I'm trying to speed up an old computer running XP, and it seems the problem is mainly that it's constantly losing RAM/virtual memory until it runs out. If no programs are running (System Idle Process is the only thing taking up CPU time), the computer just runs out of memory more slowly. Why could this be happening?

Note: What I'm seeing is when I pull up task manager, the commit charge is constantly increasing at a rate of at least 30K/sec, way faster if the computer is doing something. It does this until the commit charge reading is around 440000K/866000K, at which point it stops going up and the computer becomes basically unresponsive.

3 Answers 3


All I can think of is that updates have been run, new Anti Virus or something else new has been installed that simply requires a lot more resources than the computer has.

All I can suggest is to uninstall everything new and put it back to factory settings, or at least the point you were happy with it.

At the end of the day, unless there is hardware failure causing the computer to run slower or other problems, if you only use the computer for a set purpose, you should still be able to use it for the same purpose years later.

I would spend time uninstalling everything new/recently installed or failing that, and easier solution maybe just to reinstall Windows from scratch.

  • How could a program that's not doing any work slowly use up memory? I'm talking about the computer sitting there, literally doing nothing, and I'm seeing the total memory used go up and up and up and I don't see any reason why. Commented Nov 27, 2010 at 21:54
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    Bad/corrupt update or system process most likely. You can try running Microsoft / Sysinternals Process Explorer - technet.microsoft.com/en-us/sysinternals/bb896653.aspx for a much more detailed view of the process that is taking up the memory. Just because you are not at the machine/doing anything active, does not mean that services and other "automated" tasks are not running. Commented Nov 27, 2010 at 21:57

Sounds like a memory leak. You can try running process explorer to hunt down the program that keeps taking up all your memory.

  • Could be a memory leak in a driver. I have a driver for a printer which will eat tons of RAM when printing. It is possible that some other driver is eating RAM just by being loaded.
    – AndrejaKo
    Commented Nov 28, 2010 at 1:51

What you have appears to be what is called a memory leak. Some program you have loaded (could be a legitimate program, could be malware) is allocating memory and then upon completion of the program cycle, isn't releasing all the memory.

Let's say it is on a timer and doing something in the background, every minute or so. When the cycle starts, it allocates or requests memory from the OS. Upon completion, what it should do is to say, alright, I'm done, take the memory back to the OS. If someone wrote it badly, it fails to do this and you have a blackhole into which memory goes, but never returns.

Check all your programs - the legitimate ones. Make sure they are updated to the latest versions. Include your drivers. Run malware scans.

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