CleanMem – A Windows Memory Cleaner That Works?

Ben Stegner 12-12-2016

Computer users love one-click fixes to problems The Best Free Windows 10 Repair Tools to Fix Any Problem If you're running into system problems or rogue settings, you should use these free Windows 10 repair tools to fix your PC. Read More . While some issues are fixed pretty easily 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 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 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 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 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 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 and Dirty Guide to RAM: What You Need to Know RAM is a crucial component of every computer, but it can be confusing. We break it down in easy-to-grasp terms you'll understand. 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 How Power Outages Can Damage Your Computer (And How to Protect It) Unplugging your computer during severe storms? You may want to start. Here's how power outages can damage your PC. 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 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 Buying a New Hard Drive: 7 Things You Must Know Buying a hard drive is easy if you know some basic tips. Here's a guide to understanding the most important hard drive features. 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 computer memory do you need? Here's how to check your installed RAM and how much RAM your computer needs. 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 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 8 Ways to Free Up RAM on Your Windows Computer Here's how to free up RAM on your Windows PC so you can find out what's using memory and put your resources to better use. 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 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 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 and 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 10 Startup Programs You Can Safely Disable to Speed Up Windows Computer booting slowly? You probably have too many programs running at startup. Here's how to disable startup programs on Windows. 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? 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.

Related topics: Computer Maintenance, Computer Memory.

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  1. Willy2
    May 14, 2020 at 7:20 pm

    I must correct you on a number of things (I have been using this program for years and it certainly helped to speed up my systems (Windows 7 & XP).
    - The best way to see how CLEANMEM works is to open Resource Monitor (memory tab) in (preferably) Windows 7. And let the program run (with e.g. the shortcut).
    - CLEANMEM uses one specific memory management API called "EmptyWorkingSet()". This API is available in Windows XP and newer Operating Systems and reduces the "In Use" part of a process. But as far as I know it is only seldomly used by any of the Windows versions. Otherwise memory usage would have been (much) lower.
    - The program does NOT "steal back unused memory", it tries to take as much parts of the "In Use" memory as possible and move those to the "Standby" part of the memory. Reducing the amount of "In Use" memory has the advantage that then there is (much) less need for the Operating System to write and read data to and from the pagefile on disk. And Disk I/O is - in comparison - (much) slower than loading a program from memory. So, yes, the program speeds up one's computer.
    - Reducing the amount of "In Use" memory has also the advantage that the Operating system can load more programs in the "Standby" part of the memory (think: SuperFetch) and that will speed up loading & starting programs.
    - Some programs simply have an outright horrible memory management and then you'll see that memory usage of that program will (endlessly) grow and grow. Using CLEANMEM will help to trim that memory usage to more normal levels.
    - CLEANMEM can also "Collapse" the file cache to (almost) zero in size every e.g. 15 minutes. The (content of the) filecache resides in the "In Use" part of the memory and also can "spill over" into the Pagefile. "Emptying the filecache" (with CLEANMEM) will result in moving the content of the file cache to the "Standby" part of the memory. And I have seen file caches that were over 1 & 2 GB in size.
    - If a program needs data that has been moved from "In Use" to "Standby" then that program can re-claim that data and that data will then be moved back to the "In Use" part of the memory.
    - Moving more and more data to the "Standby" part of the memory forces the regular memory management to shift into a higher gear and make more decisions (per unit of time) on what to do with the content of the memory (both in RAM and in the pagefile). This will also reduce the size of the used portion of the pagefile. How much of the Page file is being used can be seen with Performance Monitor (in Windows 7).
    - Keep also in mind: The "In Use" part of the memory is dedicated to the programs that are running. "Standby" is the data/program buffer in the part of the RAM and is NOT used by any programs running. The Service "SuperFetch" (when enabled) takes care of loading programs from disk to the "Standby" part of the memory in the background with a low priority.

  2. Ruppert Wahner
    May 6, 2020 at 2:39 am

    What I usually do since I have 64 gigabytes of ram is to make a Ram drive and setup the swap files on it. 1 third or 21 gigabytes is more than enough and it does not affect the normal use of Ram on your system. MY dream computer will have at least 500 gigabytes of ram so that I can create a Ram drive large enough to run The operating system Basically a Ram C drive. Which would have the benefit being immune to a lot of the spam, viruses, and Ransom ware out there.

  3. Nicolas
    November 6, 2019 at 2:46 pm

    Thank you for the great article!
    My own experience is that the "solid" RAM management by Windows 10 does not apply to 64 Home!
    I run 2 I7 laptops with both 8GB RAM and the same Intel SSD, the I7 S3 Windows 10 64 Pro consistently outperforms the I7 S4 Home 64 running the SAME apps suite and doing the same tasks.

    Even the start Windows menu is slower on the Home, and the page files just keeps growing to +- 8 GB when the S3 WIndows Pro is just ticking on 2-3GB pagefile even after a week!
    So I solved it by running a 2GB pagefile in RAMdisk and using CleanMEM often, now the 2 laptops run on par!

    So much for NOT having a pagefile in RAMDISK, another false directive issued by the guru's!

  4. Richard Hall
    March 14, 2018 at 2:58 am

    I have just reread your comments and explanations about why Windows computer users should not use cleanmem on their computers to help with memory management, and I almost completely disagree. I have been using windows computers for many years, and since I have been using cleanmem, it definitely helps with memory management. I am not sure I know of a program that I have installed and used that properly manages it's memory. When I start my computers in the morning, I tell cleanmem to clean the memory, and I watch as it gives back a fair amount of memory after that memory is no longer in use once the computer is up and running.

    In fact, the one thing you did not mention is memory fragmentation. I doubt that you would recommend that windows computer users have no need to concern themselves with disk defragmentation. It can be a very big deal and is highly recommended to defragment your hard disk periodically, perhaps every few weeks to once a month, which I try to do. Well, cleanmem helps to defragment memory, so that means that memory fragments or sections will be larger after cleanmem frees up unused memory, and that can be helpful to any program that needs more memory, especially if it needs a lot of memory.

    I'm not trying to use cleanmem to speed up my computer, but to help with memory management, which it definitely seems to do. If you don't want to use it, that's your loss, but at least tell the whole story about what it's doing with memory. And by the way, help with memory management is not the first thing that windows computers needed help with. Developers over the years have produced many program to help users with their windows computers - programs with functionality missing from the windows programs that came installed with the operating system.

  5. Get Real
    September 1, 2017 at 2:57 pm

    It seems pretty pathetic that the reviewer has been warned by the author:

    "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!"

    The reviewer says, "While cleaning memory isn’t the worst thing in the world (Registry cleaners are worse), 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?"

    However, this is mere supposition. The reviewer trashes the technique. In big red letters, he quotes the author as saying out that it won't speed up the system, but preventing a slow-down is pretty good too. The reviewer has declined to actually test it, and then concludes, speaking from ignorance, "It's just not useful." YOU DON'T KNOW. YOU HAVEN'T TESTED IT, BUT HAVE BEEN WARNED TO!!!

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

  8. 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!!

  9. 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]


  10. 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?

  11. 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.

  12. 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!

  13. 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

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

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

  15. 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.

  16. 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.

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

    Snake Oil ftw! Now with enhanced genuine Placebo Booster!

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

    does nothing ... no process