Last Updated on January 23, 2021
RAM is where all your open files, programs, and other data are stored thus allowing quick access by the CPU.
For an operating system like Windows, you may know in an idle state there are no open applications or windows and you are doing nothing on your computer. So, you may ask how much RAM should be used at idle?
Depending on your RAM capacity, the usage of 15-30% is normal for a computer running the latest version of Windows 10 when idle. The reserved memory of Windows and its drivers, different applications along with cached data contributes to this amount. If your RAM usage is way higher than 30%, you may need to check for it.
Here we will also talk about common ways to bring RAM usage to normal levels when idle.
How Much RAM Should Be Used at Idle?
If you are running the latest Windows 10 operating system, you may have a query regarding the amount of RAM that should be used at idle.
Technically speaking the RAM usage of 15-30% is normal for a computer in an idle state. Note that this depends on the capacity of RAM that you have.
For instance, if you have 16GB memory, 4-5GB is almost normal usage while for 8GB systems, 2-2.5GB is fine.
How Much RAM Does Windows 10 Use at Idle?
Windows 10 dynamically utilizes the amount of RAM depending upon how much you have.So if you have 8 GB of total RAM, the maximum utilization of RAM by the OS could be lower than if you have 16 GBs of total RAM.
Why RAM Usage of 15-30% is Normal?
You may feel that the RAM usage in the range of 15-30% is a bit high. However, note that Windows has a reserved memory that’s usually around 1.8-2.4GB no matter if that memory is not active.
An idle system with only Windows and its drivers loaded uses around 0.8 to 2GB. It depends on your computer’s hardware and its quality. For instance, if you have an integrated graphics card, some amount of memory is also reserved by it.
Coming to system and application programs such as antivirus and browsers which have their reserved memory, this adds to the RAM being used at idle. While 3GB should be enough to meet all reserves unless you have installed lots of idling programs.
Also, there is cached data allowing applications to start-up and load faster. This data loads from memory rather than the hard drive and applies to that you use frequently or likely use. It can be cleared anytime by the operating system when RAM is needed for something else.
If your RAM usage is under or around 30% and there’s no application taking up most of the memory, you don’t have to be concerned about it much as it’s normal.
My system has a total of 16 GB of RAM and you can see that at idle (all applications closed), the idle usage is quite high.
This is primary due to the fact that I have around 99 small background applications running at a time.
How to Check RAM Usage at Idle?
Here’s a quick way that would enable you to check for RAM usage in Windows 10 when your computer is idle:
- Make sure you save all your data and close all your running programs.
- Right-click the taskbar. Then select Task Manager. Alternatively, you can press Ctrl+Alt+Delete and then choose Task Manager on the appearing screen.
- Come to the Performance tab. Select the Memory section.
- On the left, you can see an overview that will tell you the amount of RAM that’s in use, the total available memory, and the percentage of RAM that’s used.
How to Fix High RAM Usage at Idle?
You may notice memory usage that’s way higher than 30% in idle state. Moreover, people have reported usage as high up to 80-90% when no programs are open which is not acceptable.
These common practices would help to bring RAM usage to acceptable levels:
1. Check and Close Background Apps
In Windows 10, some apps continue to run in the background, even if they are not opened in the app’s window. These are usually called background apps and could be the cause of high RAM usage.
You need to check the Processes tab of Task Manager to see if anything is running in the background when the computer is in an idle state.
Here click the Memory column header and sort the processes by the amount of RAM they are taking. The process taking most memory will appear at the list’s top followed by the smallest at the bottom.
Right-click a process that you know about and you are very sure it’s not needed. Then click the End Task option to stop it.
2. Check and Disable Apps Running on Start-up
Apart from background apps, some programs launch themselves when you boot your computer. The more software you install, the list of these programs can get long.
Hence, they might be running and causing high RAM usage at idle. Therefore, you can inspect the Start-up tab in Device Manager and disable the ones that you don’t need.
On Windows 10, you can do this by simply typing Startup Apps in the Search Bar.
Alternatively, you can access these via Settings-> Apps-> Startup Tab
3. Scan Your Computer for Viruses or Malware
You may know that viruses or malware apps are very harmful to your computer. If your system is infected with one or more of these, there are chances that they will use the RAM.
Some malware programs run processes repeatedly that can make the RAM usage very high or even full. Such programs generally run in the background so that they are invisible on top to the users.
Therefore, it’s worth running a check-up through a Quick Scan in Windows Defender if you doubt your computer is infected by malware or viruses. You can also use a trusted antivirus program if you don’t want to use Windows Defender.
4. Check Activity of Antivirus Programs
There can be times when the antivirus programs including the built-in Windows Defender cause high RAM usage at idle. This usually especially happens when a full system scan is being performed by the antivirus program.
If Windows Defender is active on your computer, you can identify the process with the name Antimalware Service Executable in the Task Manager.
Note that the reason Windows Defender consumes high RAM sometimes is that it’s constantly scanning and protecting your computer in real-time.
To resolve the problem, you can end the process of antivirus programs in Task Manager.
As a Windows user, it’s always useful to know and understand how much RAM should be used at idle.
Whatever the RAM capacity you have, this information would help you to monitor your memory usage so that you don’t run out of it when you need it the most.
If you are frequently getting high RAM usage at idle, it may mean there’s not enough RAM to meet your requirements. Hence you may need a RAM upgrade for your computer.