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Windows XP - Change Virtual Memory Settings

Welcome to this Windows XP tutorial on how to change the virtual memory settings. You may want to change the virtual memory settings for performance reasons. Windows XP will normally choose the correct settings for virtual memory although we'll show you where to change them.

Thinks To Note
  • Click the images to see a larger version
  • Yellow arrows or circles indicate where to look or click
  • Unless specified otherwise use the 'left' mouse button to click

Windows XP - Change Virtual Memory Settings

Desktop icons in windows xp

With Windows XP loaded to the desktop you should see the desktop icons.

With the mouse right click the My Computer icon and click properties from the menu that appears.

The system properties will be displayed.

The other way to access the system properties is via the 'System' utility in the control panel.

showing the system properties section in windows xp

You will see the System Properties load up and you will see several tabs along the top of this window.

We have tutorials to deal with each of these tabs individually otherwise this tutorial would be huge!

In this first tab 'General' you cannot make any changes although as you can see there is some useful information on this page.

Click the 'Advanced' tab.

advanced tab under system properties in windows xp

You will see three sections on the advanced tab. 'Performance', 'User Profiles','Startup and Recovery'.

Next to performance there is a 'Settings' button. Click this button.

performance options in windows xp

You will be presented with a performance options window with yet more settings and more tabs along the top.

From the tabs along the top click 'Advanced'

virtual memory options in windows xp

You will see several options on this next page as pictured in our example.

Near the bottom of the window is a section for virtual memory and a 'Change' button.

You can see that the total virtual memory also known as a 'paging file' is shown next to the change button. On our computer it is set to 2046MB.

Virtual memory is space on your computer hard drive that is used as though it is ram. It is always better to have more physical ram installed in the computer than to use more virtual memory.

Click the change button.

ychanging the paging file in windows xp

You will see the virtual memory window.

At the top of the window is a list of all the hard drives installed on the computer. You can have your paging file on any hard drive although it is usually on the same drive as your operating system as this is quicker.

In our example the paging file is on the c: drive.

You will see in the middle of the virtual memory window there are two boxes labelled 'Initial size(MB)' and 'Maximum Size(MB)'. Although it may sound odd you don't want too big a paging file.

It is accepted that your virtual memory should be 1.5 times the size of your ram. If your ram is 1GB then your initial page file should be roughly 1500 MB. You can set the maximum size to 1500 MB too.

To change the values just click the mouse into the initial or maximum box, delete the current values and enter the new values on your keyboard.

When you enter new virtual memory settings and click the 'Ok' button you may recieve a prompt to restart your computer.

The only time you may need to change this virtual memory settings is if you install more ram.

Click the 'Ok' button at the bottom of the virtual memory window, click 'Ok' again on the performance window and again on the system properties windows to exit back to the desktop.

Next tutorial - Change Remote Settings in Windows XP

Return to Windows XP Tutorial List