Virtual memory (or extended RAM) is the new king in town. I mean seriously. Everyone is advertising it, but not a lot of people understand it. As usual, I am going to paint a clearer picture for you. In today’s article, we are going to be looking at the Advantages and Disadvantage of Virtual Memory.
What is Virtual Memory?
Virtual Memory is an extension of the software memory beyond the limits of the available hardware (RAM).
Let’s say that you have only 4GB of RAM but you want 6GB (an extra 2GB). The software would then enlarge the virtual memory from 4GB to 6GB. The 2GB deficit on top would then be allocated to the internal storage (or SD card).
Read: What is Virtual Memory?
What this means is that the software on your phone can stretch the limits of the RAM size. It can in fact stretch it beyond the available hardware space. When this happens, the user is going to need another physical memory to support the extra storage space.
In most cases, internal storage space is used to support the extra memory. On rarer occasions however, an SD card can also be used in this regard.
In a nutshell, virtual memory is simply the allocation of internal memory space to support software memory.
Advantages of Virtual Memory (or RAM)
There are several advantages to using virtual memory and a lot of companies have been waxing lyrical about them.
The first and most important of them all is increased multitasking space. When virtual memory is available to the OS, the OS can then be able to handle more tasks in memory without fear of running out of space.
More space would lead to better system multitasking. The OS system and the CPU cores will be able to manage more apps at once.
The third is better RAM management. With more space, the OS can then easily shuffle running app processes around, without being forced to kill some apps to make space for others. Low priority apps can be moved to the internal storage and then recalled when needed.
More apps can be preloaded into memory and there would be still be enough space to load up new apps.
All of these would culminate in a reduced drain on RAM resources and an arguably better system performance.
Read: What is zRAM?
Disadvantages of Virtual Memory (or RAM)
As with most things, wherever there are advantages, one can also find disadvantages. The very same is true for Virtual Memory.
As the more perceptive of you may have noticed, I have refrained from writing “virtual RAM”. Why is that? Well that’s because virtual memory is not RAM. The correct term is swap space.
What people call virtual RAM is actually swap space that is located in the internal storage or SD card. Virtual memory acts as a storage space for apps processes to be kept until they are needed in RAM.
The internal storage is much slower than RAM. As a result, when app processes stored in the internal storage are needed in RAM, there is going to be some lag in getting the app process back into the RAM. This usually manifests as a longer loading time on screen in real time. One could say that using virtual RAM slows the phone down.
The Internal Storage (or SD cards) used for virtual memory usually have definite lifespans. This lifespan is measured in the number of read and writes. Using such storage as extended RAM means that the OS is going to be constantly reading from and writing data to the storage. This will speed up the age of the storage and lead to its premature aging and death.
Using your internal storage or SD card for virtual memory will reduce the amount of storage space available to you. If you have a small storage space like 32GB or 64GB, this may very well be an issue.
Whilst Virtual memory does have a lot advantages like increased multitasking space, the disadvantages are not worth the risks. For the most part, extended RAM is nothing but a gimmick. A way for companies to avoid putting more RAM into their phones.
IF you are using a phone with low RAM storage e.g. 3GB, this could very well be worth it. But, if you have a 6GB RAM device or even more, then using extended RAM is pointless. You’ll only end up burning out your storage space.
With that we’ve come to the end of this post on the advantages and disadvantages of virtual memory.
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