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Workstation allows you to set the memory size of each virtual machine and the amount of the host computer's memory that can be used for virtual machines. A third control governs the extent to which you want to allow the host operating system's memory manager to swap virtual machines out of physical RAM.
By adjusting these settings, you can affect both virtual machine and overall system performance.
Host operating systems do not behave well when they run low on free memory for their own use. When a Windows or Linux host operating system does not have enough RAM for its own use, it thrashes it constantly swaps parts of itself between RAM and its paging file on disk. To help guard against virtual machines causing the host to thrash, Workstation enforces a limit on the total amount of RAM that may be consumed by virtual machines.
In general, the sum of the memory of all currently running virtual machines plus overhead for the Workstation processes cannot exceed the amount of physical memory on the host minus some memory that must be kept available for the host. See Using Additional Memory for more information.
Some memory must be kept available on the host to ensure the host is able to operate properly while virtual machines are running. The amount of memory reserved for the host depends on the host operating system and the size of the host computer's memory.
If you want the most memory out of your virtual machine and are pushing close to the supported limits, you should expect that if you run the virtual machine for a while, power it off and change settings in the virtual machine settings editor (especially increasing the virtual machine's memory size), then try to power it back on, the virtual machine may not power on. If this happens, close the console in which you tried opening the virtual machine, and open a new console. The virtual machine should power on.
You can set the amount of host RAM that Workstation is allowed to reserve for all running virtual machines. To set this parameter, choose Edit > Preferences > Memory. The reserved memory setting specifies a maximum amount of host RAM that Workstation is allowed to use, but this memory is not allocated in advance. Even if multiple virtual machines are running at the same time, Workstation may be using only a fraction of the RAM you specified here. Any unused RAM is available for use by other applications. If all the RAM you specify here is in use by one or more virtual machines, the host operating system cannot use this memory itself or allow other applications to use it.
The amount of RAM actually used for a particular virtual machine varies as a virtual machine runs. If multiple virtual machines run simultaneously, they work together to manage the memory.
The recommended amount of RAM to specify for all running virtual machines is calculated on the basis of the host computer's physical memory and is displayed in the memory settings control Edit > Preferences > Memory. If you want Workstation to use more or less physical memory, use the slider to change the amount.
If you set this value too high, the host may thrash if other applications are run on the host. If you set this value too low, virtual machines may perform poorly and you cannot run as many virtual machines at once.
For information on setting memory for a single virtual machine, see Configuring Memory Settings for a Virtual Machine.
By default, Workstation limits the number of virtual machines that can run at once based on the amount of memory specified in the application settings. This prevents virtual machines from causing each other to perform poorly. If you try to power on a virtual machine and there is not enough memory available, the virtual machine fails to power on.
To increase the number or memory size of virtual machines that can run, adjust the amount of virtual machine memory that the host operating system may swap to disk. To change this setting, choose Edit > Preferences > Memory and choose the option under Additional memory.
Select one of the following options:
If you try to power on a virtual machine and there is not enough memory available, Workstation displays a warning message. To try to power on the virtual machine using the available memory, click OK. If you do not want to power on the virtual machine, click Cancel.
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