How to Fix Memory Leaks in Windows 10

If you are using a Windows 10 PC, chances are you have encountered a memory leak problem. Many Windows 10 users have reportedly been complaining on Quora and Microsoft Forums about potential memory leaks, where an unexpected increase in RAM usage occurred after the initial upgrade to Windows 10. Your system’s performance is limited by the amount of RAM in use, among other factors. So what happens when you have a low RAM or possible memory leaks? To answer that question, let’s get to the basics first.

What is RAM, and how do programs use it?

RAM, or Random Access Memory, is a type of computer memory that can be accessed randomly. It’s a place in a computing device where the operating system, application programs, and user data are stored for easy access by the system’s processor. RAM is different from other forms of data storage in that it keeps data as long as the system is running. Once the computer is turned off, RAM loses its data. So how do programs use RAM?

Every application you open on your computer uses a portion of the available RAM. Some programs like Adobe Photoshop are notoriously RAM hungry. Others consume so little that they are barely noticeable. As soon as you run a  program, that program automatically requests allocation of a certain amount of memory from RAM. That means if you have 4GB of RAM available, and you have Photoshop, Google Chrome, Spotify, Word, and several tabs open, you could be pushing your computer to a tough end. This slows down your system, and the problem can get aggravated when memory leaks occur.

What are memory leaks, and how do they occur?


Memory leaks refer to Windows memory loss, caused by a program or an app. This occurs when an application is using more RAM than it normally does which in turn slows down the system, causing it to struggle with performing even the basic tasks. However, it isn’t just apps that can cause a memory leak. Several experts in Reddit and Microsoft Forums have identified Windows 10 system process “ntoskrnl.exe” as a major cause of memory leaks. And since memory leak problems are all software-related, it implies they are temporary and thus can be fixed.

Luckily, Windows does have a built-in tool, Task Manager, that we can use to determine what processes are using more memory than they should. You can use the tool to check how much RAM each program or application is using. For instance, if you find simple programs like Sticky Notes consuming 60% of your RAM, that’s a good sign of a memory leak.

Check for memory leak

To check how much memory each program is using on your computer, follow the steps below:

1. Press “Ctrl + Shift + ESC” on your computer to launch the Task Manager.


2. Once the Task Manager opens, select “Processes” in the top bar, and it will display the amount of RAM each program or process is using.

Memory leaks occur when a program “requests” more memory than it actually needs. In such cases the excess memory becomes unavailable to other programs and processes which need it, causing the system to slow down. Possible causes of memory leaks include malware infection, outdated drivers, and programming oversight among others. Here are the various ways of fixing the memory leak problem in Windows 10.

How to fix memory leaks in Windows 10

Method 1: Update outdated drivers

If your memory leak problem began after you upgraded to Windows 10, the culprit could be outdated, missing, or broken drivers. Several users reported outdated drivers as the root cause of this problem. The most basic drivers to check out are graphics, sound, and network drivers which are the main reason behind memory leak issues. Therefore, the first thing you should do is update your faulty drivers. It is recommended to download a reputable driver update utility tool, like the Intel Driver Update Utility, that will automatically download and install the drivers.

Method 2: Disable startup programs

If the memory leak-plagued program is running on startup, that’s a deadly combo, and disabling it is the only solution here. If you don’t disable it, you’ll end up in a loop where a problem recurs no matter which technique you use to solve it. Here’s how to disable a program that runs on startup in Windows 10.

1. Launch the Task Manager by pressing “Ctrl + Shift + ESC.”


2. Navigate to the “Startup” tab.


3. Click on the troublesome program and select “Disable.”


Once disabled, the troublesome program won’t launch automatically the next time you start your computer.


Windows 10 is a great operating system, suffice it to say the best I’ve ever used. However, just like any other OS, you’ll encounter problems from time to time, the memory leak problem being among them. In case the above solutions fail to fix the problem, it’s advisable to remove malware and other kinds of malicious programs. A good antivirus program or Malwarebytes can do the trick.

Know of other methods of fixing the memory leak problem? Share with us in the comments section below.


  1. Your definition of a memory leak is off target.

    In modern operating systems, programs do not start off with a fixed amount of memory space for their data. When they need a block of memory, the program requests that a block be allocated by the OS’es Memory Manager.

    Ideally, when the program is finished with the block, it notifies the Memory Manager that it is free for re-use. But situations arise where the program thinks that it no longer has access to that block but has not returned it to the Memory Manager. That block then becomes unavailable to any other program, reducing the total amount of memory available to all programs. That is why it is called a “leak”: it is gone until the system is rebooted.

  2. This whole article is false. A memory leak, like Paul Fisher commented earlier, is when a program fails to release memory after it’s done with it. This leads to more memory being taken up than is actually being used by currently running programs. If you open your task manager and more memory is being taken up than can be accouted for by the listed currently running programs then you have a memory leak and for this reason the author’s “fix” of going through your task manager or disabling startup programs isn’t going to help you at all.

  3. SirStephenH and Paul I agree that the article does not fix a memory leak. It fixes unnecessary memory usage. Also looking for malware and outdated drivers are a possible culprit and are good things to check. I’ve had this memory leak problem, I’ve tried changing registry values and the problem will still come back. Another addition to the problem I’ve been having, the non-paged pool will not reset after a reboot. I can reboot to safe mode just to check and all is well in safe mode! My question to you guys, can you offer advice to clearing the non-paged pool? This non-paged pool has really become very troublesome. Thanks! and its not a bad article :)

Comments are closed.