Encountered the ‘High Memory Usage’ error on Windows 11 because is your system running low on memory? When your system runs low on memory, the apps start to lag and freeze, which is an indication that you got to free up some memory. But, what’s ‘Memory’, what’s leading to the ‘High Memory Usage’ issue on Windows 11, and how do you fix it? In the following sections, we have taken up each of the questions to help you get acquainted with the error and be able to fix it.

What is Memory (RAM)?

Many of you might confuse memory with storage, but they are different concepts altogether. The memory refers to RAM (Random Access Memory), ROM (Read Only Memory), and Cache. It is used to store temporary data while a task is being executed. Whenever you run a program on Windows, the CPU will transfer the data to the Memory for effective functioning and once you close the program, the data will be offloaded.

What leads to High Memory Usage?

High Memory Usage could be due to various reasons but it’s related to RAM or virtual memory. If you notice apps lagging or freezing, it’s probably due to high memory usage.

Before we move to fixes, it’s imperative that we understand what leads to the issue.

  • Running too many programs simultaneously
  • A lot of programs launch at Startup
  • Insufficient memory
  • System infected with malware or virus
  • Misconfigured Registry

Now that you have a fair understanding of the concept, let’s see how you can fix the ‘High Memory Usage’ issue.

1. Close Unncessary Apps

The easiest way to clean up some memory is by closing the apps. Many a time, users launch too many unnecessary apps but don’t realize that it will affect the performance of the system. If that’s the case with you, try closing the apps you don’t require anymore using the Task Manager in Windows 11.

To force close an app, press the WINDOWS key to launch the ‘Start Menu’, search for the ‘Task Manager’, and then click on the relevant search result to launch the app.

In the Task Manager, you will find the apps that are running listed under the ‘Processes’ tab. Next to each app, you will see their memory consumption listed under the ‘Memory’ column. Identify the apps that are either consuming a lot of memory or the ones that are not relevant at the moment. To close an app, right-click on it and select ‘End task’ from the context menu.

The app will now close and won’t be listed in the Task Manager anymore. Similarly, close the other apps to bring down the memory usage.

2. Disable Apps from Running at Startup

There are several programs that start running as soon as the computer is turned on and take up a lot of memory. These apps/programs could be leading to the high memory usage issue. To fix it, view the apps that run at startup and remove the unnecessary ones.

To disable apps from running at startup, launch the ‘Task Manager’ as discussed earlier, and navigate to the ‘Startup’ tab at the top. Now, locate the apps that you don’t want running at startup, right-click on them and select ‘Disable’.

3. Disable SysMain Service

The SysMain service helps preload the programs that you frequently use on to the RAM for quick access and effective functioning. Although it makes accessing the program a lot quicker and enhances system performance, SysMain could be one of the reasons behind high memory usage.

You can try disabling the feature and check if it fixes the issue. In case it doesn’t, re-enable the service, since it boosts the computer’s performance.

To disable the ‘SysMain’ service, press WINDOWS + R to launch the ‘Run’ command, enter ‘services.msc’ in the text box and then either press ENTER or click on ‘OK’ at the bottom.

Next, locate and double-click on the ‘SysMain’ service. The services here are located in alphabetical order, thus locating it wouldn’t be an issue.

In the service properties, click on the ‘Startup type’ drop-down menu and select ‘Disabled’ from the list of options.

Next, click on the ‘Stop’ option under ‘Service Status’. It will take a few seconds for Windows to disable the service and the progress would be shown in a dialog box on the screen.

After the service has been stopped, click on ‘OK’ at the bottom to save the changes and close the properties window.

After you have disabled the service, check if the high memory usage issue is fixed and the apps do not lag or freeze anymore.

4. Defragment Hard Drive

Fragmentation is when data blocks or fragments that constitute a file get scattered on the hard disk. This happens over time and slows down the system. Defragmentation is the process by which these fragments are brought together on the physical space of the hard disk, which helps Windows quickly access such files.

While Windows, by default, defragments hard disk periodically, you should manually do so in case you encounter high memory usage. Also, the modern SSD ( Solid State Drive) do not require to be defragmented although you should the process on HDD (Hard Disk Drive).

To defragment a hard drive, search for ‘Defragment and Optimize Driver’ in the Start Menu, and launch the app by clicking on the relevant search result.

You will now see a list of drives on or connected to your system. Select the one that you want to defragment and click on the ‘Optimize’ option.

The process will start right away and take time depending upon the storage and the amount of fragmentation in the drive. Wait for the process to complete, restart the computer and check if the memory usage has reduced.

5. Increase Virtual Memory

Virtual memory enables the transfer of data on the RAM to be offloaded to the disk storage, thus compensating for the shortage of physical memory on the system. It’s an effective method and will help fix the high memory usage issue.

To increase the virtual memory, launch the ‘Start Menu’, type ‘sysdm.cpl’ and click on the relevant search result to launch the item.

In the ‘System Properties’ window, navigate to the ‘Advanced’ tab at the top and then click on ‘Settings’ under ‘Performance’.

The ‘Performance Options’ window will now launch. Navigate to the ‘Advanced’ tab and click on ‘Change’ under ‘Virtual Memory’.

Now, untick checkbox for ‘Automatically manage paging file size for all drives’ at the top.

Before we set a new size for the virtual memory, clear the existing one on the ‘C’ drive. To do that, select the ‘C’ drive from the list, tick the checkbox for ‘No paging file’ and then click on ‘Set’.

Click on ‘Yes’ on the confirmation box that pops up.

Now, select another volume (non-system partition) from the list, select the ‘Custom size’ option, and then enter the value for virtual memory. Enter the same values for both the ‘Initial size’ and ‘Maximum size’ in ‘MB (Megabyte)’.

Note: In general, the virtual memory is to be kept 1.5–2 times the physical memory (RAM) available on the system.

Next, click on ‘Set’ and wait for the changes to come into effect and then click on ‘OK’ at the bottom.

Now restart the computer and check if the high memory usage issue is fixed.

6. Change System Performance Settings

Modifying the system performance settings can also help keep the high memory usage issue in check.

To change the settings, launch the ‘System Properties’ windows as discussed earlier, navigate to the ‘Advanced’ tab and click on ‘Settings’ under ‘Performance’.

In the Performance Options window that launches by default, select the ‘Adjust for best performance’ option and click on ‘OK’ at the bottom to save the changes.

7. Run Full System Scan

A system infected with malware or virus might encounter the high memory usage issue, sine the malware can run in the background and consume a lot of memory. If the fixes above have not worked, try running a full system scan to check for any malware. You can either use Windows Security or a trusted third-party antivirus to run the scan. We will be use Windows Security, since it’s built-in, quick and offers the same security as any top-notch antivirus.

To run a full system scan, search for ‘Windows Security’ in the Start Menu, and click on the relevant search result to launch the app.

In Windows Security, click on ‘Virus and threat protection’.

Next, you will find the option for ‘Quick scan’ listed. However, we intend to run a ‘Full Scan’ to identify any virus or malware that may have infected the system. Click on ‘Scan options’ to view the other options for a scan.

Now, select the ‘Full Scan’ option and click on ‘Scan now’ at the bottom.

The scan will start and the progress will be displayed. Once it’s complete, you will be informed if any malware was found and the action taken.

8. Make Changes to the Registry

When you turn off the system, the RAM is automatically cleared, however the pagefile or virtual memory is not. If you enable clearing pagefile at shutdown, it would help keep the memory consumption in check.

Note: Since the process require making changes to the registry, it’s recommended that you follow the steps as it is, since any lapse on your part could render the system unusable.

Press the WINDOWS + R to launch the ‘Run’ command, enter ‘regedit’ in the text box and either click on ‘OK’ at the bottom or press ENTER to launch the ‘Registry Editor’. Click ‘Yes’ on the confirmation box that pops up.

In the ‘Registry Editor’, either navigate the following path or paste in the address bar and the top and press ENTER.

Computer\HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\Session Manager\Memory Management

Now, locate and double-click on the ‘ClearPageFileAtShutDown’ key.

In the box that pops up, enter ‘1’ under ‘Value data’ and then press ‘OK’ to save the changes.

Now, restart the computer for the changes to come into effect.

9. Increase the RAM

If none of the above fixes have helped resolve the high memory usage issue, you have no option but to upgrade the physical memory or RAM. Before you do, it’s imperative that you know the current RAM on your system. Also, every system has a maximum capacity for RAM, verify that either on the system manufacturer’s website or the manual that came along with the system.

You can check the current RAM either in the ‘System’ settings or the ‘Task Manager’. Launch the ‘Task Manager’ as discussed earlier and navigate to the ‘Performance’ tab. Next, select the ‘Memory’ option on the left, and the installed RAM will be mentioned near the top-right corner.

When it comes to upgrading RAM, we suggest you take expert advice since every system is different, and generalizing it would further complicate the issue, rather than fixing it.

The above fixes will help resolve the high memory usage issue which would have lead to apps crashing and freezing. Once the issue is fixed, you can run the required number of apps without the system slowing down or throwing up errors.