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I use XP at work and if I don't restart every day the system gradually uses more and more memory with roughly the same processes running. I use Windows 7 at home and I don't experience the same issue. Is this a problem specific to the XP system or is it just a problem in general with XP's memory management?

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Seems like you have an program with a memory leak installed that is running in the background. –  Michael K Jul 1 '11 at 9:50
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up vote 6 down vote accepted

It's unlikely that it's really XP or Windows 7. It's probably memory leaks in the programs you're running. It's possible Windows 7 may have better features for reclaiming memory, but I doubt that. Even if you're using the exact same programs between versions of Windows, I'm sure there are little distinctions that add up that aren't really inherited from the OS itself.

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ie: it could be a bad device driver. –  Joel Coehoorn Jul 1 '11 at 3:10
    
I suppose a memory leak by it's very nature indicates a problem with code in a running program. Unless the OS itself had a memory leak. Is that possible? –  Lil' Smokey Jul 4 '11 at 15:58
    
Yes, memory leaks are due to coding oversights. It happens all the time, writing secure, functional, efficient software is very much a special art. They can occur in individual programs, supporting libraries or in the OS itself - in any code in the system really. Though OS and library code should be pretty efficient. –  Doc Jul 4 '11 at 16:03
    
more than likely its a 3rd party application or driver. Windows machines can run for years without a reboot. Personally, Ive had a Win98 machine running for just under 10 years without ever shutting down. –  Keltari Aug 28 '11 at 22:04
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Keep the task manager (from the ctrl-alt-del menu) open and watch which apps are using the memory. If you see one app in particular using allot then you can close it. Later when you are working you can remember to close that problematic app when not in use and leave the others running.

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Windows 7 handle memory ram far much better than Windows XP.

Have a look in the Task Manager (ctrl-alt-del menu) to see what's using up all your memory. Keep it up and monitor it.

For more information see

http://www.microsoft.com/resources/documentation/windows/xp/all/proddocs/en-us/taskman_whats_there_w.mspx?mfr=true

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You didn't describe a problem. Does the system get slow?

It's entirely possible you're not seeing anything wrong. It's the same thing that would happen if a family moved into a house.

At first, they'd only use the areas they really need. Then, over time, they'd have some stuff they need to store, and the closet isn't full, so they'd just pile it in there. If the closet was full, they'd clean it out, but not much more than they needed to.

Modern operating systems only free memory when they need to. Otherwise, it's wasted effort, and there's a likelihood the system will throw away something it winds up needing later, forcing it to load it back in from disk, harming performance.

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