Windows 10 eating RAM?

So my mother has an acer laptop, nothing particularly special, i3 3xxxU CPU, Intel graphics 4000 with 4GB of RAM, 500GB mechanical drive, just kinda standard laptop specs... However recently over the past few days she has been having a weird issue with the PC running out of RAM, at which point a warning will appear and you have limited time before the OS will just close programs..

Now the weird thing is that when this happens there's a decent amount of RAM that I just cannot account for.. Off a fresh boot the OS idles at about 1.2-1.3GB usage, then when this happens it's literally at 3.8-3.9GB usage with chrome being the top at 300-400mb.. Of course with chrome's multple tabs counting as multiple processes there's a few more with lesser usage at like 100-200MB, and then windows defender at about 180-200MB, but even if chrome was to be using 1-1.5GB (with the biggest commit size at 300MB this seems unlikely) that still leaves at least 1GB out of the 4 available that's just somehow being used with no processes consuming it (that I can see).

I increased the pagefile to a maximum of 3GB allowed yesterday (from about 1.2) and made sure windows was fully updated and it's still happening today.. Malware scan comes back clean and there's no strange CPU usage indicating stuff running that shouldn't be, so where could this missing RAM be?

My only thought could be that the iGPU is taking too much RAM as video memory since it only seems to happen when playing flash games (candy crush etc), but why would that suddenly happen in the past 3-4 days when it was fine before, for the past like 18 months or so? And how can I tell? If iGPU's even still share system ram nowadays that is..

Any other thoughts? Besides just getting another 4GB sodimm so it has 8GB and hope that doesn't run out xD

What is the specific use case of this laptop that requires Windows?

It could also be a memory leak of a frequently used application...

Chrome is a memory hog. I have a system with 32 GB RAM, Chrome sometimes takes it all and wants more. Several times it has had memory leaks, especially when flash is involved. If you want to run Chrome and flash apps, 4 GB is almost nothing. I hate flash, but sometimes there is no option.

Make the page file 4.5 GB and the problem will go away.

I would rather it keep windows since I have limited linux experience and they're going to be travelling soon, so should something go wrong I won't be able to get to the machine for months, which could be problematic if say the GPU drivers mess up or something.. Plus my parents have 0 experience with anything that's not windows so I feel like trying to switch may just cause more issues that it would fix since they wouldn't know how to install or fix anything should an update break anything.

But wouldn't this show up in task manager as using a bunch of RAM? That's really my issue here, if something was using 2GB of RAM I'd have no issue seeing oh yea it's that, but the biggest individual entry isn't even 400mb.. Even the event viewer entry is like "resource exhaustion, biggest usage: chrome - 300mb, windows defender - 200mb, chrome - 150mb" etc

I suppose I could try having her use like firefox or something instead, although as I said I'm not actually seeing much RAM being used, like if I was to add up the separate entries for chrome in task manager it wouldn't come out to much over 1GB at absolute most since there's only like 3 tabs open, and the biggest other entry besides chrome is 200MB and just down to negligible like 50mb here, 40 there etc, so add in the 1.3GB for OS idle and we shouldn't be much over 3GB, nevermind hitting 4, even if chrome was up to 1.5GB..

I tried upping the pagefile to 3GB yesterday, I will increase it again now and see if it continues, thanks.

It could be 1 of two cases:

  1. Windows Update. Windows Update and other scheduled services eat up a lot of RAM on Windows, especially if you have an HDD and not an SSD. After installing Windows 10 (preferably making a clean install), connect it to the internet and let it work for an hour. Check for updates, defragment the HDD, scan with Windows Defender, and restart after each step. After working for awhile it should create some cache and should be pretty fast.

  2. Too little RAM or Acer's additional programs are just slowing it down (if you used the manufacturer's image). Windows 10 is a hog,

P.S. A large mechanical HDD is a very bad place to store a pagefile.

MS says the pagefile should be 1.5 X the amount of RAM so that should fix the problem.

Fully updated it as of yesterday. I thought this was the issue too since there was windows stuff taking up disk usage and cpu time, turns out it wasn't on the anniversary update 1607 build yet and still had that pending somehow despite being used pretty much daily for at least a few hours a day since way before that was released.. So did that yesterday, manually checked for more updates after, rebooted and checked again to make sure there was nothing else pending.. Can always leave it idle for a while tonight tho I suppose..

There's little bloat on the machine since I took the liberty of removing everything when it was new, same with removing the windows apps after the update yesterday and turning off allowing them to run in the background, turning off basically all the startup programs besides touchpad/audio drivers etc so it's fairly clean.. Not as perfect as it would be were it my machine since there's icloud and some other stuff running like rapport or smth like that for online banking, although taking 100MB of RAM between them should hardly be a problem since it's pretty similar to my PC in that a clean boot with nothing open uses about 1.2GB at idle..

As far as the HDD there's not really any other option for now, it doesn't have an optical drive that can be relpaced with an SSD so I'd have to remove the mech drive and replace it entirely, which would admittedly make it faster but isn't strictly necessary, especially since it's only using 1 RAM slot (according to task manager anyway, haven't actually opened it up) so should be much easier and less effort to just pick up a matching 1600mhz 4GB sodimm and give it 8GB rather than replacing the drive and clean installing everything..

So I should set it to 6GB if it keeps happening then? Since 1.5x4GB.. Will probably do that later then regardless of whether it happens again or not I guess..

Theres your problem. Honestly.

I have about 10 tabs open right now, @ 6.1GB used
Closing 9 of those 10 tabs (leaving one so I can comment this to you), lowered it to 4.5gb used.

Really this should be your go to, but theres some things you can do to mitigate the issue.

Open task manager, go to the startup tab, disable programs that arent needed at boot. None of the things listed there are required for windows to run though you may not want to turn everything off. Sometimes you see software for the function keys of the laptop or touchpad software to enable gestures etc, most of it is probably junk that shouldnt be running in the first place.

Run uBlock Origin on chrome, if you're not already. It will help reduce the amount of ram used by a page by stopping ads from loading in.

Make sure all drivers are up to date from the manufacturer. W10 will not get the latest drivers all the time from updates.

Chrome is kind of a PITA when it comes to memory usage and leaving tabs up for extended periods of time has always caused memory leaks for me.

That hasnt been true since XP/Server 2003, and ONLY when you were running less than 1GB of ram.

Upping your page file is a band-aid on the problem anyway. You should only need enough to dump for BSOD if you even care about looking at said dumps.

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If it's like that on idle, the only possible reason imo is a virus that is spreading through your home network.
The mechanical HDD is fine, but I still advise you to defragment the drive and just let it churn for a while (like an hour).
As I said, it's possible that it's just the computer's background services working.

I don't know if you can make this test. But at my workplace we are having too many problems with 64bit version of Windows 10. Machines extremely slow even machines with SATA SSDs. We did tests with the 32bit version Windows 10 on the machines and the performance is extremely better. Most of our machines are Core i3 with 4GB of RAM and 500GB or 1TB of HDD. Few machines with SSD (which are very slow for machines with SSDs)

Of course you lose the 4GB total but the speed balances that. Of course is not a solution for those who need til the last byte, but makes all the difference.

Thats one hell of a reach you made there.

Yea I think 1.2GB idle is fine really, would have be a really lightweight OS to be using under 1GB and with all the extra stuff in windows I wouldn't expect that nowadays.. Mabye XP could idle on 500MB of RAM but not modern windows..

Scanned with malwarebytes and 0 issues, ran ccleaner as well just cause god knows when it was last done and a windows defender scan to make the notification go away, that also came back clean..

In the end I think it may have beem a chrome bug/issue. I had her use edge since it was already installed and the issue didn't happen again for the few hours it was on, even though the RAM commits looked identical to chrome with the top process at 300MB, then another 2 at 100smth each, RAM usage got to like 60%, where it should be when there's not 1GB+ missing somewhere..

Just weird that I literally couldn't account for that big of a chunk, unless chrome had a million processes using a really small amount each way down the list or something, or it was just bleeding RAM that wasn't being shown in task manager for some reason, if that's even possible..

We use Windows 10 Enterprise at work and use it on all of our machines ranging from Core 2 Duo up to i7 5000 and 6000 series.

Some machines only have 4 GB of RAM. Some have 8 GB or 16 GB. This is with desktops and laptops.

Our admins trim out a lot of the useless garbage and supply a base image with only Office installed. Even the 4GB machines can handle this.

Consumer versions of Microsoft operating systems have always and will always be complete trash until enough people grow a spine and provide them with some competition.

I hope they get completely destroyed.

Of course Office is no problem on 4 GB. But we are talking Google Chrome running tabs with Adobe Flash games. Then 4 GB is just breakfast. Only real option is to add more physical RAM.

Disable superfetch.
That should fix the problem.

Superfetch is a feuture build into Windows10 that preloads certain commonly used applications into memory, so that you can acces to particular applications faster.
But its basicly a pretty useless feuture if you have a SSD.

I have a lenovo with similar specs. Didn't have that problem at the beginning, cuz I let windows do pagefile management on its own. But it was very slow after 30 min turned on. I experienced this after I updated from 8.1 to 10. The problem seemed to be a driver that just leaked memory and made the cpu compress it and then throw it to the HDD. Once, I opened task manager and I had over 100k object handles (or whatever it translates to) and like 12GB of memory in use, be it ram or pagefile. I updated the drivers; they gave me new uses but stopped some basic things like double finger tap for scroll-wheel click.
I "solved" the problem by getting more ram--I wanted to try some basic android coding and emulation is a heavy load on memory--setting a fixed size for pagefile and some regedit tweaks I found through google (like dumping pagefile at shutdown and the double finger tap feature). It's far from perfect, ETDCtrl.exe (which is a controller, I guess, for the touchpad) keeps leaking, but it's somewhat manageable; if that executable gets too many handles I usually end the process and others related except the service, then I go to services, from details (or whatever it translates to), and click restart.
Another thing, chrome, like, it's not good on memory, like at all.

I wittnessed a (reproducable) memory leak in SWTOR a few years ago. Window's Task Manager didn't directly show that it was SWTOR's fault, it appeared rather normal. Strangely enough, when I closed SWTOR everything was back to normal. I noticed it because a friend's notebook (4GiB) kept crashing when we were playing, therefore I alt-tabbed and opened Task Manager. Eben though SWTOR is a 32bit application it used up to 6GiB RAM, which is why I consider it as an unintentional memory leak.

Hmm that's interesting, could be possible that chrome was doing that I suppose, since both chrome and edge look pretty much the same in terms of memory consumption (looking both at the normal view and at the commit size in the details tab of task manager) but it doesn't seem to be happening anymore..

I guess this is my first experience of a memory leak that wasn't showing anywhere, as in the past I've played games that would slowly climb from 1GB to like 2.5GB used in task manager over say 2 hours and would go right back on restarting it, so I was expecting to see something similar, not maximum entries starting at like 380MB and only going down from there with somewhere around 800MB-1.2GB that I just couldn't account for being used anywhere..