When we speak of “memory” of a computer, we usually refer to the RAM, the physical memory of our device. However, the operating systems have other functions and features, such as virtual memory, swap file and compressed memory. These functions are developed to maximize memory and ensure the effective operation of the computer even with high workloads.
With the advent of Windows 10, Microsoft introduced a new (already long-standing feature on Linux and MacOS) called “Compressed Memory”, a better paging alternative to previous versions of Windows like the Windows 7 and 8.1.
Windows Virtual Memory: what it is and why we should activate it
Windows, in addition to using the RAM has a feature known as Virtual Memory. It is a reserved space inside the main hard disk that allows you to perform memory downloads and store information as a supplement to RAM. This way instead of filling the RAM, we can always have free space for the applications that we need at that time.
What is Windows 10 Compressed Memory?
As we have said, the compressed memory is a new feature released with Windows 10 that seeks to become an alternative to virtual memory or pagination, improving the overall operation of the computer. Unlike paging memory (which can be activated, deactivated, resized, etc.), this option is enabled by default in Windows 10 and works without us having to do anything.
In early versions of Windows 10, the compressed memory was associated with the “System” services, which caused confusion to see that this process sometimes consumed large amounts of memory. Therefore, from Creators Update, this option is registered under the “Performance” section of the task manager.
Although this is a better alternative to virtual memory or paging, it is not a definitive solution. The reason is that the system will pull CPU cycles to access the compressed memory, which can slow down the computer. In case you are having problems with RAM, it is much better to buy more physical RAM to ensure the correct operation of the equipment.
Working of compressed memory in Windows 10
Until Windows 8.1, if an application needed to use 5 GB of memory and our computer only had 4 GB of RAM, Windows was forced to send 1 GB of this data to the paging file or virtual memory. Thanks to this type of memory it is possible to use the application, although it will work very slow because this virtual memory is, as we said, much slower than RAM.
Since the update to Windows 10, if the application needs more memory then it starts trying to compress data, similar to a ZIP, so that instead of sending that information to the paging file, it keeps it in RAM. Thus, if we have to save, for example, two 6GB and 3GB information packs in memory and our computer only has 8GB of RAM, Windows 10 will compress the 3GB package by reducing its size (for example, to 1.5 GB), occupying all 7.5 GB instead of 9 GB and being able to access it from the RAM without having to resort to the exchange.
Is it good or bad to have compressed memory?
Ideally, most of the data is stored in memory so that the system can access them directly and without a problem. However, sometimes this may be impractical, so compressing memory is a better alternative to pulling virtual memory. Access to compressed memory is somewhat slower because it uses more CPU cycles to compress and decompress in memory in real time, but it is much faster than accessing the data saved in Windows virtual memory.
Windows OS will avoid using this technique whenever there is RAM available. By decompressing the compressed memory and restoring it to the available RAM memory, it reduces the CPU cycle, save resources and try to make the computer work the best possible way.