Low virtual memory: we explain how to solve the problem

You feel that your installation of Windows 10 Does it slow down over time? You are not imagining it. As the hardware requirements for popular applications increase, your old hardware suffers. There is often a simple culprit: virtual memory.

If you don't have enough system memory, it will slow down when you try to run multiple programs that require a lot of resources. Therefore, this is how you fix the size of your virtual memory so that those problems disappear.

What is virtual memory?

Your computer has two types of memory: a hard disk or solid state drive and RAM. The hard drive is where your operating system lives, as well as your photos, music, games, documents and others. Your RAM stores specific program data.

It is much faster but also more volatile, as it acts as a working storage area for the programs and files you have open.

So what is virtual memory?

If you use all the available RAM for your system, it will use virtual memory. Also known as a swap or paging file, to provide a temporary expansion. Virtual system memory does this by using part of your hard drive's memory to expand RAM effectively.

So, this virtual memory is extremely useful. Let your system handle more data for more programs than previously available.

However, the memory of your hard drive, and even a faster solid-state drive, is much slower than your super fast RAM, so your performance may be affected.

When there is little memory left, the paging file comes into play. Some data stored in RAM will be moved to the paging file, providing additional space for high-speed memory functions.

Running out of virtual memory

If your virtual memory runs out, you will see the following message:

«Your system has little virtual memory. Windows is increasing the size of your virtual memory paging file. During this process, memory requests for some applications may be denied. For more information, see the help. »

Manually increasing the size of your paging file will alleviate this problem, depending on the error message. Windows sets the initial virtual memory paging file equal to the amount of RAM installed.

The paging file is a minimum of 1.5 times and a maximum of three times your physical RAM.

For example, a system with 4 GB of RAM would have a minimum of 1024x4x1.5 = 6,144 MB (1 GB of RAM x installed RAM x the minimum). While, the maximum is 1024x4x3 = 12,288 MB (1GB RAM x RAM installed x Maximum).

Still, 12 GB for a paging file is a huge allocation. We would not recommend using the upper limit. Why? Because once your paging file increases by a certain size, your system will become unstable. In that, the paging file is a temporary solution.

How to increase memory

Below, we show you how you can increase the size of the paging file to get rid of the virtual memory error message.

  • Go to the Control Panel, then to System and Security and now to System.
  • Select "Change settings" to open the System Properties. Now open the "Advanced" section.
  • Under "Performance", select the Configuration option. Open "advanced" under virtual memory, now select "Change." Here are your virtual memory options.

The default option is "Automatically manage paging file size for all units". Uncheck this option to enable the currently grayed out section below. Select the unit for which you want to edit the paging file size. In general, this is your C unit.

Now, select the Custom size option. Set the maximum size you want for your paging file. This following the recommended size for your system. Remember, Windows restricts the size of the paging file to three times the size of the installed RAM.

This is to ensure system stability. Now, set the initial size in the Currently assigned size section.

Click Set, followed by OK. You have successfully increased the virtual memory size of your system.

You should keep in mind that paging file size increases are generally not met by a system restart message, but decreases are. A sudden decrease can cause damage to your operating system.

Other ways to increase your memory

If you find that your system still works slowly after adjusting the paging file size, you should consider updating your RAM.

Updating your RAM is the only way you can increase your virtual memory, by increasing the amount of total memory available to the system. With this, you will alleviate the problem during the process and you could also see an increase in the speed of your computer.

There are countless tutorials to help you with this task, both text and video. And many can be found specifically for your device. A great place to start looking for compatible RAM is with the tool called PC Part Picker.