What are Virtual Memory Settings?

Virtual memory is a wonderful tool that the Windows operating system utilizes to give you unlimited memory on your PC without going out and buying lots of Random Access Memory (RAM). The negative side to this is that utilizing too much virtual memory can slow down the system and lead to serious performance problems. You can lessen this effect by changing the settings to maximize the PC performance.


Virtual Memory

Virtual memory is a RAM images collection that is saved on the hard disk to clean up the RAM space. A lot of consumers do not have sufficient RAM to open all of the programs they want at once. Running a lot of programs at once can eat up most of the RAM space your PC has. If there was no virtual memory, you would have to close one program in order to be able to run another.


With virtual memory, the PC searches for certain parts of RAM that have not been utilized recently and then duplicates that info in the hard disk. As it duplicates RAM to the hard disk, it enables your system to run as if it has an unlimited amount of memory.


The virtual memory saves the RAM images right on the hard disk in a file called "page file." In Windows, page files use the .SWP file extension. The OS moves from side to side from the page file on the RAM and the hard drive. Because the read and write speed of the hard disk is less than that of the RAM, making use of virtual memory usually will slow down your computer's performance.


Virtual memory functions best when you have sufficient RAM to operate the programs you utilize most often, and use the virtual memory as a backup alternative.


Virtual Memory Settings

Because the PC is always removing and adding info from the "page files" in virtual memory, they are continually shrinking and growing. This movement can cause fragmented files and slow down the computer. By altering the settings of virtual memory, there are a lot of ways you can maximize the performance and use virtual memory and RAM in the most effective way.


The settings for the virtual memory enable you to set the maximum and minimum size for the "page files." Windows sets the size of a page file at 1.5 times the RAM installed, but depending on your condition.


You can get to the virtual memory through these steps:

  1. Go to Start Menu and then select Control Panel.
  2. Choose the "System" button and then click "Advanced."
  3. Choose the "Performance" button and then click "Settings."
  4. Click the "Advanced" button and then click "Virtual Memory."

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