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Out of virtual memory your system is low on virtual memory

Posted on 2013-05-15
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Last Modified: 2013-05-26
After using the laptop for some hours, I get a popup message that says "Out of virtual memory : Your system is low on virtual memory. To ensure that Windows runs properly, increase the size of your virtual memory paging file. For more information, see Help."

This is a Windows 7 laptop, 8GB memory, 64 bit.

After the popup shows up, the computer display is all messed up and the computer does not respond to most commands. If right click on the taskbar, a popup comes up, but there are no texts on the popup. Also there are no texts shown on the start menu and the start menu is not completely/properly displayed. This goes on till I restart.

I looked in the event viewer and saw event IDs 26 and 2004.
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Question by:bobox00
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Joe Winograd, EE MVE earned 167 total points
ID: 39169789
I don't know if simply increasing the amount of virtual memory will solve the problem (there could be something else in play here), but that's the first thing I would try, as follows:

Control Panel
System
Advanced System Settings
Advanced tab
Settings button in Performance section
Advanced tab
Change button in Virtual Memory section

If "Automatically manage paging file size for all drives" is unchecked, I would start with checking it (W7 does a good job managing it in my experience). If it's already checked, then uncheck it and set larger sizes until you stop getting the message. If it doesn't stop, then I suspect that something else is going on. Regards, Joe
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by:Carlo-Giuliani
Carlo-Giuliani earned 167 total points
ID: 39170263
The virtual memory limit is a combination of real memory (your 8GB) and the pagefile size.  For most ordinary use 8GB is lots of memory.  Heavy use of the pagefile will certainly result in very bad performance of your laptop.  

You should try to find what process is using up so much memory.  The next time this happens, try to open Task Manger. Look at the "Processes" tab, then use the View...Select Columns...Memory - Commit Size.  Sort the processes by Commit size, looking for the biggest one(s).
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by:Mohammed Rahman
Mohammed Rahman earned 166 total points
ID: 39170348
I would go by "Carlo-Giuliani"

Virtual Memory is nothing but a defined amount of space reserved on hard drive (page file) to be used when the RAM gets full. When your computer's RAM senses that it is running low on space, it will SWAP (move) inactive data from its chip to hard drive (page file) and when in need of that data, it will fetch it from hard drive and SWAP it with existing inactive data on its chip.

It is unlikely that you are using 8 GB of RAM unless you are doing some HEAVY audio/video/photoshop decoding/rendering.

Open all your applications that you use, open task manager and look for Physical Memory percentage at bottom right. If it is getting high (probably 70-80 % and above), go to processes tab, click on Memory and see which programs are consuming much memory. Probably there is a memory leak (unless you are not using any audio/video/photo encoding / decoding / rendering applications OR application of these type)

If there is a memory leak, increasing the page file doesn't help. It may SLOW your computer's performance.
** Higher the page file size (on hdd), slower will be the performance.
Reason: Data transfer will be LOT faster if your data is residing on RAM rather than the page file (hdd) as RAMs have MUCH MUCH high input/output transfer times with respect to HDDs.
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Author Comment

by:bobox00
ID: 39171057
I am  not using any audio/video/photo encoding / decoding / rendering applications OR application of these type on the laptop. When the memory error message popup showed up, I was unable to open Task Manager. The laptop did not respond to Windows key + r. Neither did it respond to DTRL+ALT+DEL. Right-clicking on the taskbar displayed a context menu with no text on it. Clicking on the context menu option yielded nothing.
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Expert Comment

by:Carlo-Giuliani
ID: 39171505
OK, try it BEFORE your laptop locks up.
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Expert Comment

by:Mohammed Rahman
ID: 39172531
If possible, open all programs that you, regularly use (browsers, ms office appliccations, audio/video players, any other applicattions that you might be using). Open task manager, sort running applications by memory consumption (click on memory button to sort), take a screen shot of processes tab and dump it here.
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Author Closing Comment

by:bobox00
ID: 39189464
Thanks. I increased the paging file size to 12GB (was automatically set to 4GB before, which was low). Haven'd received any complaints about it since).
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by:Carlo-Giuliani
ID: 39190800
I did not suggest increasing pagefile size at first because I find it strange that you would need so much virtual memory.  Did you every find out what is using up so much?
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Expert Comment

by:Mohammed Rahman
ID: 39198055
Its good to know that your issue is now resolved. However, I too think that this is not a permanent solution. As stated before:

Open all your applications that you use, open task manager and look for Physical Memory percentage at bottom right. If it is getting high (probably 70-80 % and above), go to processes tab, click on Memory and see which programs are consuming much memory. Probably there is a memory leak (unless you are not using any audio/video/photo encoding / decoding / rendering applications OR application of these type)

If there is a memory leak, increasing the page file doesn't help. It may SLOW your computer's performance.
** Higher the page file size (on hdd), slower will be the performance in long run.
Reason: Data transfer will be LOT faster if your data is residing on RAM rather than the page file (hdd) as RAMs have MUCH MUCH high input/output transfer times with respect to HDDs.
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