Virtual memory too low – here’s how to fix it

By Liz Cornwell | June 15, 2010 |

greater than 3 minutes

Windows is full of annoying little errors and “Out of virtual memory” is one of them. Usually your PC starts freezing first. Then an error appears and tells you that your virtual memory is too low.
In this article we are going to explain what causes this error and how to fix it once and for all.

What is virtual memory?

Virtual memory, also known as page file or swap file, is a file on your hard disk that Windows uses in addition to physical memory (RAM) whenever the need arises. For example, when you are running an application or a process your RAM can’t handle, virtual memory is there to help. Usually the page file is 1.5 times the amount of physical memory, i.e. a system with 512 MB of RAM will have 768 MB page file.

Why does the “low on virtual memory” error occur?

There are two things that usually cause this error:

  • You don’t have enough RAM;
  • An application on your computer is buggy and is causing a memory leak.

How to fix it?

Getting rid of this error is not too difficult, especially if it happens because your computer doesn’t have enough RAM. If that’s the case, all you need to do is add more physical memory to speed up computer performance. If you can’t do it immediately, you can increase the size of the page file. Here’s how to do it:

  • Right-click on My Computer and go to Properties.
  • Click on the Advanced tab (or Advanced system settings link if you are using Windows 7 or Vista) and then click on the Settings button in the Performance section.
  • A new window will open. Go to the Advanced tab.
  • Find the Virtual memory section and click on the Change button.
  • Select the System managed size option or manually change the size of the page file.
  • Click OK.

However, if the error is caused by a buggy application, you’ll first need to identify the culprit. To do that, open the

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Task Manager (press Ctrl+Alt+Del on your keyboard) and go to the Processes tab. Then click on View –> Select Columns. Check the Virtual Memory Size checkbox and click OK. Now the Task Manager will be showing how much virtual memory each application is using. If you click on the VM Size column name twice, the processes will be sorted based on how much virtual memory they are using, from largest to smallest. You will instantly see which process in the most hungry one.
Then you’ll need to find the application that’s running the process – some, like firefox.exe, are pretty obvious.
If you are not that familiar with processes, download a program called Process Explorer. It doesn’t require installation – all you need to do is run the .exe file. Basically, this program is a much more thorough Task Manager alternative. Once it’s open, click on View –> Select Columns. Then go to the Process Memory tab and check the Virtual Size checkbox. Click OK. Like in Windows Task Manager, you can sort the results. Every process will have the information about the application running it. If you need even more information, hover your mouse over the process in question.

Now that you know which program is causing low virtual memory, you can try to fix it. First of all try updating the software – usually updates fix bugs like that. If that doesn’t work, try uninstalling and reinstalling the application. If that doesn’t work either, contact the software support team and search the Internet for that particular software problem.

You can also use the tool designed by Auslogics to find out why exactly virtual memory is so slow on your PC. Our software doesn’t contain malware, it’s safe and free.

Is the question how to make my computer faster still bothering you? Read our other tips and tricks on how to increase computer speed.

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