On Windows 10, virtual memory (or paging file) is an essential component (hidden file) designed to remove and temporarily store less frequently use modified pages allocated in RAM (random-access memory) to the hard drive. Using this approach allows the system to prioritize faster physical memory for more frequent processes and applications, improving the overall performance and preventing the device from locking up in the event it runs out of system memory.
In addition, the paging file is important to support crash dumps during a system crash (Blue Screen of Death), as without a large enough page file, a dump with all the contents of the system memory won't be created.
Although the system does a pretty good job managing the paging file size according to various factors automatically, sometimes, you may still need to increase the default virtual memory values manually. For instance, when you see the "Your system is low on virtual memory" message. You're noticing slow performance over time, or a particular application requires specific parameters to work as intended.
If you're experiencing issues with virtual memory, the device doesn't have enough memory, or you're trying to improve the system performance, Windows 10 allows you to increase the size of the virtual memory in at least two ways using the Settings app and Command Prompt.
In this Windows 10 guide, we'll walk you through the steps to increase the size of the virtual memory to improve the system responsiveness.
How to increase virtual memory using Settings
To adjust the virtual memory size on Windows 10, use these steps:
Warning: Although anyone can change the paging file size, it's only recommended to use these instructions if you have a valid reason, and you know what you're doing.
- Open Settings.
- Click on System.
- Click on About.
- Under the "Related settings" section, click the System info option.
- Click the "Advanced system settings" option from the left pane.
- Click the Advanced tab.
- Under the "Performance" section, click the Settings button.
- Click the Advanced tab.
- Under the "Virtual memory" section, click the Change button.
- Clear the Automatically manage paging files size for all drives option.
- Select the Custom size option.
- Specify the initial and maximum size for the paging file in megabytes.Quick tip: The size of the virtual memory is unique to each device, and it can't be generalized. However, usually, it's recommended to use a number that's one and a half times the total available memory for the "Initial size" and three times of available memory for the "Maximum size" when possible.
- Click the Set button.
- Click the OK button.
- Click the OK button again.
- Restart your device.
Once you complete the steps, you should notice an increase in performance when navigating Windows 10 as well as when running multiple apps at the same time.
If you need to revert the changes, you can use the same instructions, but on step No. 10, make sure to check the Automatically manage paging size for all drives option, and restart your device.
How to increase virtual memory using Command Prompt
To modify the paging file size with Command Prompt, use these steps:
- Open Start.
- Search for Command Prompt, right-click the top result, and select the Run as administrator option.
- Type the following command to understand the current status of the paging file and press Enter:
wmic pagefile list /format:list
- Type the following command to switch form manage to custom virtual memory and press Enter:
wmic computersystem where name="%computername%" set AutomaticManagedPagefile=false
- Type the following command to set the initial and maximum size of the virtual memory and press Enter:
wmic pagefileset where name="C:\\pagefile.sys" set InitialSize=YOUR-INIT-SIZE,MaximumSize=YOUR-MAX-SIZEThis example sets the paging file to "9216" and "12288" megabytes for the initial and maxium size:
wmic pagefileset where name="C:\\pagefile.sys" set InitialSize=9216,MaximumSize=12288
- Type the following command to restart your computer and press Enter:
shutdown -r -t 00
After you complete the steps, the device will start using the new values for virtual memory, which, if done correctly, should help to improve system performance.
If you no longer need to use the custom size for virtual memory, you can always revert the changes and allow Windows 10 to manage this feature using this command:
wmic computersystem where name="%computername%" set AutomaticManagedPagefile=true
and restarting your device.
While it's recommended to use one and a half times the available memory for the initial and three times the memory for the maximum size, make sure to test the changes and adjust the values if you're experiencing freezes, crashes, and other problems.
Although it's possible to disable virtual memory on Windows 10, even when you have a large amount of system memory, it's not recommended to disable this feature. Usually, if you disable paging file, some applications may stop working, some system features may not work efficiently, and you may end up with some weird behaviors.
Mauro Huculak is technical writer for WindowsCentral.com. His primary focus is to write comprehensive how-tos to help users get the most out of Windows 10 and its many related technologies. He has an IT background with professional certifications from Microsoft, Cisco, and CompTIA, and he's a recognized member of the Microsoft MVP community.
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