Is your computer suffering from a memory leak? If so, you’ll probably notice sluggish speeds and performance. Random access memory (RAM) is an invaluable computer resource. Unlike storage disk memory, RAM can be read or written simultaneously. Unfortunately, it’s not uncommon for one or more programs to consume an increasingly large amount of RAM. Known as a memory leak, it can seriously hinder your computer’s performance.

What Is a Memory Leak?

A memory leak is characterized by an ever-increasing amount of RAM consumed by one or more programs. In other words, the problematic program or programs doesn’t stop consuming RAM. Even if you close the program, it may still continue to consume your computer’s RAM.

Some people assume that a memory leak is the same as a space leak, but this isn’t necessarily true. A space leak is defined by a program that consumes an unnecessarily large amount of RAM, whereas a memory leak is defined by a program that gradually increases the amount of RAM it consumes. The key difference is that space leaks eventually subside, whereas memory leaks do not. Allowing a memory leak to go unnoticed will result in a gradual decline of your computer’s speed and performance.

How to Spot a Memory Leak

You can easily spot a memory leak using the Windows Task Manager. To get started, press Ctr+Alt+Del to pull up the Task Manager. Next, click the “Memory” tab to sort your computer’s processes by those that are consuming the most RAM. If you see a process that’s consuming an excessive amount of RAM, such as 1 GB or more, it could be responsible for a memory leak.

How to Fix a Memory Leak

The good news is that memory leaks are easy to fix. While closing the program in the program’s interface may not solve the problem, you can force close the program in Task Manager. After locating the problematic program in Task Manager, left-click it once to select it. Next, right-click the newly highlighted program in Task Manager and select “End task.” Windows will then force close the program so that it no longer consumes an excessive amount of RAM.

Memory leaks are an all-too-common phenomenon. Even if your computer is loaded with 16 GB of RAM, just a single memory leak can severely hurt its performance. By proactively monitoring your programs for memory leaks, though, you can stop them so that it doesn’t cripple your computer’s performance.