Fixing the Windows ‘low or out of virtual memory’ errors

Windows uses hard disk storage when the memory needed by the runnning programs is bigger than the amount of RAM memory your PC has. This ‘virtual’ memory is called a page file and is located in C:/pagefile.sys.

Sometimes the error arises because one or more of the applications has a ‘memory leak’ bug. When this happens the program keeps reserving RAM but not releasing it when it is finished with it. Some version of Internet Explorer appear to have this problem and it is worth upgrading to the latest version.

You appear to need to keep at least 1.5 times your RAM size free on the disk to avoid problems. If you have 2Gb of RAM for example you would need at least 3Gb of free disk space. To further complicate matters, Windows seems on occasion to spuriously tell itself not to allocate any hard disk space to a page file.

Here is how to reset you page file setting and fix the problem:

  • Make sure you have enough free disk space, as above
  • Right click on My Computer and select ‘Properties’ (My computer may be found on your desktop or in Windows Explorer. To open windows Explorer press the Windows key and ‘E’ at the same time)
  • Click on the ‘Advanced’ tab
  • Click on the Performance ‘Settings’ button
  • Click on the ‘Advanced’ tab
  • Click on the Virtual memory ‘Change’ button
  • If you have more than one hard drive make sure the C: drive is highlighted.
  • The best option is to let Windows manage the amount of virtual memory, so click the System managed size’ option and click on the ‘Set’ button
  • Finally click on the ‘OK’ button