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Virtual Memory: How do I adjust Virtual Memory settings?

My PC tells me I don’t have enough virtual memory. What do I
need to do to get more?

The amount of virtual memory your computer has available is controlled by a
simple setting.

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You didn’t indicate what operating system you are running. On Windows XP, look in Control Panel:
System, Advanced, Performance, Settings, Advanced, Virtual
Memory
. I believe it’s in a similar location in other versions of Windows.

IMPORTANT: usually running out of virtual memory means that
you are running too many programs at the same time for your system or one of
them is attempting to use too much memory. You might also want to check out
what’s running when this happens and how much memory each program is
using.

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61 comments on “Virtual Memory: How do I adjust Virtual Memory settings?”

  1. The best course of action here is to open your Task Manager and locate the processes which consume a big amount of system resources. In some cases, these are some buggy programs (programmers often forget to free the objects:)) or just a hanging game (Counter Strike for exapmle). The easyest way is to kill all the related processes and threads. Righ-click the selected process and then click “End process tree”. This will kill all the related threads and will free the virtual memory.

    Reply
  2. The rule of thumb I use for a low end machine (say less than 1 gig of RAM) is to have twice as much virtual memory as you have RAM. For a high end machine (1gig or more), I set VM size to the size of RAM.

    Regardless VM is always slower than RAM. If you really need speed, the best thing you can do is add more RAM.

    Reply
  3. I have heard that Microsoft’s Security patches require that the virtual memory should be in a “systems managed” state or you create a risk of killing the application that is using most of the systems resources. Have you experienced or heard anything concerning this? Thanks, ~Rob

    Reply
  4. My inlaws computer crashed and required windows xp to be reinstalled. Upon completion of the installation the computer is not caught in a rebooting loop and only shows the black screen with the running bar for windowes xp, but does not enter into the program before rebooting. the error message that pops up, as best i can read in its breifness, is about there not being enough virutal memory or paging file…. Will buying more memory fix this or what do i need to do. Thank you in advance for your assistance.

    Reply
  5. It’s unlikely that more RAM will help.

    I read a great technique on the Langa List for those messages that flash by too quickly … use a digital camera that can take short videos, or a digital camcorder, and record the screen as the problem happens. Then, step through the video a frame at a time around when it happens, and you can often get a good picture of the message.

    In the mean time, if it is virtual memory related, I’d try booting in safe mode, or the recovery console, and making sure that there’s enough disk space.

    Reply
  6. your article has been very informative. thank you. Where axactly can I locate my settings to change them?and what do you suggest to set?
    I went to control panel, but where axactly?

    Reply
  7. well i have this program which alows me to defrag the ram and also this program called Release Ram. It says that i have 870 ram free and -7 VM. And on all other programs it has said that VM is free.

    While i play games like guild wars and error occurs and says that it cannot read the memory or something, i also cant save documents on microsoft word. i have no idea why it says i have -7 VM PLEASE HELP ME

    Reply
  8. Defragging RAM and “releasing” RAM products are, by and large, ineffective and a waste of money. Windows XP already manages memory for you and deals with such issues transparently. I would completely ignore whatever those tools are telling you, and focus instead, on the *specific* error message you get from applications that are failing.

    Reply
  9. beth-if you are still lost: to get to systems, when you are in control panel, you have to first click on ‘performance and maitenance’

    Reply
  10. James what Leo said is right, your programs to defrag RAM and etc, are bogus and you crashing has many a number of things to do with your computer and not just memory, if you are running an XP machine you need to make sure the program is made for windows XP, many problems will occur if XP doesnt like the game. Also your -7VM i think that means u have 7MB allocated from your Hard Drive to Virtual MEmory, at least thats what i gather, i would try increasing its paging file(depending on the ammount of space u have free on your Hard Drive) to about 20MB and try it again. If this lets it play a little better then increase the paging file more i would say to 4% of your total HD space. IF this does not work try uninstalling the game and defragging your HD and reinstalling. btw Leo Article was very informative, Thank you.

    Reply
  11. I’ve tryed optimizing my virtual memory. Adjusting my settings apparantly did not work because I have checked and it states I have 0 mb space left for driver E (virtual memory). What can I do. Please reply by emailing me at [Email Address Removed].

    Reply
  12. Sounds like your disk drive is full. Can make the VM file bigger if there’s no room for it. Free up some space on that drive, or use a different drive.

    Reply
  13. 1) We have installed IntelliJ Ver 5 ( Integrated development Tool) on Linux WS 3 kernel 2.4.21-27.Elms. the problem what we face is when the developer opens a project in IntelliJ initially it opens , and if we open another frame ,open another project , ( Inorder to work in Multiple Frame in same terminal) and start toggle between the two Screens it hangs and throws “out of virtual memory ” error .We tried change the Virtual settings as specified in the Error code , but still of no use.
    The observation made was that these Workstation being Xeon 3.0 X 2 ( with Hyper Threading enabled ) and the 2 MB cache were not getting detected in processor Information, and the two M/c which doesn’t show these problems are AMD Athlon 2000+ ( No Hyper Threading ) with 256 Kb cache ( M/c from the client). Physical memory and the Swap size remains the same in all the Workstations.

    We then tried upgrading the Linux WS 3 to Linux WS 4 kernel 2.6.9-5 Elms , the only advantage out of was , the Cache was getting detected and application was opening pretty fast but during the switching between Screens , that same error Pops up

    Reply
  14. I am running WIN 2000. I just ghosted my HDD to a new one. When I put the new drive in and tried to boot from it, before it starts windows, I get a message “Your system has no paging file or the file is too small”. It then explains how to go into control panel and change it. However, when I close the message box, it comes back to it. I can never get into windows to change anything. It does the same thing in Safe Mode. I’m stuck!. Is there any other way to get in and make the changes?

    Reply
  15. I am having a similar problem…can anyone help?

    The computer is a Dell Dimension 9150. It has an Intel Pentium D 830 (3 GHz) processor with dual core technology. We have 1 GB DDR2 SDRAM at 533 MHz and a 250 GB Serial ATA Hard Drive. We are running Windows XP Professional version 5.5. We also have Adobe Creative Suite 2 installed.

    Each time the computer reboots there is a Virtual Memory Error that reads “Your system has no paging file, or the paging file is too small.”

    I have gone to System in the Control Panel and manually put in the initial and maximum amounts – but they do not stay. After rebooting the computer the same error message comes up again.

    Also, I made sure I was logged in as an administrator before making any changes so I do not believe it is a permissions problem.

    After trying to change the settings unsuccessfully a number of times, I called Dell. They suggested we swap out the RAM. They sent us a replacement. I swapped it with the other, but it didn’t help either. The virtual memory settings will still not change.

    Reply
  16. my computer “hp pavilion vf15 with Windows XP” is new we had it about for 5 months and saying virtual memory is running low how do i fix that?

    Reply
  17. I am using a computer that operates on Windows 2000 Professional. My quest is whether to try out the advice and steps provided for computers that do not have the same type of windows as mine eg. windows XP etc. on increasing virtual memory.
    Grateful if you could send in simple advice, in fact, advice that is comparable to your article which is quite easy to follow.
    Your help will be appreciated.

    Reply
  18. i am the engr to a very big cafe, i just changed all the operating sys on all our sys to win 2000 ands the problem since them has being our systems are slow and always freezing then when booting it comes up with the message your system is low on virtual memory windows is trying to increase your virtual memory during this memory requirements for some of your application may be denied what can i do?

    Reply
  19. Most of the advice given for WIndows XP applies to Windows 2000. Windows XP is really just “the next version” of WIndows 2000 (like Windows Vista will be the next version of Windows XP). Naturally there are differences, but in general if the settings, such as virtual memory, appear to be in the same place using the same wording, then chances are the same concepts will apply. It’s certainly a good place to start.

    Reply
  20. i have a celeron 2.8ghz cpu and 192mbs of ram on my pc i keep getting virtual memory problems.i also have system mechanic and it is always giving me poor readings on my ram its dropping as low as 30mb. everytime i defrag it it just keeps dropping all the time back to 30mbs. can you please help do i have dodgy ram or something

    Reply
  21. Defrag has nothing to do with memory or with disk space – defrag is about keeping your hard disk performing well.

    I’d have to know what you mean by “I keep getting virual memory problems”. What problems? What are you doing when they happen?

    Reply
  22. I have been trying to increase my custom size Virtual Memory via Systems Properties, Peformance Options, Advanced, Change (this is Windows XP Home)as it currently shows 767mb. I alter Initial Size ot 1200, Maximun size to 2400 and hit Set, nothning happens (mostly). I have had it change to give me Currently Alocated 1200 and then I can use the leisure software which requires at least 768mb, next time I boot up its back at 767mb and mostly I can’t get it to increase at all. Any suggestions?

    Reply
  23. I just went to http://www.fastr-pc.net to download the program designed to speed my virtual memory up…naturally the “free” version was unable to fix the problem but apparently if I buy the “registered version” all the problems can be fixed…great website….

    Reply
  24. I’m always VERY skeptical of these types of tools … please report back after you’ve run it to let us know if it actually did anything. Many do not.

    Reply
  25. I can only hope that this answer hasn’t been mentioned already, and I forgot where I found it in the first place, but it works GREAT.

    1. Do you have any junk hard drives laying around? Even two gigs and 5400 revolutions will do–install the sucker as a secondary. If you increase the virtual memory on the same disk as the OS, you are simply causing the resources for the single disk to work twice as hard, partitioned or not.
    2. THEN go to ‘Control Panel>System>Advanced>Performance Settings>Advanced>Virtual Memory–then press Change.
    3. Keep C:/ highlighted, and mark ‘no Pagefile’. Then hit ‘Set’.
    4. Now, highlight D:/ right below it (or whatever your cheap-ass old drive is lettered), select ‘Custom Size’, and enter two numbers: One for Initial Size, another for Maximum Size. these (for some absurd reason) seem to work better if they’re in increments of 256, 512, etc. Fill it up, with the low number being 2/3rds of the high. mebbe leave a little room on the disk for back-up. Hit set again, and restart I’m at 1536, with a max of 2048, running all the Adobe CS2 software on a crappy five year old Compaq 1.3 GHZ Socket 370 POS, with the max memory of 512 installed, and it never hangs anymore. It runs like it has at least a Gig of memory installed.

    Reply
  26. Hello Leo.
    I have Kingston 1024MB Dual Channel DDR2 800MHz CL5
    and AUSPIS 1024MB DDR2 Single Channel 800MHz CL5.
    I’m working with a lot of programs and games that demand very good performance (e.t.c CUBASE/CAKEWALK/GIGASTUDIO and such)

    so my question is:
    what is the best and fastest Virtul Memory Settings With 2048MB DDR2 on XP-SP2.
    thanks dude!

    Reply
  27. I was interested to see the comments on why virtual memory might always be too low. I’m having this problem too. I’ve done the adjustments mentioned in Windows XP (I let Windows choose the size) and I try not to have more than two programs going at most; but even when I’m just running one (PhotoStudio, Word or Internet Explorer) I still get the message. It’s been suggested that a trojan might be the cause, but I’ve been through the computer with two anti-virus programs that dig out spyware. I’m a tad curious about what the next move might be. I’m not so concerned about the speed, but I don’t fancy the thought that my pc might be home to a trojan that could be messing up other people’s stuff.

    Reply
  28. —–BEGIN PGP SIGNED MESSAGE—–
    Hash: SHA1

    VGA is a type of Display.

    Thanks,

    Leo

    —–BEGIN PGP SIGNATURE—–
    Version: GnuPG v1.4.7 (MingW32)

    iD8DBQFHQJiKCMEe9B/8oqERArAyAJ9N86PM/UDo1UVHfg3dmEzPRB8ITQCgh4sG
    LaAGOEhe5YVh7WGCBowp1AQ=
    =Ry6t
    —–END PGP SIGNATURE—–

    Reply
  29. Hi there I am useing windows 98se in a raid 0 cofigureation plus I have ajusted my vertual memory,I have 512 megs of pc,100 sd ram and my seting`s are “minnimom mmemory 70” & maximom memory is 510,how much can can I rase the “min & max virtual memory,plus what would happen if I instaled another 512 meg`s of pc sd ram

    Reply
  30. Hi, I stumbled across this page via Google and just started having this problem. I recently installed the Program Prevx 2 the individual program.
    Each time I do a file scan I get an Error message that my xpsp2 , 1gig is running low on virtual memory.
    I mailed Prevx support and was told:

    1. regedit and find key “KKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Run and to look for references to PrevxOne or Prevx2 file and delete the key.

    2. Clear down Prevx2 local database to aid memory consumption (deleting files-reboot the computer and after startup immediately shutdown Prevx2
    -delete all the *.dat files in the folder:
    c:\documents and settings\all users\application data\prevx\*.dat

    I am not sure what step 2 is all about and would appreciate lay persons jargon on what files, where they are and what this all means.
    I hope that I am not making an error in posting this comment in this topic, if so I do apologize.
    I would really appreciate correction if I have committed an error in posting this and advice as to how I should post this.
    Thank you for your time.

    Reply
  31. I have a Windows XP Home Edition PC that I brought a couple of years ago. As of recent, I have gotten occassional bubbles stating that my Virtual Memory is running low. I have noticed your instructions in regards to going to the Control Panel of your PC to look for sysem, advanced, performance, etc. However, when I went to my Control Panel, I did not see any of this. My compute model is a Dell. And also, I have 29-30 GB extra space on a 52.7 capacity and yet, my PC is running slow and staggers from time to time. Do you have any helpful do-it-yourself advice that would be easy to follow to resolve these areas for me? Thanks in advance.

    Reply
  32. My Ram output is too high for one of my games, and i need to lower it. How do i lower it?

    I don’t know what you mean by ‘RAM output’.

    – Leo
    26-May-2008
    Reply
  33. i just bought a new laptop, i have 4gb of ddr2 ram, a 2.4ghz amd duo proc. and 320 gb of space on my hd. the computer is already fast, but im just wondering what an appropriate number is to use under virtual memory settings where it says initial size (mb) and maximum size(mb), to speed it up even more.

    Virtual memory is what your computer uses when it needs more physical memory than it has. So there’s no magical setting that will “speed up” your system. As soon as your system needs virtual memory it’s going to slow down some.

    There is no recommended setting. It depends on how you use your computer. What aplications and how many. I actually run one computer with NO virtual memory, since it has lots of RAM and I never need to push outside of that.

    – Leo
    24-Nov-2008
    Reply
  34. Microsoft states that the recommended size of your paging file should be 1.5 times the size of your RAM for WINXP. 3 times the size for Vista.
    If you are running enough ram in xp – windows likely will not use the virtual memory all that often. But in vista, you will see a lot of performance issues if it’s not set correctly as vista (unless you’re running ultimate) only sees 3GB of ram.

    Reply
  35. Hellow sir, I have toshiba satellite A100 series of notebook i have to increase my virtual memory. I did the same as u said but computer had failed to do so …what r the possible reasons.. HELP..

    No way I can tell you without knowing exactly what “computer had failed to do so” means. Error messages? Symptoms? Specifics?

    – Leo
    14-May-2009
    Reply
  36. I have a Dell Dimension 2400 with windows xp 512 megs of ram.Windows is only showing 510 megs.Thought I had a virus and formated and reinstalled windows and the same thing shows up.Is this normal?If not how do I fix it?

    Reply
  37. I have a emachine computer and 256 mb and i added more memory to it now i have 512mb, But i got a message and it said low virtual memory, computer store set it at 0 i think, what should the M B be now , and how high does it go thanks jane gardner

    Reply
  38. How do I adjust my Virtual memory setting here is my Readings on my Virtual memory
    Space available 44835 MB
    CUSTOM is checked Size 1100
    MAX 1200
    Total Paging
    Minium allowed 1100 mb
    Reccomended 3067MB
    CURRENTLY allocated 1100 MB

    can I change the range 1100-1200 to another higher number?

    How do i change these numbers and do I use the other options on there such as.
    SYSTEM MANAGED SIZE or NO PAGIN FILE those can be checked but are not!

    THANK YOU!
    Tina Eisenhart

    Reply
  39. hello sir, i have 256Mb video card memory as i check in DirectX Diagnostic Tool but when i restart my computer it says in the first screen to appear that i have 128Mb. please help me with this. thank you and god bless. -darell

    Reply
  40. Hi Leo,
    i am Srinivas
    My System Config- Intel d 2.2, 5gb ram, 1 TB hdd and vista home premium OS, i installed vmware 7.0 workstation, and runs a SAP BI Server.

    my problem system total hanging up that’s reason.

    how can i fix this please tel i need a answer

    Regards
    Srinivas T

    Reply
  41. go to there(System, Advanced, Performance, Settings, Advanced, Virtual Memory ,click”cahnge”) and set the initial size set it to maximum value the lower one is showing and click on set after “no page file”and apply if showing other wise click ok ok ok 3 times and restart it
    that’s done
    please mail me at [email address removed]

    Reply
  42. I’m in the virtual memory section but this does not make enough sense to follow…
    “and set the initial size set it to maximum value the lower one is showing and click on set after “no page file”and apply if showing other wise click ok ok ok 3 times and restart it “

    it all just runs together a reads nonsensical.

    Reply
  43. SIR i have a 4GB capacity (HCL Busybee 200) Hard Disk,and i am using 192MB ram fo it is this sufficient for the proper running

    No idea. You didn’t tell me what OS version you’re using, or what you do with the machine. Could be plenty, could be nowhere near enough.

    Leo
    05-Jun-2010

    Reply
  44. Hi, I have 128MB RAM AND 40GB hard disk, would like to know what are the best settings of virtual memory for my PC. And another problem is my PC is going into off mode after sometime without my intervention.Please suggest me some troubleshooting techniques and what to do.

    Reply
  45. sir,my system configuration is this-160 hdd,1gb ram dual core processor 3.60 ghz but my pc works very slow.so i need u to provide me help to how can fast work to my pc..windods xpsp2

    Reply
  46. no sir i’ve to work in one time i’ve copy to any files and pastr to any drive then i’ve to wait in many minutes..

    Reply
  47. Hi, I have 128MB RAM AND 40GB hard disk, would like to know what are the best settings of virtual memory for my PC. And another problem is my PC is going into off mode after sometime without my intervention.Please suggest me some troubleshooting techniques and what to do.

    There is no recommended setting for everyone. It all depends on what software you run, and how you use your computer. How should I configure my swap file / virtual memory settings?

    If by “off mode” you mean that the computer is turning itself off, that’s usually a sign of overheating: My computer has started to shut down randomly, could it be the fan?

    Leo
    21-Aug-2010

    Reply
  48. Please suggest the calculation of virtual memory increasing with example. My computer has 500GB HDD and 1GB RAM and 2.21 GHz Processor.

    Reply
  49. I would just like to add that because the computer often adds and removes info from the page files in virtual memory, they are constantly growing and shrinking. Such process can cause files to become fragmented hence, slowing down the machine. By managing virtual memory settings, we can optimize performance of the computer and be able to use the RAM and virtual memory in the most efficient way.

    Reply
  50. I was always told to do initial size as 1.5 times your total ram. So if you have 1gig of ram, times that by 1.5. (1.5gig)

    Max supposedly is 3 times your total ram. So if you got 1 gig of ram, x that by 3 (3gigs)

    so INITIAL – 1024 x 1.5 = 1536megs
    And Max – 1024 x 3 = 3072 (most use 3070)

    This is a generic default people typically use. Each users computer and demands may require you to change to suit or find that sweet spot.

    Hope this helps!

    Reply
  51. Shorter answer is described in zdnet article, alsot the tools how to measure the usage of virtual memory:
    http://www.zdnet.com/blog/bott/windows-7-memory-usage-whats-the-best-way-to-measure/1786

    For understanding what is virtual memory and how it works, for me is the best description given by Mrk Russonivich (it’s also mentioned in Zdnet’s article):
    http://blogs.technet.com/b/markrussinovich/archive/2008/11/17/3155406.aspx

    Both of these also kick the butt of the urban myth of virtual memory = 1,5*amount of RAM or 1,2* or 1,25* etc

    Reply

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