What is virtual memory?

virtual memory

Virtual memory is a feature of an operating system that enables a computer to be able to compensate shortages of physical memory by transferring pages of data from random access memory to disk storage.

This process is done temporarily and is designed to work as a combination of RAM and space on the hard disk.

This means that when RAM runs low, virtual memory can move data from it to a space called a paging file. This process allows for RAM to be freed up so that a computer can complete the task.

Occasionally a user might be shown a message that says the virtual memory is running low, this means that either more RAM needs to be added, or the size of the paging file needs to be increased.

How is virtual memory managed?

Technology Term:

Virtual Memory

Standard Definition Exists?

Memory that appears to exist as main storage although most of it is supported by data held in secondary storage, transfer between the two being made automatically as required.

Year first used/coined:

1956

Attributed to:

Fritz-Rudolf Güntsch

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