How to Increase Virtual Memory in Windows 10

Yes, you can manually adjust your page file

There are a lot of reasons why your Windows 10 PC might slow down. One of the most common is a combination of two things: not having enough RAM and not having enough virtual memory.

This combination can lead to poor performance and error messages about low virtual memory. The easiest way to fix both of these issues is to increase virtual memory in Windows 10.

What Is Virtual Memory in Windows 10?

Two terms you may hear used interchageably are "virtual memory" and "paging file."

Both of these refer to a file on your hard drive where Windows temporarily moves information that it would normally store in RAM. Whenever you no longer have enough RAM memory available, Windows uses this paging file instead.

The configured size and capacity of this file is referred to as virtual memory. While it isn't an actual hardware memory card like RAM, it serves the same purpose.

The biggest difference between RAM and virtual memory is that the paging file used for virtual memory is stored on your hard drive. Reading and writing to the hard drive is much slower than reading and writing to RAM memory cards. So while using virtual memory allows you to do more than you could without it, you'll still notice a performance slowdown if your computer has to use virtual memory a lot.

Adjusting the Page File in Windows 10

Are you seeing warning messages like, "Your system is low on virtual memory"?

This is because your Windows 10 PC doesn't have enough RAM and is trying to write to virtual memory, but the page file that serves as virtual memory has a file size limit that's too low.

If you don't want to see these error messages, you need to increase virtual memory on Windows 10.

  1. Open the Control Panel and select System.

    While you're in the System window, make a note of the size of your currently available RAM. You will need this later. In the example shown here, there is 8 GB of available RAM.

    The System heading in Windows 10 settings
  2. In the System window, select Change Settings.

    Change Settings in the System window
  3. In the System Properties window, select the Advanced tab. In the Performance section, select the Settings button to open the Performance Options window.

    Performance settings in Windows 10
  4. Under Virtual memory, select the Change button to modify the virtual memory settings.

    Change button to change vitual memory in Windows
  5. In the Virtual Memory window, deselect Automatically manage paging file size for all drives. Select Custom size. Now you can set the Initial size and the Maximum size for your paging file.

    Screenshot of setting page file size

    As a rule of thumb, the paging file should be a minimum of 1.5 times the size of your installed RAM, and a maximum of 3 times your RAM size. For example, if you have 8 GB RAM, your minumum would be 1024 x 8 x 1.5 = 12,288 MB, and your maximum would be 1024 x 8 x 3 = 24,576 MB.

Keep in mind that if you set your paging file size at the upper limit, you could experience significant system slowdown, since data reads and writes to the hard drive where the paging file is stored are much slower than normal RAM. The minimum recommened size is usually enough of an increase to meet your needs. This is often double the amount that the system automatically sets.

Should You Change Virtual Memory in Windows 10?

Increasing the virtual memory in Windows 10 should only be used as a temporary fix to remove the errors. However, since performance when the system uses the paging file is always slower than when it uses RAM, it's not a good idea to keep your system running under these conditions.

You can use the increased virtual memory solution so that you can continue using your computer until you have time to purchase additional RAM memory cards and upgrade your system. You shouldn't use this as a permanent solution.