If your computer is short on the random access memory (RAM) needed to run a program or operation, Windows uses virtual memory to compensate. Virtual memory essentially combines your computer’s memory with temporary space on your hard drive. When you run low on physical memory, virtual memory moves data from RAM to a space called a paging file. Moving data to and from the paging file frees up RAM to complete its work. However, if your computer has to use virtual memory often, it could lead to a slow computer.
If you are a multi-tasker who likes to have multiple programs open at one time, you will need a good amount of RAM to keep your computer running smoothly. If you don’t have enough RAM, your PC will have to use the hard drive to store data which can really slow your PC down. Also, the newer programs require more and more memory to run properly. If you have an older machine, even if you don’t multitask, you may notice that your computer is running slower since it is overusing the virtual memory on your hard disk. Luckily, there are a few ways to fix this.
The best way to fix the issue of virtual memory overuse is to add RAM. This is pretty easy and usually pretty cheap to do. By adding memory, your computer won’t have to store data in the virtual memory nearly as often which will make your PC run much smoother. If you are worried about picking the correct memory, I would recommend the Crucial Memory Scanner as it will help you to get the right memory for your specific computer. After you have the memory, memory installation really is just snapping the memory into the motherboard.
Make the Virtual Memory Faster with an SSD
Another great way to make your computer faster is by making the virtual memory itself faster. If you have the budget for an SSD, you could add an SSD and then move the Windows Page File to the new drive. Now, when your computer runs out of physical memory, it can store any extra data on an SSD which runs much faster than the older SATA/IDE drives.
Clean Up Your Disk
If you don’t have a ton of physical memory and your hard drive is pretty full, Windows may really struggle to find a place to put the data it needs. By having a full disk, you may actually be limiting Windows in how much data it can store. If this is the case for you, I would recommend deleting any unused files, folders, and programs to help clear enough space for Windows to work.
Take advantage of Windows ReadyBoost
If you have Windows 7, 8, or Vista, you can take advantage of the Windows ReadyBoost feature. All you need to do is to simply plug in a USB flash drive and then follow the on screen directions to enable ReadyBoost. Here is a guide from Microsoft with more details.