I have Windows 7 installed on the computer with 2GB RAM. Recently I've been running out of memory quite often while running all the same tasks; the windows would display warnings and so on. However total RAM used by all the programs is less than 2GB. As I investigated the issue I have found that even on the clean startup - the diagnostic startup in msconfig, which only runs essential services and no user startup - Windows somehow uses 800-900MB of RAM right from the start. Here are screenshots demonstrating the issue:

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RamMap screenshot:


Poolmon screenshot:


After approximately five minutes of runtime there is an unexplained 500MB drop in memory usage. Nothing seems to change. The total usage is around 450MB which is still quite high, or is it normal? When I boot up the system with standard settings (loading all the services and so on) the drop after five minutes is around 300MB, which still means 1GB memory is used on startup with only about 300MB being used by user programs.

After searching around I have found the following possible reasons for this happening:

  • Windows' SuperFetch uses memory to load programs faster - not the case, since I have explicitly disabled it
  • Memory leak in a driver - doesn't seem to be the case, as nothing in the poolmon screenshot above shows significant usage. Please confirm, maybe I'm reading it wrong.
  • Windows is somehow using this memory for speed-up purposes - this doesn't seem to be the case either because, as far as I read, it's supposed to give memory to applications when needed and yet it doesn't. I run out when the total memory used by each program is around 1.3GB, while the total memory used is almost 2GB.

I don't know if it's at all relevant, but the pagefile is currently 756MB in size despite the fact that I explicitly set it to be 2048MB as initial and maximum size. I have sufficient disk space and the pagefile increases in size sometimes.

Could someone clarify what is going on and possibly point me in the direction of how to solve this?

  • 2
    You could always install more RAM....2 GB is extremely low. Assuming you're running a 64-bit version of Windows 7, 2 GB is the minimum RAM requirement. I'm not exactly surprised that you're running out of memory. The OS and today's applications use a fair amount of RAM. The best thing you could to do see what is using RAM at the boot up is to open task manager and sort the processes by memory usage. – DrZoo Jan 28 '16 at 17:36
  • 450MB is MINISCULE. you have already hit min ram for Win7. Its really not recommend that you try to drive it down any further. Win7 should be expected to use 2GB of RAM minimum. – Frank Thomas Jan 28 '16 at 18:02
  • Are you running out of physical memory or virtual memory there is a huge difference, and most people ( i.e. 9/10 people ) mistake the out of virtual memory to mean they are out of physical memory. – Ramhound Jan 28 '16 at 18:07
  • @DrZoo I'm running a 32-bit version. And I was not running out of memory before with the same usage patterns. – Stranger1399 Jan 28 '16 at 18:16
  • @FrankThomas Thank you for confirming that this is min ram for Win7. However the unaccounted for usage is 700-800 MB in normal mode, which was not the case up until recently. You're saying Win7 should be expected to use some amount of memory. Wouldn't it be listed somewhere or visibly used by services? – Stranger1399 Jan 28 '16 at 18:16

527MB is used by driver locked (look at the RAMMap picture), which is often used by a Virtual Machine tool.

Driver Locked: These are pages that have been locked in physical RAM by a driver. This can be done for small/temporary purposes like I/O or for larger/longer allocations like RAM drives or other large locked memory reservations. For more details see http://www.microsoft.com/whdc/driver/tips/mmprobe.mspx.

If you don't use a VM tool, look for other 3rd party drivers which may lock memory for better performance.

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