Microsoft KB Archive/105058

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Err Msg: "Limited Virtual Memory" w/ Temporary Paging File

ID: Q105058

The information in this article applies to:

  • Microsoft Windows NT operating system version 3.1
  • Microsoft Windows NT Advanced Server version 3.1
  • Microsoft Windows NT Workstation version 3.5
  • Microsoft Windows NT Server version 3.5


In Windows NT, if you set your paging file (PAGEFILE.SYS) lower than the recommended amount (12 MB plus system RAM), Windows NT may have to create a temporary paging file (TEMPPF.SYS) to operate.

If the temporary paging file takes most of the free space on your hard disk, you may receive the following error message after you log on:

Limited Virtual Memory Your system is running without a properly sized paging file. Please use the virtual memory option of the System applet in the Control Panel to create a paging file, or to increase the initial size of your paging file.


Windows NT displays this error message when the setting in Initial Size of the paging file exceeds the amount of free space on the hard disk. This can occur when a temporary paging file takes up a substantial amount of free space on the disk, leaving less space than the Initial Size of the paging file setting specified in the Control Panel.

This situation can occur when the initial paging file size is reduced to an amount considerably smaller than the recommended amount and the system is restarted. At startup, the smaller paging file is created, the system then recognizes that the size is insufficient and creates a temporary paging file of up to 20 MB in the WINNT\SYSTEM32 directory. The System dialog box from Control Panel spawns, forcing you to address the paging file problem.

When the free hard disk space approaches 30 MB or lower, problems can occur in trying to correct the insufficient paging file size. The combination of the insufficient paging file and the temporary paging file can easily use all the available free hard disk space. This does not leave enough free space to create a paging file sufficient in size to eliminate the need for the temporary paging file.

The only way to free the disk space used by the temporary paging file is to create a new paging file close to the recommended size. Once there is no longer a need for the temporary paging file, it will be deleted upon the next startup of Windows NT and the disk space will be freed.


To correct this problem, create enough free disk space so a sufficient paging file can be created, or if that is not possible due to the size of the temporary paging file, use the following procedure:

  1. Open the System icon in Control Panel.
  2. Choose the Virtual Memory button.
  3. Set the Initial Size and the Maximum Size values for the paging file to 0 (zero).
  4. Restart the your computer as suggested by Windows NT.
  5. Open the System icon in Control Panel again.
  6. Choose the Virtual Memory button again.
  7. Reset the Initial Size and the Maximum Size values to the values that Windows NT recommends.
  8. Restart the your computer as suggested by Windows NT.

Because the paging file setting will now be sufficient, the temporary paging file will be deleted by Windows NT and Virtual Memory errors will not occur.

Additional query words: prodnt swap

Keywords : kbenv ntconfig ntfilesys
Version : 3.1 3.5
Platform : WINDOWS
Issue type :

Last Reviewed: January 15, 1999
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