Many Windows users experience the notorious low virtual memory issue. This typically occurs when you have too many applications or a single application that uses up a considerable amount of memory, and the computer reaches its maximum memory limit. The good thing is virtual memory issues can be manually fixed, and we will show you how it can be done.

Breaking down virtual memory

The storage on your PC can be broken down into SSD (Solid State Device) or hard drive and RAM (Random Access Memory). The RAM holds only the temporary files, and stores programs required to run the currently opened files and applications. What this means is that the contents of the RAM are erased when you turn off your device. The hard drive, on the other hand, is used to store functions and data related to the operating system, documents, music and photos. While the RAM stores volatile data and is much faster, the hard drive stores long-term data and is relatively slower. So where does virtual memory fit in, in all of this? The virtual memory comes into picture when your RAM is fully used up.

Your PC will make available a virtual memory or swap file that serves as a tentative expansion for the RAM. It frees some part of the hard-drive memory for this purpose. What happens next is stored data on the RAM will be transferred to the swap file for storage, so the RAM memory can be reserved for other functions. With the virtual memory, your device should now be able to manage more applications than it could with just the RAM. However, it should be noted that this will slow down the overall performance of the PC due to a lag in the hard-drive.

The other solution is to expand your RAM, which of course means additional expenses. However, if sluggish device performance is not an option for you, we suggest you go for a RAM upgrade. RAM prices have dropped considerably in the recent past, and can help keep your device functioning smoothly and efficiently, without any lags.

Coming to the issue at hand, the low virtual memory issue can be resolved by increasing the paging file size manually. You may have already noticed the error message mention this as a solution. The paging file comes with a set value by default on Windows. The value of the paging file is set the same as the RAM storage that is installed. So if your RAM is 4 GB, then the initial paging file value is set at 4 GB. When it comes to increasing the paging file size, Windows does set limits- to thrice the size of the installed RAM, to ensure that the device stability is maintained.

Resolving the Low Virtual Memory issue

To increase the swap file size, you can click on the start menu and type in System. Then, select the System option in the Control Panel. A System Information page opens up. Users with Windows 8 or 8.1 will have to type in system in the search bar on the start screen, then select Settings and find System on the screen to continue. Once the System Properties panel opens, click on the Advanced System Settings option, and find the Advanced tab. Under the Advanced tab you will find a Performance feature with a Settings button.

Click on Setting and then the Advanced tab under it. This will show up the default size of the virtual memory on the device. You will find a checked setting that says your system will handle the size of the paging file automatically. When you uncheck it, you will find that you can make changes in a section that was previously greyed and could not be modified. Here, you will be able to set the paging size for the different drives. Select one of the drives whose paging file you want to modify. Then choose Custom Size and set the paging file’s Maximum Size. You can set the value to the system recommended value. Then set the initial size to what the paging file is at present. Click on the Set button, and hit OK, and you are good to go.

Virtual Memory

Performance Options (Windows 7)


You will not have to deal with any system restart messages for these changes, although you may have to restart your system in case you lower the size of the paging file. If your device runs slowly despite making adjustments in the paging file size, it is time to consider upgrading the RAM.

The minimum and maximum value of the virtual memory can be set by the user. Generally the minimum size of the virtual memory can be set to 1.5 times the physical memory.


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