Free RAM is wasted RAM. The first time I saw that statement it bothered me, because I was using a phone with 2GB of RAM. What did they mean by free RAM is wasted RAM? What were these people on? RAM space was premium to me.

It is also very important to a lot of other people. Lots of people have complained that they have no apps in use but yet, their RAM is always occupied. Why is that?

Before we begin, lemme ask you this question, do you think that your phone needs free RAM or do you think it should use up all the RAM space?

In the recent past

Checking how much RAM I had available used to be one of my favorites pastimes. In fact I was obsessed with checking it. This was during the mid 2010s when I used phones with 512MB, 1GB and 2GB RAM.

This was especially true for my Tecno Pouvoir 2. It usually had barely 700MB out of 1.8GB which always annoyed me, especially if I had no apps in use. If I chose to load up a game like PUBG onto the 700MB free RAM, the game would refuse to load due to a lack of memory.

In the end, I resorted to using RAM managers and task killers just to eke out enough free space. At least 1GB or so, so that I could at least play the 2 or 3 games before it crashes. Upon which, I’ll redo the whole process all over again.


Even recently, with all my apps closed, I still see information like 2.8GB/6GB and I’ll laugh and remember when I used to eke out space.


Lots of people have complained that this happens to them to. They have no apps in use but yet, their RAM is always occupied. Why? is something wrong with their device?

The answer is no and there’s a good reason why this happens.

Read: What is smartphone multitasking?


There’s a phenomenon called preloading. Preloading is when your operating system loads apps into memory automatically before the user requests for it.

Android/iOS nowadays is smarter than ever and tends to take note of user patterns. It’s the same user-pattern algorithms that social media giants like Meta (Facebook/IG), Snapchat and Alphabet (YT/Google) use as well.

This is why my FB feed will be very different from your own. The OS on your phone monitors you, and takes note of your most used apps. When it’s gathered enough data, it then takes the liberty of starting your most used apps for you and keeping them in the RAM.

This is so that as soon as you tap on that app, it opens very quickly. No lag, no fuss, no delays.

When a lot people scream about phone A or phone B is so fast, sometimes its not alway about the SoC on board. A phone’s OS may simply be very good at preloading apps into memory (RAM).

Note that this doesn’t work with big games because they occupy too much space in memory. But for other apps, they are usually kept in RAM so that they open almost immediately and even when you exit such apps and swipe them away, Android doesn’t wipe them. It simply caches them and keeps them on the RAM, zRAM or virtual memory.

The aim of most OS today is to make sure that the available RAM in use is distributed or allocated to all necessary apps. This is to ensure that users have a wonderful user experience (UX). The OS would ensure that unused RAM space is allocated accordingly.


Free RAM is best used to better improve user experience.

Read: What is zRAM and swapping?

So is free RAM completely bad?

So if that’s the case, does it mean that android should choke the RAM and not leave any space free?

Well no. Absolutely not.

What happens if a user wants to load an app that has not been preloaded into the RAM and there’s not enough space? That would be a problem in itself.

To combat this, many OS, especially Android, usually maintains a healthy balance between using up free RAM and leaving some free space for new apps. Many OS also quickly swap preloaded apps into zRAM or virtual memory inorder to create more space.

In order words, free RAM is not entirely wasted RAM.

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4 thoughts on “Free RAM is wasted RAM”
  1. how can one configure swap to make phone run smoother?

    What I mean is which swappiness is better?
    how much swap will actually make a difference on 1GB RAM device?
    how do I prevent app stutering?
    do you also know of task kiler settings that can make it run faster?

    pls reply me, I follow u Nairaland

    1. You cannot configure swap space. There’s no swappiness that is better than the other.

      Swap space is just a reserve where your phone keeps apps instead of killing them. It is scam because your phone cannot run apps from swap space.

      So since your phone has 1GB RAM, it’s going to perform poorly like every other 1GB RAM device, regardless of swap space.
      The limitations of the 1GB remain the same. I have a YouTube video about this already where I explained this. If your phone has 1GB RAM, you should only use it for light stuff. No serious apps.

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