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increasing memory usage?

I recently re-installed my OS. (longish story... in brief, I made a typo on a command, screwed up a lot of the OS, and messed it up further trying to undo my damage. Ended up being simpler to re-install.) Same computer, pretty much the same OS and programs, but I am seeing MUCH less memory usage. I wonder why that is? Perhaps there are log files that get too big that need rotating? Or something else? What steps do you take to make your system run more efficiently?
The present and former system are/were both Debian Amd64 sid, and I have installed all the same apps as before. The kernel is newer and perhaps a couple programs are newer than before, but it is mostly identical. Just curious why the memory usage is different and how to keep it down long term.

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