How you can improve your computer's virtual memory

Feb 18, 2006 (Updated May 21, 2010)

The Bottom Line ~

(Note: I only have Windows XP, and so these instructions are specific for XP, but I'm sure if you have another Windows OS, you should figure it out anyway, even if the commands aren't the same)

I ran across a problem recently when I went to install some software off a CD-Rom for my 4 year old son. Whenever I tried to initiate the software, I would get this error message saying that I didn't have enough virtual memory to run the program. I decided to learn what I can about virtual memory, and I ran across a real good piece of advice that helped me.
The best way to maximize your computer's performance is the defragmentation tool that all computers should have and clean out useless cluttering files. I run my defrag at least once a week.

I put a few partitions in my hard drives, and my C is the biggest. Whenever I defragged my C drive, I noticed that the tiny colored squares did not look as pretty and neat as the other drives, and I finally found out why.
When you run a lot of programs like me, you need a lot of virtual memory. I like my Norton Software, but unfortunately it takes up almost all of my virtual memory. I have Norton Security 2006 and Norton SystemWorks 2006, and there's a lot going on in each of those systems.

Whenever you run out of virtual memory, your computer utilizes some of your hard drive memory like it was a part of your RAM. When you defrag, you are just defragging your hard drive. So, some of these files will not be able to be moved no matter how many times you defrag, because they are reserved for the virtual memory reserve.
I learned how to defrag everything to make your computer run a lot more smoothly.

Before you start, you will want to restart with the smallest amount of programs running. Choose the minimum by going to the Start Menu, clicking Run, and then type in msconfig.
Hit the Startup tab, and close any programs you don't need.

Now, you have to shut off your virtual memory. You can do this by
1. Opening the Control Panel
2. Then click on System
3. Then click on the Advance Tab
4. Then right under where it reads Performance, click the Settings button
5. Then Click the Advance button
6. Then under Virtual Memory, click the Change button
7. Now write down the two numbers that are in the Initial Size and Maximum Size spaces. You'll have to remember them later.
8. Now click on No Paging File, then Set, and then OK
9. Restart your computer.

Now your computer is running without many programs, and you can go to perform a defragmentation. You should notice that a lot more of the C drive is put back in order and the end result should be nice and neat, or at least neater than usual.
You should see an improvement with less lag.

Anyway, go back into the Virtual Memory and input those numbers back into the Initial Size and Maximum Size spaces and restart again after you reinstate the Startup programs that you shut off for this little project.

Another good idea, if you ever get an error message like I did, is to acquire some more RAM. I just ordered mine from Gateway.

Please look at my other computer helpful tip
How to Retrieve your Data from a Crashed Hard Drive

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