How To Increase Virtual Memory

How to increase virtual memory in a Windows PC includes a few easy-to-follow steps.  Increasing the size of virtual memory in a PC is something that has, thankfully, not changed much from Windows XP to Vista to 7.  Something else to be thankful for is that it remains fairly easy to change in all three operating systems.

  1. First, you need to open up the system properties, so go into the control panel.  From here things can vary slightly depending on the operating system.  For Windows XP open "Performance and Maintenance"  For Windows Vista/Windows 7 open "System and Maintenance."  Once there, click on "System."   You'll know you're on the correct screen if it displays information about your system such as Processor, Memory(RAM), etc.  Alternatively, you can right click on the "My Computer/Computer" icon (on either the desktop or Start menu) and click on "Properties" to bring up the same screen.
  2. In Windows Vista/Windows 7 you will need to click on the "Advanced System Settings" option on the left side of the window. This will open the System Properties, XP users will already be in this window.  Click on the "Advanced" tab and under "Performance" click the "Settings…" button.  Once the "Performance Options" window has opened, click on the "Advanced" tab once again and you will see a section for "Virtual Memory," click the "Change" button to alter the Virtual Memory settings.  Under Vista/7 you will need to uncheck the box that says "Automatically manage paging file size for all drives" otherwise all of the options will remain grayed out. 
  3. You can now select a hard drive (if your system has more than one) and set a custom size, set the virtual memory to be system managed, or remove usage of virtual memory altogether by clicking the "Custom size" "System managed size" or "No paging file" circles, respectively. 
  4. The only way to directly affect Virtual Memory is to use the "Custom Size" option.  "Initial Size" sets the minimum size of your virtual memory, while "Maximum Size" is just that. 
  5. Adjusting maximum size will increase the amount hard drive space will be dedicated to virtual memory.  You can force your computer to use a larger amount of virtual memory from the start by increasing Initial Size, but chances are your system doesn't need more if the "System managed size" option hasn't set a higher amount on its own. Size is measured in Megabytes (MB), so keep in mind that 1,024 MB equals one GB (gigabyte), 2,048 MB equals two GB, 3,072 MB equals three GB and so on. 
  6. Once you have made the desired changes click the "Set" button and then "OK."  You will be notified that a restart is required before the changes will take effect.  Once the system has been restarted your new virtual memory settings will be active.
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