Virtual Memory Minimum too Low

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xixheartxyoux
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Virtual Memory Minimum too Low

Postby xixheartxyoux » Sat Aug 02, 2008 6:14 am UTC

I am the annoyed owner of a Dell Insprion E1505 laptop. Of course as soon as my warranty expires my computer suffers a major hard drive crash. My father and I managed to replace the hard drive, with only minimal trouble...until now.

All of a sudden, one day this little window popped up that said virtual memory minimum too low. I googled it and the first few places I checked said that I should just raise the minimum. I messed with the levels a bit, but then I came across a forum that had several cases where messing with the levels caused a hard drive crash. I posted something on the Dell Help forum, but Dell's award-winning customer service has failed me yet again. The guy on the Dell Forum said that I should be fine and said something about accessing my hard drive. What does that mean? How does virtual memory work? Is my computer going to crash again for the second time in 6 months?

I'm not very familiar with the inner workings of a computer, so please go easy on the computer jargon. Thanks!! :)
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Baka no Kami
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Re: Virtual Memory Minimum too Low

Postby Baka no Kami » Sat Aug 02, 2008 9:30 am UTC

Basically RAM runs much faster than harddrives and so that where programs actually run. In order to make sure you don't run out of RAM Windows will take programs you aren't actively using at that moment and move them out of RAM into a special file on the harddrive called pagefile.sys. The pagefile will never be smaller than the minimum, or larger than the maximum values you set. If windows tried to increase the size of the pagefile to the max, and you didn't actually have enough space left on the harddrive to do that, I can see that causing a crash.

If you set both the min and max to the same number then XP creates a file that won't grow or shrink. If you've got a fairly big harddrive I say set it to 3 times however much RAM is in the system and see if it still keeps happening.

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headprogrammingczar
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Re: Virtual Memory Minimum too Low

Postby headprogrammingczar » Sat Aug 02, 2008 12:55 pm UTC

Another thing one of my friends did was got an external hard drive (a pretty small one, so it was cheap), and set the entire hard drive to be his pagefile. He restarted his computer once a month, but turning it on was really slow.
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xixheartxyoux
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Re: Virtual Memory Minimum too Low

Postby xixheartxyoux » Sat Aug 02, 2008 5:52 pm UTC

Wow thank you so much! That was really helpful. I really appreciate it.
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b.i.o
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Re: Virtual Memory Minimum too Low

Postby b.i.o » Sat Aug 02, 2008 6:13 pm UTC

"Virtual memory" is a technique used to make programs running believe they have a contiguous block of memory to work with when in reality they don't. If a program needs more memory than is actually available in a contiguous block, it will be made to believe it is working with a contiguous block by either grouping smaller, free portions of available RAM if enough is available, or by using part of the hard drive as memory. The part of your hard drive that is available used as memory is the page file (on Windows, at least).

Modern hard drives are robust enough that the extra read/write operations are not going to have a significant impact on your hard drive's lifespan. A general rule is that the page file should be around twice as large as the amount of RAM you have--although if you have tons of RAM, there can be little or no need for a page file at all. Even if your new hard drive *does* for some reason fail six months from now, it's almost certainly protected by a 3-5 year warranty.

headprogrammingczar wrote:Another thing one of my friends did was got an external hard drive (a pretty small one, so it was cheap), and set the entire hard drive to be his pagefile. He restarted his computer once a month, but turning it on was really slow.


Unless your external hard drive is connected via eSATA (and I'm pretty sure the e1505 doesn't have eSATA), that's going to slow things down a LOT when you have to use the page file--and using an entire hard drive as the page file is truly excessive, since you're almost never likely to need that much space--in fact, if you have a desktop (which sounds like the case if you're only turning it off once a month) it makes much more sense to just buy more RAM, which will mean the page file is used much less often.

If windows tried to increase the size of the pagefile to the max, and you didn't actually have enough space left on the harddrive to do that, I can see that causing a crash

Windows is not going to try in increase the size of the page file beyond the maximum possible...it's simply going to give you an error about running out of space on the disk.


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