How RAM Compression Improves Memory Responsiveness in Windows 10

Kannon Yamada 08-04-2016

Windows 10, the last version of Windows ever The Latest Windows 10 Version Won't Be the Last One What is the latest Windows 10 version? How long is it supported? And why did Microsoft switch to a service model? Answers within! 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 computer memory do you need? Here's how to check your installed RAM and how much RAM your computer needs. 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? Learn the basics of file compression and the difference between lossy versus lossless compression. 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 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.


How RAM Compression Improves Memory Responsiveness in Windows 10 disable superfetch windows 10


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

How RAM Compression Improves Memory Responsiveness in Windows 10 switch superfetch 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 10 Best Free Benchmark Programs for Windows Use these fantastic and free benchmark software for Windows to troubleshoot your system and keep it updated. Read More ) the computer (a Dell XPS 13 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

Related topics: Computer Maintenance, Computer Memory, Windows 10.

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  1. Abdullrohman
    May 31, 2018 at 10:47 pm

    Try to Runs 7zip, WinZip, WinRar and other compression programs with big file sizes, It will crash Windows 10 1803 every time if the page file not custom setting to above 32GB Min and Max *4.

    I have RAM 16GB Core I7 System, try to zip 2500 GB folder size, system just drop dead like the unplug power core.

  2. Eric Bretschneider
    May 3, 2018 at 11:00 pm

    6950X and 64GB of RAM, why does my system use RAM compression?

    • Kannon Y
      May 7, 2018 at 6:56 pm

      It's more efficient than using the page file, although with your specs, you probably wouldn't see a difference one way or another.

      • Eric Bretschneider
        May 7, 2018 at 7:04 pm

        I do see a very big difference. Officially my system should barely use RAM compression. The problem? I do optical design using Monte Carlo ray tracing. My computer randomly generates millions of rays and follows their paths through the simulation. The path of each ray is saved in RAM so you can conduct an analysis of where the light is going (photon density, irradiance at surfaces, polar candela distributions, etc.). (the terms don't have to mean anything other than they come from all the data stored in RAM)

        The point is that I create a great deal of information that sits in RAM. It is constantly being used, so RAM compression acts on each new data set as a simulation runs. These simulations take hours and RAM compression slows everything down.

        My "fast" system runs significantly slower precisely because it uses RAM so much/often.

        • Kannon Y
          May 7, 2018 at 7:12 pm

          I'm not familiar with that software, but it sounds super interesting. Are you using a drive array, a cache drive, or an NVMe drive (or maybe even an NVMe XPoint drive)? (Or even some combination of drive technologies)

          Are you getting page faults from being unable to access compressed memory?

  3. KevinGo
    March 28, 2018 at 10:37 am

    using newest build of win 10 (fresh install)
    my system with 16 Gb of ram and was running sluggish.
    I went to the paging file settings, and changed the custom settings to:
    min 3000 and max 3000.
    my system now runs properly and is more reponsive.
    It's something I have had to do since win95 (when I remember)
    Also annoyed system restore is turned off by default. Why?
    Does anyone know why?

    • Kannon Yamada
      March 29, 2018 at 1:48 am

      Do you have an SSD? I've used toolkits that automatically turn off system restore to save on writes to the drive.

    • Necalli Fuentes
      April 24, 2018 at 7:59 am

      I'm going to guess you don't have an SSD, if the system is resizing your page file its going to feel sluggish, but it also points to ram starvation. These days with ram hogs like chrome, even 16GB isn't enough as windows tries very hard to keep free memory, and pages out stuff as much as it can, while compressing memory to boot. Even systems with SSD's suffer, but it becomes slightly hidden but even then I could feel when the page file was resizing, not many people monitor the size of their page files as they grow.
      Its good to have free memory simply as cache, so its best to have more than you think you will need.

  4. Empress Trudy
    August 10, 2017 at 2:05 pm

    I don't use a pagefile on an 8GB machine and with Superfetch off there's no problem for ordinary use.

  5. Bilateral
    January 10, 2017 at 9:07 am

    As I understand it, the "System and Compressed Memory" process no longer exists in current versions of Win 10 as of Winver 1607. You should probably correct this in the article, because I went crazy looking for that process when I read articles like this one. Microsoft changed it to be hidden under the "System" process. Task Manager no longer lists it, though you can see it as a sub-process of "System" with special TM-like tools such as Process Explorer or Process Hacker.

    MS also no longer lists the amount of memory compressed under "System", as that was freaking people out, since some could not understand how they had so much memory being used. (It wasn't, because it was compressed, so it seemed like a lot more memory.)

    ...Also, I agree that one way to turn off memory compression is to disable Superfetch, as I tried this without understanding what it meant. If everything is right, it does not make sense to do this. The reason most people were trying to disable Superfetch, memory compression, etc. was most likely because of bugs in earlier versions of Win 10. It's unfortunate, but once bugs are worked out, leaving these features in place should produce superior performance--but how do we all keep up with the bug-fixing process?

    With Win 10 we have an ever changing OS, that is going to leave a lot of us confused about where we are with certain features at any given moment, and we will come across an awful lot of stale articles and posts that are no longer true, that suggest we try things that no longer make sense. After all, how many will be able to keep up with all the changes?

  6. Dodfr
    January 1, 2017 at 5:43 pm

    The scheduled tasks have no impact on this as their ar tasks that will trigger only on certain "bad" events happening when memory get corrupted.

    And in fact I already tried this and System Memory Compression process was still running even after reboot.

    The best way to disable this is to open a Powershell (as admin) then type "get-mmagent" you should see a list of features actived or not (True/False) and if MemoryCompression is set to True then disable it with "disable-mmagent -m" and reboot, you should not see System Memory Copression process anymore.

    • Kannon Y
      January 3, 2017 at 5:27 pm

      Thank you very much for the information!

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

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

    • Kannon Y
      January 3, 2017 at 5:29 pm

      Hi Denis, the commenter above your comment mentioned a method that seems to actually disable memory compression. Please check it out if you have a moment.

      • Denis
        January 10, 2017 at 5:49 pm

        i already back on windows 7 and will use it till microsoft again forcefully push people on windows 10.i have win 10 on my notebook and microsoft already deleted memory compresion by itself few months ago

        • Bilateral
          January 10, 2017 at 6:40 pm

          MS has not "deleted" memory compression. They have placed it now as a sub-process under the "System" process, but you cannot see that with Task Manager. If it is on, you will see more than (0 MB) under the Performance Tab: Memory section. As stated by Pyrion, the easiest way to turn it off is to disable Superfetch. However, unless there is some other issue with your computer, it should work better with this on, except perhaps for short periods while the disk is being accessed. Accessing compressed data from RAM is MUCH MORE EFFICIENT than from the disk--that is what it's intended to do. If it is not working, either MS has not yet worked out all the bugs, or there is some other problem with your machine.

        • Bilateral
          January 11, 2017 at 5:37 am
  8. MJ19940
    August 17, 2016 at 6:53 am

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

  9. 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.

  10. Anonymous
    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.

  11. Anonymous
    April 10, 2016 at 2:26 am

    "3. Impacct..." Whoops.

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

      Thanks for the correction Blair!