Virtual Memory

Virtual Memory is used in a computer system to prevent the system from crashing when it becomes overloaded. What happens when the RAM becomes full in a computer system? It uses virtual memory.

RAM sticks & CPU

RAM is limited in its capacity, but must reliably hold all of the currently running programs and data. This includes large programs like the operating system.

To prevent the system from crashing, a portion of the hard drive is sectioned off and used as if it were RAM. This section is referred to as Virtual Memory.

Data must be sent back and forth from the virtual memory using a methodical system. Data is often ‘chunked’ into sections known as pages. The least important of these pages are sent to the virtual memory.

Using virtual memory creates a number of issues:

  • The secondary storage is not as fast as RAM
  • Swapping pages between RAM and virtual memory takes up processing power

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