How To Speed Up Windows by Altering Virtual Memory

Would you like Windows to be a little faster, but you don't want to go out and buy more RAM? Then check out this article on increasing virtual memory.
Published: Sep 24, 2007
Author: Michael E, Callahan
Related OS: Windows

Speed Up Windows by Altering Virtual Memory

by Michael E. Callahan aka Dr. File Finder


Whether you know it or not Windows uses a few tricks in order to run faster. Even if you have 2 or 4 gigabytes of RAM it still uses these tricks. Why? Because you can never have enough RAM. So, to compensate Windows creates what is frequently called the paging file. It can also be called virtual memory because this disk space is what Windows uses when you're low on RAM.

It takes this disk space that is set aside and isolated and it spins programs to disk when there isn't enough RAM. It gives the RAM to the active program and stores the inactive program in virtual memory. Then, when you decide to switch to the program that is in virtual memory it pulls it back into RAM for you. Really pretty slick.

It's safe to say that the majority of computer users don't even realize that Windows uses a paging file or any type of virtual memory. If you have extra disk space, however, you can use this fact to give a speed boost to Windows.

Creating More Virtual Memory

Keep in mind that Windows sets up and maintains the paging file all by itself. Under normal circumstances it doesn't need any help from you and me. It's also important to remember that you should only try increasing virtual memory if you have extra hard drive space. This can be more than one hard drive in the computer or even external hard drives. On the other hand, if your computer came with one hard drive, just leave everything the way it is.

I'm going to use Windows XP for describing this. The process will be quite similar for Windows 2000 and slightly different for Windows Vista. Click Start .. Settings .. Control Panel and when Control Panel opens double-click on Administrative Tools

Down near the bottom on the left you'll see Disk Management and on the right you'll see your hard drives, what drive letters each uses, and up above you can see how much free space is available. Our purpose here is to see how much disk space is free and so you know how much space each drive has available. Just jot down the drive letter and the amount of free space. You can then close down this section.

Note: I personally have about 5 utilities that can give me this information, but I used facilities within Windows because I know all of you have those.

Now, just right-click on My Computer and select Properties and pick the Advanced tab. At the very top of this you'll see Performance. Click on that where it says Settings.

Now here again you'll see three tabs. Click on Advanced. At the very bottom you'll see Virtual Memory and you'll want to click on Change. Her you'll see your available drives and you'll note that Drive C has a paging file. Windows tells you the size. Leave that paging file alone.

Instead, select a different drive to create a new file on. This is the reason you wanted to know how much space was left on each drive. I personally always use Custom Size, but you an also tell Windows to make the decisions by selecting System managed size. If you do select Custom Size you'll need to specify the minimum and maximum sizes.

A good rule of thumb that I've used over the years is to pick a size that's between 1 and 2 times the RAM that's on your computer. So, lets say you have 2 gigabytes of RAM then a good maximum number would be anywhere from 2000 to 4000 MB.

You can now close this out and Windows will tell you that you need to reboot.

Summing It Up!

Once you reboot your system will have more virtual memory in the form of two (2) paging files. Windows will switch between the two and this means your computer will run faster! It's an easy way to help speed things up without buying extra RAM.

Lastly, if all this sounds too complicated to you and you aren't sure about trying it, remember Rule #2 of my Dr. File Finders's Rules to Happier Computing, which is When in doubt, don't!

If you have a question on how to do something on the computer you can submit it via email by clicking HERE You will not receive a reply, but all topics will be considered.

About Michael E, Callahan

Michael E. Callahan, known around the world by the trademarked name Dr. File Finder, is regarded as the world's leading expert on shareware. Dr. File Finder works with software programs and developers full-time, and in the average year he evaluates 10,000 programs. Since 1982 he has evaluated over 250,000 software and hardware products. Mr. Callahan began evaluating software online in 1982 and no one has been at it longer. He currently works doing online PR and marketing for software companies, and is the Senior Content Producer for Butterscotch.Com.

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