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This article contains information and commonly asked questions about virtual memory in Microsoft Windows.
Windows uses a dynamic virtual memory manager to handle swap file duties. You should use the default virtual memory settings whenever possible. However, if you have limited hard disk space you may want to set some of the virtual memory settings manually.
In order to provide more memory to applications than is physically present in the computer in the form of RAM, Windows uses hard disk space to simulate RAM. The amount of RAM in the computer plus the size of the paging file (also known as the swap file) equals the total physical memory, or virtual memory, size. Windows uses a dynamic paging file that remains at a size of 0K until it is needed. The paging file can grow to use all the available space on the hard disk if it is necessary. This is the default setting for the paging file. You should use this setting if possible.
If you have limited hard disk space, other applications may reduce the amount of virtual memory below that needed by Windows and its applications. If this occurs, choose the "Let me specify my own virtual memory settings" option button on the Performance tab of the My Computer property sheet. You can use this option to set a minimum and maximum size for the paging file. Setting this too low can result in "out of memory" errors or worse when virtual memory requirements exceed the maximum limit.
You can also choose to use no virtual memory. You should use this option only if there is enough RAM to meet all the needs of Windows and the applications you run.
NOTE: The Disable Virtual Memory option is unavailable on computers with 8 MB of RAM or less.
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