Some users have spoken in troubleshooting forums about a “Your computer is low on memory” error that can arise in Windows 11/10. This error message randomly and regularly pops up for some users who need to fix it. It means a PC is low on RAM (Random Access Memory).
If you’re often seeing the “Your computer is low on memory” error message, it’s something you can’t just ignore. Some apps may not work right, and your PC will become slow and unresponsive with insufficient RAM available. Fortunately, you can fix the “low on memory” issue with the resolutions in this guide.
What Exactly Is RAM Anyway?
Your computer’s Random Access Memory (RAM) is temporary storage for programs to store their data and is an essential system resource for all software. The amount of RAM your PC has is specified in its system specs.
Windows 10 and 11 PCs typically incorporate anywhere between four and 64 gigabytes of RAM. However, the “Your computer is low on memory” error will more likely occur on PCs with less RAM.
There are different types of RAM, such as SDRAM and SRAM. Then there are also DDR3, 4, and 5 RAM types. You can look at our RAM guide for further details about system memory.
1. Disable Background Apps
Running more apps depletes the amount of RAM available on your PC. Closing superfluous apps and other background processes may free up enough RAM on your PC to at least temporarily resolve the “low on memory” error. Even the message for that error suggests you close active programs. So, try disabling background apps in the following steps:
- Launch Task Manager with its direct Ctrl + Shift + Esc keyboard shortcut.
- Select Task Manager’s Processes tab to view apps and background processes.
- Close all programs listed under Apps by selecting them and clicking End task.
- Repeat the previous step for unnecessary third-party programs listed under Background processes. However, only select to close unneeded processes there.
- Click Startup at the top of Task Manager.
- Select and click Disable for all unneeded startup items listed there. Doing so will stop those programs automatically starting with Windows and consuming RAM as background processes.
Be careful not to take things too far when disabling background processes. Don’t terminate any of the Windows processes listed in the tab. Interfering with them could crash Windows.
When RAM is low, Windows utilizes a page file from hard drive storage to act as virtual memory. However, an overly full hard drive will restrict virtual memory space. Make sure your PC’s hard drive has sufficient free space for its page file.
To do so, you can erase superfluous files with the Disk Clean-Up like this:
- Open the Windows Disk Clean-Up utility (our guide for how to open Disk Clean-Up can help you with this step).
- Select all the boxes on the Disk Clean-up tab.
- Click OK > Delete Files to confirm.
- You can also select to erase superfluous system file data much the same by clicking Clean up system files.
Aside from erasing junk files, you can uninstall unneeded software to free up drive space. Removing some large software packages will probably free up more space than the Disk Clean-Up tool.
3. Increase Virtual Memory Allocation
Some users have confirmed increasing virtual memory allocation can permanently resolve the “low on memory” error. Expanding the page file will set aside more drive space for virtual memory. You can check out our how-to guide about how to increase virtual memory on Windows for further details about how to do so.
4. Run a Malware Scan
Malware is another potential cause for the “low on memory” error in Windows 11. Some malware can greatly inflate RAM usage, which leads to low memory issues. Windows includes a built-in antivirus scanning utility with which you can purge malware.
The Malwarebytes utility is a good third-party alternative to Windows Security. The freeware version of that software includes a built-in malware scanner you can utilize. This is how you run a malware scan with Malwarebytes:
- Bring up the Malwarebytes download page and download the app.
- Press Install in the Malwarebytes Setup Wizard window.
- Bring up the Malwarebytes app after installing it.
- Select the Scan option.
- Click Quarantine after the scan.
5. Reinstall Any Software With Unusually High RAM Usage
Sometimes the “low on memory” error occurs because of a memory leak issue for specific software. A memory leak is when a program doesn’t correctly release RAM, which can greatly inflate its RAM usage. Therefore, identifying and reinstalling software with a memory leak issue can also fix this error. Follow these steps to identify and reinstall any software with unusually high RAM utilization:
- Bring up the Processes tab in Task Manager.
- Click the Memory column header to identify software with the highest RAM utilization. Clicking that header will reorder processes with the biggest RAM hogs at the top.
- Close the software you intend to uninstall by selecting its process and clicking End task.
- Next, press the Windows button + R; and input the appwiz.cpl command for Programs and Features.
- Click OK to view the uninstaller tool.
- Select the software with unusually high RAM usage and click Uninstall.
- To reinstall the software, download the latest version from its website or other reputable sources. Then open the downloaded setup wizard for the software to reinstall.
6. Set Windows to Peform a Clean Boot
This potential resolution for the “low on memory” error is a variation of the first in this guide. Setting Windows to clean boot will disable both third-party startup programs and services, which is a good way to minimize RAM usage. You can set up a clean boot by disabling services with MSConfig and all startup items in Task Manager, as covered in our how to perform a clean boot on Windows guide.
7. Check Your RAM With the Windows Memory Diagnostic
The “low on memory” error can also be due to a RAM issue. The Windows Memory Diagnostic scans RAM to detect any potential errors. That utility doesn’t fix faulty RAM but may highlight your PC needs a replacement module. You can run a Windows Memory Diagnostic check like this:
- Bring up Run’s Open box with Win + R, and enter mdsched into it.
- Select Run’s OK option to view Windows Memory Diagnostic.
- Click Restart now and check for problems in Windows Memory Diagnostic.
- Wait for the scanning to finish after the restart.
Windows Memory Diagnostic should then automatically display a result after the restart for you to view. If it doesn’t, you can view the result by clicking Windows Logs > System in Event Viewer. Then select Find, input MemoryDiagnostic, and click Find Next.
If the Windows Memory Diagnostic shows errors, you may need to replace a RAM stick. You can replace RAM yourself in desktop PCs and some laptops. Alternatively, consider taking your PC to a reputable repair service.
8. Add More RAM to Your PC
This is the last resort if the above resolutions for the “low on memory” error aren’t enough. Adding an extra RAM module to your PC will give it more system memory. Most desktop PCs have free slots for RAM where you can insert a newly purchased module to increase memory by at least two to four gigabytes.
Our step-by-step guide on how to upgrade RAM on a laptop gives you a full lowdown on how to add more memory to laptops.
Now Your Computer is No Longer Low on Memory
You should always try to minimize both RAM usage and preserve some storage space for the paging file to optimize system performance in Windows 11/10. The “low on memory” error is an example of the kind of issues that can arise when users don’t do that. Applying the potential fixes for the “low on memory” error above will likely resolve that RAM issue for most users.
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