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Virtual memory low

Hello I have a HP Pavillion Notebook Zv5160us running windows XP SP2 and it showed a popup that my computers virtual memory was low and that windows was increasing its size and that some programs would be denied while doing that. I want to know should I worry or should I do some cleaning up. I have alot of photos and music and I don't want to slow my computer down. I plan on buying a external Harddrive but until I do, I want to know if I am putting my computer in any danger?

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Re: virutal memory low

In reply to: Virtual memory low

Three questions to get a better picture of the situation:
1. Can you give the full and exact text of the popup? And the windows title (text in the blue bar at the top)?
2. Please tell the size of disk, and how much of it is occupied and how much is free (open My Computer, and have a look at the properties of drive c: to see it exactly).
3. What are your virtual memory settings? Search in Start>Help and Support how to find this in Config Panel>System Management>Computer Management or something like this (search for 'virtual memory'). I can't do it here right now.


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Do you have your photos

In reply to: Virtual memory low

and music saved elsewhere? If not, you are asking for trouble. Make a copy of everything you don't want to loose on CDs or DVDs and remove some of the data from your hard drive. You need approximately 20% of your hard drive free for it to work properly.

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In reply to: Virtual memory low

When your computer is running low on Random Access Memory (RAM) and more is needed than that installed, Windows uses hard disk space to simulate this memory which is known as "Virtual Memory" and also known as the "Paging" file that is stored on the boot partition (the partition that contains the operating system and its support files but can be changed by the user to anywhere wanted with a few caveats). By default, the hidden virtual memory paging file (named pagefile.sys) is created during the installation of Windows and configured to 1.5 times the RAM currently installed in the computer.

1. The article [Q314482] states the paging file (Pagefile.sys) is a hidden file on your computer's hard disk that Windows uses as if it were random access memory (RAM) -- the paging file and physical memory comprise virtual memory. By default, Windows stores the paging file on the boot partition (the partition that contains the operating system and its support files). The default and/or recommended paging file size is equal to 1.5 times the total amount of RAM (way short in my opinion). The Microsoft development team recommended that the paging file be moved to a different partition to enhance performance since Windows must perform disk reading and writing requests on both the system folder and the paging file and when the paging file is moved there is less competition between the reading and writing requests at generally the same time. The team however warns that should the paging file be completely removed (void), Windows cannot create a dump file (Memory.dmp) in which to write debugging information in the event that a kernel mode STOP error occurs, which can lead to extended downtime if a debug procedure is necessary to troubleshoot the error (See the, Configuring Recovery Techniques link in that reference, to include it's hyperlinked references).

2. The article [Q317277] describes the situation where the Windows Error Reporting tool prompts you to report a problem to Microsoft for troubleshooting purposes every time you restart the computer even if no error occurred during the previous session and continues even if you choose not to send the information. This problem occurs because after a Minidump (or memory dump) file is written, the paging file continues to have a flag set that indicates that a memory dump file needs to be written. This article discusses two possibilities you can use to solve this paging file problem.

3. The article [Q811153] warns that every time the computer is shutdown, you may receive the following error message at the "Windows is shutting down..." screen and that this behavior may occur if you have Symantec Norton Personal Firewall program installed which is included with Norton Internet Security, or if the Norton Personal Firewall file "Iamapp.exe" loads from the Startup group in the Windows registry:

Your system is low on virtual memory. Windows is increasing the size of your virtual memory paging file. During this process memory requested for some applications may be denied

Note: Or on booting the computer, an error similar to "&ltapplication&gt failed to initialize properly" may be rendered.

4. The article [Q314834] documents the method for clearing the Windows paging file (Pagefile.sys) during the shutdown process so that no unsecured data such as a password is contained in the paging file when the shutdown process is complete. Although clearing the paging file is not a suitable substitute for physical security of a computer, you might want to do this to increase the security of data on a computer while Windows is not running. In addition, enabling this feature may increase shutdown time.

5. Please note that when the "by design" Security Policy Setting "Clear virtual memory pagefile" (click to see an example screenshot) is enabled, the computer may take longer to shut down than normal (ensure that memory data fragments will not be paged to disk in clear text form at shutdown). This behavior occurs because the computer must physically write to each page in the pagefile to clear each page and the period of time it will take varies according to the pagefile size and the disk hardware involved.

Note: Enabling this security option also causes the hibernation file (hiberfil.sys) to be zeroed out when hibernation is disabled on a laptop system.

6. Windows XP Minimum RAM Requirement, "TechNet Windows XP Performance":

a. 64 MB:

? A computer with 64 MB of RAM will have sufficient resources to run Windows

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In reply to: RE:

Cursorcowboy (from Austin TesAs),

This is a computer NEWBIE forum???? Though your answer might be comprehensive, you could have answered this question in less than a paragraph. Waaay too much information for sure.


Windows XP is constantly performing its own resource maintenance. The message you got was informational, just too make you aware that you have asked XP to perform more duties it is currently not set up to do. This can happen if you try to execute several programs at once, or the data required by any single program exceeds current capabilities. Cursorcowboy(from Austin Texas) got it right,but I would increase physical memory when you can and keep monitoring your harddrive space. And don't forget to defragment your harddrive regularly.

good luck

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No harm

In reply to: Virtual memory low

You will not harm your computer by running short of virtual memory, but you might get a crash with a blue screen saying 'windows has closed down to prevent harm to your computer' (and a memory dump) or words to that effect. This occurs if too many applications are running simultaneously. As Kees pointed out you can alter the virtual memory settings manually.

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