"Low on virtual memory"

  Maughan 00:19 03 Feb 2004

XP Home has recently started to run VERY slow and tell me that:

"Your system is low on virtual memory. Windows is increasing the size of your virtual memory paging file"

The Page File Usage History (in Task Manager) is suddenly way up there at 506MB (showing high on the graph).

I haven't done or installed anything recently that I can think would do this.

Can anyone please explain:
a) what virtual memory is;
b) what might be the cause of the slowing down; and
c) what the cure is?

Thank you!


  User-312386 00:32 03 Feb 2004
  Quiller. 07:32 03 Feb 2004

a) virtual memory is space reserved on the hard drive when your physical memory is getting low. This can shrink and expand to needs. It usually has a upper limit, that's why windows says it needs to increase it.

b)As above, Virtual memory set to low.

c) This is easy, but would need to know how much physical memory you have. The size of your hard drive or drives and most important do you have any partitions.

The best way to manage virtual memory is to set it on a partition to a large min and max size. Mine is set at 2.0 gig on a 52.0 gig partition yet I only have 256mb of physical ram installed.

  Quiller. 07:35 03 Feb 2004

" a large min and max size."

That should also say

set the min and max to the same size.

  Maughan 12:23 03 Feb 2004

Thanks for your comments and links. Much clearer!

bsod - to answer your questions:

Physical memory = 256MB RAM
Hard drive = 80GB
Only partition (?) is a small section (3GB?) that is dedicated to System Restore, ie. the default partition under XP Home, but no other partition tweaks

The problem seems to have started about the time I started "hibernating" instead of "standing by". I understand hibernating to involve writing what is in the RAM to the HD before shutting down - could that be affecting virtual memory?

I saw in madboy's link a reference to Fast User Switching being an issue [still need to read it all in more detail]. I use fast user switching a lot (there are two users on my PC, usually both logged on and with 1 or 2 programmes running when switching) - am I "using up" available virtual memory with each switch or does it not work like that...?

[So many questions... So little time...]

Thanks again


  Quiller. 13:29 03 Feb 2004

Shame you don't have a larger partition. I suppose you want to use all your allocated space to system restore?

Set your virtual memory to a larger amount. To do this go to control panel \ system \
advanced \ performance. Now pick the advance tab and the open virtual memory by pressing on the change button.

Hghlight the drive you want to have the virtual memory on and pick custom size. Now enter the size in Mb what you want. I would suggest that you pick 1000 ( 1gig) for both min and max. Hit the set button and exit.

Now see if there is any improvement.

While we are on about the slave drive is it allocated to system restore, if so right click the recycle bin and select properties.Now pick that drive and tick the delete files straight away, then move the slider to zero. This should give you an extra 360 Mb on that drive.

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