Where has your Windows memory gone? Check the map…

Sysinternals has just released a new utility!

If that news doesn’t set your heart a-flutter, then you are not a Windows geek and you can just stop reading right now. But for us Windows geeks, today is a red-letter day, and you should go download RAMMap v1.0 right now. I’ll wait.

RAMMap is a memory analyzer, a lightweight tool (272KB) that gives you a very detailed look at exactly what is your system’s memory is up to right now. It presents its report in a tabbed dialog box whose opening page is a colorful, well-organized bar graph:


On succeeding tabs, you can get details about how memory is being used by individual processes, see which files are in use, and even look at individual memory pages for the kind of close-up examination only a developer would appreciate.

I’ve written about the challenges of measuring memory usage in Windows over at ZDNet, and I’ve had several conversations with Sysinternals co-founder Mark Russinovich (now a Microsoft fellow) about the subject. I know how frustrating it can be to use the built-in tools. I wish we had had this utility when we were doing our research for Windows 7 Inside Out.

I’ve been using Sysinternals utilities since before the turn of the century, back when the company was called Winternals. Microsoft bought the company and its products in 2006, and some people—myself included—feared that these excellent utilities would disappear or be abandoned. Thankfully, that didn’t happen. The Sysinternals utilities are currently hosted on Microsoft-run servers and are regularly updated by Russinovich and his Sysinternals partner Bryce Cogswell, also now a Microsoft employee.

The addition of a brand-new Sysinternals tool is cause for celebration.

Update: As several people have noted in the comments, this works on Windows Vista, Windows 7, and Windows Server 2008 and 2008 R2 only. It doesn’t work on XP, and for good reason. XP memory management is primitive. Most of what’s measured here doesn’t exist in XP. If you use Windows and memory management is important to you, dump XP and get a modern OS. Seriously. If you want to stick with XP, I understand, but you have plenty of tools available to you that were written five years ago that will help you, and you won’t find much of use at this blog anymore except in the archives.

20 thoughts on “Where has your Windows memory gone? Check the map…

  1. Looks useful, too bad it’s only for Vista or higher.

    Did Microsoft make them engineer it this way, or is there something in the Vista/Win 7 makeup that is different from XP — and thus prevents it from working on XP?

  2. Microsoft didn’t “make them engineer it this way.” There are indeed major differences in memory management from the 1999-2001 XP kernel and the 2006-2009 Vista/7 kernel.

    XP memory mangement is primitive. Most of the things this app looks at simply don’t exist in XP. Not to mention that Windows XP is a 32-bit OS and thus is limited to 3.2GB or so. (And no, XP x64 is a completely separate codebase, doesn’t count.)

  3. “Most of the things this app looks at simply don’t exist in XP.”


    By the way, my organization won’t be migrating to Windows 7 until next summer. We’ve still got six months of application verification left, and then two, perhaps 3 pilots before the general roll-out.

    There are still a lot of XP users out here.

  4. Yes, I understand that there are lots of XP installations out there. My point is that, as in your case, your resources at this point are best spent on planning and executing a migration to a more modern platform. There are plenty of old but still useful tools that can keep XP running during that transition. This tool is useful for modern Windows versions running on modern hardware with large amounts of memory.

  5. Ed,

    I’ve read your blog for a while and purchased Windows 7 – Inside Out (which is very good); but this is my first comment.

    Two questions:

    Is there a “lay persons” definition for the various columns in this new tool? Some of them I understand, but others??? For example, in the “File Detail” tab, it shows “Standby” files for programs I haven’t opened in weeks. Maybe this is a part of the cache, I don’t know. Any help would be appreciated.
    (Unrelated to this post) How is the i7 desktop you purchased from uBid working out for you?



    1. Hi Leon

      The closest thing to a layperson’s guide to the stuff that’s decipherable by non-geeks is in Windows 7 Inside Out. You could also read the linkedarticle on memory that I posted at ZDNet. Other than that, though, this is not a layperson’s tool.

      The HP i7 box I bought from Ubid has been a dream. Really rock solid and reliable.

  6. “If you want to stick with XP, I understand, but you have plenty of tools available to you that were written five years ago that will help you, and you won’t find much of use at this blog anymore except in the archives.”

    It’s not that we want to, it’s that we’re made too. I can get the OS from the desktop team and install it on my machine myself, but that means that I give up all support except for dead hardware. And when I get the hardware replaced, guess which OS they’ll hand back to me? Better to wait on the rest to catch up.

    Nice to know that there will be plenty of well-vetted, mature apps by the time that we do though.

  7. Ed,

    Thanks for the feedback. I went back and read Russinovich’s articles, “Inside the Windows Vista Kernel: Parts 1, 2 and 3” and that helped a lot.

    Again, thanks a lot!


  8. Downloaded already. Thanks Ed, this is a great little tool. I use process explorer instead of windows task manager because it gives you so much more flexibility.

  9. Damn thing takes a dump at execution… Not sure what it’s fighting with. Definitely a v1.0!

  10. @GPKing,

    That’s not normal behavior, and the Sysinternals guys do a very good job of testing.

    You must have another kernel driver installed that is cnflicting with it. I recommend you go to the Sysinternals forums. They would like to see your bug report, I’m sure.


  11. Thanks Ed !!!

    Did a little Msconfiging, and narrowed it down to either the Sprint/Sierra Broadband resident files, Power DVD or Acronis TrueImage which I never use….

    Fired right up after a few un-check marks! Bookmarked the page over at sysinternals for future reference! Thanks for that too.


  12. Acronis TrueImage is IMO the most likely culprit. It’s a file-system filter driver that works at a very low level.

    Glad you were able to sort it!

  13. Thanks Ed. While the information revealed by the isn’t terribly exciting to me, I have some friends who will be delighted to stare at the output and draw incorrect conclusions from it.

    –John (whose knowledge of XP is about to cross the axis and become less than zero)

  14. Died after load on me too. Says, physical memory analyzer has stopped working. I have to agree, this is definitely a version 1.0

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