How to Check Virtual Memory on Your Windows PC - dummies

How to Check Virtual Memory on Your Windows PC

By Dan Gookin

Virtual memory is disk storage that’s used to supplement the actual memory (RAM) in your PC. When memory resources get low, chunks of memory are quickly written to disk. The memory that’s written is then freed for other purposes. Windows manages virtual memory, so it’s not something you have to fuss over.

If you want to fuss over it anyway, follow these steps:

  1. Press Win+Break to quickly summon the System window or the System Properties dialog box.

  2. In Windows 7 and Windows Vista, click the Advanced System Settings link.

  3. In Windows Vista, click the Continue button or type the administrator’s password to proceed.

  4. Click the Advanced tab in the System Properties dialog box.

  5. In the Performance area, click the Settings button.

    The Performance Options dialog box appears.

  6. Click the Advanced tab in the Performance Options dialog box.

    Information about virtual memory appears near the bottom of the dialog box. The paging file is the disk image of your computer’s memory. Windows sets its size for optimal performance based on your computer’s configuration.

    Honestly, you have nothing further to do. However, if you are still inclined to look further, follow Step 7.

  7. Click the Change button.

    The Virtual Memory dialog box appears. Again, Windows creates the settings shown in the dialog box; you don’t need to change a thing.


  8. Quickly, before the urge to screw things up overwhelms you, click OK and close all open dialog boxes and window.

    Do it now!

The virtual memory paging file is most likely set to be about 1 percent of your PC’s hard drive size. So, if you have a 200GB hard drive, you probably have a 2GB paging file. If the paging file setting is smaller than 1 percent of hard drive capacity, setting the paging file to approximately 1 percent of the hard drive’s size may improve performance.

  • Virtual memory was once an issue in older versions of Windows. People still think it’s something they can mess with to improve performance. Although that was once true, it’s no longer the case.

  • You must remove the check mark by Automatically Manage Paging File Size for All Drives to set the paging file size in Windows 7 and Windows Vista.

  • Having a larger paging file doesn’t improve system performance. If you needed a larger paging file, Windows would allocate one for you. Trust me: The system works.

  • Yes, if you configure the computer with No Paging File, you may see those Out of memory error messages and experience extremely poor computer performance.

  • Having a larger paging file doesn’t make up for a PC with an insufficient amount of memory. To fix that problem, buy more memory!