Virtual memory is
non-physical memory (yeah, that helps).
Windows uses virtual memory when it doesn't have enough "regular"
physical memory to preform a task. When it does this, Windows uses your
hard drive to store information that normally would be put into your
RAM memory. Here's an overly simplified example:
Let's say you have
32 meg of RAM available. Now, you load a program that takes up 20 meg,
and another that takes up 22 meg. You need a total of
42 meg, but you only have 32 meg of actual RAM memory. However, both
programs still run. What's happening?
Windows is using
10 meg of hard drive space to supplement your physical
32 meg of RAM (don't worry, this 10 meg will be erased once Windows
is done with it).
I know what you're
thinking. Why bother to add extra RAM to my computer if it can use hard
drive space instead? Main reason - RAM is much faster.
using a lot of virtual memory, you're slowing your computer down (way
the heck down). The best work around is to get more physical memory.
I recommend 64 - 128 meg, depending on how many programs you run simultaneously.
Oh, one more thing.
If you don't have a lot of hard drive space left (I recommend a minimum
of 100 meg) and you're experiencing lots of problems, lack of virtual
memory may be why. When Windows runs out of memory (virtual and non-virtual),
it just doesn't run all that well.
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