What You Need to Know About Memory

Most people know that computing systems need memory in order to function. Memory is the data or device that stores programs and applications for the computer. It comes in two basic varieties: The first is volatile memory, which needs power in order for the stored information to be maintained and remain available for access (such as random access memory, or RAM). On the flip side is non-volatile memory, which can store information without a power source (such external hard drives). Without memory, computer programs wouldn’t be able to be stored or even run – and it’s not just an issue restricted to computers. Mobile phones, TVs, video game consoles and other network connected devices all require memory in some form in order to maintain functionality.

How Memory Works
Even when a user has just turned their computer on, before they’ve actually done anything, the computer is already loading a variety of memory. Read-only memory and the operating system are loaded into the computer’s RAM in order for the computer to be ready to actually perform tasks. These actions take up memory. Additionally, every application, program and file opened becomes part of the computer’s RAM. When changes are made or a file is saved, those changes go through the RAM on their way to their storage destination. Once a program, file or application is closed, it is purged from the RAM. This is a lot of work for a machine to handle, which is why computers have high processing speeds and many different system components interacting to maintain efficient, prolonged access for users.

What is Memory Management? Why Does Memory ‘Leak’?
The computer is able to conduct many of the tasks relating to memory on its own, in an automated fashion. Most of this is done on the programmers’ end, as these professionals strategize the best way for the computer to sustain top memory performance over time, according to TechTarget. However, these systems can break down as they get older and more crowded with programs and applications, which leads to memory fragmentation and memory leaks. This activity can slow down computers and increase their vulnerability to viruses and malware.

Memory management ensures that enough data and storage is available to run programs according to user requests. Over time, requests can create memory leaks that can range in size and scope. For example, a program running for a long period of time, especially in devices that are never powered off, can consume additional memory than the computer originally allocated. Files such as high-definition videos or large computer games can consume a volume of memory that cannot be sufficiently purged after the program is closed. As memory drains from existing drives, there will be less available for running other programs and applications, which can decrease operating speed, cause more frequent system crashes for user requests, erase or corrupt files and create gaps in the system’s ability to protect itself from malicious software.

iolo Technologies’ System Mechanic is an optimization solution that frees memory trapped by idle programs in real time, right when RAM is most critically needed. It then offers a thorough deep cleaning mode that releases even more captive RAM by flushing the entire memory capacity and refilling it with only those processes that still need RAM. For maximum gains in PC speed and responsiveness, free more trapped RAM with System Mechanic.

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UpToSpeed™ is iolo's ongoing article series written by PC experts for everyday computer users. Each article is packed with easy tips and practical advice on the latest issues affecting computers to help you get the most out of your PC.

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What You Need to Know About Memory