Fixing the ‘Too Little Virtual Memory’ problem in Windows XP

XP users often face the error message that says – “Too little virtual memory”. A primary reason for this might be the fact that you have a small amount of physical memory on your system. With most of the latest releases of popular programs – like Adobe reader, Google chrome, Firefox, IE 8, WMP 11, etc. – you need at least 1GB of RAM even if technically you need only 256MB RAM to run XP.

However, assuming that your PC has sufficient RAM – this problem might also be caused by a faulty application having a memory leak. A memory leak occurs when a badly written program begins to increasingly eat up memory space as time passes until it is shut down.

To tackle this problem you first find the application with the memory leak, and then fix it.

  1. Finding the memory leaking application
    1. Press Ctrl+Alt+Del to open the Task Manager.
    2. Select the Processes tab.
    3. Navigate to View -> Select Columns… Tab.
    4. Select the check-box next to the Virtual Memory Size option.
    5. Click on OK.
    6. Leave your computer running for a long time – roughly around the time it takes for it to freeze up; this might even be around a week.
    7. Open the Task Manager, do to the Processes tab, and click on the VM Size column header so that the processes are listed according to Virtual Memory usage.
    8. Typically, the top program on the list will be using an unnatural amount of virtual memory – far greater than any other process.
    9. Locate the program that uses this faulty process. This will be obvious in some cases – as firfox.exe will mean Mozilla Firefox. In other situations, it might be difficult in the finding the program – such as alg.exe.
  2. Fixing the faulty program
    1. This is relatively simple. You have to uninstall the faulty program and replace it with a newer version or a different application that does a similar job.
    2. Other options include searching the web for relevant patches and bug-fixes. However, the above option is the simplest and surest.


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