How to configure the virtual memory in Windows Vista

In simple words, Virtual Memory is system memory that is simulated by the operating system and it is placed on your hard drive. It combines your computer’s RAM with temporary space on your disk. When your PC runs low on RAM, virtual memory moves data from RAM to a space called the paging file or swap file. Moving the data frees up your RAM and your applications can continue to run without crashes.

If you don’t have too much RAM installed on your system it can be a good a idea to increase the size of your virtual memory. If you are like me, you might still want to configure the size of the swap/paging file or it’s location, even if your PC has plenty of RAM available.

As you will see, configuring the virtual memory in Windows Vista is easy. Just follow these steps:

First, go to your Desktop and right click on Computer. From the right click menu select Properties.


In the System window, click on Advanced system settings.

Virtual Memory

The System Properties window will open directly at the Advanced tab. Go to the Performance section and click on the Settings button highlighted in the screenshot below.

Virtual Memory

In the Performance Options window you will see the current size of the swap/paging file. To configure it click on Change.

Virtual Memory

By default, Windows Vista manages the paging file size for all your drives. To change this, first you need to deselect the checkbox from the top.

Virtual Memory

You can customize the paging file size for each of your drives. By default, the paging file is placed on the “C:” drive and it’s automatically managed by the system. If you want to use another partition, select “C:”, check the No paging file option and click on Set.

Virtual Memory

Now you need Windows Vista to create the paging file on another partition. Click on the partition you prefer and then select Custom size or System managed size.

Virtual Memory

If you want to have a custom size paging file you will need to type the initial and the maximum size. For the initial size you should have a few hundred megabytes (usually something close to the amount of RAM installed) and for the maximum size approximately 2.5 – 3 times the size of your RAM.
Some enthusiasts recommended using a fixed size paging file (the same initial and maximum size). If you want to go for this approach the size should be 2.5 – 3 times the size of your RAM. Having a small paging file might affect the performance of your running applications, especially if you are working with applications that require lots of memory.

When you are done making all the necessary changes, click on OK. If you increased the size of the paging file, Windows Vista won’t require a restart to apply the changes.
However, if you decreased the size or changed the location of the paging file you will need to restart your PC in order for the changes to take effect.

Related articles:
Increase the performance of your SATA disk drive

19 thoughts on “How to configure the virtual memory in Windows Vista”



  2. to little RAM
    first, thank you for your tutorials, they are very helpful. I run the health of my computer to see why shows that I have a low amount of virtual memory. the diagnosis says that I need to physical memory or reduce system load.
    my question: I wanto to configure my memory to obatin some RAM of a 1 GB on my XPS m121o dell windows Vista, what is the minimun and maximun of size I should customize my computer? i know you said 2.5 -3 the size of my RAM, whichs I GB, but exactly how much would be in terms of gigabytes?
    also, it is tru that this change will slow down the way the computer run programs and aplications? thank for your help. sergio.

  3. Vista’s Paging File on a 2nd Physical Drive
    Does relocating Vista’s, paging file to a second, physical drive offer advantages?

    My PC’s, first physical drive contains three logical drives (c:, d: & e:). I use the second, physical drive for backups, original photos, temp files, downloaded files, etc. The activity on this drive is very low.

    Should I consider relocating Vista’s, paging file to this second drive? If so, why? And, for a PC with 4 GB of RAM, how large should I make it, or should I just let Vista manage it?

    Thanks in advance.


    • A paging file on a 2nd HD is
      A paging file on a 2nd HD is always good. The reason for this is that if the OS reads files from HD1 it can extend/update the paging file on HD2 without a delay. Otherwise the read/writes would be on the same disk and block each other.

      In any case. In my opinion no paging file can be as good as enough real memory. I have been using WinXP for many years with the paging file disabled. Only if I use some memory hungry games I enable it. But this is not very often. But you should have at least 1 GB memory to disable the paging file. All the formulas with the paging file sizes according the installed memory are garbage. They tell you if you have a big amount of memory you need a big paging file. Cannot be more stupid. It is the other way round. If you have enough memory there is no need for a paging file. The paging file is just a bad solution to get around the memory problem. Start WinXP or Vista with 128 MB memory and you will understand me…

    • MOVING Vista’s (xp) Paging files to another virtual disk??

      That is a great question. By default Drice C is the paging disk… VIRTUAL DISKS are just other particians on disk C. Thus to move the paging file to another vitual disk offers NO ADVANTAGE.

      If you had a second physical disk then you would offload this task from C and save time by moving the seaking of the heads for paging to the second disk.

      Here is a link to the procedure should such you wish to set swap pagefiles to the second/other physicial disk

      ALSO BE WARNED THIS IS an example for VISTA ONLY… Moving the pagefile on XP I have read requires an extra step or two to avoid destroyiing your ability to boot.
      HEre is information on XP pagefiles and physical disks…

      Best Regards


  4. uninstalling Vista in spanish and installing Vista english
    I am in Mexico for about a year now and I missed my home computer, so I went to a local office max and was told that all the new computers sold in Mexico were sold with only vista in spanish, but the salesman also told me that with vista, the language could to changed to any language….which I found to be untrue later. I could only change the keyboard to english version. So I purchased Vista in english from the states. So now I am not sure what is the best way to get the new english version on my computer. I am worried that the Toshiba programs that came on my computer will be lost if I just do a uninstall and a install of the new vista english program. I assume there are drivers I need to run my computer and not sure how I can keep all the neccesary Toshiba…things like Blue tooth, sound system, video drivers, ect. Would it be possiable to keep my window vista spanish and the new english version on the same computer and is that a good idea or has someone have a better idea. Not sure if I uninstall the vista from the machine if I will necessay lose all the Toshiba install programs too. Not sure if it is appropiate but my e mail is [email protected]

  5. Extremely slow dial-up
    Just got internet about a week ago. Having trouble with slow and aggravating dial-up connection. Is there any modem drivers or ANYTHING that will help rid me of the snail in my internet?

  6. changing the default setting
    changing the default setting is not a good idea as vista manages the pagefile size automaticaly and it will adapt to your workload but if you try turning it off or change the default things may not work as good as before,i know i have tried it and the default settings works great.also dial up is slow and ram has nothing to do with how fast your connection is.

  7. two hard drive/virtual memory
    I thought that I understood the two hard drive setting thing, but maybe not. I have two hard drives, but the second one is used for storage, not only as a page file drive. I recently read that the page file drive should only be used for page filing. If that is true, what is the best settings for my virtual memory for both drives?
    I have set my paging to a drive that is full of images.

    Vista home 32bit
    1.8 dual dore
    3 gig memory
    c drive 320gig
    backup drive 500 gig

  8. A side note
    I would definitely recommend the posters to clarify that the page file should not be moved to another partition on the same hard drive, it will decrease write times and only result in the system slowing down.

    As a recommendation for the average user, setting the page file to “system managed size” is best, it allows the OS to be the judge of requirements. I would caution against disabling the pagefile, as some programs may require it in order to operate ie Photoshop.

  9. how would I go about using
    how would I go about using virtual memory on my one hard drive? at the moment I have 4 gigs but I want to get 6 and I dont have 2 drives would I just set up a custom size if so what would the numbers be for initial and maximum

  10. Accurate – Helpful – To The Point – THANKS!
    Accurate – Helpful – To The Point – THANKS!

    My laptop is running much faster as we speak (type).

    Easy to follow instructions and visuals.

    It would be great if all computer help pages were of this caliber. Thanks.

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