Know The Difference Between Good And Bad High RAM Usage

People often panic when their computer's resources seem to be maxed out. While CPUs and hard disks may suffer from high usage, a low amount of RAM doesn't necessarily slow down your computer .

If you have a lot of programs open, your computer is running slowly and your RAM is maxed out, performance can suffer. In those circumstances, your computer will start caching to disk instead of RAM, which will slow you down since reading and writing to disk takes longer. If this happens to you regularly, you may need more RAM.

However, high RAM utilisation on its own isn't necessarily a problem. Yyour RAM may still appear to be in full use even if your computer is running just fine. Often your computer is simply filling your RAM up with cache files. How-To Geek explains:

Whether your RAM is full of cached files or completely empty, it's all available for programs that really need it. Cached data in your RAM is marked as low-priority, and it's instantly discarded as soon as the memory is needed for something else. Because this data can be instantly discarded when necessary, there's no disadvantage to using the RAM for cache. (The one potential disadvantage is users who don't understand what's going on becoming confused.)

Empty RAM is useless. It's not any faster for the computer to write data to empty RAM, nor does empty RAM use less power. In fact, assuming you're launching a program that may already be present in your RAM's file cache, programs will load much faster when your RAM is used rather than when it's empty.

The lesson? Don't worry if your RAM appears to be full unless your computer is actually running slow. For an in-depth look at the subject, read the full post over on How-To Geek.

HTG Explains: Why It's Good That Your Computer's RAM Is Full [How-To Geek]


    I have a SSD with a 2.53GhZ dual core processor and 2GB of RAM. The computer itself flies, but I don't know what should be the next stage in the upgrade process, some more RAM or a new processor.

      Your next upgrade should be a quad core CPU.

      if the computer flies, why do you need to upgrade?

      If you are getting some lag you want to find out where the bottleneck is. Wait until you're doing some resource-intensive stuff and the computer feels a bit slow, break open the resource monitor/task manager and keep an eye on the ram and cpu use while you work.

      -if your ram is regularly over 85-90% usage, you probably want to get at least another 2gb.
      -if your cpu is near maxing out for any extended period, it might be time to upgrade it
      -if neither of them is near the max but you still get lag, it's probably disk or network latency

      The range of dual core CPUs is huge, so nobody can really give you good advice on upgrading that unless you're more specific about the model. e.g. a dual core i5 would be worth upgrading on it's own, but I wouldn't upgrade a dual core Celeron unless upgrading the whole PC.

      The RAM, however, is easy to say that it's worth it. 2GB doesn't go that far these days if you run a lot of apps simultaneously, or a lot of tabs in your web browser for example. Doubling your RAM to 4GB will surely give you a noticeable improvement and will be very cheap (as low as $10 depending on the type you need).

      Both a new CPU and more RAM. RAM is so cheap there's no reason not to get some.

    If you upgrade from 2 -> 4Gb of RAM, you'll need a 64bit OS to take advantage of it. You have to factor that into any cost:benefit ratio. A new copy of Windows 7 Home retail edition is down to $110 on ebay.... or a copy of Ubuntu 12.04 is free (in both senses of the word).

    If you have a decent GPU, then sticking with an older CPU shouldn't be a big deal (usually). I'd go with the RAM and OS upgrade.

    I bought my son a HP desktop with 4Gb of RAM, an early-ish Pentium D, then I installed a NvIDIA GPU. Unfortunately the guys at my local computer shop had installed 32bit Windows XP OS on a cheap 80Gb HDD (bastards). The performance sucks! I'm tempted to just put a Linux distro on it, but my boy loves the Total War series, and Borderlands 2, and Skyrim, and etc. A new 1Tb HDD and another copy of Windows 7 should fix it.

    Lol the italics end tag is missing

Join the discussion!

Trending Stories Right Now