If you’ve ever gotten the error message: “Your system is low on virtual memory. Windows is increasing the size of your virtual memory paging file”, you have seen the need to increase your virtual memory in your Windows XP system. Virtual memory allows you to increase your memory capacity without having to purchase additional RAM – optimizing your settings in virtual memory will help alleviate possible performance problems that using too much virtual memory can cause.
The best fix for memory problems is buying and installing additional physical RAM. While virtual memory can make it seem as if you have unlimited memory, relying too heavily on this application when you don’t have enough RAM to run several programs at once can affect your computer’s overall performance. Once you have adequate RAM on board, you can adjust your default settings to make it run even more smoothly.
Virtual memory stores RAM images on the hard drive in order to get them off the RAM and free up space for other uses. If you didn’t have virtual memory, the computer would freeze or require you to close one program before opening another. It looks for parts of the RAM that aren’t used frequently and copies that information to a page file on the hard drive. The operating system then moves back and forth between the paging file and the physical RAM to read the files. Because of this and the slow read/write speed on the hard drive, your computer’s performance may be slower.
Increasing the paging file size in virtual memory can help improve your computer’s performance. Windows sets the paging file size to 1.5 times the actual physical RAM. By increasing this amount you can avoid the common virtual memory error messages and freezes. Most techs advise increasing this amount to twice the RAM that you have installed. If you don’t know how much RAM you have installed, follow these steps:
1. Go to Start and then click on Control Panel.
2. Find System and then choose General.
3. You will see the amount of RAM that is installed on the right hand bottom of the screen.
Now you can get into virtual memory and adjust these settings.
1. Go to Start and choose Control Panel.
2. Click on Advanced. Under the Performance tab, choose Settings.
3. You should see the Virtual Memory box on the bottom. Click on Change.
4. This will bring you to the paging file information.
5. Click Custom to change the Initial and Maximum settings. It is advisable to make both values the same to stop the page file size from shifting and possibly impairing performance.
6. Click on Set and then choose OK.
If you want to tweak your settings, it is best to do it in small increments rather than big jumps and don’t decrease the default settings as that can cause system crashes. You should also wait a week to judge performance issues before going back and making further changes.