Do you know you can use the free storage in your PC’s hard drive and use it as virtual RAM to make your PC run faster? I am sure you suspect if this is a possibility if not entirely sure. Let me answer it for you. Yes, you can use the hard drive as RAM in Windows 10 and older version of Windows OS including the Windows 8 and 7.
If you have got a new PC, our handy guide on 10 Best Apps to Install On Your New Windows 10 PC is something you must check out.
Why use Hard Drive as RAM?
If you have over 8 GB of RAM, you may never ask this question. But, if you use a PC or laptop with 4GB of RAM, then you will often feel the need to have more free Random Access Memory so that your PC can run faster and the apps run efficiently.
Since you don’t want to spend more on buying new RAM sticks or stuck with a machine that does not allow you to upgrade RAM, you can allocate some space from your hard drive to be used as virtual memory.
Can Hard Drive Replace RAM?
No, your hard drive can never replace the RAM. Even if you have SSDs running, it will never be able to process data like RAM. This method is only recommended for users who have no choice but to use their current PC. Allocating too much space for virtual memory can cause issues so is allocating too little space.
How Does it Work?
Windows uses an optional hidden system file known as Page File that can be used to extend virtual memory (system-committed memory). The page file is triggered when running applications on your PC start to occupy all physical memory. In such situation, Windows moves the inactive apps and programs to page file located in the hard drive.
Doing this allows the PC to allocate more physical memory to more important apps while keeping the inactive but running files in the virtual memory.
Should You Disable Virtual Memory on a PC with Adequate RAM?
No. You shouldn’t disable virtual memory irrespective of how much physical memory your PC has. Disabling virtual memory can result in slow PC in extreme load conditions.
Virtual memory in Windows PCs is enabled by default and Windows has set a specific amount of space to virtual memory in your hard drive. However, you can further increase the size if needed.
How Much Virtual Memory Do I Need?
As, I, said earlier, by default Windows has set a virtual memory for you. But, if you feel that you need more space, you may increase around 2 GB on top of what is already allocated. Just because you have several Gigs of hard drive space, doesn’t mean you assign several gigs hard drive space to virtual memory.
To determine how much virtual memory you need, find at what point your PC eats up all the memory, that is physical + virtual memory combined. Here is how to do it.
- On your PC, run all the apps that you usually run usually.
- Next, right-click on the taskbar and select Task Manager.
- Go the Performance tab and click Memory.
- In the committee section, the physical memory + virtual memory is displayed. If your PC is using all the memory or close to 90% of the memory then you may need to increase the virtual memory allocation.
Use Hard Drive as RAM
Increasing the virtual memory size is not a difficult task but knowing how to do it and doing it right is important. If you are unsure of how to do it, follow the steps below.
- Right-click on the Start button and select Control Panel.
- Click on System and Security and select System.
- From the left pane click Advanced System Settings.
- In the Advanced Tab of System Properties window, click the Setting button under the Performance section.
- Open Advanced tab in Performance Options window.
- Click Change button under Virtual Memory section.
Here you have multiple options to configure virtual memory. At the bottom of the window, you can see the currently allocated memory.
For PC with Single drive – Keep the “Automatically manage paging file size for all drives” option checked.
For PC with Multiple Drives – If you have multiple drive or even multiple SSDs then you can assign the paging file to one of the SSDs partition for better performance. You can also manually assign page file to one of the HDD drives.
To do this select all the SSDs or HDD drives and uncheck the “Automatically manage paging file size for all drives” option except for the HDD that you want to use as virtual memory.
Manually Allocate Virtual Memory
If you want to allocate virtual memory in your HDD manually, here is how to do it.
- Select the HDD that you want to use and uncheck “Automatically manage paging file size for all drives.“
- Select Custom Size and enter Initial Size in MB and Maximum Size in MB. Make sure you keep the Initial Size anything above 200 MB.
- Click Set button to set the page file size for the drive.
- Click OK to save the changes.
Next, you may be asked to restart the PC. You can start the PC right away or cancel it and restart it later.
Now that you have set virtual memory you should see a performance boost the next time your PC is under load. But, remember not to allocate too much of space to the virtual memory while setting it manually.
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While your computer hard drive may not be as fast as RAM and it can never be at this rate, but using the hard drive as virtual memory allows Windows to move idle apps to the virtual memory in page file while making space for a more important task that may require faster RAM to perform the task efficiently.