Computer Memory Full

steve How to, Tip and Tricks , , , , ,

Every computer has RAM. This stands for Random Access Memory. What the RAM is used for is to store data for things like web pages, documents and programs. This data is able to be quickly recalled when needed. The more things you have open, the more RAM your system is using.

Occasionally if you use too much RAM then your computer will stop functioning correctly. You will get error messages that say your computer memory is full. It will even get to the point where your computer will crash and give you the blue screen of death. There are ways to fight back when you are getting memory full errors.

Restart your computer

Restarting your computer is always troubleshooting steps number one. This is low-hanging fruit. It’s easy to do and fixes a lot of issues. You always want to give the easiest option the first try. If you have restarted, you may still begin to see the issues again. This means that you need to dig deeper.

If you have a program that’s hanging or causing some kind of problem, you won’t always know about it immediately. Sometimes you may not even know the program is running. Restarting your computer is going to clear out the list of programs that are running. If it is a certain program causing problems, you’ll want to see if these programs are still running after you restart.

Task manager

The task manager is going to list all the programs that you have currently running on your computer. It shows a lot of information, but right now you only need to worry about the memory column. If you click on memory, everything in the list will be sorted based on memory usage.

If you find something that is taking a lot of memory you’ll want to close out of it. You should see the program drop off the list in the task manager. Occasionally, you’ll see programs stay in the list after you them. Sometimes this means the program is hanging and sometimes it means that the program doesn’t ever really like to close all the way.

If it is still in the list it is still using the system memory. It could potentially be contributing to your system slow down. If you find this is happening, you can go into the task manager, click on the application that won’t close, and then hit the end task button.

You don’t want to just end anything that’s in here. Sometimes it’ll cause bigger problems. If you start randomly ending tasks you may end up causing your computer to crash. Don’t worry. If you do close something that you shouldn’t have, just restart your computer. Anything that may have been important will be there again.

To get to the Task Manager,

  1. Right click on the clock in the bottom right corner of your screen.
  2. Click on Task Manager

Remove Programs from Startup

If there is a program that is causing problems that keeps coming back when you restart your computer, then remove it from start up. The system starts programs all the time. If the program is causing issues, or the computer is starting so many things that it is draining the system, then you can remove things from startup.

You don’t want to remove everything because there are somethings that the system needs to run correctly. There is probably some kind of antivirus running as well. If there isn’t, then you should get one. The start up items used to be buried in the system configuration. It’s now in the task manager.

Virus Scan

When you are online people are always trying to put malicious programs on your computer. It’s a fact of life almost as much as death and taxes are .

Sometimes you get something and not know it. The people making viruses are always doing something new, and antivirus software is always updating to find and eliminate these new threats.

You’ll want to run a full system scan to make sure you don’t have anything hidden on your computer. I don’t mean with Windows defender either. That’s like taking a butter knife to a gun fight.

You’ll want to use something more robust from a company that has a major focus on virus detection like Kaspersky Anti-Virus, or Avira Anti-virus. If you don’t have anything better than windows defender, you’ll want to get something.

Defragment Hard Drives

Anytime you create a document or install software Windows allocates a certain amount of space for it. For documents, the amount of space is usually larger than required. If you have ever deleted anything or uninstalled a program (and everyone has done this), then you computer will fill that newly emptied space with something else.

Sometimes this means that a 10 GB program gets half installed in 3 GB spot, and everything else is installed somewhere else where there is space. The more this happens the shower you computer will get, because the hard drive has to jump around a lot to find everything it needs for one file or program.

When you defragment your hard drive, your computer moves all the separated parts together again. It can take a lot of time if you have a very fragmented computer. Most computers these days have a monthly schedule to defragment themselves.

Because defragmenting the hard drive takes a lot of computer resources, the scheduled defragmenting typically happens at night when the computer is least likely to be in use. You can change the schedule, but doing it once when there is an issue is a good way to make sure it’s not the cause of the issue.

  1. Click the Windows icon in the bottom left corner of your screen
  2. Type in defragment
  3. Click on Defragment and Optimize Drives.
  4. Click on your drive and select Optimize

Update Drivers

In order to make more accessories and peripherals work out of the box, most computers have plug-and-play drivers. The driver tells the computer how to interact with a device. If the computer uses the wrong drive, an incompatible driver, or an out dated driver it can cause a memory leak.

This will drain your resources until your computer is practically non-functional. You’ll need to update your drivers. Most computer manufactures recognize that it is important to update your drivers and will allow you to download all the drivers for the components in the computer from their website.

If you have anything you’ve plugged into the computer, you’ll need to download the driver independently. You can get the drivers you need from the manufacturer of the device. All drivers are free, but they are useless without a compatible piece of hardware to go with them.

Edit the Registry

I don’t like tell people to change their registry. If you don’t know what you are doing you can really mess your computer up, but with Windows 10 there seems to be times when you will get a memory leak and for what appears to be no reason at all, your computer will get low memory error messages.

There are registry cleaners out there, but I’m paranoid and I don’t know what they are changing. I prefer to stay away from the registry cleaners, and to only make the simple changes that will have a direct effect on what I need it to. When dealing with the registry, you always want to create a back up first.

If your computer worked fine before The Windows 10 Creator update and now it has issues, then this is most likely to work.

  1. Press Win + R to open Run dialog and type: Regedit, hit Enter;
  2. Click File, then Export, and save a copy as a backup in a place you can find
  3. Follow the path: HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\Session Manager\Memory Management;
  4. Find: ClearPageFileAtShutDown and set its value to 1;
  5. Restart the computer

In the End

It’s not a bad thing to utilize your memory, but if you get too much utilization too often it can cause problems for your computer. Like with all troubleshooting, there is a lot of things that you can try to get your error message to go away. If I missed something that you used before then leave a comment below.

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    1. Thanks Jackie. That’s part of the reason I started this website. I wanted to help others to become more informed about computers.

  1. Hi Steve,

    Excellent post. You’ve included a number of ways that I also recommend when friends and family run into this issue. The good news is it is relatively cheap these days to upgrade your hard drive. However RAM is a different story. With next gen RAM being released soon (and therefor a slowdown of production for old RAM), and essentially every piece of tech running off the current gen RAM it has become very expensive to upgrade RAM in just the last year or two. The tips you’ve provided will help greatly in the interim.

    I am surprised you included the registry though. As you mentioned, it is not something to mess with if you don’t know what you are doing. I actually jacked my first PC up pretty good simply running the registry cleaner tool in CCleaner. I even made a backup before doing so and my PC would not allow me to revert to that backup. So definitely heir on the side of caution with registry-related work.

    Have you used CCleaner much before?

    1. Buying more RAM is always a possibility, but if you have a memory leak from an incompatible driver then it can potentially cost hundreds of dollars and not even fix the issue you had. Eventually everyone will either need to upgrade their computers, or buy a new computer (nothing lasts forever after all).

      I had a really big internal struggle about the registry. You can make changes in the registry that will either improve your computer, or destroy everything. I was really hesitant to include it, but after searching on the internet extensively, it appears there is a issue with some of the Windows 10 updates that cause a memory drain. It is even causing problems to computers with 16 GB of RAM.

      I have never used CCleaner. Registry cleaners make me nervous, but I’m willing to give it a try to let others know how it works.

  2. Lots of useful tips here! My go to reaction whenever my computer plays up is to reboot it, but I can see there’s a few other things I should be doing to improve the performance of my computer. Thanks for sharing. Cheers, Karen

    1. A reboot should always be your go. Most of the time It’ll clear everything up. Occasionally, it doesn’t and that’s when you’ll need to look into doing a few other things.

  3. I like this web page, very informative and actually helped me out on a problem I had, my computer was so full and has gotten slow, but with this site I finally figured out what to do thanks for the help. Ive been looking for a site like this and I will keep coming here when I get more space problems on my laptop.

    1. I’m glad I could help you, Tommy. Anytime you have an issue feel free to pop by and drop me a message. I Like to help people solve computer problems. I hope you have a great day.

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