13 Ways to Get More RAM on Your Laptop

The best ways to free up or clear RAM on a laptop

While you might be able to upgrade your laptop's RAM, there are other ways to make sure you're getting the most out of your computer's memory. Here's how to get more use out of the RAM on a laptop.

How Do I Increase My Computer's RAM?

Random-access memory, or RAM, is the physical hardware responsible for handling active processes on your computer. The more RAM your machine has available, the more tasks it can perform at the same time. The most effective way to get more RAM is to upgrade the physical hardware. Still, if that's not an option, you can increase available memory by limiting the number of applications and processes running simultaneously.

Viruses and memory leaks can cause problems with RAM, so fixing these issues will make a big difference.

Can I Add 8GB RAM to a 4GB Laptop?

Some laptops come with an extra RAM slot so that you can add more memory on your own. You might be able to replace the RAM, but the maximum memory your computer can handle depends on the rest of the hardware. Use the Crucial Memory Tool to find out if your computer's RAM is upgradable, then check the Performance tab in the Windows Task Manager to see if your current RAM is less than the maximum. Go to the Apple menu > About This Mac and select the Memory tab to see how much RAM it has on a Mac.

Apple's notebook line of computers (MacBook, MacBook Air, and MacBook Pro) no longer support adding RAM after purchase. Any Mac notebook with a Retina display does not support user-replaceable RAM.

How Do I Get More RAM on My Laptop for Free?

Before you go out and purchase more RAM, here are some ways to make the best use of your computer's RAM:

These tips apply to Windows PCs, but most of the information is also relevant to Macs and Linux machines.

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Restart Your Computer

Restart your Windows PC or fully shut down your Mac. Unlike your computer's hard drive, everything stored in the RAM is cleared out each time your computer restarts. If programs start running slowly, a reboot to clear your computer's memory may be sufficient to smooth things out.

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Quit Running Programs and Processes

Memory and End Task in Windows Task Manager

Quit running programs and processes. On Windows, you can see exactly how much RAM each program uses from the Task Manager under the Processes tab. Select the Memory header to sort processes by RAM usage to determine which programs consume the most RAM, choose the process you want to quit, and select End Task. You can check memory use in the Activity Monitor to quit apps and processes using too much RAM on a Mac.

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Clean Up Your Background Apps

Background apps in Windows 10 settings

Clean up your background apps. If you use Windows, you could have apps running in the background that you don't even know about. Go to Settings > Privacy > Background Apps to control which apps are running behind the scenes.

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Clean Up Your Desktop and Close Finder Windows

Clean up your desktop and close Finder windows. On a Mac, all the files and apps you have on your desktop get loaded into RAM. So if your desktop is cluttered with icons, delete them or move them to a folder. Each Finder window also loads its contents into RAM, so close any open windows you don't need.

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Disable Startup Programs

Disable unnecessary startup programs on Windows or remove login items on Mac. By default, some programs start up as soon as your computer boots. Instead of closing them one by one each time, you can control what happens when you first start your computer. Disable any apps you don't use daily, so they are not using up RAM unnecessarily.

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Update Your Software and Operating System

Update your software and OS. If there's a new version of your operating system or a program you frequently use, it's probably better optimized for your computer. Having the latest versions of software can prevent memory leaks and other bugs that affect performance. Be sure to keep Windows up-to-date and update your Mac regularly.

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Uninstall or Disable Programs You Don't Use

Uninstall or disable programs you don't use. Closing programs is the quickest way to free up RAM, but if you don't need a program, you might as well uninstall it, so you don't have to worry about it ever running in the background. You can uninstall apps on a Mac using the Finder.

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Scan for Viruses

Scan for viruses. Viruses and other malware can slow down your computer, so use an antivirus program to check for and eliminate malicious programs. Regularly running antivirus software is recommended to keep your computer in peak position anyway; that said, if it's running in the background, then it's using RAM that other programs could be using.

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Check for Memory Leaks

Check for memory leaks. A memory leak occurs when a program doesn't release RAM back to the operating system when it's not in use. Typically caused by software bugs, memory leaks can be diagnosed and fixed with the Windows Resource Monitor tool. If you see that a program uses an unusual amount of RAM in the Task Manager, there could be a memory leak. You can check for memory leaks on a Mac with the Instruments app.

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Increase Your Virtual Memory

Increase your virtual memory. When a Windows PC is running low on RAM, it uses a page file, also known as virtual memory, as a backup. Your virtual memory has a limit, but this can be increased slightly to squeeze a little more out of it.

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Use Windows ReadyBoost

Use Windows ReadyBoost. If you have a Windows PC with a hard disk drive (HDD), there's a built-in performance-boosting tool called ReadyBoost that can use data from a USB flash drive or SD card as additional RAM. ReadyBoost won't affect RAM if your computer has an SSD.

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Disable Windows Visual Effects

Disable Windows visual effects. By default, Windows adds several minor visual enhancements to improve the overall look of the operating system. Like everything else, these processes use RAM, so disabling them will free up some memory.

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Use a RAM Cleaner

Programs like Avira or WiseCleaner keep your RAM and hard disk clean by automatically deleting unnecessary data. The noticeable gains will likely be minimal, but every bit counts.

  • How much RAM should my laptop have?

    When buying RAM for a laptop, look at the minimum and recommended requirements for the software you intend to use. Your computer should have more RAM than the highest minimum and at least as much as the highest recommended amount.

  • How do I overclock my RAM?

    If your laptop supports it, you can overclock your computer's RAM by enabling XMP in your system BIOS. Overclocking can increase video game frame rates, but it can also crash your computer, so you need to stress test your RAM.

  • How do I choose the best RAM for my laptop?

    Your motherboard might not support the best RAM available. Find out if your computer supports the latest DDR4 RAM modules, and determine if you need a standard-sized module or a laptop-friendly version. The brand doesn't matter as much as the amount of memory and other specs.

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