Your computer is low on memory? Here is how to solve the issue

Computers getting low on memory is one of the most common issues today. With the increase in demand for interactive websites, opening more than a few tabs can leave your computer low on memory. On the other hand, running a resource-heavy application without enough system memory may also cause the ‘your computer is low on memory’ error message to pop up on Windows 10.

Your computer is low on memory error message

Before diving into further details and potential fixes, let us first see why a computer needs memory and what leads to this error.

What Causes the Your Computer is Low on Memory Error

Computers have a few different types of memory. The relevant memory type for this topic is the Random Access Memory, or RAM for short, because that’s the one being referenced by the “Your computer is low on memory” error message. To explain it in simple terms, RAM memory is responsible for running the system processes on your computer. It is used to store working data and the program codes of your applications that are currently running.

The error “Your computer is low on memory” is displayed when your system runs low on RAM. This usually happens when you have a lot of applications running at the same time. However, a system or a hardware failure can also cause this error.

You don’t necessarily have to get a RAM upgrade as soon as you see this error message. There are a few methods that you can follow to reduce memory usage and get your system back on track.

Indicators that your system is low on memory

There are multiple indicators for this issue. Thankfully, some of the indicators are fairly easy to identify.

1. Your system is slow

This is possibly the simplest identifier. If you have a RAM of 8GB or more, your system should be fairly fast. There will be a lot of memory available for the system to work with. So, if your system is slow even with a decent amount of memory, there might be something wrong with your hardware or the system files.

2. You are unable to run apps that you usually can

This is another fairly simple indicator that there is something wrong with your system. However, it can mean several things. Low memory is also a cause of this problem. If your system meets the recommended specifications to run the application and is still not opening or it runs slowly, low memory may be the cause.

3. You see a black screen

Sometimes, when your computer is using too much memory and not enough is left for essential processes, you will see a black screen on your computer. There is nothing you can do when you see the black screen. You just have to reboot your system. This is a sure indicator of your system running low on memory.

6 methods to fix the ‘Your System is Low on Memory’ error

There are a few methods to solve this issue. We have listed them from the simplest to more complex to help you find a fix as quickly as possible.

Create a Safety Backup

Remember to create a system backup before trying any of the outlined methods. Even though the “Your computer is low on memory” error is typically not related to the hard drive, it is better to be safe than sorry.

1. Restart Your System

This is the common step in resolving any error. It may not fix all the errors you face, but it is quite essential to restart your system in this case. Since memory is reset during a system restart, there is a good chance that it will resolve your low memory issue.

Note that this might only be a temporary fix, and you will once again run out of memory after some time as you use your computer. If the error is displayed consistently every time you try to work on your computer, it’s a clear sign that there is a more serious underlying problem that can’t be fixed by a simple restart. In such cases, move on to the next methods.

2. Close the Resource-Heavy Applications

This is also temporary fix, but you can get useful information on which application uses the most amount of memory. By closing the apps with high memory usage, you might be able to free up enough RAM for the other apps to function normally. It will also make further troubleshooting easier.

If you are running any games or video editing apps in the background, close those apps first, as they are known to consume a lot of system memory. Software like Solidworks (3D CAD), Photoshop (graphic design), Bitdefender (antivirus), and Chrome (web browser) also tend to consume a large amount of memory.

Follow these steps to identify and kill the processes that are consuming a lot of memory:

  1. Type “Task Manager” in the Windows search bar.
Search for Task Manager
  1. Alternatively, you can also press ‘Shift’ + ‘Ctrl’ + ‘Esc’ to open the Task Manager.
  2. If the system isn’t responding to any of the above methods, press ‘Ctrl’ + ‘Alt’ +’Del’ and select Task Manager.
  3. After opening the Task Manager, click on the Memory column to sort the values based on memory consumption.
Task Manager
  1. You now have a list of apps that are consuming the most memory.
  2. Right-click on the app that you want to stop.
End task option
  1. Click on “End task” to kill that process.

Through this process, you can not only close the apps that are consuming a lot of memory, but you also get a list of apps that are wasting your precious resources. Note down the names of these apps. Then, go to the app developers’ website and check the recommended system specs to make sure that your computer fits the requirements.

Here is a guide on how to check your PC specs.

If your system’s specifications do not meet the required specs, then you may have to upgrade your system or stop using that application. However, if the specs are met and you still can’t run the app properly, the cause is likely a system file.

3. Perform a Full System Virus Scan

Another likely cause of the “Your system is low on memory” error is a malware infection. Whenever you download a file from the internet or connect an infected USB drive, a virus may infect your system. Some malware programs consume a lot of system resources and will try to bring your system to a halt. To resolve any such issue, you have to perform a full system virus scan.

Follow these steps to scan your entire computer for viruses.

  1. Type “Windows Security” in your system’s Windows search bar.
Search for Windows Security
  1. You’ll be taken to the Windows security home page with various security actions to choose from.
Windows Security
  1. Click on “Virus & threat protection“. If you haven’t scanned your computer for viruses in a while, there will be a little yellow caution mark on the icon.
  2. You’ll then see the page below. You will need to click on Scan options.
Virus & threat protection
Scan options
  1. Select the Full Scan option and click on Scan Now.
  2. Windows Defender will start the scan and remove any malware from your system.

Even though Windows Defender is a fantastic malware removal tool, there are also other paid and free options available on the market. There is Avast, Malwarebytes, Norton, Bitdefender, and Kaspersky, just to name a few. It is a good idea to have a dedicated anti-malware tool from a trusted vendor on your system for constant monitoring.

4. Run the Windows Troubleshooter

Windows comes with a set of built-in troubleshooters. The troubleshooters are designed to find any problem in their respective area. Once it detects an issue, the troubleshooter will then proceed to solve it. Some issues, however, cannot be solved by the troubleshooter. When it encounters such an issue, the troubleshooter will inform you that the problem must be solved manually.

You should run the built-in troubleshooter whenever you encounter an error on your Windows machine. The troubleshooter is quick, non-intrusive, and won’t consume a lot of system resources.

To run the troubleshooter, follow these steps,

  1. First, type “troubleshoot settings” in the search bar.
Search for Troubleshoot settings
  1. You’ll be taken to a screen like the one below.
Troubleshoot
  1. Click on the Additional options.
Additional troubleshooters
  1. Now, scroll down and find the Compatibility troubleshooter.
  2. Click on Run the troubleshooter. A new window with a progress bar will pop up.
Program Compatibility Troubleshooter
  1. Once completed, run all the find and fix troubleshooters and check if there are any issues identified and resolved.

5. Run the System File Checker

Sometimes, the problem isn’t with the applications, but it is with the registry. If any files or programs are missing from the registry, the system may not be able to perform some functions leading to the “Your computer is low on memory” issue.

Fortunately, Windows has a built-in system scanner. You don’t have to trust any third-party app with your system data to scan and fix corrupted files.

Follow these steps to fix your computer’s system files with an SFC scan.

  1. In the start menu, type, “cmd”.
Search for Command Prompt
  1. Open the command prompt with administrator access.
  2. Now, type “sfc/ scannow” in the command prompt and press Enter.
  1. The process will take some time, but by the end, all the system files will be fixed.

Note: If you run into an SFC /Scannow error when starting the scan, we have written a dedicated article on how to solve “Windows Resource Protection Could Not Perform The Requested Operation“.

6. Run a Memory Diagnostic

If you still haven’t found a solution at this point, then the problem might be more serious than a simple software issue. There is a chance that your hardware, specifically your RAM modules are defective. RAM modules degrade over time naturally and start to lose their functionality slowly. There is a built-in memory diagnostic tool in Windows that you can use to check the health of your RAM.

Here is how to run the Windows Memory Diagnostic tool:

  1. Type “Windows Memory Diagnostic” into your Windows search bar and open the app.
  2. On the window that pops up, the first option will be to “Restart now and check for problems.” Click it.
Run Windows Memory Diagnostic
  1. Allow the computer to restart and wait while the scan completes.
  2. Check the results to get a clear picture of your RAM’s health.

If it turns out that your RAM sticks are in poor condition, there is no other option but to replace them.

Conclusion

In this article we have looked at 6 go-to methods for fixing the “Your computer is low on memory” issue on Windows 10. Hopefully the problem was only a temporary one, and you have been able to solve it with one of the simple software fixes.

If you have found however that you lack the required RAM to run a specific application, or you need to replace a faulty RAM module, make sure to buy your new RAM stick from a trusted vendor with good reviews. As a rule of thumb, in most modern systems you should aim to have at least 8GB of RAM for everyday purposes, and at least 16GB or more if you want to run resource-heavy applications.

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