How can I check if my computer has enough RAM?

Before we check RAM (Memory) usage of your computer, lets define what “RAM” means, what it is and its usage.

RAM is short for Random Access Memory. It is a physical piece of hardware similar to the one shown below that is installed inside your computer. There can be one or more RAM Modules installed in your computer. RAM is measured in KB (KiloBytes), MB (MegaBytes) or GB (GigaBytes).

Desktop RAM CHIP – DIMM (Dual Inline Memory Module) Physical Size: Approx 5.25″ x 1.25″

Laptop RAM CHIP – SODIMM (Small Outline Dual Inline Memory Module) Physical Size: Approx 2.6″ x 1.25″

 How is RAM Used?

RAM’s function is somewhat similar to the short-term memory that human brain uses for all of its computations. When you launch a program such as Microsoft Word, it is first loaded from Hard Drive (permanent storage) to RAM (short term storage) then executed by the Processor (CPU) inside your computer. If your computer has a lot of RAM installed, you can run multiple software without slowing things down.

Does RAM store data in it permanently?

No! RAM is volatile in nature; meaning it requires constant electrical power to keep the data content stored in it. When power is turned off, all data stored in RAM is lost.

How do I check RAM usage on my PC?

Windows 7/Vista:

  1. To check current Memory usage on a Windows 7/Vista computer, right click on Task Bar (Task Bar is the Grey/Blue bar at the bottom of the screen) then left click on “Start Task Manager”. You will see “Windows Task Manager” window. Task Manager shows applications currently running on your computer.

    Windows 7/Vista Task Manager

  2. Click on “Performance” tab within “Windows Task Manager”. A screen similar to the following will appear. This screen shows Memory and CPU usage statistics of your computer.
    Windows 7/Vista CPU and Memory Statistics

To keep this guide simple, we will note:

  • “Total” under Physical Memory; which in this case is 2047MB or 2GB.
  •  ”Memory” Section shows the amount of Memory computer is currently using; which in this case is 1.13GB.
  •  ”Commit (MB)” value in right side column shows the total of Physical RAM and Virtual Memory in MB (Mega Bytes) currently in use; which in this case is 1619MB or 1.58GB.

In this example, “Total” RAM value (2GB) is more than total Commit value (1.58GB); so this computer does not need a RAM upgrade. But if “Total” RAM value (2GB) for example was lower than “Commit” value then you should upgrade RAM.





Windows XP/2000:

    1. To check current Memory usage on a Windows XP/2000 computer, right click on Task Bar (Task Bar is the Grey area at the bottom of the screen) then left click on “Task Manager”. A small window similar to the following appears:

      Windows XP Task Manager

    2. Click on “Performance” tab within “Windows Task Manager”. A screen similar to the following appears. This screen shows Memory and CPU usage statistics of your computer.

Windows XP Task Manager – Showing CPU and RAM Statistics

In this screen:

  • Physical Memory section shows the Total Physical memory installed in the computer. Which in this case is 129528KBytes (Kilo Bytes) or 128MB (MegaBytes).
  • Commit Charge section shows current memory usage of the computer; which in this case is 226820KBytes or 226MB.
  • Since this computer was turned on, Peak memory usage was 227MB.

Question:

My “Commit Charge” value is more than Total Available Physical Value. How is that possible? Hmm this sounds quite confusing, but there is a simple explanation. When computer runs out of physical memory (RAM), it starts using a portion of the hard drive as temporary memory known as Virtual Memory (also known as Page File).

Use of Virtual Memory increases wear and tear of the Hard Drive because computer has to continuously swap (juggle) data between RAM and Hard Drive. This drastically reduces overall performance of the computer because Hard Drive (a mechanical device) is many many times slower than RAM (an electrical device).

RAM Usage Monitoring Tool:

To see RAM usage statistics in an easy to understand format, download our RAM Monitoring Tool by clicking on the screenshot below.

RAM Monitoring Tool – Cick on Screenshot Above to Download

 Conclusion:

To determine if your PC needs a RAM upgrade or not, turn your PC on and use it for a day like you would normally do. At the peak of your day when you have all the software programs you normally use open, check your computer’s memory usage statistics. If Virtual Memory is being used excessively, it might be a good idea to upgrade RAM!

Given the complexity of the modern software and low prices of RAM, a PC running Windows 7/Vista/XP/2000 should have at least 2GB RAM to function properly. With Windows 7/Vista go with 4GB if you can afford to spend a few more dollars. This cheap yet important upgrade will increase your computers performance and hard drive’s life for pennies on the dollar!

Further reading:
4 Tips to Speed Up your Slow PC
How to Install RAM in your Computer (Yes, you can easily do it yourself)



  14 Responses to “How to Check RAM on Windows 7/Vista/XP/2000”

  1. Thank you. This was extremely helpful. My desktop recently shut down on its own during a video I was playing and I couldn’t get it to switch on again without a blue screen warning me that I need to check my memory status. I knew I had plenty of space left in my hard drive so I couldn’t understand what it meant and I couldn’t get the computer to stay on for any length of time. I think the problem was with my RAM. I have a 1GB RAM and possibly need an upgrade since I simultaneously run a lot of programs.
    Thanks, again.

    • Thank you for your comments.

      Most of the time computers shutdown unexpectedly because there is inadequate cooling and electronic components are heating up.

      In addition to upgrading your RAM, I suggest you check your computer’s fans (all of them should be working and dust free). I’d pay special attention to video card cooling fan (if you have one).

      Good luck.

  2. Thank alot. I try to find out what is the problem with my cybercafe game server since it really make all my client pc slow. But once restart the server, all fine and fast. But after 1hr, not only gaming slow down, also the whole network because im using iscsi initiotor to connect the server.
    Hope i can solve my problem with this guidance.
    You are awesome…Tq.

  3. thank q for the information it was really helpful … apart from this i want to know how can we view this information of a client connected in a network .. the server has to get the information regarding ram usage .cpu usage via some plugins .. how is it possible

  4. dear sir.
    i hve a problem with my sytem RAM usage.My systm has 12 gb RAm 2 gb Grafic card.it is hp z600 workstation.i am using 3ds max in ma system.but its takes tomuch time for rendering.when i check system perfomance ..its only showed 5.35memory usege..is there any way to increase my system perfomnz.iam using windows 7 64 bit also 3ds max 64 bit..please help me sir

    • Hello. Can you render something in 3DS and half way through the render write down the Cached, Available and Free vales under Physical Memory Section in Task Manager -> Performance Tab? Also what is the CPU usage during the render and what type of CPU you have in your system?

  5. Hi all,

    My system configuration is Intel Xeon Processor,
    dual core processor at 3.33Ghz, 24 GB Ram, 64 bit operation system and Quadro FX 5800 graphic card.
    I want to utlize Maximum RAM available and Maximum utilization of my PC, Let me know what changes I want to do to increase my memory and cache,etc…

  6. WOW… this article helped me much more than i cud have ever imagined! and that ram usage monitor is a very effective tool, without really requiring much download or installation. no bullsh!t ! much thanks from india! :D

  7. I have a processor: Intel(R) Core(TM)i5 2430M CPU 2.4GHz, RAM 4GB (2.69GB usable) 32 bit operating system….what does 2.69 GB usable mean?
    Also my laptop is so slow, how can I make it go fast..

    Many Thanks

    • Your laptop has an onboard video card. These video cards don’t have their own RAM. They ‘share’ a portion of the system RAM to do their job. The amount of RAM used by the onboard video card is deducted from total RAM installed in a computer. The left over RAM is ‘usable’. In your case you have 4GB RAM, but usable RAM is 2.69GB. This means 4GB-2.69GB = 1.31GB is dedicated to your onboard video card and only 2.69GB is available for the Operating System! For a home use laptop, 2.69GB should be plenty. Also keep in mind that 32bit Microsoft Windows Operating Systems can only use up to 3GB RAM.

      To help you further, can you tell me which Operating System and Anti Virus software are you running? Do you use this laptop for general computing (word processing, Internet, Email) or do you do any graphics intensive work (such as Photoshop or Movies)?

  8. Hi Guys,
    I have a Dell inspiron laptop with win7 (x64) and 4 GB (2x2GB) RAM. Since last time that I restored my windows (clean installation) and updated everything including BIOS to ver. A15, I have noticed that the total physical memory shown in Windows task mamanger is 3958KB and not 4GB.
    Is there any possibility that the BIOS is not reading the correct value?
    I`d be thankfulif someone gives a reply.

  9. hey guys ty for the raminator tool my ram was saying with the crucial test 512 and 512 yet when i right clicked on my computer it said 1.99 of ram and your raminotor tool said the same thing which i find funny cause crucial is usually right on . I will save this little tool for sure ty very much !! shreki

  10. Hai,

    I have Intel pentium dual CPU E2160 @180Ghz, 504 MB ram & 74.1 GB hard disk, Moterborad type mercury model number P1945GCM….

    Can any one tell me could we install window 7 ultimate 32 bits ????

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