How to Free Up PC Memory

PC memory is the most important resource in your computer. Having enough memory to run programs is the most important factor in overall PC performance. Unfortunately, most computer users treat their PC memory chips like a dusty old attic-things are stored there and forgotten, taking up valuable space. Clearing out your computer's memory for program use can lead to performance gains and increase the lifespan of your hardware. Before you start shopping for a PC memory upgrade, make sure your system is running efficiently.

Control Running Programs to Free PC Memory
At start up, your computer loads a list of programs into memory. Often, this list contains programs that are obsolete or optional. Removing these programs from the startup list will free up PC memory every time you boot the computer. To modify this list:

  • Run the utility. The program that allows you to modify the startup list is called the System Configuration Utility. To run this program, click on the Start button and select Run. In the run dialog box, enter MSCONFIG.EXE and click OK.
  • Take inventory. After the configuration utility opens, click on the Startup tab to display the list of programs that load when you boot your computer. You can do an internet search on each of the items, but ProcessLibrary.com (www.processlibrary.com) is a great resource that provides a detailed description of most items that appear in the startup list.
  • Disable useless programs. To disable programs from the startup list, uncheck the box next to the item you wish to disable. When you're done, click Apply and then Close. At this point, you can choose to restart your computer now or exit without restarting. The changes you made will not be applied until you restart your computer.

Free PC Memory By Disabling Services
Another source of PC memory savings are the Windows Services that load at startup. Although smaller, several services can be removed to free memory resources. Be sure you know the effect disabling a service will have on your computer. Disabling some services can prevent applications, systems or hardware from functioning. To alter the status of these services:

  • Start the services manager. To run the Services utility, click on the Start button and select Run. In the run dialog box, enter SERVICES.MSC and click OK.
  • Inspect the services list. The services are listed with a name and description. For a more detailed description of each service, look the services up on ProcessLibrary.com (www.processlibrary.com).
  • Set the status. To modify a service, right click on the name of the service. In the General tab of the Properties dialog box, click the Startup Type dropdown box and select from Automatic, Manual or Disable. Click Apply and then OK to commit the change.
  • The following services can be disabled:
    • Alerter - only useful in administrated network environments.
    • Indexing Services - disabling this service will speed up your system, but slow down Windows searches.
    • InstallDriver Table Manager - rarely used for program installation, this service can be safely disabled.
  • The following services can be set to manual:
    • Application Management
    • Distributed Transaction Coordinator
    • Help and Support
    • HTTP SSL
    • IPSEC Services

A Simple Tip
If you tend to leave a handful of programs open on your desktop, get in the habit of minimizing them when they're not in use. In general, a minimized program uses less than half the PC memory of a maximized program.

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