How to Fix A Windows Memory Leak

Learn how to find a memory leak and fix it in Windows 7, 8, and 10

In Windows, a memory leak takes place when an application or system process doesn't correctly release a block of RAM to the operating system's memory manager once it's no longer needed. In some cases, a program may return only a portion of the used memory block, in others, nothing is released. Because physical RAM is a finite resource, it's critical to ensure you have enough available to handle your workload.

Although there are a few types of memory leaks in Windows, the most common by far is the problem with standby memory. Going back as far as Windows 7, the standby memory issue is still prevalent in Windows 10. Once your standby memory completely eats up your free memory, your system may begin to lag, and might even crash. Because a memory leak is typically the result of a software bug or glitch, it's important to keep all your drivers up to date.

Find a Memory Leak With Windows' Resource Monitor

Resource Monitor is a great built-in tool that will give you a much clearer picture of how Windows is managing your computer's resources (RAM, CPU, hard drives, etc.). If you suspect an application or process isn't releasing your standby memory, Resource Monitor is a great place to start observing. The steps below show how to view your system's memory usage in Windows 10, 8, and 7.

  1. Press Windows key+R, enter "resmon," then select OK.

    A screenshot of the run function in Windows 10.
  2. Select the Memory tab, then select Commit to reorder the list.

    A screenshot of Windows' Resource Monitor.
  3. Monitor the Standby (blue bar) with the applications with the applications you usually use running.

    The memory tab of Windows' Resource Monitor.

You may have to leave the Resource Monitor running for a while to spot any leaks. Take a screenshot, or make a note when you first open the tool for easy comparison.

Diagnose a Memory Leak With Windows' RaMMap

RaMMap is a free tool from Microsoft that will show real-time data on how Windows manages and allocates your RAM. Similar to the Resource Monitor, RaMMap will display standby memory usage, and it runs on Windows 10, 8, and 7. The steps below illustrate how to download and run RaMMap.

  1. Go to RaMMap's Sysinternals page, then select Download RaMMap.

    RaMMap's Sysinternals page.
  2. Go to your Downloads folder, copy the RaMMap archive to the folder of your choice, then extract it.

    Windows Explorer in Windows 10.
  3. Right-click the RaMMap application file, then select Run as administrator.

    RaMMaps right-click menu in Windows 10.
  4. Select Yes.

    A screenshot of a UAC permission window.
  5. Review the SYSINTERNALS SOFTWARE LICENSE TERMS, then select Agree.

    Microsoft's Sysinternals license terms.
  6. Select the Use Counts tab, then monitor your standby memory, to see if it increases.

    RaMMap's use counts tab.

    If your system is losing free memory more gradually, you may need to leave RaMMap running for a while. Make a note of your standby memory before and after, to see if you have a RAM leak.

  7. You can also take a closer look at each process that is using your physical memory on the Processes tab.

    RaMMap's processes tab.

Check RAM With Windows' Memory Diagnostics Tool

Running Windows' Memory Diagnostics is an excellent way to check your computer's physical memory thoroughly for any errors.

A screenshot showing the checking options for Windows Memory Diagnostics.
  1. Press Windows key+R, enter "mdsched.exe," then select OK.
  2. Select Restart now and check for problems (recommended).
  3. The test will begin and may take several hours to complete. Follow any on-screen instructions once the test is complete.

Empty Standby Memory in Windows With RaMMap

In addition to monitoring your memory usage, RaMMap can also be used to manually empty your standby list.

  1. Right-click the RaMMap application file, then select Run as administrator.
  2. Select Empty, then Empty Standby List.
  3. Your standby memory should now be significantly lower.
RaMMap's empty options

Clear Standby Memory With Intelligent Standby List Cleaner

Intelligent Standby List Cleaner (ISLC) is a free tool offered by Wagnardsoft that will automatically empty your computer's standby memory, based on a few editable conditions.

  1. Open a web browser, go to the app's official forum page, select Official Download Here, then select Save File.

    Intelligent Standby List Cleaner's download page.
  2. Do to your Downloads folder, right-click the ISLC 7z archive, then select Run as administrator.

    ISLC's right-click menu in Windows 10.
  3. Select Yes when the User Account Control window appears.

    The UAC dialog in Windows 10.
  4. Browse to a folder, select OK, then Extract.

    ISLC's self-extraction options.
  5. Once extracted, right-click Intelligent Standby List Cleaner ISLC, then select Run as administrator.

    A screenshot of ISLC being opened in Windows 10.
  6. Select Yes, when the UAC dialog appears.

    The User Account Control dialog in Windows 10.
  7. Select Purge Standby list to manually empty your system's standby memory. Change the values for; List size is at least and Free memory is lower than, to suit your requirements.

    ISLC's user interface.

Select Start minimized to run ISLC in the background every time your system boots up.

Fix Windows 10 Memory Leak With FreeStandbyMemory.bat

The freestandbymemory.bat script is another useful tool to help mitigate the Windows' 10 standby memory issues. It runs every 3 minutes automatically in the background and will clear standby memory if your computer's physical memory drops below 1500 MB. The script is free to download and is designed for Windows 10.

  1. Go to the script's Pastebin page, select download, then Save File.

    A screenshot of freestandbymemory's Pastebin page.
  2. Go to your Downloads folder, right-click freestandbymemory (batch file), then select Run as administrator.

    A screenshot displaying the script's right-click options.
  3. Select More info.

    Windows Defender protection dialog box.
  4. Select Run anyway.

    A screenshot showing additional options for a Windows Defender warning dialog.
  5. Select Yes.

    Windows 10 UAC pop-up requesting permission.
  6. Once the script is added, select any key to continue.FreeStandbyMemory will now run in the background on your system.

    A screenshot of freestandbymemory initializing.
  7. To delete the script, navigate to This PC > Windows (C:) > Windows, right-click FreeStandbyMemory, then select Delete.

    Freestandbymemory's right-click menu.

Fix a Memory Leak by Updating Your Drivers

Although there are several tools for checking for outdated drivers, it's best to go through them one at a time, individually, to ensure everything is up-to-date.

A screenshot of the device manager in Windows 10.
  1. Enter device manager into Windows' search, then select Open once the results populate.
  2. Expand a hardware section.
  3. Right-click on a device, then select Update driver.