General Question

Sandydog's avatar

What is virtual memory on a computer?

Asked by Sandydog (1263points) March 4th, 2010 from iPhone

Computer said it was low in virtual memory. What does this mean and what do I do to correct it?

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22 Answers

pikipupiba's avatar

Virtual memory is space on the hard drive that your computer uses a a direct extension of the RAM. If a program has been sitting on the RAM for a while and isn’t doing anything, then it is copied to the hard drive into this ‘virtual memory’ for fast recovery, without uselessly taking up RAM. (if this was too technical, then I can go into more detail)

To fix it I need to know what operating system you are running, how much RAM you have, and how many programs you are trying to run at once.

dpworkin's avatar

Space on you hard disk where the OS stores files.

simpleD's avatar

Virtual memory is frequently used by the OS to write data from volatile and fast RAM to the more permanent and slower hard drive. This will happen if the OS needs to store the contents of RAM during periods of sleep so that you can recover quickly upon wakening, or if an application runs out of RAM while performing operations.

Photoshop, being the RAM hog that it is, will quickly fill RAM with multiple history states so that you can undo quickly. When you run out of RAM, PS will start writing to the hard drive, and you’ll notice a considerable slowdown. When your hard drive fills, PS will warn you that your scratch disk is full.

Sandydog's avatar

Use XP, and was on Facebook playing a game. Was on for a while this happened. Puters about 4 yrs old. 1gb ram, 270gb hard drive, 220 free space.

njnyjobs's avatar

Here’s a good resource for increasing Virtual Memory

Given that you have a lot of free space on your HDD, I would use 4096 (MB) for the Paging File size

Val123's avatar

RAM stands for Random Access Memory, BTW….

pikipupiba's avatar

I’m super DUPER sorry, but I don’t have any version of Windows accessible right now, so I will use my amazing memory skillz to try to help!

Step 1: Go to the control panel.

Step 2: Click on system (if you don’t see that button, make sure it is in classic mode)

Step 3: You will see something about virtual memory under one of the tabs in the dialog that pops up.

Step 4: Click the button by whatever refers to virtual memory.

Step 5: Increase the amount of hard drive space allotted for virtual memory!

Step 6: If this doesn’t work, BUY MORE RAM!!!!!!! (sorry)

Step 7: Click the GA button below vvvvvvvv (hehehhe)

Val123's avatar


Val123's avatar

Actually, I found the virtual memory tab under system/advanced tab/virtual memory tab. Don’t know what I’m going to do with it now tho…O o o o. I’m not touchin’ nuthin!

pikipupiba's avatar

@Val123 DON’T PANIC!!!! Absolutely NO harm can come from increasing the number :)

Val123's avatar

@pikipupiba Hooookayyyyy…..

Val123's avatar

Welllll, I increased it from 780 to the max of 1400. Why isn’t it preset to the max in the first place?

pikipupiba's avatar

@Val123 I’m guessing because hard drives use to be a LOT smaller. They used to only be few gigabytes in size, but now we have hundreds of gigabytes. XP is an old operating system, so they weren’t going to assume that you had the biggest and baddest 10 gig hard drive out there! hehehe

Sandydog's avatar

Thanks for the answers people !!

Val123's avatar

@pikipupiba Well, I’ll be danged!!! Thank you so much! I think it really had made a difference!
@Sandydog Thanks for askin’ the question! Did you find where you can increase the memory?

Sandydog's avatar

Val – havent managed to get back to my main puter yet to fix it. I did have a brief look though and my max is about 300 !! Its a bit different screen too as those descriptions above. Glad the question has helped you :-)

Sandydog's avatar

Computer now seems to be working a bit better :-)

pikipupiba's avatar


rithak15's avatar

If your computer lacks the random access memory (RAM) needed to run a program or operation, Windows uses virtual memory to compensate.

Virtual memory combines your computer’s RAM with temporary space on your hard disk. When RAM runs low, virtual memory moves data from RAM to a space called a paging file. Moving data to and from the paging file frees up RAM to complete its work.

The more RAM your computer has, the faster your programs will generally run. If a lack of RAM is slowing your computer, you might be tempted to increase virtual memory to compensate. However, your computer can read data from RAM much more quickly than from a hard disk, so adding RAM is a better solution.

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BrothersoftQANDA's avatar

Hi, virtual memory is special technology of computer system memory management.
While in fact, virtual memory is divided into several different physical memory fragmentations. There are also some have been stored in external disk storage, thus data exchange can be executed, when necessary.

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