Error message: ‘Your system is low on virtual memory’

Satheesh C B | Wednesday, June 11, 2008 | 0 comments

Virtual memory is a part of the hard disk that Windows uses like extra memory. If this message appears in Windows XP, check that it is being managed properly.

Virtual memory, also known as a page file or swap file, is a file on your hard drive (C:\pagefile.sys by default) that Windows and applications use in addition to physical memory (RAM) as needed. The default and recommended size of this file is 1.5 times the amount of physical memory. Virtual memory is the sum of physical memory and the page file. So if your computer has 512 MB RAM, it will have a 768 MB page file by default, for a total of 1.25 GB of physical + virtual memory


To determine which application is causing this  problem.Press Ctrl+Alt+Del to access  Windows Task Manager. Navigate to Processes tab. Here you can see  the list of all the processes running in your system.Click View, Select Columns


Now you  can check the Virtual Memory usage  in your Processes tab. Click the top of the VM Size column to arrange the processes by their VM Size from largest to smallest.


Every application will use more memory the longer you keep it open. This is one reason that Windows becomes more and more unresponsive the longer you keep it running, and why you end up eeding to restart your computer periodically.

Similar problems and solutions

For more information, click the following article numbers to view the articles in the Microsoft Knowledge Base:

  • 308417  How to set performance options in Windows XP
  • 826513  "Your system is low on virtual memory" error message when you try to start an Office program
  • 811153 Virtual memory error message when you shut down the computer
  • 314482 How to configure paging files for optimization and recovery in Windows XP
  • Preventing low memory problems

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