For systems low in physical memory, the Windows operating system stores information on the hard drive. What is virtual memory? Windows creates a file called a “paging file” when it starts up. The paging file is saved on the hard drive, and this file is your virtual memory.
The hard drive is slower than the physical RAM in your computer, so it’s recommended that you provide more memory for your computer if you have errors such as “virtual memory too low,” or “windows virtual memory minimum too low” or even “virtual memory full.” You can speed up your computer while you wait for the new RAM shipment by manually increasing the virtual memory.
How to Change the Size of the Virtual Memory Paging File
The virtual memory settings are found in your system properties window. The quick way to open your system window is to click the Windows Orb and right-click the “Computer” icon in the Windows menu and select “Properties.” Windows XP users can right-click the “Computer” icon on the desktop and select “Properties.” Windows 7 and 10 users then click “Advanced System Settings.”
- Click the “Settings” button in the “Performance” section.
- Click the “Advanced” tab in the new window. Click the “Change” button in the “Virtual Memory” section.
- Remove the check box labeled “Automatically manage paging file size for all drives.” The text boxes enabled are where you specify your new virtual memory size.
Virtual memory is set up in megabytes. It’s imperative that you do not create a paging file that is too small, or your system can be unstable the next time you boot Windows. This is especially important if you are attempting to fix low virtual memory errors.
How to Clear Virtual Memory
For security reasons, you may want to clear the virtual memory when you shut down. This setting is set up in the Windows registry editor. Again, the registry editor is available in Windows XP, Windows 7 and Vista. Use the following steps to clear virtual memory when you shut down the computer, protecting the machine from vulnerabilities:
- Open the registry editor (type “Regedt32” in the search text box).
- Drill down to the “HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\Session Manager\Memory Management” registry key.
- Create a new value and name it “ClearPageFileAtShutdown.” Type “1” for the value. Click “OK” and reboot.
You increase virtual memory size manually, but forcing the operating system to use the paging file slows down the computer. Add more RAM to your computer to speed up performance and avoid using virtual memory.
Computer Essentials- How To Boot From A USB Drive
Being able to boot a computer from a USB thumb drive or other portable USB hard drive is fairly easy provided that a few important steps are followed. Among them are making sure that the USB drive has a valid operating system installed on it and that the computer has its BIOS set to allow booting from a USB device. Details on how to accomplish each task are provided below.
How to Make A Bootable USB Thumb Drive
In order for a computer to boot from a USB drive the drive has to have a set of operating system files installed on it. A user can use any of a number of different portable operating system packages, but each is tailored to a different purpose. In preparing this article it was assumed that most individuals wishing to boot from a USB drive are probably doing so to repair or access damaged files or to simply run an alternative operating system such as Linux. For those simply wanting to check out Linux a flash drive loaded copy of Ubuntu is a great option.
For those that need to repair an existing Windows system or access damaged files one of the best tools out there is called the Ultimate Boot CD. This software package can also be loaded onto a thumb drive (contrary to its name) and includes dozens of useful programs for solving almost any hard disk related problem that a user might encounter, including fixing broken passwords and accidentally deleted files.
Be aware that the Ultimate Boot CD has a very spartan interface and the documentation of what each program does is not always available. Check the Ultimate Boot CD web site for details on each of the programs available from the USB drive once installed.
How to Get A Computer To Boot From The USB Drive
Once the user has a valid operating system installed on the USB device the computer has to be set to allow itself to boot from it instead of from the hard drive or CD-Rom drive. To make this setting change it is necessary to access the computer’s BIOS, a very primative operating system that is burned into the motherboard itself.
When the computer is first powered on the first screen that is shown is the BIOS screen. While the BIOS screen is showing most systems allow the user to hit a specific key (such as the Delete key, F2 key, or something similar) to stop the boot process and enter the BIOS setup screen.
Once in the BIOS navigate to a menu of boot options. Somewhere on the page should be a selector for Boot Order. In most cases a user will want to select USB-HDD0 as the first boot device. On older machines it may also be listed as Memory Stick or USB-ZIP or something similar. Select the appropriate boot device and follow the on screen prompts to save the changes made and exit the BIOS.
Make sure the USB drive is plugged into the computer before rebooting. When the system shuts down and restarts it should then boot from the USB drive as desired. If the USB drive is not plugged in the computer should boot to its normal operating system.