How much virtual memory is necessary in Windows 7?

Sonny Bass September 15, 2011

In Windows XP I normally allowed 1.5 times the physical RAM for page files. With 8GB of RAM in 64 bit Windows 7 I have been wondering if 12GB of virtual was useful or a waste of hard drive space. With a mechanical drive I didn’t see any harm with the space, but have been considering SSD, and that’s a lot of space if I am not benefiting from it.

  1. Anonymous
    September 16, 2011 at 10:51 am

    Change the size of virtual memory
    What is virtual memory?

    Find out how much RAM your computer has

    VirtualAlloc function


    Usually, the virtual memory of the Windows 7 Operating System does not have to be more than 1024Mb since high virtual memory in Windows 7 Operating System does not offer much benefit except only when you are opening too many programs and applications at once.The main problem is that the Windows 7 Operating System itself consumes much of the available space. This is because the virtual memory of the Windows 7 Operating System is controlled by the personal computer by default. If you do not have much space left, then the operating system will take note of this and will only save a small amount of the drive space for the virtual memory. This will not only make the OS slow but it can also cause the periodic freezing of the Windows 7 Operating System. In some rare cases, this may even cause the Blue Screen of Death (BSOD).

  2. Sonny Bass
    September 16, 2011 at 8:31 am

    Wrong tab on first.

  3. Sonny Bass
    September 16, 2011 at 8:28 am

    Here is screenshot

  4. Jeffery Fabish
    September 16, 2011 at 7:51 am

    @ James
    Windows does not know what your computer's use will be,
    adjusting it may be in your best interest if you're doing anything more
    resource intensive.

    Sonny, if you ever end up not needing the full 12GB's you can always adjust it later. You can monitor how much your using by going to the Resource Monitor (Start -> Search: "Resource Monitor") and go to the "Memory" tab.

    • Sonny Bass
      September 16, 2011 at 8:23 am

      Jeffery, in resource monitor,under memory tab I have never been able to find virtual memory,only physical(just looked again under each tab) what am I missing?

  5. Jeffery Fabish
    September 16, 2011 at 7:08 am

    As a general rule of thumb, you should have double the amount of virtual memory as you do ram. So if you have 8GB's of ram, you should allocate 16GB's of virtual memory. However my current system (Windows 7 8GB's of RAM; used for programming and gaming) has 4GB's of virtual memory available, but it usually only uses about 1GB max. That's because typically developers don't prefer to store data in virtual memory, rarely is it necessary. With ram being so cheap, developers have forgotten about optimization and instead dump everything into RAM.

    You should also configure Windows to clear the virtual memory on shutdown to clear up that space. This will add a minute or so to the shutdown process but is good for security and performance.

    Recommended for casual computing: 2 - 4GB's
    Recommend for casual gaming (D3D/OGL): 5GB's
    Recommended for extreme gaming/modeling: 10GB's

    • James Bruce
      September 16, 2011 at 7:36 am

      Do you suggest actually changing the setting though? For some reason I've always figured Windows 7 was clever enough to get it right without adjustments, so I've never even considered changing it.

      • Sonny Bass
        September 16, 2011 at 7:45 am

        When I installed the system Windows only allocated 7.83GB's of virtual memory. I changed it to 12GB's. This was on a fresh build.

    • Sonny Bass
      September 16, 2011 at 7:38 am

      Thanks, I was under the obviously errant assumption that the page file was cleared at shutdown by default.First shutdown after edit was about 1:30 min. Photoshop, and video encoding are about heaviest uses, will see how 5GB's works

    • Jackie
      April 30, 2012 at 5:46 am

      What do I put for INITIAL SIZE (in MB) & MAXIMUM (IN MB) as I am customizing the paging files . . . been trying really hard to understand all this stuff & have been searching for answers, and doing just about everything that I find answers too - - on my PC freezing - - problem is, I multi-task like crazy - - - ! HELP
      BTW - I have 4.00 GB of RAM

      • ha14
        April 30, 2012 at 7:37 am

        if you multi task why you do not upgrade your processor?

        What's the ideal page-file size?

      • Bruce Epper
        April 30, 2012 at 12:07 pm

        If you want to make your computer perform better, make the size static by entering the same value in both the initial size and maximum. By doing this, the system won't keep changing the size of the file when it deems it is either too small or too large. This has a HUGE performance impact.

        Next, you need to figure out how much of a burder you will be placing on memory resources. If you are running programs like Photoshop or video editors, large databases, or anything else that consumes insane amounts of RAM, you will want a larger pagefile since you only have 4GB of RAM. You also didn't state if you are running a 32-bit or 64-bit OS. This will have an impact since if you are running a 32-bit version of windows, you will automatically lose at least 512MB of RAM and possibly more which will be unavailable to any running programs.

        If you are doing web surfing, email, word processing, moderately sized spreadsheets and similar activities on your machine, you can easily get away with setting your virtual memory to 4GB (and possibly less).

        If you are gaming, you will probably want this between 4 and 6GB.

        If you are doing the heavy photo and video editing, you will want this set to at least 6GB and possibly as high as 10GB.

        You can also set the value at 10GB no matter how you are using your system and use the Performance Monitor to track how much of the page file gets used by watching the peak usage metric and adjusting down after a week or so of normal usage so that the value is slightly higher than your peak. By default, the Performance Monitor will have a single CPU usage metric that it is tracking. You can remove that one and add the one you need to track. It is located under Paging File -> % Usage Peak.

        On my Win7 Ultimate x64 with 8GB of RAM that I use as my primary environment, my virtual memory is set to 8GB because I also run Linux in VirtualBox at the same time (sometimes up to 3 different flavors at once). This is fairly memory and processor intensive, so I need the room. It is also used for some gaming.

        I have a lightweight testing environment where I don't even use a paging file at all.

        Then there are my beta testing environments where I will generally have a pagefile of slightly more than 8GB so I can get a full memory dump if an application that I am testing hurls huge.

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