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The easy and surprising way to multitask faster

The easy and surprising way to multitask faster

Multitasking means memory. The more you have, the more you can do.

Multitasking on your computer should be painless, but it often leads to slowdowns, freezing, crashing, ... and lots of needless frustration. The reason? If you don’t have enough RAM to handle everything you’re doing – every word you’re typing anywhere, every photo you’re viewing, every spreadsheet you’re editing, every video and browser tab you have open – your system will slow to a crawl. That’s why adding more memory is the key to multitasking faster and avoiding system slowdowns. It’s even more important because everyone is a multitasker. Every computer operation, from what you see to what you don’t, consumes memory and this limited resource gets depleted fast.

Your system always needs RAM, even when it’s idle

No matter if you’re using a Windows® PC or Mac® system, it’s common (and completely normal) to have your computer doing more than 100 things at once (called “processes” or “tasks”) and each one drains your pool of available memory. When your RAM can’t handle everything it’s being asked to do, your system slows to a crawl because it can’t process the backlog of operations it’s trying to run.

There’s an easy way to solve this problem!

PCs and Mac® systems have ways to see exactly how much RAM your computer is using and which apps and processes are running in the background and eating away at your available memory. Here’s how to see how much memory you’re using.

On a PC system On a MAC® system
Press CTRL + Shift + Esc at the same time In the Finder app, click Applications > Utilities > Activity Monitor

Once you’ve opened the program on your system, here’s what you’ll see and how you can use this information to improve your multitasking and work faster.

Select your type of system to see how to interpret your system’s current multitasking and memory information.

PC Systems     Mac Systems

PC systems

Once Task Manager is open, click the Processes tab at the top of the window to see everything your computer is doing. Each activity is consuming RAM. Note: If you’re using older versions of Windows® (anything before Windows® 8), what you see will appear different, but you’ll still get the same information.

Multitasking danger zones based on how much memory you’re using

The more you do on your computer, the more RAM you need. Period. It pays to quickly see how much memory you’re using and how much room you have left to do other things. Depending on your system and the apps you’re using, when you’re using about 70% or more of your RAM, your computer is in danger of significantly slowing down, freezing, or crashing (if it hasn’t done so already). This threshold is even more pronounced with smaller RAM capacities, as each MB of memory represents a greater percentage of your total memory capacity. This is why there are different danger zones for different capacities.

Multitasking danger zones based on how much memory you have installed

Percent of RAM you’re using 60% 70% 80%
2GB 1.2GB 1.4GB 1.6GB
4GB 2.4GB 2.8GB 3.2GB
8GB 4.8GB 5.6GB 6.4GB

The less RAM you have available, the slower and more painful your multitasking will be. Since your OS uses memory even when you don’t have anything open, it’s a tight squeeze with either 2GB or 4GB of memory to just run everyday tasks.

The absolute minimum

Since there are processes running in the background, it takes about 3GB of RAM to run the most basic apps. If 3GB is the minimum, then 2GB of RAM is inadequate, 4GB will barely work, and 8GB or higher is preferable.

The bottom line: More multitasking = more memory

There’s a limited amount of memory in your system, and by knowing how much you’re using, you can make sure you have the right amount and are able to multitask with ease. Computer manufacturers often limit the amount of preinstalled memory in new computers to lower the price, and most people can easily double what comes preinstalled. For this reason, there’s often plenty of room to upgrade and make your computer faster and more responsive than it’s ever been. If you’re consistently using more than 70% of your system’s memory, add more GBs of RAM to give your computer the breathing room it needs to run your apps seamlessly. Use our compatibility tools below and in 60 seconds or less, get guaranteed compatible memory upgrades for your specific system.*

Compatible upgrades. Guaranteed. Find the right upgrades with either of our easy-to-use tools.

helpful resources

The $50 fix: Speed up your computer for less
Memory: The 5 minute upgrade
How to fix a slow computer
Memory and SSDs: More than a quick fix
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