I'm running Windows 7 64-bit with 8GB of RAM. The problem is, I very rarely use all of it.

I do some video editing from time to time and it definitely comes in handy then, but for everyday use, I'm not making best use of it.

Are there any settings I can change which will force my operating system to use more RAM, for instance, stopping it using pagefiles? I'm happy for it to use up to 4GB itself when I'm just mucking around browsing and moving files around. As far as I know, having more of the operating system in memory would make it more responsive. It's not exactly bad at the moment, but surely it can't hurt especially as I'm not using it for anything else.

I'd also like it to stop swapping pages out of memory onto the disc when running other programs like browsers, media players etc. unless it really has to. This would lengthen the life span of my disc, and also make everything generally more responsive.

Please let me know if I've got any of my facts wrong here.

  • 6
    Paging is a little more complicated than you seem to think it is - it's also a preemptive backing store, etc. Things are always getting written to the pagefile even if you're not actually paging out memory. This answer over at Server Fault says it better than anything else I could say - serverfault.com/questions/23621/…
    – Shinrai
    Jun 3 '11 at 1:31
  • 3
    I suggest you use your computer for something useful. Why not run folding at home or any other distributed project. First of all you get to use more of your ram (for something nice) and second of all you end up helping people. Perhaps even yourself or your family someday! Good luck!
    – Waxhead
    Oct 3 '12 at 18:00
  • This should have the "Windows" tag, right? - Although nothing is said about Windows operating system, I guess the question and answers have nothing to do with Linux or Mac. Right?
    – user162573
    Nov 12 '15 at 9:26
  • This question should be updated for either a more generic, near-infinite amount of RAM, or should be changed to an absurdly high modern amount of ram, like 64, 128, or 256 GB. 8 GB hasn't aged well as a prototypical "high" amount of RAM; it is pretty standard now and is too small to recommend any changes to the default system settings, but this question is still relevant for larger amounts.
    – kloddant
    Oct 19 '20 at 18:04

Control panel->system->avdanced system settings->advanced->performance settings->advanced->virtual memory change-> uncheck automatically manage, and set the pagefile to whatever you want. I would NOT recommending setting no pagefile, as should you go near 8GB, you would get an error, but you could certainly do it.

  • 3
    why on earth he should do something like that?
    – akappa
    Jun 3 '11 at 1:32
  • 1
    What would you recommend as my Initial and Maximum pagefile sizes? I'm not that savvy about this sort of thing...
    – Nick Brunt
    Jun 3 '11 at 1:32
  • 1
    @akappa Because if he really never goes near the 8GB, it really will be faster. However, I agree it should not be done. I would recommend an initial of 50 MB or so, and max it at about the max amount of memory you could need above over and above your 8GB of RAM + 1.
    – soandos
    Jun 3 '11 at 1:37
  • You want to set the two sizes the same, otherwise pagefile resizing saps performance. You also want to set it as high as you can, as too small a pagefile forces inefficient use of RAM. Nov 22 '13 at 22:27

The Operating System is in charge of optimizing the use of the available memory. It is (should be) designed to do a good job of that under "normal" conditions. The designers of the operating system will usually take under consideration that an optimal system makes use of all the available memory whenever possible. Memory that's not used for anything is wasted, and the system will perform best when all memory is used for active programs, file caches, I/O buffers, and so on, except for a small "free" pool set aside for quickly responding to allocation requests.

Therefore, it is usually better to let the OS decide how much memory to use for file caching. If the user has very specific insight into a given application environment, then some further optimization could be applied. From an elevated command prompt, run:

fsutil behavior set memoryusage 2

This tells the operating system to devote more memory to file caching than it otherwise would.

Configures the internal cache levels of NTFS paged-pool memory and NTFS nonpaged-pool memory. Set to 1 or 2. When set to 1 (the default), NTFS uses the default amount of paged-pool memory. When set to 2, NTFS increases the size of its lookaside lists and memory thresholds. (A lookaside list is a pool of fixed-size memory buffers that the kernel and device drivers create as private memory caches for file system operations, such as reading a file.) You must reboot your computer for this parameter to take effect.


A Note on memory utilization

The pool of "unused" memory is not actually idle; the system will use it for transparent caching of file data. Memory used for file cache doesn't show up as "used" because the OS will discard the cached data if an application needs that memory, so it's technically available. You can see this in Task Manager under Cached item in the Physical Memory section of the performance tab, and you can see more detail by adding the Cache Bytes and Standby Cache ... items in Performance Monitor.


How to get your computer to use more RAM?

Short answer? Open more programs!

Long answer:

If you can find application specific settings that involve storing files currently being edited in memory versus in the hard drive then play around with that.

Otherwise, I would not recommend worrying about or messing with your OS... it and the engineers that made it do know what they are doing! (hence the short answer...)

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