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Increasing your virtual memory (paging file) with Windows XP

In many operating systems you can use free disk space (which is typically in a abundance) to emulate RAM. It’s obviously not as beneficial as physically adding more RAM to your machine, however here is a brief guide to customising your virtual memory configuration using Windows XP.

- Press the Windows Key + Pause|Break key to open the System Properties windows (there are many ways to do this!)


System Properties

System Properties

- Click on the Advanced tab.
– Click on the Settings button (under the Performance section).

System Properties - Advanced Tab

System Properties - Advanced Tab

- Click on the Advanced tab.

Performance Options

Performance Options

- Under the Virtual memory section, click on the Change button.

You might like to change the Processor scheduling and/or Memory usage to suit your needs.

Performance Options - Advanced Tab

Performance Options - Advanced Tab

- Select the Custom size radio button.

A good rule of thumb (well, my rule of thumb) is to set the Initial size (MB) to one-and-a-half times (1.5x) your actual RAM, the Maximum size (MB) to twice (2x.) This can be determined from the initial System Properties section.

In my case, I have 3.49Gb of reported RAM. Assuming 1024Mb == 1Gb then this is equivalent to approx. 3574Mb. Multiplying this by one-and-a-half (1.5x) equals 5361Mb (which is approx. equal to the Windows recommended 5359Mb.) Similarly, twice (2x) this value is 7148Mb (which is approx. equal to the used value of 3.5Gb x 1024Mb x 2 = 7168Mb).

- Click the Set button.
– Click the OK button.

Virtual Memory - Primary (C:\) Drive

Virtual Memory - Primary (C:) Drive

You can set the swap or virtual memory paging file on as many drives as you like – perhaps one that is not written to often in case this results in resource competition. This is an assumption I’ve made, so may not actually make a difference.

Virtual Memory - Secondary (D:\) Drive

Virtual Memory - Secondary (D:) Drive

- Continue clicking the OK button until you have exited all windows

You will be notified that the changes will not take affect until you restart your computer.

System Control Panel Applet

System Control Panel Applet

You can restart now, or defer restarting until later.

Systems Settings Change

Systems Settings Change

I believe that there are physical RAM limits (4Gb?) with 32-bit Operating Systems like Windows XP, however admit that I don’t know enough about the mechanics of this to be certain how/if it applies here. It might be pointless having a 7Gb paging file (let alone two!) as described above. Comments clarifying this are more than welcome.


Feel free to add any comments. If you require further clarification on any part of this how-to guide, please leave a comment, or you can email me at: ryan@kirgs.com

Ryan Kirgan is from Sydney, Australia.

Ryan Kirgan

Ryan Kirgan

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{ 1 } Comments

  1. Online Training | August 18, 2011 at 8:51 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for your explanation on how to increase virtual memory in windows XP. Definitely i will set up in my system.

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