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Why does WAU (Windows Update Agent) consume so much RAM?
Windows memory management has a lot going for (and against) it, however – keep in mind these guidelines:
1. Memory (RAM) runs MUCH faster than disk access
2. Not all memory taken at any given time is in use
3. Not all memory taken by a process is actually on your RAM (if you have a page file configured)
4. since disk access is much slower than memory access the more data accessed on the RAM the better.
So basically, in windows (and same goes for ALL Operating systems) – if a process just recently used anything (a file, a string, a web address, ANYTHING) it will be saved in the RAM in case it will need that again, since it is faster than reading it from the disk/load from the web, so working set (the amount of RAM a single process requests) can only grow bigger and very rarely grow smaller – that is why if you keep a process running for a long time you might see it have a huge amount of memory allocated to it – but it may not even use 10% of it at the time you’re seeing this.
When a difference process needs a large amount of memory (LOL for example) the memory pages (RAM) from other processes will be freed or stored in the page file for later use if needed, so the 500MB OMFG SO MUCH MEMORY it takes shouldn’t bother you playing games as your OS is aware that and fixes it on the fly without user action required.
As for why, maybe your computer just downloaded in the past few hours a new update or just indexed the waiting files for update and waiting for work, however – when resources will be needed – they will be moved to the hard-drive for later use (or until a restart is initiated)
Here’s a short guide about RAM management in windows you might find interesting: