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My windows 7 machine with 16GB of physical RAM occasionally warns of of a low memory condition, asking me to close programs to free up memory. When I check task manager or resource monitor I find that there is nearly 8GB free. Several (one or two) processes (rdbms, tomcat server, etc.) will be consuming large (~4GB of memory each) but the machine does not seem to be running low on memory when this warning is displayed.

My questions:

  1. Why is this warning being displayed if the amount of physical memory seems to be more than adequate for the tasks at hand?
  2. Is there a way to set thresholds for when these low memory warnings are issued?
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migrated from Apr 10 '13 at 20:41

This question came from our site for system and network administrators.

This is a stretch but with 16gb of ram a pagefile should not be necessary but sometimes (i'd guess the rdbms app) apps need to be backed by a pagefile and either you don't have one or its to small. – user33788 Apr 10 '13 at 20:25
also be prepared to hear about that fact that we don't do workstations here! – user33788 Apr 10 '13 at 20:26
@tonyroth: The amount of RAM you have has nothing to do with whether a pagefile is needed. – David Schwartz Apr 10 '13 at 20:39
What edition and architecture is your Windows 7 install? x86? x64? Home Basic? Enterprise? – MDMarra Apr 10 '13 at 20:41
@DavidSchwartz you are so wrong but I don't care to explain. – user33788 Apr 11 '13 at 16:18
up vote 7 down vote accepted

The problem is that while the memory is available, Windows 7 has already promised it to applications. The solution is to make sure you have a large enough pagefile. This allows Windows to continue to make commitments without fear that should all the commitments be claimed at once it won't have enough physical memory to meet them.

I explained this phenomenon in more detail here. You can have plenty of free memory but Windows can still be unable to allocate more because that free memory is already promised to applications that will probably never use it.

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Systems using SSDs may find that their page files have been set too small for daily use. – Carl Oct 31 '14 at 9:39

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