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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.

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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.

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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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