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Thread: Virtual memory?

  1. #1
    Senior Member keps's Avatar
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    Virtual memory?

    Can anyone explain what virtual memory is, and how to get more of it?

    My computer is going slow, and has ground to a halt a couple of times recently. Both times, a message came up saying the virtual memory was low, but there were no directions about what, if anything, to do about it.

  2. #2
    Quote Originally Posted by keps
    Can anyone explain what virtual memory is, and how to get more of it?

    My computer is going slow, and has ground to a halt a couple of times recently. Both times, a message came up saying the virtual memory was low, but there were no directions about what, if anything, to do about it.
    Virtual Memory or your "Paging File" are the same thing. It's just an amount of space on your hard drive that your computer uses when it runs out of "real memory"... aka "system memory". Some computers are sold with a very little amount of system memory in them to save on cost. If you're running XP you should have at least 512MBs of system memory. I bought my gaming computer with 1GB but added another 1GB for a total of 2GBs. Many of the newer games and sims need lots of system memory so they don't have to use virtual memory (on the hard drive) which slows game play down considerably.

    Most computers come from the factory allowing the Operating System (I assume you have XP that now calls it the "Paging File" and I think it's unlimited) to control your virtual memory or paging file. To check, go to the Control Panel/System/Advanced Tab/Performance/Setting Button/Advanced Tab again and you'll see 3 items listed there. "Processor scheduling" (should be ticked to "Programs"), Memory usage" (should be ticked to "Programs") and finally your "Virtual memory". Click on the "Change" button and look to see how it's set. For normal usage it should be set to "System managed size".

    I have my virtual memory set to "Custom size"... and it's set to run on another hard drive. It works faster this way because it uses a different "channel" but since I have so much real memory or RAM it probably never gets used anyway. If you ever choose to use the "Custom size" option the rule of thumb is to set the amount to 1 and 1/2 times the amount of "real" system memory that you have installed. And always set the "Initial size" and "Maximum size" to the same number so it runs static and not dynamic.

    But if you want to speed up your computer the best and cheapest thing is to clean it (your hard drive) up. Use your "System Tools" (Start/All Programs/Accessories/System Tools/Disk Cleanup and then Disk Defragmenter) to "Cleanup" your hard drive" and then "Defragment" it. Compressing your old files may take quite a long time... that's one option in "Disk Cleanup". If you're running low on system memory (getting a warning) then you're having a system memory AND hard drive problem. Is it getting full with a lot of programs and stuff installed on it? Go to "Start" then "My Computer" and right click on the C: icon and then left click on "Properties". That will show you how much hard drive space you have available. If it's getting close to 80% full it's time for a good cleaning or a larger hard drive. Or install another one and have two of them. I have two hard drives in my computer to help keep things organized and running fast. My house and life are a mess but my computer is lean, clean and mean!

    But the best way is after you've done these two simple procedures (Disk Cleanup and Disk Defragmenter) is to add some more "System RAM" or "Memory Modules". System RAM is pretty cheap nowadays. You can go to Crucial and use their "Crucial Memory Advisor™ Tool" but probably use their "Crucial System Scanner" first and it will tell you what you already have installed and give you a recommendation as to what you may want to upgrade to. It's easy to install memory.... you just need to know if you have a free slot or two for it. The "Crucial System Scanner" will probably tell you this.

    Or you can download and run a free program called "The Belarc Advisor" that will show you how many memory modules you have installed and how many empty slots you have available, if any.

    Windows XP uses around 150MBs just to run its fat self. And if you have a bunch of stuff running in the background or worms, trojans and/or viruses in your Operating System that will slow you down too.

    Have you run an up-to-date, anti-virus and anti-malware program lately? If you have a fast connection try using Trend Micro's online scanner called "Housecall". That might pick up some things your current anti-virus scanning program isn't. And always run an updated Ad-Aware SE Personal Edition 1.06 once a week and delete all the cookies and malware and even delete some bad registry entries that build up in your computer. You may need to sign into CareCure manually after you do this if you delete their cookie but if you know your username and password, no problem. Or just tell them that you "Lost your Password" and they'll send you it again or another one in a few minutes via email. Also clean up your system's registry with one of the many free registry cleaner programs available. These can screw you up a little bit if you're not careful but most are very safe to run. I use RegCleaner and haven't had any problems. Well, one a few years back.... the MS Speech Engine program was losing its registry entries so I needed to add it to the program's "Ignore" list.

    Good luck Keps.

    Bob.
    "Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a great battle." - Philo of Alexandria

  3. #3
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    To change the size of the virtual memory paging file

    You must be logged on as an administrator or a member of the Administrators group in order to complete this procedure. If your computer is connected to a network, network policy settings might also prevent you from completing this procedure.

    Open System in Control Panel.
    On the Advanced tab, under Performance, click Settings.
    On the Advanced tab, under Virtual memory, click Change.
    Under Drive [Volume Label], click the drive that contains the paging file you want to change.
    Under Paging file size for selected drive, click Custom size, and type a new paging file size in megabytes in the Initial size (MB) or Maximum size (MB) box, and then click Set.
    If you decrease the size of either the initial or maximum page file settings, you must restart your computer to see the effects of those changes. Increases typically do not require a restart.

  4. #4
    Suspended Andy's Avatar
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    I seem to remember something about virtual memory messages being some crud running in the background jamming up the works, but it was so long ago I forgot what it was...big help, eh? . But right now is quite the ideal time to fix that as memory pricing is currently falling through the floor. To start, how much memory do you have in your computer? If it is less than 512MB on an XP machine, you will run into performance issues with page file usage. Much more noticable at the 256MB and below levels, as your hard drive becomes your memory...and that runs a lot slower. In general at least 512MB of physical memory is preferred.

    Check the Crucial advisor Bob linked, find out what you need...but dont buy from there. Next check the cheapest internet computer parts source for your country, I'm not sure what that is in the UK, but a good start in the US is newegg.com. Memory prices are almost 1/2 of what they were some 3 months ago, with no signs of slowing down apparent...fancy chart

  5. #5
    Senior Member Bhaskar's Avatar
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    Right click on my computer, go to properties. Then Click on Advanced -> Performance -> Settings -> Advanced. Find the Virtual Memory



    Now Click on change.



    Now select the partition where your windows is not installed. Commonly its installed in C:, so choose any other partition and select Custom. Now in Intital size allocate min. amount which is atleast twice of your physical memory or RAM, i.e if you are useing 256 MB of RAM then allocate 512. And in the max. size allocate 1024.

    Click on OK. Then Apply. OK. Again Apply Ok. Restart your Machine.

  6. #6
    Senior Member keps's Avatar
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    Thank you everyone for your help. Thanks to you lot, the problem is now fixed!

    I got my bf to read your replies (as most of the tech-speak went over my head ), and he understood what you all meant.

    So, he did a defragmentation (cheers Bob), and a hard drive disc clean-up.
    Did the defragmentation overnight, as it took so long.

    The virtual memory now appears to be perfect, and the computer is now back running at high speed.
    The bf is going to be removing stuff as well and putting stuff on disc to get rid of more stuff on the machine.

    Andy - I do have an XP machine. We now have 42GB of the original 160GB. Of course, before defrag we had a lot less than 42, which was the problem.

    Thank you again to everyone who replied, because it was all useful stuff.

  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by keps
    Thank you everyone for your help. Thanks to you lot, the problem is now fixed!

    I got my bf to read your replies (as most of the tech-speak went over my head ), and he understood what you all meant.

    So, he did a defragmentation (cheers Bob), and a hard drive disc clean-up.
    Did the defragmentation overnight, as it took so long.

    The virtual memory now appears to be perfect, and the computer is now back running at high speed.
    The bf is going to be removing stuff as well and putting stuff on disc to get rid of more stuff on the machine.

    Andy - I do have an XP machine. We now have 42GB of the original 160GB. Of course, before defrag we had a lot less than 42, which was the problem.

    Thank you again to everyone who replied, because it was all useful stuff.
    Hi Karen,

    Good to hear that you and your boyfriend got things running better. Defragmenting doesn't add any space to your hard drive, it just rearranges things to where they should be so they can be accessed faster. Kinda like a librarian putting the books back into their proper location after a bunch of unruly 3rd graders do their thing in the library! Well maybe it clears up some extra space by reorganizing things... I'll have to check the next time I defrag.

    I'm not surprised it took so long to defrag since it appears as though it's never been done before on your machine. And "Compressing Old Files" can really take a long time too if that gets neglected. I Disk Cleanup and remove any programs or games I don't think I'll ever use again and then Defrag. I do it about once a week and it only takes a few minutes. Always Disk Cleanup first, then Defrag. It's just regular computer housekeeping.

    I have my computer set up so it doesn't get very fragmented by "partitioning" my hard drive. My primary or master hard drive has 3 partitions on it. It's only 74GBs since it runs faster than most (10,000RPMs) hard drives but I have 30GBs allocated for my C: partition where the Operating System is installed, 5GBs allocated for the D: partition which I have only for my "Virtual Memory/Paging File" and 35GBs allocated for my E: partition where I load all my games and simulators. Then on my second hard drive, that I can remove and replace back into my backup computer with its own copy of XP already in place, it has 4 partitions on it. It used to have 6 until I screwed up trying to get my sister's computer running by using it. Her computer recognized my C: partition as a single drive and I lost everything when it formatted the whole hard drive. Duh. I use that (excluding the C: partition where my Alienware XP Operating System is located) for storing "static" stuff like pictures, videos, music, downloaded exes etc. And now for my Virtual Memory/Paging File.

    In this way all those static files that are stored on my other hard drive can be used in both computers and don't get intermingled with my programs on either of the C: partitions, slowing them down by getting fragmented. And with my games and simulators on another partition E: on my primary hard drive, they don't get intermingled with the C: programs and files either.

    And since my C: partition (aka drive) is smaller it can now be cleaned up and defragmented in just a couple/few minutes. My gaming/simulator partition hardly ever gets very fragmented so only takes a minute or so to cleanup and defragment.

    It's no surprise that your quite full 160GB hard drive must have seemed like it was taking forever to cleanup and defrag! And you only have 42GBs of free space left on it? It's getting quite full, what the hell do you have on it!!?? Never mind! I probably have more than 3/4s of free space on all my partitions.... except my J: partition where I store most of my static files. But that stuff just lays there doing nothing until I need it and is outta the way and doesn't have an effect on my computer's speed so can be filled up almost to the max. You need a certain amount of "wiggle room" on a hard drive for XP to run properly. You'll never get XP to run correctly if you ever fill your 160GB hard disk drive to its maximum.

    You're getting close to the 80% mark on your hard drive so try not to keep adding stuff that's unnecessary... without perhaps removing one-for-one some other stuff. It's amazing what we can learn to live without if we have a hard drive failure or need to do a format and clean install of the Operating System. That's another reason to have multiple partitions. You can backup all your "can't live without" stuff on the other partitions and format and clean install XP on C: without blinking an eye should it get corrupted. All your pictures, videos, music and downloaded exes etc are still on your hard drive, tucked away safely on the other partition(s) but are just as easy to access as if they were on a single C: drive. I think large hard drives should come with at least a 20% storage partition D: on them by default and if you want to, you can format it into a single drive when you install the OS. Most people don't know about creating partitions and they are so useful.

    Anything REALLY important should be backed up onto CD-Rs or DVDs and kept separate from your computer, at another location or even in a safety deposit box.

    If you ever need to format and clean install XP consider creating at least one other partition for storage purposes. In this way you won't have to concern yourself with backing up onto CD-Rs or DVDs anything the next time you format and clean install the OS, should you need to. It only takes about 10 seconds to create one and it can be formatted from within XP. But you can only do this during the format/clean install procedure of your hard drive. Well there's an $80 (???) program called "Partition Magic" that can partition a hard drive without formatting it but I'd never use it. And with a hard drive that's already kinda full like yours it would make it difficult with the Partition Magic program. And probably take hours and hours to complete.

    Don't forget to download Ad-Aware SE Personal Edition 1.06 that I linked to. Everyone should run this or similar program once a week (update it regularly). And the RegCleaner program too. It's safe to run it because even if it does remove (which it shouldn't) some registry entries it automatically saves a backup copy of your registry that you can revert back to. I bet Ad-Aware will find hundreds of old cookies and malware files the first time you run it. And RegClean, maybe as many old useless registry entries as well.

    You probably only have one large C: drive or partition in your "My Computer: Hard Disk Drives". Here's how mine is set up:



    Bob.
    "Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a great battle." - Philo of Alexandria

  8. #8
    Suspended Andy's Avatar
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    Raptors, eh? . Check out that new 1T Hitachi, it is getting up there in speed close to the Raptors due to density. The price tag might be high, at least compared to the usual $100 drive. And spending that much $$ you almost want to RAID for the OMG factor, and you better have a ton of porn to store too! Unless you are doing something legit like pissing off the RIAA with music and movies. I'd almost just get 3 more drives same as what I have now and do a RAID 10 array, that might be cool and put one of those two RAID controllers my MB has to work. At $85 a crack I almost might to load up that machine with more crap. Think I need a hobby or something?

    Ok, back on topic after that bit of bored rambling...after loading some application it is good to defrag also, keeps the 'data here' picture looking nice and pretty...

  9. #9
    Karen, glad to read that your computer woes are no more.

    If I recall correctly Windows 98 and Millennium Edition had problems managing virtual memory.

    In some cases you can speed up Windows by almost 20% by removing unnecessary start-up tasks. To see what programs are running you will want to go to "Start," "Run," type "msconfig," and click the startup tab. I would recommend going to System Info to find out what each program is in your startup menu.

    How-to speed up Windows XP

    1. Open the Windows Control Panel
    2. Double-click on System
    3. Click on the Advanced Tab
    4. Click on the Settings button in the Performance section
    5. Place a check mark in the "Adjust for Best Performance" and click "Okay"

    Windows will lose some of its eye-catching appeal but the bump in performance is noticeable

  10. #10
    Many people have given great advice, so the only thing I can add is that you need to ensure that your pagefile is on the fastest drive in your system. You could always plug a 4 gig USB drive into your system and use it for the page file, but you're still better off adding memory. I run all 15k SCSI drives and they handle multi-tasking far better than IDE/SATA, but very few people are as geeky

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