a computer for a while, there are a number of problems that can slow it down. Many of them are beyond your control, but some are not.
These issues include:
- Memory leaks due to the software you installed
- Power surges and normal use degrade system components
- Bad hard disk sectors or faulty memory chips due to age and usage.
- Not enough RAM installed.
- Redundant software is launched at startup
- Malware and viruses that consume system resources
While you cannot control the effects of normal aging, there is a lot you can do to speed up your computer These include things like defragmenting your hard drive, scanning for viruses, and disabling User Account Control (UAC)
However, the most significant effect you can have on system performance is completely optimizing memory usage.
1. RAM Hogs: The low hanging fruit
The fastest and easiest way to clean up used memory is to make sure that system processes are not using all system resources.
This problem can easily develop over time, especially if you are used to installing a lot of software. There is also a very simple solution.
Check the system processes listed in the Task Manager and look for unfamiliar problematic applications that are consuming too much RAM.
- Right-click the Windows taskbar and select Task Manager.
- Click the Processes tab.
- Sort processes by memory and find programs at the top of the list that you don’t recognize.
If you find any problematic applications, go to Control Panel, click on Programs and Features, and uninstall those problematic applications.
2. Clean startup programs
Unfortunately, fixing memory issues and freeing up RAM is usually not easy. Over time, software that you have installed and forgotten about can be built into your system, but will not constantly consume RAM.
In such cases, these programs do not appear at the top of the Task Manager list. However, they are part of a list of programs that run every time your computer starts up and chews on the available RAM.
- Still in Task Manager, click the Startup tab.
- Sort the list by the Startup Impact field.
- Identify applications that you don’t know or need.
- Right-click the application and select Disable.
When each of these programs is run, they individually consume some memory. They all run in the background and consume your RAM. Disabling them to run at startup prevents this from happening.
3. Clear the page file when playback is off
Whenever you turn off your computer, the system RAM is always cleared. However, the paging file stored on the hard disk is not stored.
The paging file is an area of ??the physical hard drive that the operating system uses as extra RAM when the physical RAM is full. Cleaning up your paging file, like your RAM, will keep your computer clean and efficient the next time you start your computer.
You can enable this by setting the ClearPageFileAtShutdown registry value to 1. In Windows 10, this parameter is set to 0 by default. Enabling this is easy.
- Click the start menu and type regedit. Click the Run Regedit command.
- The Registry Editor will open. Go to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE SYSTEM CurrentControlSet Control Session Manager Memory Management.
- Double-click the ClearPageFileAtShutdown button on the right.
- Set the value data field to 1 and click OK.
The next time you restart your computer, the paging file will be cleared.
4. Check for device driver problems
Device drivers are updated over time, and various Windows updates can lead to corrupted driver files or driver conflicts. Sometimes these problems can lead to memory leaks, and the longer your computer is running, the higher the RAM consumption.
It is important to make sure that there are no device driver issues on your system. You can quickly check this with Device Manager.
- Open Control Panel and double-click Device Manager.
- Expand each branch in Device Manager and find the yellow explain flag icon. This is a warning about a driver problem.
- If you see a warning, right-click the device and select Update Driver Software.
If possible, have the system search the Internet for the latest drivers. Otherwise, you will need to visit the manufacturer’s website and download the latest driver.
Eliminating any device problems and updating all drivers will ensure that your system runs smoothly and that there are no memory issues in the drivers.
5. Reduce Windows’ visual effects
Windows 10 comes with loads of pre-loaded visual effects for windows, menus, tooltips, and more. If you have a lot of RAM, these visuals are not a problem.
But if you are working with the minimum amount of available RAM, disabling these effects can significantly increase the amount of available memory.
To turn off Windows visual effects:
- Open File Explorer, right-click This PC and select Properties.
- On the left side of this window, click Advanced System Settings.
- In the Performance section, click the Options button.
- In the Performance Options window, select Tune for Maximum Performance.
You will notice that all animated features are disabled with this setting. Optionally, you can select Custom instead, and then enable any visuals you can’t live without.
6. Clear the cache
When you open and close applications frequently, sometimes some programs do not free up system memory when they close. Over time, these wasted threads consume RAM and result in poor system performance.
You can create a very simple shortcut that will clear your memory cache and all those old webs of wasted memory.
% windir% system32 rundll32.exe advapi32.dll, ProcessIdleTasks
If you don’t know how to set up this shortcut, you can read the clearing memory cache guide that walks you through the steps.
7. Add more RAM
Of course, one of the easiest ways to free up more memory is to increase the amount of RAM you have.
If you are unsure what type of memory your computer is occupying, you can use Crucial Advisor to run a scan on your computer and find the best memory to buy.
Scanning is quick and easy, and the web page that opens will list all memory cards available for your system.
Memory is important
Of everything you can do to improve the performance of your old computer, there is nothing more effective than cleaning up or increasing the available RAM.
The less your computer needs to rely on the hard drive and paging file as physical RAM is full, the faster your computer will behave.