How to use 4GB RAM on 32-bit XP/Vista by enabling PAE

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Recently one of my friend bought 2 GB RAM for his PC. He already had 2GB installed and he added more 2GB to his desktop computer.But his XP showed only 2 GB RAM. This is very common problem.By default Windows XP supports only 2GB of RAM on 32-bit systems.It is fact that 64-bit systems can support 4 GB of RAM .But very few people know that even 32-bit systems can support up to 4GB of RAM.This can be done by enabling the PAE(Physical Address Extension) on your PC.Now a days almost all processors support PAE.

RAM problem
RAM problem

How to enable PAE on XP:

To enable PAE in Windows XP you have to edit the boot.ini file. Open boot.ini file. It will be there in your system drive. Suppose your OS is installed in C drive then go to run and type c:\boot.ini and hit enter.Add “/ PAE” at the end of the file.

It would look something like this:

multi (0) disk (0) rdisk (1) partition (1) \ WINDOWS = “Microsoft Windows XP Professional” / noexecute = OptIn / fastdetect / PAE

Don’t change anything else in boot.ini or your PC will not boot.Just add / PAE at the end of the line.

Now restart your PC and check if your computer is showing 4 GB RAM. To do this right click on My computer and select properties.Click on general tab and see if it is showing 4GB or not. If it shows then it means that you have done everything correctly and you can use complete 4Gb of your RAM.

Enable PAE under Vista:

It is very easy to enable PAE under Vista. Open cmd and type

BCDEdit / set PAE forceenable

Now it should show 4GB of RAM in Vista.

Warning:Use PAE only if you really have 4GB of RAM or your PC may not work properly. Or if you have got some extra money I will recommend you to go for 64-bit system.

image credit: clipartguide

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12 Replies to “How to use 4GB RAM on 32-bit XP/Vista by enabling PAE”

  1. can i update my system to 64 bit windows 7?? will my system support it??

    OS Name Microsoft Windows XP Professional
    Version 5.1.2600 Service Pack 3 Build 2600
    OS Manufacturer Microsoft Corporation
    System Name 22NDSTRE-9DBE62
    System Manufacturer System manufacturer
    System Model System Product Name
    System Type X86-based PC
    Processor x86 Family 6 Model 23 Stepping 10 GenuineIntel ~2932 Mhz
    BIOS Version/Date American Megatrends Inc. 0411, 5/22/2009
    SMBIOS Version 2.5
    Windows Directory C:\WINDOWS
    System Directory C:\WINDOWS\system32
    Boot Device \Device\HarddiskVolume1
    Locale United States
    Hardware Abstraction Layer Version = “5.1.2600.5512 (xpsp.080413-2111)”
    User Name 22NDSTRE-9DBE62\Owner
    Time Zone India Standard Time
    Total Physical Memory 4,096.00 MB
    Available Physical Memory 2.70 GB
    Total Virtual Memory 2.00 GB
    Available Virtual Memory 1.95 GB
    Page File Space 5.34 GB
    Page File C:\pagefile.sys

    1. No dude, you can’t install a 64 bit OS on 32-bit system. If you want to upgrade your system you should replace your Motherboard and processor.

  2. bas Says:
    October 4th, 2009 at 11:15 pm
    keep space between “/” and “PAE”

    dude still i didnt get it 🙁 🙁 🙁 ..i did it correctly as u said .. still showing the same 3.50GB

  3. @bas

    [boot loader]
    timeout=30
    default=multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(0)partition(1)\WINDOWS
    [operating systems]
    multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(0)partition(1)\WINDOWS=”Microsoft Windows XP Professional” /noexecute=optin /fastdetect/PAE

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