When it comes to laptop memory (or RAM), the general consensus is that the more, the better. And up to an extent, it’s true that the more memory you have, the faster your laptop will be. Plus, the easier it will be to run several programs at once. Random Access Memory (RAM) is the short-term memory every computer uses for every process in a computer system. It’s a lot faster than forms of permanent storage like an SSD. If you’re also wondering “how much memory should my computer be using?” we’ve done some digging. And this is what we discovered.
How Much Memory Should You Be Using?
The amount of RAM your laptop uses mainly depends on what you’re using your laptop to do. As well as how much on-board memory is in your laptop.
That being said, most agree that a laptop computer with an average memory of 8GB shouldn’t use more than 20 percent of it when idle. Light use should only account for about 20 to 40 percent of memory usage. And 40 to 70 percent for intermediate to intensive work.
Each program you use requires a certain amount of memory to function properly. Microsoft Office, for instance, needs 2GB or RAM to work properly.
There is a relationship between memory capacity and usage worth noting. For example, if your laptop has the current industry average of 8GB of RAM. Then it should only use 25 percent of it when the laptop is on but not being used, which is ideal. But if it only has a total memory capacity of 4GB, half of the memory will be gobbled up even when idle.
Adobe programs, for example, need 8 to 32GB of RAM space, while graphics-intensive games will start from 32GB as a minimum. If you try to install such programs in the 8GB example, they’ll use 100% of the memory. Or will not function at all—we would avoid both scenarios at all costs.
The trick is to know exactly what you need and find a laptop that meets those requirements. Keeping your memory usage between 20 to 70 percent will make it easier to use your device by giving you more headroom for other operations. It’ll also helps lengthen your laptop’s lifetime.
On the other hand, if you find that your memory usage often exceeds 80 percent, this can mean two things:
- The software you’re using is faulty.
- The software you’ve installed is designed to use more memory than your laptop has on offer.
In either case, you’ll notice that your laptop’s performance slows down often, and might even cause the system to crash.
It’s safe to say that the amount of memory used on a laptop is partly dependent on the amount installed. Before you conclude that your laptop is slow, or that the programs are too heavy. First, check your total RAM capacity.
If your laptop’s operating system is Windows, here’s how to find out your laptop’s memory capacity on Windows 10:
- Click on the Windows icon or “Start.”
- Type “System Information.”
- Click on the result.
- Scroll down to “Installed Physical Memory (RAM).”
- Here you can see the amount of RAM installed on your laptop.
Here’s what to do if your operating system is a macOS:
- Access the Finder at the bottom of your screen.
- Click on “Applications” on the left sidebar.
- Click on “Utilities” at the bottom, which is the second option from the left.
- Find “Activity Monitor” and double-click it.
- Click “Memory” at the top of the window.
- Locate “Physical Memory” at the bottom of the window.
- Now you can see the amount of memory being used.
If you want to know the exact percentage of your laptop’s memory usage, this section is for you.
For laptops using Windows 10:
- Click the “Start” logo.
- Type “Task Manager.”
- You’ll find the percentage of the memory used on the top columns (third from the right).
- You can also simultaneously press the ctrl, alt, and delete buttons.
- The lock screen will pop up with a list of options.
- Click on “Task Manager” at the bottom.
For laptops using the macOS, the following goes:
- Complete the same steps to find the installed memory capacity.
- You’ll then find the amount of the memory used in GB, just below “Physical Memory”
There’s no need to be alarmed if you find that your laptop occasionally uses a lot of memory, especially if you use demanding programs often.
However, if your laptop uses a lot of memory even while idle. Or with light software, then something is wrong. Constant high use of RAM is not normal, and there can be several reasons for it.
The most obvious reason is that you have an insufficient amount of memory installed for your daily tasks. In this case, it’s important to know what you need from your laptop. This makes it easier to choose the right laptop with all the specifications you need.
Running Several Programs Simultaneously
Another reason why your laptop’s memory usage is high is because you’re running several programs at once. Most programs are designed to function best when there’s enough memory for them. However, if this capacity is taken up by other programs, it might be forced to take less memory than it needs. This can even cause the laptop to slow down to a crawl.
Sleep Option is Not Always the Best Option
A habit we’re guilty of that hampers memory capacity is choosing the “Sleep” option instead of properly shutting down our laptops. While the Sleep option keeps all your information stored. All that saved information also takes up space in your laptop’s memory.
Defective programs can also cause loads of problems, and a slow lagging laptop is one of them. Whether it’s a crack or a faulty design, such programs will use up more memory than they should. Thus, it’s important to get rid of them and get better, original versions of programs and software.
Viruses and Anti-Virus Programs
Viruses are another reason why the available memory is getting eaten up, as well as anti-virus programs. It’s well known that a computer virus is no good. But who ever heard of anti-virus programs causing havoc?
The truth is both run in the background using the laptop’s memory to perform multiple, albeit contrasting actions on your system. The effects they have on your laptop as far as memory is concerned is minimal but something to consider.
If you still can’t tell how much memory your device uses, don’t worry. Here are the most common patterns synonymous with a memory deficient laptop:
- Slow performance
- Cursor lag as you type
- Constant glitches and sudden program shutdowns
- Programs stop responding normally
- Inability to open more than one program simultaneously
- System notifications of low memory
- Pictures and videos don’t display immediately or at all when you click on them
Let’s cut to the chase and discuss how to fix memory usage problems. In this section, we’ll discuss how to free up RAM space on your device.
The first thing you should do is shut down your laptop. Restarting and/or shutting down your system will completely clean any stored data. It’ll also reboot all processes and programs.
Another option you should consider is upgrading your system. Sometimes not all of the memory installed in your laptop is usable. This is especially true if your laptop is a bit older. The problem may be because the system BIOS is outdated. Updating BIOS can solve this issue.
Clearing your cache memory can also help. Cache memory is a laptop component that anticipates future requests and gets them ready in the background. And since it requires storing data, your system may experience lag. Clearing cache routinely will keep your laptop light and swift.