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How to manage Windows 10 Virtual Memory

Updated June 22, 2020

Optimizing Virtual Memory in Windows has always been an easy way to fine-tune the performance of a computer. When I started working with Windows computers in the 90s, the measurement of memory was Megabytes (MB), now it's Gigabytes (GB). The calculation contained in this article is for Windows computers that have 8 GB or less of memory. If your system has 16 GB or more of memory, you can give this Virtual Memory calculation a try, but you might find that letting Windows automatically manage the paging file will work. Give it a try and let us know how you make out in the comments below.

Your computer has two types of memory, Random Access Memory (RAM) and Virtual Memory. All programs use RAM, but when there isn't enough RAM for the application you're trying to run, Windows temporarily moves information that would usually be stored in RAM to a file on your hard disk called a Paging File. The data temporarily stored in the paging file is also referred to as virtual memory. Using virtual memory, in other words, moving information to and from the paging file, frees up enough RAM for running programs correctly.

The more RAM your computer has, the faster your programs will generally run. If a lack of RAM is slowing your computer, you might be tempted to increase virtual memory to compensate. However, your computer can read data from RAM much more quickly than from a hard disk, so adding RAM is a better solution.

If you receive error messages that warn of low virtual memory, you need to either add more RAM or increase your paging file size so that you can run the program on your computer. Windows usually manages this automatically, but you can manually change the virtual memory size if the default size isn't large enough for your needs.

If you have more than one drive in your computer, you can have more than one pagefile. If you have a Solid State Drive (SSD) and a Hard Disk Drive (HDD), I recommend placing the paging file on the HDD, as Windows is continuously reading and writing to the virtual memory. This wear and tear can shorten the life span of an SSD.

How to calculate Windows 10 Virtual Memory / Paging File

There is a formula for calculating the correct pagefile size. The Initial size is one and a half (1.5) x the amount of total system memory. The Maximum size is three (3) x the initial size. So let's say you have 4 GB (1 GB = 1,024 MB x 4 = 4,096 MB) of memory. The initial size would be 1.5 x 4,096 = 6,144 MB and the maximum size would be 3 x 6,144 = 18,432 MB.

How to change Windows 10 Virtual Memory / Paging File

All the information and links you will need are going to be on the System page.

  1. Bring up the System page by either:
    • Pressing the Windows logo key Windows logo key + Pause
    • or
    • Open File Explorer by left-clicking the manilla folder icon on the Taskbar or pressing the Windows logo key Windows logo key + E simultaneously. When File Explorer is open, right-click on This PC and select Properties on the context menu that appears.
  2. Make a note of the installed memory (RAM)
    System page inside of Windows 10
  3. Click on the Advanced system settings link
  4. Click on the Advanced tab of the System Properties dialog box
    System Properties dialog box inside of Windows 10
  5. Click on the Settings ... button in the Performance section
  6. Click on the Advanced tab of the Performance Options dialog box
    Performance Options dialog box inside of Windows 10
  7. Click on the Change ... button inside of the Virtual memory section
  8. Deselect the Automatically manage paging file size for all drives checkbox
    Virtual Memory dialog box inside of Windows 10
  9. Select Custom size and enter the initial size and maximum size using the calculation shown above
  10. Click on the Set button

Comments (29) -

Still a little unclear about the actual memory size number calculation, but will try. thanks.

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Why is the initial and maximum amounts so much higher than the recommended amount? And for my aging brain, can you confirm that by "memory", you mean RAM?

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Scott St. Gelais

Virtual memory is a file (pagefile.sys) that Windows uses when you run out of space in the Random Access Memory (RAM). The virtual memory will expand and contract as need, so this why there are initial and maximum sizes. The calculation was originally used when computers had small amount of RAM, but can still be helpful if you have up to 8GB of RAM. Remember that the 64-bit version of Windows 10 requires 2GB of RAM just for itself. So if you have only 4GB of RAM, the 64-bit version of Windows 10 is taking 50% (2GB) right off the top. Once you start running programs, the amount of free RAM will drop until Windows pages it out to the virtual memory. That's why it's called pagefile.sys.

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Would there be any risk? Like system failure or total damage to my laptop?

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Scott St. Gelais

There is no risk of damage to your computer in changing the virtual memory settings.

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What if you have two partition, what is difference of VRAM i shall set in each drive?

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Scott St. Gelais

If you have two partitions, you should use the one that Windows is installed on.

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Porfirio Guzman

I had set these configurations but I already have ReadyBoost configured. Will the new configuration on the virtual memory affect my ReadyBoost setup?

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Scott St. Gelais

ReadyBoost and the Paging File are two different items used for getting better performance. Windows uses ReadyBoost as supplemental RAM, helping to lower disk I/O. It doesn't replace the Paging File, but it can increase the performance of systems with a small amount of RAM.

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Porfirio Guzman

Thanks for your response. I have two drives a c: in which the operating system is installed and a D: that’s labeled DATA but is empty with 558gb available. Should I use the the D drive instead for the page file?

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Scott St. Gelais

Are they two different disks or just two partitions on one disk? If they are partitions, use the C:\ drive. If they are separate disks like an SSD and HDD, then use the D:\ drive for the page file.

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Porfirio Guzman

I checked out my specs and found one 1 TB HD drive which they are partitioned  into 2 drives.

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Brant Derochie

okay, if anyone is wondering if this is some form of trickery, it's not,  i run a amd a4 +  GF zodiac 1760. 8gs ram.  i recently bought a game that was eating my ram like breakfast. i was about to give up and go back to console. but i saw this page on google. You are a god, You turned my PC gaming life back to what i remember it being! Thank you geek master!!!

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How do I know that my C drive and D drive are the same disks or they're separated?
Sorry for my poor knowledge Smile)

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Scott St. Gelais

You can find out where a drive letter / partition is located by opening Disk Management. Just right-click on the Start button or press the Windows Logo key + X to bring up the Power User menu and then left-click on Disk Management.

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This worked a treat on my Acer laptop running Windows 10...there's definitely a noticeable improvement in performance! Don't forget to reboot after changing the settings so that they take effect. Thank you Smile

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Thanks Geeks In Phoenix. Directions were perfect. Hope it helps my computer running Windows 10 with 2GB RAM!

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Hi,
Great video, very helpful.
So I have 2 drives:
C: [SSD (OS)]
D: [mass Storage]

Due to my mucking about (before I saw your informative video) I now have exactly what you warned against.

it now looks like this.
Drive [Volume Label]         Paging File Size (MB)
C: [SSD (OS)]                         1399 - 1399
D: [mass Storage]                6144 - 18432

How do I remove that Paging File from my  C: drive?
You said it was harmful?

I would be so greatful if you could help me.

Regards,
Maria



Reply

Scott St. Gelais

Go back into the Virtual Memory settings and make sure that 'Automatically manage paging file size for all drives' is deselected. Then left-click on the C: drive and left-click on 'No paging file'. Then left-click on the 'Set' button to the right.

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Thank you so much, that worked!
I did get a message that said something like: I would no longer be able to report errors?! (not sure exactly), but I trust your judgement, so I ignored it.

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this website is very useful.

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After reading this, I switched the page file system over from my ssd to my hd and increased the limits.  It lower my memory usage by about 7-9%!!

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Does file paging help in case l want to play a 8gb game yet l HV a 2gb ram

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Geeks in Phoenix

If you have a program that requires 8GB of RAM (Random Access Memory), the program cannot not use VM (Virtual Memory) to run. Virtual memory comes into play when switching between programs. Example: When you switch from Program A to Program B, the RAM that Program A is using gets written to the VM and Program B gets loaded back into RAM.

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Thank you very much for the article.

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Hi, are there any pros or cons in checking 'System managed size' and allowing Windows to manage this?

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Geeks in Phoenix

When you let Windows manage the virtual memory on systems with small amounts of memory (4-8 GB), Windows will usually create small page files too. We always recommend using the formula in this article for systems like that.

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So I'm bad at maths. I have 16GB ram and I did the calculation (Least I think I did) 1,5x 16,384 and I got 24,576. I'm just thinking that can't be right, So. If it isn't too much to ask. What's my initial and maximum size I need to put in

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Geeks in Phoenix

With 16GB or more of RAM, you should be perfectly fine allowing Windows to manage the pagefile. But if you want to set it manually, the initial size would be 24,576 MB, and the max size would be 73,728 MB.

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