8 Ways to Clear Memory and Increase RAM on Your Windows Computer
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Are you concerned about RAM usage on your computer? Seeing messages that your computer is low on memory? Don’t fear—we’re here to help.

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Let’s take a look at some practical steps to free up RAM on your PC. You’ll be back to a smooth experience in no time.

What Is RAM?

Before we dive into RAM usage tips, we should briefly describe what RAM does in case you’re not familiar.

RAM stands for Random Access Memory. It’s a short-term storage that holds programs currently running on your computer.

The more RAM that’s in your machine, the more programs you can run at once without negatively affecting performance. When your computer runs low on RAM, it uses a part of the hard drive called the page file that acts as “pretend RAM.” This is much slower than actual RAM, which is why you notice slowdowns.

Because RAM is volatile, you’ll lose its contents when your computer shuts off. Anything you want to keep must save to a hard drive or other permanent storage.

Check out our quick guide to 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 for more background info.

1. Restart Your PC

This is a tip you’re probably familiar with, but it’s popular for a reason.

Restarting your PC will also clear memory and reset all running programs. While this obviously won’t increase your total RAM, it will clean up processes running in the background that could be eating up RAM.

You should restart your computer regularly to keep it from getting bogged down, especially if you use it all the time.

2. Check RAM Usage

Windows Power Usage Task Manager

You don’t have to guess what’s using your RAM; Windows provides tools to show you. To get started, open the Task Manager by searching for it in the Start Menu, or use the Ctrl + Shift + Esc shortcut.

Click More details to expand to the full utility if needed. Then on the Processes tab, click the Memory header to sort from most to least RAM usage. Keep the apps you see here in mind, as we’ll discuss more on them later.

For more information, switch to the Performance tab. On the Memory section, you’ll see a chart of your RAM usage over time. Click Open Resource Monitor at the bottom and you can get more information.

Windows Resource Monitor Memory

The chart at the bottom will show you how much RAM you have free. Sort by Commit (KB) on the top list to see which programs use the most RAM. If you suspect you have a deep problem based on what you see here, see the complete guide to troubleshooting memory leaks 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 .

3. Uninstall or Disable Software

Now that you’ve seen what apps use the most RAM on your system, think about whether you really use them.

Apps you haven’t opened in months are just wasting resources on your computer, so you should remove them. Do so by navigating to Settings > Apps and clicking Uninstall on any app you want to remove.

Uninstall Chrome Windows 10

If you don’t want to uninstall an app because you use it sometimes, you can instead prevent it from running at startup. Many apps set themselves to automatically run every time you log in, which is inefficient if you rarely use them.

Take a look at our guide to startup programs How to Use the Windows 10 Startup Folder: Everything You Need to Know How to Use the Windows 10 Startup Folder: Everything You Need to Know The Windows 10 startup folder lets you manage which programs run at startup. Here's how to find the startup folder and manage its programs. Read More for help.

4. Use Lighter Apps and Manage Programs

Chrome Task Manager

What if you really need to cut down on RAM usage, but the apps hogging RAM are necessary to your workflow? You can work with this in two ways.

First, try using lighter app alternatives when you can. If your computer struggles when you have Photoshop open, try using a smaller app like Paint.NET for minor edits. Only use Photoshop when you’re fully dedicated to working on a project.

Second, pay closer attention to the programs you have open. Close any software that you’re not actively working with. Bookmark open browser tabs that you want to read later, then close them to free up RAM. Keeping a tighter leash on what’s open will help free up RAM.

Google Chrome is in its own category here, as it’s notorious for gobbling RAM. See how to control Chrome’s memory usage How to Control Google Chrome's Memory Usage and Free Up RAM How to Control Google Chrome's Memory Usage and Free Up RAM Chrome has a reputation for hogging memory. Even Google has shared tips on how to reduce its browser's memory use. We show you how to keep Chrome RAM usage at a minimum. Read More for tips.

5. Scan for Malware

It’s worth checking for malware on your PC. Rogue software stealing resources will obviously suck up your available RAM.

We recommend running a scan with Malwarebytes. Hopefully it won’t find anything, but at least you can rule out the possibility.

6. Adjust Virtual Memory

We mentioned the paging file earlier. If you see error messages that your system is low on virtual memory, you can increase this and hopefully keep performance stable.

To do so, search for the Control Panel on the Start Menu to open it. Switch the Category view in the top-right to Small icons (if needed) and choose System. On the left side, click Advanced system settings, which will open a new window.

Here, on the Advanced tab, click Settings under Performance. Switch to the Advanced tab once again and click the Change button.

Now you’ll see the paging file size for your main drive. In most cases, you can leave the Automatically manage box checked and let Windows take care of it. However, to resolve problems, you may need to uncheck this and set the Initial size and Maximum size to higher values.

Virtual Memory Management Windows

See our guide to virtual memory Is Your Virtual Memory Too Low? Here's How to Fix It! Is Your Virtual Memory Too Low? Here's How to Fix It! The curse of Windows is its slowing down over time. Often, low memory is to blame. Here is one more way to virtually unburden your RAM. Read More for more help.

7. Try ReadyBoost

If your computer still has an older mechanical hard disk drive (HDD) in it, you can try a lesser-known Windows feature called ReadyBoost to increase 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 . This allows you to plug in a flash drive or SD card that Windows effectively treats as extra RAM.

While it sounds great, this feature offers limited use today. If your computer has an SSD, ReadyBoost won’t do anything. This is because an SSD is faster than a flash drive.

Plus, since computers have more RAM installed by default now, you won’t see as much gain from ReadyBoost as you would on an anemic system from a decade ago. The “pretend RAM” from ReadyBoost doesn’t offer the same performance gains as actually adding more RAM.

8. Install More RAM

If you’re really low on RAM or want to run more programs at once, there’s really no way around it: you need to add some more RAM to your machine. While it’s not cheap, adding RAM will grant much-improved performance if your computer hasn’t had much until now.

On a desktop, this is a pretty simple upgrade. But due to the confined space on a laptop, it may be difficult or even impossible. You’ll also need to make sure you buy RAM that’s compatible with your system. So ask yourself some important questions before making any upgrade 5 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Upgrading Your PC 5 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Upgrading Your PC Thinking about upgrading your PC components? Great! However, before you do, there are a few important questions that you should ask yourself. Read More , and decide how much RAM you need 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 .

What About RAM Cleaners?

You’ve likely seen RAM cleaning utilities that promise to help you boost your RAM in various ways. While these sound great, we recommend avoiding them.

Have a look at our coverage of CleanMem CleanMem - A Windows Memory Cleaner That Works? CleanMem - A Windows Memory Cleaner That Works? CleanMem claims to reduce your computer's RAM usage. Even if it succeeds, you don't need it. Here's why, and what to do instead. Read More , one such app, for the reasons why. In summary, RAM boosters are placebos at best, as they “free up” RAM by taking it from programs that probably need it.

Memory management is a complex computing issue. The developers of Windows, who are experts in their field, have a much better grasp on how to do this than some random developer who publishes a RAM cleaner.

RAM Is Important, But Don’t Neglect Other Upgrades

We’ve taken a look at several ways to manage the RAM on your computer. Ultimately, adding more physical RAM to your machine is the best solution for RAM-related issues. Walking through the above steps will help you decide if this is necessary, though.

Amongst all this talk of RAM, don’t forget that other PC upgrades are important too. Find out what upgrades will improve your computer’s performance the most Which Upgrades Will Improve Your PC Performance the Most? Which Upgrades Will Improve Your PC Performance the Most? If you need a faster computer but aren't sure which component would be most beneficial to upgrade, then here are the guidelines you should follow. Read More .

Explore more about: Computer Memory, Hardware Tips, .

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  1. legri
    January 15, 2017 at 3:08 am

    Ha ha ha ha we knew this a long time ago. say something new

    • BubSmuth
      September 3, 2017 at 10:16 pm

      This is just a re-posted article from 2014...

  2. Steve
    December 19, 2016 at 11:41 pm

    or alternatively go to crucial.com and download the scanner and it will tell you what's inside your pc.

  3. daniel
    July 25, 2016 at 7:24 pm

    i have 8 ram recently installed on my laptop but i can use only 2.9 of them , how can i fully use the 8 gb ram installed ?
    win 10 32 bits system X 64 bits processor ...

    • Belgoras
      August 5, 2016 at 9:59 pm

      A 32 bit windows cannot use more RAM. You need to install a 64 Windows version.

    • Wizzo
      April 6, 2017 at 5:58 pm

      You can use all your memory.. it requires a PAE patch though. http://www.makeuseof.com/tag/unlock-64gb-ram-32-bit-windows-pae-patch/

      I recommend cloning your drive before you install that patch though.. just in case something bad happens.

      This forum is filled with misinformation.. such as people saying that 32 bit windows cannot use more RAM.. it can.. as long as your CPU is 64 bit. Another absurd bit of misinformation is about ReadyBoost. The person writing about it claims that a USB flash drive is as fast as RAM. That is insane. That is like comparing the speed of a race car to a bicycle.

      • Webster Phreaky
        November 6, 2017 at 3:24 am

        Sorry no ... various Windows 7 patches since that ancient article was written ages ago disables that PAE Patch. If you actually had PAE installed you'd know that. I did.

  4. Eric Franco
    April 23, 2016 at 8:19 pm

    Do you need your flashdrive in your computer all the time for ReadyBoost or can you take it out?

    • Grassy the Helper
      May 19, 2016 at 4:11 am

      If you want ReadyBoost to stay working keep the flash storage with ReadyBoost enabled in your computer's USB slot all the time you need to use ReadyBoost.

    • Wizzo
      April 6, 2017 at 6:00 pm

      Flash memory doesn't last forever. It was never meant to be used as RAM. I would not expect the Flash memory on a USB drive to last more than a year when used as RAM.

  5. sam
    April 3, 2016 at 10:11 am

    i have problem to load my android studio ..can anyone help me .

  6. Ozka
    February 12, 2016 at 10:39 pm

    Iv installed Fallout 4 on my pc but i dont know if it works correctly becuase iv got 7.19 gb of ram and 64 gb of memory but the game seems a bit laggy and stuff like delays whenever i press a button by like 0.5 seconds do i need to clear my ram? or something like that?

    • Aghass
      March 16, 2016 at 3:11 am

      Check your full specs and if they are the minimum. I assume you have 64 gb of Hard Drive space? Try lowering settings and run as administrator.

    • Tech Tips
      May 9, 2016 at 8:23 am

      hello ozka first subscribe my page on youtube Tech Tips and i want to do how you must not delete the game no in the file of fallout you have app is ''uninstall'' you must from here delete the game after restart you computer and after many time you see to your ram being to clean and delete all ''download'' from google
      ;) :)

    • Ali
      May 20, 2016 at 10:41 pm

      Whats your Graphics card? Processor? even some decent GPU and Processors are struggling nowadays IF you got a graphics card that is Nvidia GT you better keep it at low to medium else almost any GTX and i5 or i7 that ends with a K will handle medium with no issues and can go up to high and if your specs are good enough you can play at Ultra with no problems

      Recommended specs are

      -i5 6600K
      -Nvidia GTX 960 and higher
      -12 GB RAM or higher
      -Liquid Cooling not required but better it will just keep your processor at optimal temperature for optimal performance
      -A fast HDD or an SSD

      • L337
        January 22, 2017 at 1:50 am

        Nope. These days, an i3 can run some games decently, and something like a GTX 950 does pretty good. A good air cooler can hands-down beat a cheap watercooler, and because CPUs don't have mechanical parts, there isn't an optimal temperature.
        8gb of ram are enough.
        Your main worries should be your VRAM, not having enough is terrible.
        You don't need more than an i5, and in that case, clock speeds are most important.
        The resolution at which you are running deeply affects your performance, sometimes lowering it can make a game playable.

  7. Anonymous
    June 5, 2015 at 10:12 am

    Is there a way that I can make all of my ram usable

    • Anonymous
      August 1, 2015 at 9:55 pm

      All of your Ram is being used. If you have 4 gig ram but it only shows about 3.5 gig, it means that 0.5 of your ram is being used as Vram which is essential for many tasks.

      • Anonymous
        October 12, 2015 at 7:19 pm

        Lol bud VRAM is on your GPU. This whole thing is about DRAM.

        • Bishop28
          December 7, 2015 at 7:13 pm

          The gpu is onboard in many computers, and uses onboard DRAM.

    • Wizzo
      April 6, 2017 at 6:02 pm

      http://www.makeuseof.com/tag/unlock-64gb-ram-32-bit-windows-pae-patch/

      Use that to access all your RAM.. but I recommend cloning your drive before doing it.. just in case.

  8. dustin decot
    April 19, 2015 at 3:00 am

    Found page looking forways to free up some ram. Found a nasty eluding virus or so called PermierOpinion under services and chose to change form atimatic to disable. Then went to delete the rest from files and it was removed.

  9. Ikpeama Justice
    March 19, 2015 at 7:04 pm

    kudos, thanks a lot sir

  10. Herbert
    March 12, 2015 at 11:03 pm

    Or you can go to downloadmoreram.com to download your choice of deeply discounted (free actually) ram in any size allotment.

    • Anonymous
      June 26, 2015 at 3:50 am

      Nice meme

    • brad
      March 2, 2016 at 12:36 am

      That only works with Google Ultron.

  11. Virtus
    March 4, 2015 at 10:51 pm

    -- Why Memory Optimizers and RAM Boosters Are Worse Than Useless--

    "Yes, memory optimizers can free up some of your PC’s RAM. However, that’s a bad thing — you want your computer to use its RAM to speed things up. There’s no point in having free memory." - How To Geek

  12. Navroz
    January 27, 2015 at 1:12 pm

    If we will upgrade our ram will everything be deleted

    • Anonymous
      March 4, 2015 at 1:40 pm

      No it will not

  13. James williams
    December 29, 2014 at 3:30 pm

    Amount of RAM needed is highly specific to the needs of the user. For instance, I have made an 8 core amd with 8gb of ram easily produce a low memory message and begin to get sluggish with just Photoshop, chrome and Norton open.
    Your usage and needs dictate how much you need. I am personally installing another 16gb 1600mhz to add to my existing so that will give me 24gb to make the best use possible of ram driving my essentials for faster than ssd speeds.
    That will undoubtedly help and improve gaming as well by removing the delay of sending content from the ssd to the cpu and therein ram. It's already there and ready to be utilised. This can result in over 100 frames per second in games like world of warcraft, so a smooth 60fps experienfe online, as opposed to that choppy lag that can happen when a lot is happening on screen.
    it can also eradicate a hell of a lot of load times. Using dimmdrive for instance you can ram drive Google Chrome and have a real browsing exprince where 1080p video files are a quarter loaded in seconds. Or you can stick with 8gb going largely uncontrolled by you and rely on only ssd speed to get you there, or mechanical.
    I am of the opinion that you have future tech RAM speeds sat right there in the pc case now. Why would you resist using it...

  14. ken zi
    June 23, 2014 at 3:20 am

    Also, a quick reboot could free up some ram. I agree, the best thing to do of course, when frequently running out of ram, is to add more ram.

  15. OPCOP
    June 16, 2014 at 6:11 pm

    I currently have 27,5 gigs available. That should suffice :p

  16. Tim G
    June 13, 2014 at 9:50 am

    All you need to do is download more RAM here: downloadmoreram.com

  17. Rob
    June 13, 2014 at 4:32 am

    After upgrading my ram I stopped using ram cleaners since they simply don't work well.

  18. Dan F
    June 12, 2014 at 7:13 pm

    >Microsoft’s ReadyBoost feature takes advantage of the fact that flash storage is about as quick as RAM.

    What. Flash storage is nowhere near the speed of RAM. DDR3-800 (lowest end DDR3) has a peak transfer rate of 6400MB/s. The peak transfer rate of USB 3.0 is 625MB/s. Over 10x slower. USB 3.0 wasn't even out when ReadyBoost was released, but neither was DDR3. DDR2-400 (lowest end DDR2) has a peak transfer rate of 3200MB/s. The peak transfer rate of USB 2.0 is 60MB/s (closer to 35MB/s due to bus constraints). Even PC100 SDRAM, in use around 2000, has a peak transfer rate of 800MB/s.

    The advantage of utilizing flash memory over page files on mechanical drives is access time. Seek time on consumer grade mechanical drives can be around ~10ms. The minimum access time for ReadyBoost, as you stated, is 1ms, 10x faster. Modern USB 3.0 flash drives can have access times in the sub-microsecond range. Mechanical drives also have a much slower random access speed, and incur a large speed penalty for accessing fragmented pages.

    Flash drives aren't quicker than RAM in any aspect. They do have an advantage over page / swap files stored on mechanical drives.

    • pmshah
      June 13, 2014 at 2:55 am

      I concur. Performance of any PC is directly dependent on only 3 aspects. Processor, amount of RAM and HDD speed. My PC is based on a low power i3-3220T processor. I have 8 GB of ram of which 5 GB are free and pagefile usage out of allocated 8 GB is ZERO. There is just no way ReadyBoost is going to improve performance !

      I however do concede that it could improve performance of my Asus NetBook which came with only 1 GB of ram and x64 Windows Home Premium. By design it cannot accept any more than a single 2 GB dimm, which I have done.

    • Matt S
      June 13, 2014 at 5:16 pm

      Yes, I was referring to access times. Obviously bandwidth is not comparable.

  19. Bryan P
    June 12, 2014 at 4:48 pm

    I have 16 GB of memory. There are times when I hit the ceiling, and things really start going wonky.

    I exit all my browsers. I use Nightly Firefox as my daily browser, which is the 64-bit unsupported version (at least, until lately evidently). I have two accounts on Command and Conquer Tiberium Alliances that pretty much require a connection 24/7 (scripts make the ridiculous maintenance aspects of the game just go away), so that's a portable Release version of Firefox, and I have another portable Beta version of Firefox. Any other open browsers, I exit as well, Palemoon, Chrome, although I haven't killed off all instances of Chrome which now startup automatically for Hangouts and Notifications, or any of the 16 instances that it starts now. :|

    At least by me running the Nightly, it forces me to reboot that browser every day, instead of just leaving it run all the time.

    I also use Sysinternal's Procexp.exe, and I kill all the zombie explorer.exes that are there. There should be two instances running with no open explorer windows. Kill off the the all of them but the last two, that frees up an amazing amount of memory as well. Especially if you have 20 or so still just sitting there, waiting to be killed or for the next reboot.

    I manage my own swap space, with the minimum and the maximum the same size, that way it is always contiguous, which helps a bit. I also try to break it up between drives. Windows doesn't like it when you don't have it on C drive, but thems the breaks. But I haven't paid much attention to how much swap I do use, so I just set Moo0 System Montor to show me that, so I can see if it is also an issue of the swap being full as well as the memory.

    I also have a thumb drive with ReadyBoost. Although I thought that had to do more with faster startups than it did with helping with memory. The other thing they don't tell you, is that the most you can allocate to a drive is 4GB. So don't think that you're going to be able to stick in a 16GB thumb drive and use all of that for Readboost. Just go with a cheap 4 GB (8 GB if you really think getting the full 4 GB is worthwhile) drive. My laptop has a 4GB SD card in it's slot. That's sufficient, especially since it has 4GB of memory.

    And yes, I wish I could put another 16GB of memory on this computer.

  20. Daniel J
    June 12, 2014 at 4:10 pm

    Good Article, thank you.

  21. Elod
    June 12, 2014 at 6:39 am

    Answering the last question, i have 6 GB of RAM and it's perfectly okay for me since 2011. Sometimes i multitask heavily. I am not a gamer per se but sumetimes i try pretty soliciting games like Far Cry 3, and it runs well. Except for the time that the laptop was full of dust (it did run well though, it just got hot pretty soon). I had it cleaned, and everything was OK.

    So i can safely say, 6 gigs are enough to make me happy :)

  22. Rafael Kireyev
    June 12, 2014 at 3:49 am

    Happiness doesn't happen too much. Recently I upgraded the laptop from 4 to 8, but a desire to continue moving in the same direction has become even stronger.

  23. Tom
    June 12, 2014 at 1:48 am

    What I truly hate is when you buy a new mid-grade PC and they default the specs to 4GB of RAM. I just bumped all of the machines in my office from 4GB to 8GB.... HUGE DIFFERENCE. Most folks just assume it's time to buy a new machine when simply dropping $50 (or less) at your favorite computer store will do the trick.

  24. John T
    June 11, 2014 at 10:26 pm

    or just download some more ram here!
    http://www.downloadmoreram.com/

  25. hohum
    June 11, 2014 at 8:50 pm

    For the average punter I recommend 8GB of RAM and a good SSD. You don't need to worry a lot about the speed of either in my opinion. If you have a slower spindle hard disk, then put as much RAM is as you can, particularly if you're on a Mac.

    The other tip I'd suggest if you need RAM, buy it. Trying to cheat never works. Maintain your computer every once in a while is a good tip too - clean the crap off it & consider stuff like spinrite.

  26. Jan F
    June 11, 2014 at 4:26 pm

    I believe the controversy about memory cleaner comes from people having wrong expectations to what it can and can't do. Because the only memory that can be "cleaned" or "freed up" is from processes and services that are used once and never after until a reboot, poorly programmed applications which don't release the memory after quitting or memory leaks (in which case it will continue to eat up your memory either way).

    For the most part what happens is that they force-move the memory data from inactive processes to the paging file. Now if that memory belongs to some startup system process which will remain idle until you shutdown the computer this won't hurt. If that memory belongs e.g. to some inactive tabs of your browser you will actually see a decrease in performance as this data will have to be read from the paging file on the slow hard drive rather than the speedy RAM.

    If your RAM is sufficient for your system but just bloated with stuff the best thing you can do is restart your system. This will clean up all, physical memory, the paging file and the virtual memory management.

  27. Tom W
    June 11, 2014 at 1:25 pm

    I think it's important to re-iterate that freeing up RAM won't speed up your computer unless you're running out. A lot of people think that their computer will go faster if they have more RAM free, but this isn't true so long as you have enough for all of the programs that you currently have running. If you have 8GB of RAM and you never use more than 4GB, the other 4GB serves no purpose.

    • Matt S
      June 11, 2014 at 3:40 pm

      Yep, that's true. RAM is kind of all or nothing, you have enough, or you don't, and if you don't things start to get real slow. Works the same way with video cards; once you run out of VRAM performance absolutely plummets, often into single digits.

    • Henne
      April 7, 2015 at 8:11 pm

      well i have an issue, my computer has 12 GB RAM for some reason my computer is always using 9 GB of it and it gives me only 1GB. Can you help with this?

    • Scutterman
      April 7, 2015 at 9:09 pm

      If you're using Windows, you can see how much ram you're using, and what programs are using it. Open up Task Manager, click "Show processes from all users", and then click the "Memory (Private) tab to sort by RAM usage. Once you've found out what's using the RAM, you can choose how to deal with the program as needed.

    • Simon A
      May 1, 2015 at 4:53 pm

      Not entirely true, for me it says that I have 27320MB of available memory (with 32768MB installed).

      However, my memory turns into standby increadibly fast sometimes, and then my free memory drops to 0, and I won't be able to do anything on my compuiter, the standby memory is the thing I fear most of all, because it's like used memory, but you can't use it until you clear it, because the computer won't do that by itself, and when your free memory drops to 0 you are unable to do anything at all, and those with 8GB or less often recieve a bluescreen when it happens (a lot of the times this is the reason for a bluescreen).

      At this point I have given up the search of an easy way to clear the standby RAM, so I just restart my computer.

      Henne, this is most possibly your problem too, your computer stores too much standby memory, one good way to make it store it slower is by using a lightweight antivirus, because they can be storing standby RAM like hell. so if you use something like Panda, Norton or Avast, I would recommend changing to one which won't kill off your computer.

      I could recommend you Comodo or Kaspersky, because those are the two best that I've had.