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Computer users love one-click fixes to problems 5 Free Tools to Fix Any Problem in Windows 10 5 Free Tools to Fix Any Problem in Windows 10 It only takes five free programs and a few clicks to fix any problem or rogue setting on your Windows 10 PC. Read More . While some issues are fixed pretty easily 8 Annoying Windows 10 Issues & How to Fix Them 8 Annoying Windows 10 Issues & How to Fix Them The upgrade to Windows 10 has been smooth for most, but some users will always encounter issues. Whether it's a flashing screen, network connectivity issues, or battery drain, it's time to resolve these problems. Read More , others require more involvement. This is perhaps most rampant in PC speed How to Fix Your Slow Computer How to Fix Your Slow Computer Few things are more frustrating than working with a slow computer. The issue can have multiple causes. We'll guide you through the steps to troubleshoot and fix your computer's performance problems. Read More .

Everyone wants to make their computer run faster without having to purchase an upgrade or remove some software. We reviewed free tool CleanMem years ago, and found it to have an effect on Windows’ RAM usage. But will this really speed up your PC? Let’s take a look.

What CleanMem Does

CleanMem is a free tool that supposedly helps with memory management in Windows How to Troubleshoot Low RAM or Memory Leaks in Windows How to Troubleshoot Low RAM or Memory Leaks in Windows Do you have 4 or more GB of RAM and does your computer still feel sluggish? You may suffer from a memory leak or shortage. We show you how to troubleshoot all your Windows (10)... Read More . To help reduce the amount of RAM used by software, CleanMem calls the Windows memory management API every 15 minutes to steal back unused RAM. According to the developer, this is better than allowing Windows to manage memory on its own.

The program works silently by scheduling a task in Windows Task Scheduler 7 Nerdy Things You Can Automate with the Windows Task Scheduler 7 Nerdy Things You Can Automate with the Windows Task Scheduler The Windows Task Scheduler can automate almost anything. If you can make it happen in a command line or a Windows script, you can schedule it with the Task Scheduler. Let us demonstrate. Read More . To review its status and see how your system’s memory is performing, you can open the included CleanMem Mini Monitor tool. This places an icon in your System Tray Spice Up The Windows System Tray With These 9 Clever Features Spice Up The Windows System Tray With These 9 Clever Features The system tray is perhaps one of the most undervalued features of the Windows taskbar. The icons represent running programs or system functions you can manipulate. We'll show you additional options you can add. Read More allowing you to see how much memory is in use on your system.

You can also create a keyboard shortcut 12+ Custom Windows Keyboard Shortcuts for the Geek in You 12+ Custom Windows Keyboard Shortcuts for the Geek in You Windows includes hundreds of keyboard shortcuts, but you can create your own shortcuts to nearly anything you'd like. Here's how to customize your Windows shortcuts. Read More to run CleanMem any time.


On the plus side, CleanMem doesn’t try to go against the standard Windows memory management. It simply asks Windows to do it on a set schedule, instead of allowing it to perform on its own. However, we need to discuss why you shouldn’t use this tool on your system.

Note that Panda Antivirus neutralized the download as a threat in our testing, so be wary if you decide to try this tool.

How Memory Works

We’ve written a guide on RAM A Quick & Dirty Guide to RAM: What You Need to Know A Quick & Dirty Guide to RAM: What You Need to Know RAM is a crucial component of every computer, but it can be confusing to understand if you aren't a tech guru. In this post, we break it down in easy-to-grasp terms. Read More , but it’s good to review here to explain why CleanMem isn’t worth using.

RAM, or random access memory, is what your computer uses to temporarily store running processes. RAM is volatile, meaning that it isn’t saved when you turn off the power to your computer. When you open up a Microsoft Word window, Windows places that process into RAM. If your desktop were to lose power The Effects Power Outages Can Have On Your Computer The Effects Power Outages Can Have On Your Computer Do you unplug your computer during severe storms? If not, you may want to start. Read More five minutes later, your document would be lost as well, unless you saved it to your hard drive (which isn’t volatile).

Obviously, the more programs running concurrently, the more RAM your computer needs. To get around the limit, your computer uses what’s called a page file Everything You Need to Know About RAM & Memory Management Everything You Need to Know About RAM & Memory Management RAM is your computer's short term memory. Hence, memory management has a significant impact on system performance. Here we explain how RAM works and whether you can do anything to increase its efficiency. Read More . This is a small amount of your hard drive that’s dedicated to being “pretend” RAM. When your computer starts to run out of RAM, it uses the page file to manage older processes.

In general, the larger (and cheaper) computer storage media is 5 Things You Need to Consider Before Buying a Hard Drive 5 Things You Need to Consider Before Buying a Hard Drive Buying a hard drive? It's not that difficult if you know a few basic tips. We've assembled the most important features of a modern storage drive and what you should buy. Read More , the longer it takes to access. Your Dropbox cloud might have a terabyte of space, but downloading files from it takes forever. Conversely, loading a process from RAM only takes a fraction of a second, but most people don’t have more than 8 or 16 GB of RAM installed How Much RAM Do You Really Need? How Much RAM Do You Really Need? RAM is like short term memory. The more you multitask, the more you need. Find out how much your computer has, how to get the most out of it, or how to get more. Read More .

As you can imagine, juggling processes from the hard drive is much slower than juggling them around RAM. You’ll notice a drop in performance when this regularly happens. CleanMem exists to keep Windows from relying on the page file. However, this is a poor solution to the problem.

Why CleanMem Isn’t Good

First, CleanMem won’t make your computer faster. It says this right on the website (emphasis added, sic):

CleanMem WILL NOT make your system faster. What CleanMem does, again, is help avoid the use of the page file on the hard drive, which is where your slow down comes from. There have been users including my self who have noticed a smoother system. A placebo effect perhaps? Who knows. I do know that CleanMem hurts nothing, and does help, to a point.

Here, the developer of this software comes right out and says that this tool won’t make your PC faster. In fact, he admits it might just be a placebo, which means it has no place on your system.

Second, while CleanMem doesn’t fight against Window’s memory management like awful Android task killers, it still does a job that’s already taken care of. Let’s read again from the developer’s website (sic):

So far the only people calling CleanMem snake oil are the users who don’t bother trying it. I have one “memory expert” after another tell me one thing and say the other memory people are wrong! Its a war I don’t want to fight and that no one will win. The true memory experts are the programmers of Windows, the programmers! And lets face it, they are not going to find their way to my corner of the web :-)

If the true memory experts are the programmers of Windows, why would you want software from someone who’s not a memory expert on your computer? Windows already does a fine job of memory management. It doesn’t need another tool nagging it about when it should garbage-collect memory. Perhaps this was more important in ancient versions of Windows, but modern versions are perfectly solid.


While cleaning memory isn’t the worst thing in the world (Registry cleaners are worse Don't Believe The Hype: Registry Cleaners Don't Make Windows Faster Don't Believe The Hype: Registry Cleaners Don't Make Windows Faster Much advice has been given on how to keep your computer running smoothly, as well as how to fix it when it has become slow. We have even published a Windows on Speed guide, written... Read More ), it’s just not useful. CleanMem might snatch memory from, say, Photoshop when it’s inactive in the background. Photoshop will need that memory back as soon as you return to it, so why bother passing it back and forth?

Further, free RAM amounts to wasted RAM. If you have 8 GB of RAM and Windows only uses 4 GB, there are 4 GB of space not dedicated to any purpose. Windows knows how much RAM it has to work with, and uses it as best as it can. Constantly reducing the amount of RAM that programs use isn’t going to help performance on its own.

What Can I Use Instead?

There are far better ways to increase the working RAM 5 Ways to Clear Memory & Increase RAM on Your Windows Computer 5 Ways to Clear Memory & Increase RAM on Your Windows Computer RAM, the final frontier. You always seem to run out of it. We'll show you how you can free up internal memory and extend your RAM, both virtually and physically. Read More on your system if you need to. The best choice is installing more RAM on your system How To Upgrade A Laptop's RAM, Step By Step How To Upgrade A Laptop's RAM, Step By Step Is your laptop old, slow, and has the hardware never been upgraded? Working on a slow computer can be a real drag. Before you buy a completely new one, however, you should consider ways to... Read More . If you’re only rocking a few gigabytes, spending a bit of money to double or even quadruple your RAM will greatly improve your computer’s performance. You can also use ReadyBoost to enlist a flash drive as extra RAM Need A Memory Upgrade? Outsource RAM & Speed Up Your Computer With ReadyBoost Need A Memory Upgrade? Outsource RAM & Speed Up Your Computer With ReadyBoost If you're looking to give your computer a quick & free speed boost, try ReadyBoost. The Windows feature adds additional memory to your system. All you need is a compatible flash drive. Read More .

Even if you don’t have the budget to upgrade, you can still use lighter software alternatives 6 Light Alternatives to Open Office & PDF Files 6 Light Alternatives to Open Office & PDF Files Don't clog your system down with superfluous bulk. For the occasional viewing of PDF and Office files, you can use compact apps and you might not need any additional software at all. Read More to reduce RAM usage. Consider removing startup software Make Windows Start Faster: 10 Non-Essential Startup Items You Can Safely Remove Make Windows Start Faster: 10 Non-Essential Startup Items You Can Safely Remove So your computer has been booting slowly lately? You probably have too many programs and services trying to start up all at once. Are you wondering how they got there and how to remove them? Read More and uninstalling programs you no longer use so they aren’t running in the background.

In the end, CleanMem is an unneeded solution to a problem few PC users have. If you have little memory in your system causing Windows to often use the page file, the solution is to add more RAM. CleanMem’s solution is to constantly take RAM from processes you’re using to make the overall usage percentage look better. Windows shouldn’t be damaged enough to the point where it can’t manage RAM; if it is, you need to reinstall Windows Should You Refresh, Reset, Restore, or Reinstall Windows? Should You Refresh, Reset, Restore, or Reinstall Windows? Ever wanted to reset Windows 7 without losing personal data? Between a factory reset and a reinstall, it was tough. Since Windows 8, we have two new options: Refresh and Reset. Which one is right... Read More .

You can give CleanMem a try if you really want to, but we’ve demonstrated that at best, it reduces the total memory used. This isn’t even a desirable end goal, as RAM exists to give software a place to run. End users don’t need to worry about the gritty details of operating system management. The programmers at Microsoft have years of experience on designing operating systems, and their methods are far superior to CleanMem, as the developer acknowledges:

I think I should also clarify, I am no memory expert.

Do you use a memory cleaner on your computer? After learning about CleanMem, will you stop using it? Let us know down in the comments!

Originally written by Varun Kashyap on October 18, 2008.

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  1. Pablo Santiago
    January 18, 2015 at 5:37 am

    Snake oil sales men made money on their product. How much does this product cost?
    I am no computer scientist and use my computer like most of people do to go online, pay bills ,browse the web for everything and anything and also video. So my old computer has been giving my some problems in watching some HD video in 1080 resolution and its not the internet speed because I pay for very high speed internet and wired it into the back of this particular computer. So I kept having a problem with what seemed like my computer not being able to process the video fast enough. So I think for the computer scientist who has already optimized his or her system then I believe this product would not do much but for the rest of us who don't really want to go through trouble of optimizing a bunch of stuff that might start up and we don't know it then this product absolutely works because all of the stutter went out of the videos I was trying to watch and the load bar at the bottom raced across the screen like I had not seen before. So that is my real measurement that this product does work.

  2. Larry Miller
    February 5, 2010 at 4:40 pm

    Snake oil.
    Unlike most memory optimizers, this one can't really do much harm. But it won't do any good either. Memory management in XP and later is actually very good and there is no need or benefit in this kind of program. It is just that memory management in modern systems does not work according to the thoroughly outmoded concepts that are so much a part of the popular perception of how it should work. Free memory is wasted memory.

    • Kurt
      November 18, 2016 at 7:49 pm

      There is a free version and it works just fine. It doesn't nag about Pro, and Pro version is just $5 to get a bunch more options that you don't really need to get it working.

      I had been struggling with severe RAM usage on my work desktop. I have 24 GB of RAM currently, and with 10-20 tabs of Chrome, SSMS, 4-6 Visual Studio instances, Fiddler, and a variety of other development tools open my memory usage slowly grows from ~10 GB to 20+ GB through the day (I also have about ~25 GB pagefile). When I get to the end of the day the computer is starting to get laggy and programs are not responding.

      I installed this program today to see if it would work, and instantly my RAM usage is back down to 10 GB. All programs are working just fine with no side effects, the computer is snappy and no longer sluggish. All in all I'd say it is doing its job, and what Windows (10) was NOT doing.

      Just my two cents.

  3. christopher
    December 9, 2009 at 6:14 am

    Avira started flagging cleanmem.exe as a trojan. Is this true? (I believe it's a false positive) What can I do? It's telling me it's the 'TR/Dropper.Gen" Any ideas would be appreciated!!

  4. artfulldodger33
    August 16, 2009 at 2:31 pm

    i assume this "hooks" the kernel, this may cause anti-malware products to show warnings [eg. kaspersky always warns about hidden drivers being installed, being possible malware,happens with installing any virtual drive]

    if you use an app then stop, it continues using a large percentage of the memory it used while running [even when the app is shut, this only gets re-allocated whem RAM use reaches 100% or the system re-boots, when reaching 100% there is "lag" while the memory is freed] i assume that this "free's" the memory, therefore preventing system hangs and "not responding" messages.

    SURELY THEN,.. IT IS USEFULL ??? even vista can use 3 gig while encoding video files whilst say browsing 10 open browser tabs and maybe 3 folders open [security products running realtime protection use huge amounts of RAM also EVEN ON VISTA]


  5. Sam
    October 23, 2008 at 8:29 pm


    I tried running the setup executable file that i downloaded thru softpedia's us anti-malware software detected a trojan i didn't install it....would softpedia allow files to be downloaded with malware?

  6. phil
    October 20, 2008 at 7:59 am

    No, thanks. I *want* all my memory in use. That's what it's there for -- so applications can use it. As you point out with your photoshop example, the application is just going to grab the memory back as soon as you start using it again anyway. If a particular app needs more memory than is easily available, it's going to cause the operating system to invoke that same API call anyway, so there's no actual benefit to doing it ahead of time.

    No matter how you cut it, memory cleaners are a waste of time with modern operating systems.

    • Dave
      October 20, 2016 at 7:28 am

      Phil, you are utterly, totally, and absolutely wrong. You claim that memory cleaners are a waste of time with modern operating systems, but the fact is I have a modern operating system (Windows 7) and it gets completely bogged down when I multitask. But when I activate a ram memory cleaner (I use Obit Advanced SystemCare Performance Monitor) I am able to see immediate, responsive, and positive results--the Ram and CPU performance measurement indicators on the Monitor show me with both tabular and bargraph readouts how much Ram memory is freed immediately. I also see and feel it in the performance of my online gaming windows. It has been an essential part of my online gaming for over two years; it improves refresh rate and smoothness of operation with Adobe Flash online gaming browsers. When I activate the ram memory cleaner I see no more jitters, delays or slow loading.
      Sorry Phil, but your comment is invalid, incompetent, arrogant and useless--my experience tells me that memory cleaners (at least the one that I use) are indispensable benefactors to system performance--period.

  7. Womble
    October 19, 2008 at 9:04 pm

    The days of scrounging for memory have long gone for most of us, whilst doing desktop work I almost always have over a gig remaining of my installed two gig, so why bother freeing anymore?

    If I spend my hard earned cash on memory for my computer Windows better damn well use it! This is the key point some people just don't get. What some people refer to as hogging memory is in actual fact "using it"

    Applications like this will always be redundant as Windows already frees up memory when required, this is a key feature of any modern operating system.

    Sorry to come over harsh but I detest naive applications like this.

    • Varun Kashyap
      October 20, 2008 at 12:40 pm

      Fair enough, Nothing can match an actual memory upgrade but not everyone has the resources to upgrade memory or their systems to get better performance

      • Peter
        October 20, 2008 at 8:27 pm

        Oh come on, I got 2 Gigs of RAM for my system for $40.

        • Jaakko
          July 15, 2009 at 2:55 am

          ... if I could only install that other GB on my netbook ...

          CleamMem's great!

  8. syxxnyne69
    October 19, 2008 at 7:54 pm

    very nice app watched the optimization of firefox when cleanmem did its "thing" initially firefox went from 109,000 down to 25,000 then after a few seconds stabilized at 75,000 which is still pretty nice, i have however noticed that all of the other processes that i continuously run, do seem to be optimized by this app, overall this is a nice find in my opinion

  9. tim
    October 19, 2008 at 1:07 pm

    woot! Tried it, awesome! Wow, firefox memory rape is obsolete!

  10. Aibek
    October 18, 2008 at 5:15 pm

    Seems cool, though I wish there would be a GUI menu to quickly add/remove processes to only/ignore lists.

  11. Varun Kashyap
    October 18, 2008 at 4:27 pm

    Yep exactly. I also went looking for it at first. It just runs momentarily may be 5 sec or so (after every 30 minutes) and then goes away. you won't see any process unless you happen to look at that very time. If you really do want to see it to believe it check out the portable version
    Have the task manager open before hand and then fire up portable version. You would see cleanmem.exe come and go and the memory usage of applications come down.

  12. housetier
    October 18, 2008 at 3:55 pm

    Snake Oil ftw! Now with enhanced genuine Placebo Booster!

  13. Howard Pearce
    October 18, 2008 at 2:09 pm

    does nothing ... no process