Ian Moulster's blog

A Microsoft employee translating Microsoft technology into plain English

Changing Windows 7's XP Mode memory size

Changing Windows 7's XP Mode memory size

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I've been using XP mode on Windows 7 for a while and it has been proving useful to have an old XP copy available for things like compatibility testing. One issue I had is that it comes configured with only 256MB of RAM available to the virtual machine which tends to make it limp along somewhat with the hard drive thrashing away as XP tries to shuffle stuff into and out of the swap space.

I had plenty of RAM available on the host machine but it wasn't immediately obvious to me how you could increase the amount of RAM available to XP. Here's how I did it, if anyone has an easier way please let me know.

Step 1: Start up the XP Mode Virtual Machine. One way of doing this is to type "XP Mode" into the Windows 7 search box when you press the Windows pearl at the bottom left

Step 2: Once the virtual machine has started up, select "Tools" then "Settings". You'll notice that the memory size is set to 256MB but you can't change it because the virtual machine is running.

Step 3: Click on the "close" option and select the "prompt for action" radio button to allow you to opt how you want to close the virtual machine. If you don't do this it will always hibernate when you close it which isn't what we want - you still can't edit the RAM value when the virtual machine is hibernated.

Step 4: Click OK on this screen, then - and this is important - choose "File" and "settings" again and leave the dialog box open.

Step 5: Choose "Action" then "Close", and choose "Shut Down" from the drop down box. Remember you must still have the settings dialog box open at this stage.

Step 6: Once the virtual machine has shut down, you will now be able to edit the RAM value in the settings Window that you left open.

Step 7: Once you've selected the value you want, click Ok then start up the virtual machine again.

With 1GB of RAM it runs a whole lot faster and smoother that's for sure.

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  • Please add 3 and 7 and type the answer here:
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  • You can easily get to the Settings dialog by going to c:\Users\username\Virtual Machines (or by simply running Windows Virtual PC, which shows the same window). Right click the virtual machine, then select Settings will show the settings for a virtual machine.

  • It's actually much simpler. Just click Start -> Programs -> Microsoft Virtual PC -> Virtual Machines.

    Then right click the VM and click settings.

    Note that if the machine is already hibernated, you'll need to shut it down which you can do by clicking (in the running VM) Start -> Windows Security, etc.

  • Thanks both, knew there had to be a simpler way :-)

  • Has W7 facility of virtual machine built in? In XP you need a Software for this. From which you need to connect any of the virtual machine. Provide more information over it. Provide links for related topics if possible.

  • Hi - follow the "XP Mode" link in the posting above to find out more. With Pro and above versions of Win7 you can download a free copy of XP in a virtual machine. Integration with the os is much more sophisticated that "traditional" VMs that you might have used previously

  • if I have 8G ram installed, how much can I allocate to xp mode. if more than 3G will xp mode be able to access it all to run programs in?

  • my laptop is 4 Gb Ram but  Virtual XP Mode is 512MB show how to convert 2 GB.

  • You are awesome!  I look through SEVERAL blogs and could not figure out why I didn't get a prompt to Turn Off until I found this one.

    Thank you!!!

  • I have 6 GB ram but my XP mode can not accept more than 1.5 Gb!??

    he gives a message that said : there is no enough ram ,please turn off some programs!!

    What is the problem!! I turned almost all programs on my laptop

  • Real Thanks

  • Can you tell me how to do this on window XP


  • Thank you very much.

    You saved me alot of time.

    Best regards Arne.

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