Out of Memory? What You Need To Know About Managing RAM On Your Android Phone
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managing ram on androidHave you ever gotten to the point with your tablet where things start to get bogged down a little? We often like to boast about the CPU and superior memory of our mobile devices, but there is nothing more frustrating than when that zippy little mobile device starts to lag behind when you’re trying to open apps or run demanding games and applications.

So, what’s the solution? How do you optimize the operation of your Android phone or tablet so that it runs just as slick and fast as when you first bought it?

There are actually two major schools of thought here. A very large majority of tablet users believe that the only way out of such a bogged down situation is to go through running tasks and to kill all of the apps and services that you aren’t using. This essentially removes the application from cache, freeing up your memory and – most people believe – making your device run at its optimal performance. More free RAM, faster performance, right?

Not quite. Jerry Hildenbrand over at Android Central described it best – pointing out that the whole purpose of RAM is to use it. In Jerry’s words, empty RAM is wasted RAM. Keeping your commonly used applications in cache allow your Android to load up those applications much quicker every time you use it. And the Android OS is adept at releasing low priority apps (ones you don’t commonly use) from memory if your RAM fills beyond capacity.

Jerry goes so far as to suggest that people should throw away their task killer apps and stop worrying so much about memory. He says to just let Android do its thing, run all of the apps you like, and today’s modern devices and apps will run perfectly fine. Let me just say right now, I disagree with this perspective too.

Managing Your Android Memory

Let’s face reality here. Not all apps are created equal, and not all app programmers write stellar code. Eventually, you’re bound to download an application that develops a memory leak. Eventually, that memory leak will chew up your RAM to the point where it interferes with the performance of your device.

So what’s the answer?  In many cases people start shutting down apps or services that they really shouldn’t. You can see the memory consumption under Android by going into Settings and then viewing “Storage”.

managing ram on android

Click on “Apps” to see all of the applications that are currently loaded into memory and running on the device. This does give you some idea what your current RAM consumption is (see the bar at the bottom). If you’re having performance issues, the odds are good that your used RAM will be quite high.

android ram manager

Many people will just go down each of these apps and start stopping them one at a time. Often times, people will kill apps they shouldn’t and cause more harm than good.

android ram manager

Other people don’t even bother going into settings to do this, they just download one of the many Task Killers on the market, but blindly using task killers is like trying to get rid of fleas by burning down your house. It’s overkill.

Truthfully, the secret here is to use a more intelligent app like the Auto Memory Manager. What makes it so intelligent? Well, instead of blindly killing all applications that are consuming your RAM, this memory manager prioritizes apps based on their category. When memory consumption starts getting in the way of normal phone operation, the app will start removing apps from cache for you.

android ram manager

You can actually use the app to configure at what RAM level the app starts killing apps in that category. The higher the memory setting, the sooner the memory manager will start closing down those apps to retain RAM for normal phone operation. This is why less critical applications will typically have higher settings – when RAM levels hit those settings first, those are the first apps to go.

android ram usage

You don’t have to use the preset levels from the other setting screens, you can also set custom levels if you prefer.

Out of Memory? What You Need To Know About Managing RAM On Your Android Phone androidram04

If you’re curious which of your apps fit into each app category, there is another area in the app where you can view all of your running apps organized by category. Each one will drop down to show you all of those apps.

android ram usage

In the settings, you can also configure the app to automatically run and manage your RAM for you, so if you ever do download an app with a memory leak, odds are good that this memory manager will eventually shut it down for you – preventing your phone or tablet from tumbling into a zombie-like state of operation.

android ram usage

You can also set the clean-up interval to a setting that you prefer – more often will clean up your memory consumption more frequently but could do a number to your battery. Personally, I set the app to run every 30 minutes and trust that things won’t get out of hand with the apps that I run within that 30 minute interval.

managing ram on android

There are a lot of users that swear by the Auto Memory Manger, and report that keeps phones and tablets running at optimum efficiency with virtually no manual effort. That is really what having a mobile device should be all about. You can’t control the quality of applications, but you can control what those applications do to your device by managing RAM on your Android phone in this way.

Do you experience performance issues with your Android? What’s your position on the RAM management debate? Share your thoughts and insights in the comments section below.

Image Credit: Woman in Business Attire Via Shutterstock

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  1. mw
    December 4, 2018 at 9:11 am

    The built-in RAM manager of my Android 5 tablet is ridiculous:
    the device has 2GB of RAM, and starts swapping out active apps when the free RAM is reaching 750MB, leaving a third of the precious RAM unused all the time! I have a RAM monitor widget that actually shows this silly behavior, never dropping below 650MB free at any time. The result is obvious: important apps, even my custom launcher, are kicked out of memory way too soon.
    I tried tinkering with the 3C Process Manager tool and the various Android memory governors, supposingly fixing this inefficent memory management, with no luck.
    The free memory values changed somewhat, but the tablet ran slower and sluggish, WTF??
    Odd enough: this behavior varies from device to device; I do have other Android machines (TV boxes, phones etc) and some DO work better, keep active apps in RAM, running lower to about 300-400MB free RAM without intervening.
    I will try the mentioned tool of this article, for the mere fun of it, hoping that it will really override the system settings, And keep important apps/launcher etc in memory.
    As I do not own any newer devices I have no idea how Android 6 ff work? Any better?

  2. FataMorgana
    July 28, 2018 at 9:02 am

    damn, this article is just an ad in disguise for a task manager app. Reading it was a complete waste of time

    • Ryan Dube
      July 28, 2018 at 7:48 pm

      Just because there's only one app used in the example here, the article really only promotes using a memory manager app not necessarily this specific one.

  3. James
    January 23, 2018 at 3:32 pm

    Quote "(Jerry Hildenbrand) says to just let Android do its thing, run all of the apps you like, and today’s modern devices and apps will run perfectly fine."

    This is a complete load of crap. The 'built in' RAM management keeps closing the apps that I am actively using. And before you say it might be... I've been trying to fix this for 2 months, and the best results are from manipulating the RAM management. (Not recommending for the average user, but they need to fix this)

    The developers have made this process way to aggressive.

    P.S. These are apps that I can get to work on Android 4... but constantly crash on 7

  4. Jack
    October 30, 2017 at 10:59 am


  5. Brian Hickey
    December 27, 2016 at 8:56 am

    Thanks very very well explained,as a beginner the language used was understandible. Again thanks

  6. Shannon Simons
    September 25, 2016 at 7:40 am

    I have an Alcatel Fierce2 Model 704ON. And I consume a lot of memory in a short time on my phone in such a short time and I have a lot of background programs running, a lot are pre--installed. They heat up my phone and wste my bttry. Which is the best memory and ram cleaner booster to use. I've used so many I cant count them. Some of them are such a wste of time and space. If u have any suggestions, please let me know. Thanks

  7. Fred
    April 25, 2016 at 9:11 pm

    This is nice an all, but I want to know why it shows around 800mb of ram being used, when the applications running in the settings only accounts for about 20mb? I have not installed ANYTHING on my Galaxy Tab except for one single, low tech game (which constantly crashes due to all the unneeded garbage hogging all the memory).

    I'm just about ready to toss this bloated mess from samsung, which I really just use for a 2nd account on this one game anyways. My iPad runs sooooooo much better.

    I mean really, how does it make sense that a new device with virtually nothing added by the user can be starved for memory right out of the box???? Might as well carry around a pocket calculator and a walkee talkee.

  8. Dennis
    January 18, 2016 at 7:39 pm

    Galaxy core prime ..... seems to be only of galaxy phones to not have USB to go feature I wanted back as my droid max had a most unusual incident causing a hammer to hit it till pulverized. (Years of insurance paid never used only changed phones due to age, phone's always still looked new as I took care in use. Finally decide against extra cost and a way out of ordinary problem ruins new 700 dollar phone! Replaced with a 'z-max' cheap imitation without otg storage wanted back ever since!) Looked over many phones liking galaxy's as everyone looked into had otg and more! NOT THE CORE PRIME I FIND OUT AFTER BUYING ASSUMING IT WAS AS ALL THE OTHER GALAXYS!? This phone still started out OK but suddenly began 'glitching' most phones hiccup now and then, figured it's a galaxy could simply be service or other ... NOPE! DANG PHONE got worse to point all remedies fail so I did factory reset! Still glitched way too much and seemingly more so when I needed it to work like checking traffic on maps only to have it stall not open freeze up only till point info looked for no longer needed then suddenly phone app works perfectly?! Sitting on table not used at all all day and it's early evening I see messages start popping up that specific apps are no longer able to run and have stopped one after another then back to app already said to of stopped running?! Check into it and storage says I have less than two hundred MB left days earlier and no new apps installed I had several GB available in phone storage and aost all of 32 GB SD card left? Still had that? Cleared cashe removed apps moved others I could to card but seemed very temporary of a fix. System memory is higher than used memory and just won't change even after deletions of everything not stock!! All photos videos music and every app installed and still have system memory @3.07GB WHILE USED @ JUST OVER 2 GB AVAILABLE JUST MB?! THINKING PHONE JUST SUCKS! Is there a site called myphonesucks.com

  9. David
    January 25, 2015 at 4:08 pm

    Let's talk about Jerry's theory over at Android Central. He is half right and half wrong..yes unused ram is idle ram but having a good empty store of it does help with application loading and use as many apps use more memory to load than to run.

    But...more importantly..when .this is really more about CPU usage than memory..when apps are loaded in ram and "active" even if ur not using them, they tend to want to "do stuff"..like phone home to mom and dad active tell them everything ur doing, enable ur gps to gather data about ur location etc..activendll this without u..using the app thus taking up vital CPU and GPU resources for things u ARE trying to do..so..yes..kill those apps..Knowing Corp America like I do..everyone who makes an app wants it running all the time in ur system for whatever monitizing it can garner...there is no incentive for them to shut the app down when ur not using it..kill the apps and also experiment with blocking app start up during initial boot as well.

  10. Dee
    November 26, 2012 at 9:09 pm

    Great article how can I send this via email to a friend?

  11. Keith Hardin
    November 23, 2012 at 7:28 am

    Definitely going to give this app a try

  12. Gary Mundy
    November 12, 2012 at 4:44 pm

    Thanks, I just sent this to my ex. Maybe there will be a few less phone emergencies.

  13. Boni Oloff
    November 12, 2012 at 12:44 am

    iPhone 4s just have 500mb memory, and there is no software to free up memory..

  14. Nikhil Chandak
    November 10, 2012 at 3:54 pm

    for the nice article !

  15. David Omon
    November 10, 2012 at 11:30 am

    Thank you so much, you've saved me the worries,....

  16. Félix S. De Jesús
    November 10, 2012 at 2:31 am

    Thank You So Much... ;)

  17. Slashee the Cow
    November 10, 2012 at 1:09 am

    Seriously people, doing stuff like this is BAD. Android's built in memory management is more than sufficient. There are certain cases where you do need to manually force close apps (when they hang, or if they have a memory leak or are hogging the CPU in the background - but these are by far the exception). When there's not much RAM left, Android will automatically close apps (generally the ones that haven't been accessed in a while) to free some.

    Also, closing apps when you don't have to will hurt your battery life. An app being in RAM costs you no battery (the RAM is powered whether it's in use or not), but closing them unnessecarily will use the CPU both when you close the app and when you open it again, and that does use power.

    • Ryan Dube
      November 11, 2012 at 5:05 am

      Thanks - those points were brought up in the article. This particular app is focused on only wiping the lowest priority apps if there is a memory leak or something is otherwise using up space that is causing the OS itself to get bogged down. LMM is certainly built into Android, but this app provides the user with a bit more control over high/low priority apps, etc.

  18. Scutterman
    November 10, 2012 at 12:13 am

    Unless I'm missing something, Auto Memory Manager is doing the exact same thing as Android does by default - keeps track of RAM levels, and when they get too high kill apps that aren't used often or are seen to be leaking memory. Except instead of killing them, Android will walk them through the shutdown states so it ends cleanly.

    • Jerry
      November 10, 2012 at 3:13 am

      That's what I was thinking. This sounds like the LMM that's built in to Android. Why is this app any better at doing this than the LMM. I suppose it is customizable, but if you have root on your phone, then so is the LMM.

      The only reason I kill an app is when it's running out of control or hung.

    • mingzi
      January 15, 2015 at 10:45 pm

      Except that android lets the memory use build up, then goes and kills whatever you are actually working on. Having no control over when something quits is a real pain. Give me back symbian any day :( I have not tried this app yet.

  19. Adam Borries
    November 9, 2012 at 5:39 pm

    This reads like a paid advertisement for Auto Memory Manager. Have you compared this app with other similar? What makes this one superior?

    • Ryan Dube
      November 11, 2012 at 5:07 am

      I can assure you it is not a paid advertisement. The reason I was so positive about it is because it is one of the only apps like it that I could find on Google Play that was not so much an app killer as an effective memory manager. I could not find any others that provided for assigning priorities and only managing out-of-control apps or memory leaks rather than just letting the user randomly kill apps and services (that may or may not be critical). If you do know of others that are equivalent or could be compared to this one, please do share.

      • Austen Gause
        November 16, 2012 at 4:26 pm

        thanks for the article

  20. Luo Huan
    November 9, 2012 at 5:16 pm

    Nice apps, thanks for recommendation =)

    • Ovi
      March 25, 2015 at 2:13 am

      I have a question: I just bought a yoga tablet 2 and the ram memory available is half of the total! ( 1 GB from 2GB the total ram memory).Is there anything that I can do? Thanks.