Help me find my missing RAM
July 16, 2010 10:11 PM   Subscribe

My computer will tell me it's using so and so much RAM. When I add up the RAM usage in process manager, there's no way it's that much. Where is my RAM going?
posted by fizzzzzzzzzzzy to Computers & Internet (6 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Windows? Install Process Explorer and take a look at what's going on.
posted by goblinbox at 10:16 PM on July 16, 2010 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Most of what you are seeing is cached.
posted by damn dirty ape at 10:19 PM on July 16, 2010

Process Explorer from Microsoft SysInternals is good. If you are suddenly having this new error and you haven't a reason like adding new software or configuration, then make sure you don't have a virus. They can eat up memory. Ask yourself what changes or additions you might have made prior to getting the out of memory error.
posted by nogero at 11:16 PM on July 16, 2010 [1 favorite]

When I add up the RAM usage in process manager, there's no way it's that much.

You might be adding virtual RAM with physical RAM. Physical RAM is the stuff that comes on sticks that you put on your motherboard. Virtual RAM is usually hard drive space that is "held" by the operating system for when you need a larger amount of RAM then you physically have. Because you have another source of memory storage, the computer can continue large calculations that might otherwise have to be aborted. The trade-off is that virtual RAM is a lot slower than physical RAM (because hard drives are generally slower than RAM chips).
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 5:24 AM on July 17, 2010

There are a lot of details here because the way that memory is used in a modern operating system is far more complex than a simple "X process uses Y amount" type of reasoning. For example, a library that is used by two applications only "counts" once even though from the viewpoint of both processes, that entire library is loaded into memory.

But the thing to remember at the end of the day is that free memory is wasted memory. If your operating system did NOT try to aggressively use all your memory for speculative caching then you should demand your money back and get something else, because it is not doing a proper job. All such memory that is used for that purpose is can be instantly converted into other uses (e.g. loading a new program) so really the entire concept of free memory is meaningless in a modern operating system.
posted by Rhomboid at 6:55 AM on July 17, 2010

Do you have an onboard video card?
posted by isoman2kx at 6:18 PM on July 21, 2010

« Older iPad and multi-select dropdowns without ctrl-click   |   Low-cost German cell service provider Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.