What is Virtual Memory?

Virtual memory is a method for using and assigning hard drive memory that expands the number of applications able to run at the same time. Most PCs are made up with 128 or 64 MB of Random Access Memory (RAM). Virtual memory is a memory system that's utilized in the Windows operating systems to extend the capacity of the PC's physical memory. Rather than depend on actual, physical locations to save program info, the technology of virtual memory has the ability to assign unused program parts to different imaginary memory addresses, when it is stored on the hard disk.

RAM is defined as the network of integrated electrical circuits saved or stored on computer chips or on some other physical storage units made available by various programs at different times. Info saved to RAM is not physical in the same sense that flash drives or CD's are – instead, RAM is unsystematic in the sense that a file can be randomly drawn as it is required, rather than recovered by sequence. RAM is temporary in that it is reset and cleared every time you reboot your PC.

When PCs are running a lot of applications and programs at once, the memory amount that the PC needs to do all the actions normally outweighs the RAM amount that the computer has. Making use of a virtual memory, the computer is designed to recognize greater memory than the actual, enabling it to run several applications. This is probable by dividing the memory needed and utilizing the required amount of actual memory, enabling the other features of the application to rest hidden on the hard disk. The application thinks that the whole application is accessible at the same time, when in fact only the needed parts are utilizing RAM and the rest is saved on the hard disk.

Technology of virtual memory tricks the PC into thinking that there's so much more RAM available than there is and, because the programs do not need all the RAM available all at once, the process works to allow several large applications to operate at the same time. Without virtual memory we would not be able to open numerous programs – like a web browser and a word processor while running the regular operating system functions - without the RAM being upgraded.

Swapping is the exchange between virtual memory and RAM memory spaces. Data can freely move between the different types as it is needed by the application. Since hard disk memory space is far less costly to install in PCs, the usage of virtual memory lowers the price of PCs that would otherwise need much more RAM. Thus, a high powered PC is capable of running several applications simultaneously and is widely available to the public at an affordable price.

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