Nearly everyone has experienced trying to Google something on their device only to realize they’re waiting a lot longer than normal for the results to load. Maybe your phone starts getting hot in your hands or your laptop’s cooling fans start going when you open up a second application.

This is likely due to not having enough random access memory (RAM) on your device. Luckily, there’s a simple fix you can do yourself to help your devices run better. Keep reading to learn how to free up RAM and avoid a trip to the repair shop.

graphic that shows a ram memory chip

What is RAM?

RAM is the short-term data that’s stored on your device’s memory chip. Essentially, it’s the memory that allows your devices to run different applications simultaneously so the system can complete multiple tasks at once. If you’re listening to music while sending an email or updating your system while watching your favorite TV show, you can thank your device’s RAM for that. 

When you use up all of the available RAM memory, your computer’s performance can slow down because it doesn’t have the storage required to complete its tasks. When you clear RAM space, it gives your computer the capability to carry out tasks. Depending on your device, there are a few different ways you can free up RAM space. Keep reading for our tips to help your Mac, Windows computer or phone work more efficiently.

5 Ways to Free up RAM on Any Computer

It can be easy to use up your RAM because it supports so many functions. Before you start removing programs from your computer, try these quick fixes to free up RAM space.

1. Restart Your Computer

The first thing you can try to free up RAM is restarting your computer. When you restart or turn off your computer, all of your RAM (stored data) will be wiped clean and programs will be rebooted. This can potentially clear out some processes and programs that are running behind the scenes, taking up your RAM storage.

2. Update Your Software

It’s important to be running the most updated versions of your computer software and applications. Older renditions of software and apps can take more memory to process, causing your computer to slow down. Panda Dome Premium includes Update Manager, ensuring your computer is always up to date and running at its best.

3. Clear Your Cache

If you still find yourself short on RAM, the next option is to try deleting your cache. Like RAM, the cache stores short-term data to keep your device working smoothly. The key difference between cache and RAM is that the cache stores a smaller amount of data and is used for data you’d need to access very quickly. 

The cache holds onto information that your computer uses to reload pages it has seen before rather than downloading them again. Sometimes your cache can take up a lot of space because it uses RAM for memory functions. The cache can save you time when browsing, but if you’re short on RAM, it’s something you can sacrifice with minimal effects on your device.

graphic that shows different browsers

4. Try a Different Browser

Something else you can try is changing browsers, as some have been known to use more data than others. If you’re not already, try using a browser like Chrome or Firefox, which are typically good browsers for memory management.

5. Remove Browser Extensions

Many of your daily work and home computer operations have been made easy by the use of browser extensions. However, they also require memory, so you might want to think about disabling or removing your extensions.

4 Steps to Free up RAM on Windows 11

If you are still having trouble freeing up your RAM storage, you might have too many programs and applications without even knowing. Try these five ways to free up RAM storage for Windows 11 computers and speed up your Windows PC.

1. Disable Startup Programs You Don’t Need

Screenshot showing how to disable startup programs on Windows 11.

If you have used your computer for at least a few years, then you have probably downloaded a fair amount of software that you either forgot about or no longer use. After the processes tab tells you which programs use the most space, you will want to maneuver to the startup tab to stop those you no longer need.

To disable startup programs:

  1. Hold the Ctrl+Alt+Esc keys to open the Task Manager.
  2. Select the “Startup apps” tab from the Task Manager.
  3. Click “Startup impact” to organize the programs from high to low usage.
  4. Select the app you’d like to disable.
  5. Click “Disable” in the upper right corner.

Startup programs are those that activate when your computer is booted up. When these programs start, each one takes up a little bit of RAM in the background without your consent. After a while, all of the software and programs can add up. Be sure that the ones that aren’t needed are disabled or removed.

2. Stop Running Background Apps

Screenshot showing how to stop running background apps in Windows 11.

The next items that could be taking up RAM are your applications that are set to automatically run in the background. You may have used your computer for years before noticing some of these apps taking up your RAM storage. This can quickly exhaust your memory, battery, and data bandwidth.

To stop background apps:

  1. Go to computer settings.
  2. Click the “Apps” category.
  3. Click on “Installed apps.”
  4. Scroll to the app you’d like to disable and click the three dots to the right.
  5. Click on “Advanced options.”
  6. Select “Never” under the option “Let this app run in the background.”

Applications are often automatically set to run in the background of your device. This enables them to display notifications and update their software automatically. By turning this off on apps you don’t use, you can save RAM storage.

3. Reduce Visual Effects

Screenshot showing how to reduce visual effects on Windows 11.

With improving technologies, there are many more possibilities for computer effects and visuals. For example, you can turn off the animations for apps and icons that use storage for unnecessary effects. If you seem to be running low on RAM storage, there are some effects you can shelve until you free up more memory.

To access your computer’s visual effects:

  1. Open your computer settings.
  2. Click on the Accessibility tab.
  3. Click “Visual effects.”
  4. Toggle off the switch next to “Animation effects.”
  5. Toggle off the switch next to “Transparency effects.”

This setting will disable all animated features on your computer,l creating more storage but limiting your computer’s aesthetics significantly. However, you can also customize which visual effects your computer will perform to your preferences in the same tab.

4. Track Memory and Clean Up Processes

Screenshot showing how to track computer memory on Windows 11.

You should monitor your computer RAM usage so that you don’t deplete your supply before you really need it. To monitor your computer’s memory, you can navigate to the task manager to check the processes. This is where you’ll be able to see which programs are running and what kind of space they are taking up.

To locate your computer memory:

  1. Hold the Ctrl+Alt+Esc keys to open the Task Manager.
  2. Select the “Performance” tab.
  3. Click the “Memory” column to view how much space they are taking up.

You can now see which of your programs are taking up the most time and space on your computer. If you find anything suspicious eating up your memory, you should delete programs you don’t need or use.

5 Ways to Free up RAM on Mac

For Mac users, there are many convenient tools to monitor and free up RAM storage on your computer.

1. Free up Disk Space

Screenshot showing how to free up disk space on Mac computers.

If you find that your RAM is completely full but you’re still in need of storage, you can use free space on your Mac’s drive called virtual memory. This extra storage is found on Mac computer’s hard drives so that you can continue running apps. The function is always on; however, to use virtual memory, you will need to be sure you have space available to swap.

Here’s how you can see what’s taking up space on your Mac to identify if there are any files or applications you can delete:

  1. Open the System Settings application.
  2. Click “General.”
  3. Click “Storage.”
  4. Scroll to view which applications are taking up the most memory.

2. Check Activity Monitor

Screenshot showing how to check the Activity Monitor on Mac computers.

To keep track of your RAM usage on Mac, you can check the Activity Monitor, which shows you how much memory is being used and what’s using it. Utilize the Activity Monitor to determine which apps take up most of your RAM storage at any given moment.

To Check the Activity Monitor:

  1. Search “Activity Monitor” in the spotlight search bar (Command + space).
  2. Click on the “Memory” tab.
  3. Manually quit the applications you’re not currently using.

3. Check CPU Usage

Screenshot showing how to check CPU usage on Mac computers.

You can also use the Activity Monitor app to check your CPU health and usage. CPU is your central processing unit, and it carries out instructions from the computer software information stored as RAM.

To monitor your CPU, just select the “CPU” tab in front of the memory tab. This is where you can see if any apps take more processing power than others.

4. Fix the Finder (Close Finder Windows, Too)Screenshot showing how to adjust Finder preferences on Mac computers.

When you open a new window in the Finder, the data each window displays gets stored as RAM. Adjusting the Finder preferences can make your folders open in tabs rather than new finder windows.

To open your Finder preferences:

  1. Click “Finder” in the top left of your screen.
  2. Click on “Settings” from the dropdown options.
  3. Check to “Open folders in tabs instead of new windows.”

Another way to clear RAM storage is by merging your Finder windows. To do this, select the “Window” dropdown rather than Finder. From there, select “Merge All Windows” to put all your Finder windows into one place. This will save storage as well as declutter your desktop.

5. Clean-Up Programs and Applications

If you are looking to keep a consistently healthy amount of RAM storage, then you will want to keep your computer clean and organized. A cluttered desktop is going to use storage much faster because macOS views each desktop icon as an active window. Even if you don’t think you can organize your files, putting everything into one general folder can free up a lot of RAM.

3 Additional Ways to Free up RAM on Windows or Mac

The best thing to do is to be proactive with your computer’s RAM so that you don’t have to worry about freeing up space. Use these additional ways to keep your RAM storage free.

graphic that shows cleaning your RAM

1. Install Extra RAM

You can always add more RAM to your computer if you have a lot of information you don’t want to delete. Buying and installing RAM is easy to do for a desktop computer but can be troublesome for laptops. Research what’s compatible with your device and invest in the correct type of RAM for your computer, as well as the correct amount for your specific storage needs. It’s always a good idea to visit a professional for their opinion and installation help.

2. Scan for Viruses and Malware

When you download any software programs or extensions to your computer, there’s the chance they could have a virus or malware attached. Once you have malware on your computer, it can steal both your information and your RAM space. To prevent picking up any malware or viruses, try using Panda Security antivirus to protect your computer and memory.

3. Install a Memory/RAM Cleaner

If you find that you do not have the time, or you just cannot manage to organize your computer, there are memory cleaner apps to help you disinfect your computer. Many of these cleaners have special features for removing apps or extensions and allow users to manage their startup programs.

Tips to Free up RAM on a Phone

Did you know smartphones use RAM, too? If your phone’s performance is lagging, try these tips to free up RAM space.

Tips for Android

Try these methods to free up RAM and speed up your Android:

  1. Turn off transitions and animations in device settings.
  2. Use a regular photo as your background instead of a GIF or video.
  3. Uninstall apps you don’t use or need.

Tips for iPhone

Apple iOS manages RAM automatically, so there aren’t typically issues with RAM space on an iPhone. However, if you feel like your phone is heating up or working slowly, a forced restart can help improve how your phone operates.

Now is the time to stop file hoarding. Many of the files on your computer are taking up RAM space without you realizing it. Now you know how to safely declutter your computer of these unused files and how to free up RAM so your computer runs more efficiently. To help you keep your device running smoothly, Panda Dome Complete features Cleanup, helping you remove unwanted files and keeping your computer up to speed.