Windows Memory Monitoring demystified

Looking at the memory tab of the Windows task manager, the first two values are quite obvious. It’s the memory used and what is left.

Don’t worry if the task manager shows less memory than you really have. The mainboard and the BIOS grab some memory to operate.

But what’s that value in brackets? Compressed memory? What’s that? It ‘s available only if you have turned on memory compression. It shows how much data could be compressed to save memory. Memory compression comes at the cost of CPU  resources.

The third value is the “committed memory” and it refers to the virtual memory.  Virtual memory for your computer is hard drive space used by Windows when it fills up the physical RAM. It’s also called the paging file. On Unix, they call it swap space. The first value tells you how much data has been relocated to disk and the second number is the reserved space on disk for the virtual memory.

The fourth value is “cached memory”. If the system has enough free memory applications can use it for caching even they don’t really need it. This memory will be freed and shifted to other applications if needed. If you have low memory available but a high usage of cached memory you are not really low on memory. Cached memory is available for applications.

Next is the “paged pool” memory. This is the amount of memory used by important operating system processes. Also called the kernel-mode components. That will be moved to the pagefile if physical RAM starts to run out.

The sixth and last value is the non-paged pool memory. It is similar to paged pool memory. It’s the memory if the kernel-mode components which must stay in real memory and cannot be relocated to virtual memory on disk.

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Author: Nicholas Thiede