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Old 02-07-2007, 09:49 AM   #1
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Virtual Memory Question

Every once in a while my pc will have a pop up message on it that says its low on virtual memory. Does anyone have any idea what this means?

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Old 02-07-2007, 11:27 AM   #2
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Hi Toots, virtual memory is an extension of your computer's RAM or actual physical memory. When you run multiple programs simultaneously, the computer looks for RAM segments/blocks that have not been used recently and copy them onto the hard disk (not sure if you have heard the term page files). This frees up space in the RAM to load the new application.

The hard drive (virtual memory) is much slower than actual physical memory. Also when your machine is busy multi-tasking and has used by most of it's physical RAM, the OS has to constantly swap information between the physical and virtual. At some point your virtual memory space (given it's limited) will also be consumed to a large extent and may give errors like the one you had.

The best thing to do is to exit out all the programs and reboot the machine. Sometimes when too many processes are open you get these errors.

Hope that helps.
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Old 02-07-2007, 12:00 PM   #3
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So, what do you do if you've only got one program running? This pops up quite frequently with me also, and usually the only thing I have running is IE. Does my machine maybe need more memory?
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Old 02-07-2007, 12:59 PM   #4
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Yakuta = thanks! My husband has alot of stuff on our pc and he keeps a gigantic itunes file on there - could these big files be contributing to the "low virtual memory" messages we occassionally get?
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Old 02-07-2007, 01:19 PM   #5
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Hi Foodfiend if you are only running IE and you get these errors there may be something funky going on your machine. You can always do a Ctrl-Alt-Del and go to your task manager. Go under the process tab and look at the number of processes running on your machine.

In short IE may be a single program but depending on the sites you are visiting and other things that are happening (in some cases someone even hacking into your machine) you will see a spike in the number of processes. These can consume a lot of memory.

If your machine is old and memory is low you need to upgrade your RAM (some machines have additional RAM slots you can add). Most of the basic work we do today requires 1GB of RAM (that would prevent errors from popping). A 512K machine (my laptop) will from time to time run out of RAM.

Hi Toots, yes the itune files are fairly large and it does take up quite a bit of RAM when playing. You should clean some of that out or do what I do with my picture files, save them to an external disk drive. You can buy the USB disk drives (Sandisk is one such provider) that you can download them to.
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Old 02-07-2007, 01:25 PM   #6
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Thanks again Yakuta - good info! Our pc is about 5-6 years old and we've got alot of files saved on it, so what you are saying about virtual memory makes sense.
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Old 02-08-2007, 10:04 AM   #7
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Thanks for the reply. I do have an older machine and am hoping to upgrade at the end of the year. I'll try Ctrl-Alt-Del and check my task manager and see if I can clear some things out. Thank you.
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