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Windows 10, the last version of Windows ever Windows 10 Is the Last Version of Windows. Ever. Windows 10 Is the Last Version of Windows. Ever. Microsoft is sick of you not upgrading, and has a solution: Windows 10 will be the final "version" of Windows. Ever. This could mean that you will never again have to buy Windows. Read More , introduces a new feature called RAM compression. This new memory management routine improves system responsiveness with added computational overhead.

This article answers three questions:

  1. How does RAM compression work?
  2. Can you turn it off?
  3. Does it impact performance?

1. How Does RAM Compression Work?

The more RAM is 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 on your computer, the greater the number of programs that can run in the background. Whenever RAM runs short, Windows saves the content of RAM to a page file. Reading, writing, or resizing the page file can impact performance, so the less Windows requires it, the better.

RAM compression offers a novel solution by compressing How Does File Compression Work? How Does File Compression Work? File compression is at the core of how the modern web works, one could argue, because it allows us to share files that would otherwise take too long to transfer. But how does it work? Read More , or crunching down, little-used elements stored in RAM and decompressing them whenever needed. This reduces the burden of the page file and significantly increases RAM available to the operating system.

Gavin touched on RAM compression in his article on how to troubleshoot Windows RAM problems 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 .

Keep in mind that this is a gross simplification of a far more complex chain of processes which lead to RAM compression. Here’s a schematic from Microsoft on how Windows 10 compresses RAM:

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microsoft windows 10 ram compression schematic

According to Microsoft, apps compressed in RAM take up 40% of their original size. On top of that, Windows 10 now uses the page file 50% less.

The compressed portion of RAM shows up in Windows Task Manager as System and compressed memory. To a casual observer, it appears as if Windows consumes an extraordinary amount of RAM. The impact on performance — particularly on systems with 4 GB of memory or less — should be dramatic:

windows 10 ram process

The method isn’t experimental or unique. In the Linux world, ZRAM offers an analog. For example, Android employs ZSWAP and ZRAM to great effect. It’s been reported that compression can improve performance on multicore systems. OS X since Mavericks has also used RAM compression. The biggest difference is that Windows might allow users to toggle RAM compression on or off.

2. How to Turn RAM Compression Off or On

RAM compression is handled by the Windows Memory Manager. The Windows Task Scheduler Run Programs Automatically Using Windows Task Scheduler Run Programs Automatically Using Windows Task Scheduler Read More launches the process when it detects idle applications. Fortunately, most users won’t need to switch it on as Windows 10 enables it by default. When it runs, it operates silently in the background.

How to Disable RAM Compression

SuperUser.com user Raymond Burkholder suggests disabling it using the following method:

First, enter the Windows Task Scheduler 4 Boring Tasks You Can Automate With the Windows Task Scheduler 4 Boring Tasks You Can Automate With the Windows Task Scheduler Your time is too valuable to be wasted with repetitive tasks. Let us show you how to automate and schedule tasks. We have a few great examples, too. Read More by searching for Task Scheduler using Windows Search. Open Windows Search and type Task Scheduler.

windows 10 task scheduler

Second, expand the entry for Task Scheduler Library by clicking on the downward pointing chevron to the left of the entry. Then choose Microsoft from the available options. Then choose Windows.

windows task scheduler enable memory manager

Nestled within Windows is MemoryDiagnostic. Left-click on MemoryDiagnostic. In the center pane, right-click on RunFullMemoryDiagnostic and select Disable from the context menu.

disable memory diagnostic tasks scheduler

I’m not fully certain that this method actually disables compression, but it stands to reason that if Memory Manager can’t run its memory diagnostic algorithm, that it won’t be able to compress memory.

How to Enable RAM Compression

Follow the same instructions as above, but instead of disabling RunFullMemoryDiagnostic, choose Enable from the context menu.

There were initial reports that RAM compression sucked up a significant amount of CPU resources. Microsoft issued a patch, so there shouldn’t be any more performance issues. However, this requires testing.

3. Impact of RAM Compression on Performance

RAM compression shouldn’t impact system performance as it doesn’t run continuously in the background.

But does enabling RAM compression take a significant chunk out of your computer’s processing power? I ran a benchmark using PassMark’s PerformanceText in order to find out.

After disabling RAM compression, I benchmarked (5 free benchmark programs The 5 Best Free Benchmark Programs for Windows The 5 Best Free Benchmark Programs for Windows There are many tools that promise to optimize or speed up your Windows computer, but how can you make sure the software did what it promised? Confirmation bias can make it very, very hard to... Read More ) the computer (a Dell XPS 13 Dell XPS 13 2015 Review and Giveaway Dell XPS 13 2015 Review and Giveaway The XPS represents the pinnacle of laptop design in 2015, and it's the best bang for your buck out of any laptop we've ever seen in the $800 price range. Read More ) with PassMark PerformanceTest 8.0. The results weren’t surprising – RAM compression doesn’t seem to impact system performance in the slightest. Although, keep in mind that compression only runs when it detects that there are idle apps stored in memory.

ram compression benchmark

Note: The higher the number, the better the performance.

Should You Use Windows 10’s RAM Compression?

Absolutely. Reducing the amount of times that Windows reads or writes to the page file, system responsiveness should improve substantially – particularly with 4 GB or less of RAM. On top of that, there’s no noticeable decrease in system performance whenever it’s enabled.

On the other hand, those of you with 16 GB or 32 GB of RAM probably won’t even notice the difference, since your system rarely (if ever) touches the page file.

Do you know what’s eating up most of your system memory? Have you run into any limitations with RAM on your Windows 10 computer and if so, how much RAM do you have? Please share with us in the comments!

Image Credits:Metal table vise clamp by modustollens via Shutterstock

  1. Denis
    August 21, 2016 at 9:46 pm

    don.t lie.it affects perfomance highly.i am playing arma 2 and suddenly my fps drops at half.i open task manager and system compression takes 40% of my cpu.why i have to use this if it slow downs my games by half?disabled it.if microsoft will forcely open it again i will reinstall to win 7

    • Kannon Yamada
      August 22, 2016 at 4:55 pm

      I hope that this isn't a lie. I've read that in some instances, the compression algorithm can bug out and reduce system performance. Microsoft claimed to have solved the issue. While it ran seamlessly for me, it seems to be causing you issue. Have you tried killing the process using the method outlined in this article?

      • Denis
        August 23, 2016 at 11:19 pm

        yes.i tried other methods that I found in internet but it still working(seems its built in system).at normal use it is consuming 8% of my i5 cpu for doing nothing..i play only in MMORPG games and there cpu is always bottleneck.so windows 10 consuming 8% of my raw fps minimum.this is nonsense.why I have to loose fps?I will reinstall to windows 7 when I will have free time.I have screenshots but I can,t attach to this comments

        • Kannon Yamada
          August 23, 2016 at 11:49 pm

          A reader posted a comment mentioning how to actually disable compression. You have to disable SuperFetch, which you definitely don't want to do. It seems there is no reliable method of disabling compression.

        • Denis
          August 24, 2016 at 7:02 am

          Thx.but I tried that already.it still using my cpu for 4-8% all the time.it consumes only 0,1mb ram(I have 16gb)but what he is loading?spying?

  2. MJ19940
    August 17, 2016 at 6:53 am

    i have 12gb ram in my pc and it runs everything so well i love it

  3. Pyrion
    June 15, 2016 at 6:33 pm

    The memory diagnostic feature doesn't actually disable memory compression. Memory diagnostic is an on-demand task that runs on certain system event IDs that indicate potentially corrupt RAM, so as to schedule a memory diagnostic run on next boot.

    To disable memory compression, you have to disable SuperFetch. I'm not kidding, I've tested this extensively on my end. All of Windows' memory management tweaks from Vista onward require SuperFetch to be running, so the easiest way to stop Windows from compressing standby pages is to disable SuperFetch.

    • desolation0
      July 17, 2016 at 11:09 pm

      Thanks for this Pyrion. I didn't think the compression would be written into the same memory service we have had since Windows 7. SuperFetch was designed to keep as much of your working memory out of the PageFile as possible, even back then. I got my Windows 8.1 w/Bing $150 tablet back up to "quite good for the price" level performance in Windows 10 now. The memory compression feature just was not designed for a weak processor, 1GB of RAM, and emmc flash hard drive on Windows. It just kept shuffling everything around instead of making heavy use of the PageFile like I was used to from my 8.1 experience. Pegged the processor around 25%, memory and disk i/o both maxed to their remaining available.

    • Kannon Yamada
      August 22, 2016 at 5:46 pm

      Thanks for the advice! I'll update the article to reflect this shortly.

  4. Axle Grease
    April 11, 2016 at 9:06 am

    Firefox is currently open with ten tabs at 650MB because I'm just a tech news junkie. There are 16GB of RAM installed. The OS is Windows 10 Pro. Nothing aside from the rare memory leak causes a noticeable limitation. Before work, after reading this article, I ran Task Manager. For only a moment "System and compressed memory" made an appearance with 0.1MB which means my PC is just soooOOOOooo awesome...

    • Kannon Yamada
      April 16, 2016 at 8:47 am

      nice! I've been using 4GB of RAM and haven't noticed any severe issues yet with 30 tabs open.

    • Pyrion
      June 15, 2016 at 6:47 pm

      What's fun is with the use of a certain app (cleanmem) you can cajole Windows into compressing memory even if the system isn't feeling memory pressure. In previous versions of Windows, cleanmem would send an instruction via .NET to the Windows kernel once for each process that would basically tell the kernel to reclaim memory from the associated process. All of the process' standby pages (that is, memory that isn't being actively touched) would be relinquished back to the system and zeroed out. Windows 10 uses the same approach, except instead of zeroing out those pages, it compresses them and stores the result in the system process' working set, in case they're needed later, since decompressing a page still stored in RAM is still many times faster than pulling the needed info off of disk.

      And if you ever want to see Windows go crazy with compressing and decompressing large volumes of memory, do a LZMA2 non-solid compression job in 7zip with a dictionary file that exceeds your system's physical RAM amount. I say non-solid because the dictionary file gets reset each time 7zip starts compressing another file, and all of the memory pages that were used for handling the previous dictionary file then get flagged as standby, which results in them getting compressed, only for the next big file's dictionary steadily growing and those pages being recalled back from RAM to be reused.

      One other tip, if you want to improve system responsiveness in high memory use situations: if you have multiple solid state disks, put a pagefile on each of them. Windows round-robins all writes to the pagefiles if there are more than one. And incidentally, make them initially large enough to handle just about anything you could foresee yourself throwing at the system in total, because this determines your commit charge limit (physical RAM + initial (not maximum) size of combined pagefiles). So for example, on my desktop, I have 12GB of RAM and three solid state disks, with a 6GB starting size pagefile on each, for a combined 30GB commit charge limit. This helps to avoid out-of-memory errors even with 64-bit applications mainly because the vast majority of Windows applications reserve memory in advance of actually needing it, and the commit charge limit determines the maximum amount of memory that can be reserved by any one application.

      • Kannon Yamada
        June 15, 2016 at 7:00 pm

        That's really amazing, thank you for sharing. I had no idea it was possible to create multiple page files on different disks.

  5. Howard Blair
    April 10, 2016 at 2:26 am

    "3. Impacct..." Whoops.

    • Kannon Yamada
      April 16, 2016 at 8:46 am

      Thanks for the correction Blair!

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