I've got a Dell 13z notebook with 8 gb of RAM (DD3, 666 Mhz). With 2 active Chrome tabs open, I somehow got 41% of my memory used. How is this possible? The top consuming processes running (the ones shown in the screenshot) roughly amount to 1 GB. Where is the rest?

Edit: the real performance issue i am experiencing is that I often get warnings that my memory is low. Usually what I have running is an ubuntu virtual machine with 3gb of ram, two instances of visual studio code, a couple of chrome tabs and a couple of custom command lines open ("cmder"). Sometimes I also open MySQL and OneNote. Is there anything I need to configure so that these warnings go away? Maybe it's an issue with pagination?

Edit 2: I don't have a pagefile. I deleted it some time ago because it was a huge file and I wanted to clear some space in my hard drive.

Edit 3: I have one 500gb hard drive with 180 gb free. I cannot add more physical memory.

Task manager:

Memory usage

RAM details:

Memory description





  • I provided a general answer. However, we may have to use resource monitor. This could be a Windows service/process as well as a hardware issue/configuration fault. – Epoxy May 14 '16 at 5:05
  • I don't think there is actually any problem at all, but (s)he will have to dig into the full list of processes to see if anything is inappropriately using memory. RAM usage is so situational - if there's a lot of it, the OS will give programs all they ask for, if there isn't, it gets rationed and swapped. So the only question is, imo, are there performance issues? – Argonauts May 14 '16 at 5:40
  • Hey guys thanks for your comments. I edited the post to include some more information. Thanks. – Maria Ines Parnisari May 14 '16 at 5:54
  • there may be background processes to address to mitigate things but In this case you are legitimately running out of ram. The best stop gap is to create a page file size of 8 or 12 GB. Couple Q's: Do you have multiple hard drives? Are you low on disk space on it / them (really low)? Can you add phy. memory ( IE does your mb support 8 GB sticks) Post your dell system tag if you're not sure. And back to my ignominious answer - check your process list, with everything running, to see what processes are RAM gluttons, and let us know. Throw it on pastebin if you'd like extra eyes on it. – Argonauts May 14 '16 at 8:24
  • And I keep forgetting an obvious one - check for memory errors - hard faults/ sec is one indicator visible in resmon ( to pacify the romans, other things can cause a hard fault beside a phy memory error) – Argonauts May 14 '16 at 8:27

Your first major issue is the fact you are not running a page file. Regardless of what anyone else says, that is a bad idea - even Microsoft says this a bad idea, even if it "works." Without a page file, your computer cannot move memory that is not actively in use to disk, thus decreasing available memory for the OS and other applications.

Since you have 8GB of RAM, that is the starting point. Windows will use up ~4GB for the OS, drivers, services, and other OS related applications. That leaves 4GB. Then you are running a virtual machine, which uses 3GB of RAM, not to mention the virtualization app uses memory. That leaves ~1GB of RAM. Then you are running 2 instances of VS Code, MySQl, Cmder, OneNote, and any other applications you are running. What does that leave? Not much.

Without a page file, the OS cannot move currently inactive application's memory to disk. Everything that is open is actively in memory, with nothing free for anything else. So in other words, TURN ON YOUR PAGE FILE!.

As for memory being "high" with just Chrome, this is a common question on SU. This is not a problem - this is actually a good thing. Windows is using memory to cache data. The more things in memory, the faster the computer will work... That is until the memory is full and Windows cant write to the page file...

  • How big should I configure the page file to be? Or should I let Windows decide? – Maria Ines Parnisari May 14 '16 at 17:16
  • Let Windows decide, unless you have serious space issues. If you do, get another drive or upgrade your existing one. – Keltari May 14 '16 at 17:17
  • If you really want to "tune" the pagefile size, set its initial size so that under your worst-case workload the actual pagefile usage (as reported by e.g. PerfMon) is no higher than 25%. Set the maximum to at least twice that. n.b.: speccy's report of "virtual memory in use" is not, repeat not, the same as pagefile usage (obviously, since you don't have a pagefile and this number is still nonzero). – Jamie Hanrahan May 14 '16 at 20:12

Sometimes, in experience, Windows Shell Experience Host can cause these problems. If you can configure the following, reboot and examine the output, you may see a difference. To dig more into the usage statistics, to get a better idea,

  • Click Performance tab
  • Click Open Resource Monitor
  • Click Memory tab in Resource Monitor

To turn off the automatic color changing and see if it changes the behavior,

  1. Open the Settings charm.
  2. Go to Personalization
  3. Click Color
  4. Turn off "Automatically pick an accent color from my background", and select a permanent color (static).

Windows' "out of memory" or "low on memory" pop-up does not mean you're running low on RAM. It can happen even when you have plenty of RAM available.

It means your current commit charge (what speccy reports misleadingly as "Total Virtual"), combined with some program's recent attempt to create more committed virtual address space, would exceed your commit limit (which speccy reports, again misleadingly, as "Total Virtual"). So that attempt has failed; the program was not able to allocate the memory it wanted. This can also happen due to the OS's attempts to increase paged or nonpaged pool.

The commit limit is equal to the RAM usable by the OS (in this case 7.86 GB) plus the current pagefile size (in this case, obviously 0). To fix these "out of memory" errors, either increase RAM or create a pagefile. Note that you can choose the size; you're not stuck with the OS's default.

Each process's contribution to the "commit charge", btw, is shown on Task Manager's "Details" page, in the "Commit size" column (not normally present by default). You might also want to look at the "performance" tab, "memory" part, so we can check for excess pool usage. More than about a GB total paged and non-paged is probably excessive. Both are contributors to commit charge.

Much more information is in my answer to this question.


A little background on RAM usage - in many cases on modern OSes ALL RAM is nearly always being used even if your active processes don't require it. Based on the pretty reliable theory that people tend to do repetitive things, the OS will keep things in RAM that it no longer actually requires in case you happen to request the same information again in the relatively near future. It's far faster, even if you have a high end SSD drive, to get the data directly from RAM than to load it from hard drive again. The amount that gets reported as 'used' doesn't include this cached data; so it doesn't directly address your issue, but it will help explain what I am going to suggest you look at next.

The Windows Resource Monitor will show you how your memory is being utilized, broken down by category, and might shed some light on what's going on with your RAM usage. The picture I posted is a ss of a windows 10 machine that I have with 16 GB of RAM - you can see it is using basically all of it, although only 43% is counted as being in use. Win 10 Resource Monitor

Open Resource Monitor (takes admin rights) - either from task manager by selecting the 'Performance' tab and selecting 'Open Resource Monitor' at the bottom', or winkey-r and type resmon

Once that opens, go to the memory tab. Expand the Processes section if it isn't already. Here you will see the full list of processes using memory on the windows machine (the list from task manager is a more of a top level view, this contains the specifics).

There are 4 columns of RAM usage listed (units of KBs), which are defined as follows:

  • Commit - Amount of virtual memory used (more specifically written to the page file from RAM).
  • Working Set - This is the most meaningful number - it is the current amount of RAM that each process is using.
  • Shareable - Amount of RAM that could be shared with another process (not very relevant here).
  • Private - Amount of RAM that is not shareable with other processes (also not very relevant).

The specific answer to the question you asked is in the 'working set' column. If you want to really dig into it, select anywhere in the process list, hit -a to select all then -c to copy; open excel or equivalent, and paste it into excel. You can sum up the columns and you'll find that the sum of the working set is equal (instantaneously) to the amount of RAM that is counted as being in use. Divide the column totals by 1024 to go from KBs to MBs for direct comparisons.

Take a look at what is actually using your RAM (and I wouldn't be surprised if it is simply another 30-ish chrome processes that were made visible by task manager), and see if anything seems out of place. There is no quick answer to this; its kind of an open ended question with an open ended answer.

If your system is sluggish and/or the hard drive is churning a lot, one thing that jumped out at me from your info was the page file usage. With 59% of your RAM unused, I was a bit surprised to see your virtual memory usage at nearly 4 GB. If you don't get slowdowns that you can attribute to waiting for hard drive data, this is a non issue - it's a well managed page file. But in some cases the page file gets overused by windows - instead of RAM - and that can slow everything down. Your page file size was set to the same size as installed RAM. I typically set mine very low - 1GB on the system I took the screen shot on, and I disable it on systems with more than 16GB of RAM. But it's a bit of an art not a science, and I don't know if you even have a performance related issue there.

To adjust the page file (aka virtual memory), hit winkey-r and enter sysdm.cpl ,3

Or, follow the directions here with a little background on the pros/cons of page file size adjustment Windows 10 Virt Mem

As a general rule of thumb, if you are not having performance issues don't worry about memory utilization. If you are getting disk related slowdowns (virtual memory) or other performance hits that only get worse as memory utilization goes up, than it should be a concern (make sure the bottleneck is not the CPU as well).

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