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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:


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 a process known as Superfetch. Unfortunately, turning off Superfetch may substantially impact system performance. However, for those without any other option, you may need to disable the service. Doing so requires little effort.

How to Disable RAM Compression

This method of disabling RAM compression comes from Reddit user koukouki. Special thanks to MakeUseOf reader Bilateral for the tip.

First, press the Windows key + X. Then press R. You should see the Windows Run dialog. Type “Services.msc” (without the quotation marks) into the text field and press enter. You should see a list of all Windows services. Locate Superfetch and right click on it. Then choose Properties.


Next, click on Stop. Then choose the field for Startup type. Choose Disabled.

Finally, click on OK. Both RAM compression and Superfetch are now disabled. If you experience a reduction in performance, however, you’ll want to turn Superfetch back on.


How to Enable RAM Compression

Follow the same instructions as above, but instead of setting the Startup Type to Disabled, choose Automatic 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

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