How to Increase Virtual Memory in Windows Vista?

When your computer is running low on random access memory (RAM) right when it needs to launch or run an application or perform a certain operation, Windows will automatically use its virtual memory to make up for this short fall. Virtual memory helps the computer by moving data from RAM to a temporary space on the hard disk, otherwise called as the paging file. This move allows RAM to be freed up in order to continue running a program or an application. If your computer does not have enough memory for all the tasks and operations it needs to perform, both Windows and the applications it is trying to launch can freeze and stop working at the same time. To prevent the possible loss of data and information, Windows will inform you about what is happening via an error message saying that your computer is running low on memory. However, if the error message says your PC has low virtual memory, you need to either add more RAM or increase the size of the paging file so all the programs can continue running on your PC. While the Windows Vista Operating System automatically manages this size, there is also a way for you to increase the virtual memory size if the default is not sufficient. Here's how:


  1. Click on the "Start" button found in the bottom left hand corner of the desktop. Click on the "Control Panel", "System Maintenance", and then "System".
  2. Click on the "Advanced system settings" from the left pane. Enter your system password or provide a confirmation if there is a prompt to do so.
  3. On the "Advanced" tab, click on "Settings" under the "Performance" tab.
  4. Click the "Advanced" tab and then "Change" under the "Virtual Memory".
  5. Unmark the checkbox for "Automatically manage paging file size for all the drives".
  6. Point your cursor to the "Drive [Volume Label]" and click on the drive containing the particular paging file that needs to be changed.
  7. Click "Custom size". In the "Maximum size (MB)" or the "Initial size (MB)", type the new size in megabytes (Mb). Click "Set" then click "OK" and it is done!

Additional tips and warnings:

Your computer reads pieces of data from RAM much faster than it reads the data from the hard disk. Thus, adding more RAM or increasing the RAM to the computer is always better than just increasing the virtual memory alone as this may possibly slow down the system.


The paging file's initial minimum size is automatically set by Windows. This is determined by the formula (amount of RAM + 300Mb). The maximum paging file size is set to three times the amount of RAM installed. If you get a warning/error message at any of these recommended levels, then it is highly recommended that you follow the steps above.


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