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How do I find what's eating up all of my system's memory?

How does one diagnose/discover memory-related problems, if Task Manager appears to not be reporting correctly?

I must have a memory leak or something -- I'm at 75% usage of my 12GB of memory, but Task Managers listings of processes' memory usage isn't adding up (yes, "Show processes from all users" is checked).

It seems like this "phantom" memory usage grows in relation to how long the system's been up. It shows that there are 118 total processes. Besides the top 5, all of them are under 50MB.

The top process is firefox, using 2.6GB. Adobe Premiere at 900MB. Plugin-container at 300MB. Pale Moon at 275MB. Explorer.exe at 94MB.

How in the world can I find what's using up the rest of my memory? It seems as if Task Manager isn't seeing everything that's being used. Perhaps there's some kind of memory leak? Or program's aren't releasing used memory properly?

Resource Monitor reports:

enter image description here

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migrated from Jun 17 '12 at 17:11

This question came from our site for professional and enthusiast programmers.

marked as duplicate by avirk, Oliver Salzburg, Mokubai, nhinkle Jun 17 '12 at 20:49

This question was marked as an exact duplicate of an existing question.

Services. Like SQL SERVER – Preet Sangha Jun 17 '12 at 11:42
From the list you provided, it shows abou 6GB, I'm sure the rest is under scrollbar. Anyway, have you tried process explorer? For detailed process analysis, I'd highly recommend it.. – J A Jun 17 '12 at 12:08
Please remove any one post. – tiki Jun 17 '12 at 18:33
In the future, please don't cross-post your question to multiple SE sites @coldblackice. Just pick which site seems most applicable and ask it there. – nhinkle Jun 17 '12 at 20:49
K. But as to this question being closed, it'd be helpful to know where the other questions are that this question duplicates. Thanks – Coldblackice Jun 18 '12 at 4:29
up vote 0 down vote accepted

What version of Windows are you using? In Windows 7, it's common for the system to "cache" frequently used files from the hard drive. This makes it faster to read the file when it needs it, as it doesn't have to go to disk to get the files. Go to the "Performance" tab in task manager, and look at the "Physical Memory" section. It should show numbers for Total, Cached, Available and Free. If there is a lot of cached memory being used, this is fine, as Windows will free it up as necessary but only when a program requests the need for that memory.

My task manager shows that I'm using over 40% of my 4 GB of memory, even though I only have FireFox open, which is only using 200 MB. This is because the rest is going to cached files. This is nothing to worry about, and is completely normal.

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A good knowledge distribution kibbee..Thanks – tiki Jun 17 '12 at 18:49
Ahh, great to know! Thanks (I'm using Windows 7 Ultimate, btw). So how do you know when you're actually being crushed against the used up memory limit? I only had a few programs open, but nearly all memory was used. I went to play Max Payne 3, which seemed to load and play just fine, but Windows popped me out to the desktop to warn me that it thought my system was getting sluggish and suggested dropping the color scheme. – Coldblackice Jun 18 '12 at 4:24

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