Windows 11 comes with plenty of useful features and compact user interface compared to earlier OS versions. However, high memory usage is one of the common issues among Windows PC users. You may notice the system is considerably slow while booting and lags when you switch apps. Though the issue highly depends on the capacity of your system and the apps you use, here are some general tips to optimize high memory usage in Windows 11 computers.
Tools to Check High Memory Usage
Windows 11 has multiple apps to monitor system resource usages. You can use one of the below apps to monitor disk, memory, network, and CPU usages in your system.
The latest Task Manager interface is more convenient place for you to quickly find the high memory consuming apps.
General Causes for High Memory Consumption
When you see high memory usage, here are some of the reasons for your system to consume high memory.
- RAM or Random Access Memory is a short-term memory where your computer stores and retrieve data. Having less capacity of RAM will affect the number of programs simultaneously running on your device. You will feel the programs work like a snail when your system lags RAM. Nowadays, you at least need 8 GB RAM to do multitasking without hiccups.
- Each hardware component in Windows needs corresponding driver files to work smoothly. When driver files of any of your device is corrupted or outdated, it will affect the entire system and result in high memory usage.
- Most of the apps will add them to the Windows startup list when you install them. Launching multiple apps at the startup could be another reason for high memory usage when booting your system. Since Windows booting processes will also consume memory, these unnecessary startup programs compete for the available memory and slow down your system. Remember, these programs also continue to consume memory as they keep running in background.
- Finally, viruses and other malicious software can also cause high memory usage. These malware run in background consuming high resources without you even knowing it.
Fixing High Memory Usage in Windows 11
Keeping all the above points in mind, here are the tips to fix high memory usage in Windows 11.
1. Close Unnecessary Programs
First, look at what programs are running on your computer and see if they use excessive memory. To check that, follow these simple steps mentioned below.
- Press “Control + Alt + Delete” keys to open Task Manager app.
- Click the “Memory” column to see which apps are consuming high memory.
- As a first step, select an app and click “End task” from the menu item. Confirm your action and close the app. Continue this to kill all high memory consuming apps that you do not need to run in the background.
Now, restart your system to close unnecessary hanging services and check if this resolves your problem.
2. Enable Efficiency Mode in Windows and Edge
In most cases, you will see the browser app is the culprit in Task Manager. Make sure you are not working with hundreds of open tabs and close unnecessary tabs when you check memory consumption.
- Edge has a performance saver option under edge://settings/system/ section. From here you can enable “Turn on efficiency mode” switch to automatically put the unused tabs into sleep mode after 5 minutes of inactivity.
- Google also introduced “Performance” settings for Chrome from where you can enable memory and energy Saver options.
Besides Edge and Chrome, you can also enable efficiency mode for processes in Windows 11. This will reduce the priority of that process and help to save memory consumed. You can select any process and enable efficiency mode in Task Manager.
3. Check for Malware
Go to “Services” section in Task Manager to view all currently running services in the system. Check any suspicious services are running with no relevance to the open apps. If you suspect virus or malware infection, you can use Windows Security app to scan your system. This is a default app that comes as part of Windows 11 to protect your system.
- Press “Windows Logo + I” shortcut keys and open Settings app.
- Navigate to “Privacy & security” section and click “Windows Security” option.
- This will take you to Windows Security app and click on the “Virus & threat protection” option.
- On the next screen, click the “Quick Scan” button to check your device for malicious files.
This will help you to find and delete any infected files in your system. If Windows Security app did not detect any issue and you still suspect infection, then the best option is to use any third-party antivirus apps. You need to use another computer to install the antivirus app in a USB or external hard drive. Then use the USB to scan your infected system and cleanup the files.
4. Check for Faulty Drivers
As mentioned, over period your driver files might have outdated without getting proper updates from the device’s manufacturer. Visit the device manufacturer website and download the latest version that supports your device. For example, you notice an audio device related process in the Task Manager is causing high memory issues. In this case, you can update the audio driver from Device Manager by following these simple steps.
- Right-click on Start menu icon in Taskbar and select the “Device Manager” option.
- Expand the “Sound, video, and game controllers” option.
- Right-click on the device you see (Realtek High Definition Audio in the above screenshot) and select “Update driver” option.
- If you have downloaded the latest driver files, then select “Browse my computer for drivers” any update your audio driver. Otherwise, select “Search automatically for the drivers” option. Windows will check the available drivers online and install on your system.
Restart the system and check if this resolved your problem. You can use driver update, especially when you have done some hardware changes for a specific device or you are sure about the problem is caused by a device’s hardware. At any case, make sure to take a system back or set restore point before doing such activities. This will help to restore the system if the updated driver is not working properly.
5. Disable Background Apps
Some apps will always run in the background and consume CPU and memory. You can see certain app processes in Task Manager even when you are not using the app. It means the apps are running in background and follow the below instructions to disable them.
- Right-click on the Start icon and select “Settings” option.
- Go to “Apps > Installed Apps” section to search and find the app.
- Click the three dots icon showing at the end the app and select “Advances Options”.
- On the next screen, under “Background apps permissions” section, select “Never” from the dropdown.
6. Disable Unnecessary Startup Programs
Follow the steps down below to find and disable startup apps in Windows 11.
- Right-click on the taskbar and select “Task Manager” option.
- Select “Startup apps” option from the left navigation bar.
- You will see a list of apps that will be launched whenever you boot the system.
- If you are surprised with any app, right-click on it and select “Disable” option.
After disabling all unnecessary apps in the list, restart your system and check it boots faster without delay.
7. Increase Physical and Virtual Memory
Playing high-definition games with 2 or 4 GB RAM will certainly hang your system. HD games, video streaming and graphics design related apps will consume high memory and the only option here is to upgrade or replace your RAM. Other than increasing physical RAM, you can also try to increase the virtual memory size to optimize the use of frequently used apps.
- Right-click on Start menu and select “Settings” option.
- Navigate to “System > About” section and click on “Advanced system settings” link under “Device specifications” section.
- Click on “Advanced” tab and then click “Settings” button under “Performance” section. This will open another dialog box and click “Change” button under “Advanced > Virtual memory” section.
- Disable “Automatically manage paging file size for all drives” for C: drive and select “Custom size” option.
- Enter initial and maximum sizes based on the recommend size.
- Click “OK” button to increase the virtual memory size for the selected drive. You can change this for each drive if required.
8. Update Apps and OS
Incompatible apps tend to crash and consume high memory with the hanging processes. This happens when the app or OS is not updated for long time, and you are using outdated setup.
- Go to Settings app and navigate to “Windows Update” section. Click “Check for updates” button and update your system to the latest Windows OS.
- For updating apps – you can get the updates in Microsoft Store by navigating to “Library” section and clicking on “Get updates” button. For most third-party apps, you can update to the latest available version within the app, or you need to get it from the app developer’s site.
Though high memory usage is a problem affecting your productivity, you need to understand it depends on the physical RAM, the apps you are working with and your system’s capacity. Generally, updating driver / OS / app will help to fix the issue or you can scan the system for malware to overrule that aspect. If none of the above suggestions help, you can try clean install of Windows 11 without deleting your files. Microsoft also offers a PC Manager app which you can try for cleaning up and protecting your system. Otherwise, you need to seek assistance from the system manufacturer to fix your issue.