Enabling More Than 4GB RAM on Windows 7 32-bit

In this tutorial , I’ll be guiding you on how to enable 4GB of RAM on Windows 7 32-bit.  This is handy especially if you are planning to use your old Windows 32-bit without the hassle of going through reformatting and re installing Windows 7 64-bit as there is no way to upgrade from 32-bit OS to 64-bit OS. Before we start , be sure to backup your system and you also would also need to download the patch here . If you prefer to do it for yourself , scroll down and read
DISCLAIMER : Bear in mind that we are going to change our system here. For instance you may enter Twlight Realm and you may be a fan of Justin Bieber afterwards. I am not held responsible if such incident occurs. So be sure to backup your system before attempting to do so.

Source Microsoft TechNet
Physical Address Extension (PAE) - Allows processors in 32-bit to address more than 4GB of RAM Source: Microsoft TechNet

Simply run the patch and select patch 4GB of RAM and reboot !  If you did correctly , voila you should see something like this. Congratulations , now your 32-bit Windows 7 supports > 4GB of RAM !


More after the jump (to know about the technical details)

Why bother tweaking Windows 7 32-bit ? 
As you may have guessed. There is a 64-bit version of Windows 7 which supports more than 4GB of RAM. But suppose if you are still using 32-bit of Windows and have upgraded your RAM and still insist of keeping your Windows (as you have tons of collections of stuff installed). This is where the patch comes handy. It just allows 32-bit Windows 7 to see more than 4GB of RAM.
So how does this magically tweak work ?
It is simply. This tweak pretty much hacks the kernel to support Physical Address Extension or PAE . Basically all processors do have PAE , what PAE does is that it allows 32-bit OSes to see more than 4GB of RAM. It acts as a translator , trying to break the limit of 32-bit. Yes there is a limit , but with the help of CPU , the limit can be broken and the Operating System can someone see this RAM. Instead of accessing directly , it uses PAE to acts a translator to address memory location beyond the 4GB realm. Remember that 32-bit processor can only address 4GB of memory space , this extends it to 36-bit (or sometimes up to 40-bit).  So with the help of CPU and if the OS (Operating System) supports PAE , you could address this issue. For some reason Microsoft did not enable it for Home Operating Systems such as Windows. However PAE is enabled in many other Operating Systems such as MacOSX 10.5 and above and Linux (provided the 32-bit kernel is compiled with PAE)
What are the drawbacks ?
There is one – you are still limited by the law of physics and computing. Well , you can’t play God here !. Since our system is 32-bit , therefore the instructions are still in 32-bit and we are still bounded by 32-bit instructions .Suppose if you have 6GB of RAM and you have PAE turned on and you want to use Lightroom for instance – even at most Lightroom can only use up to 4GB. It can’t use anything beyond that. This is because that the instructions are in 32-bit still. So in other words applications can only ‘see and use’ up to 4GB. Anything beyond that , they can’t use at all.
If that’s the case , what are the advantages ?
Firstly you would have more memory which means that you could run more applications on your 32-bit system. Without PAE enabled (suppose if you have 8GB of RAM installed , Windows would only see and address up to 4GB). Imagine if you want to run photoshop and lightroom concurrently , it would not be possible. However with PAE turned on you could run these programs in main memory. Even though the application can only use maximum up to 4GB of RAM. You could now able to load these applications in RAM directly which should increase your productivity (since program takes less time to load if they are located in memory compared to hard disk)
I like to get my hands dirty. So how do I do it myself ?
Kindly read the guide here. In fact that site helped me to write this guide that explains the concept in plain English

14 thoughts to “Enabling More Than 4GB RAM on Windows 7 32-bit”

  1. Another drawback would be that many drivers for consumer hardware are poorly written and don’t take into account the effects of PAE. At least that’s what I’ve understood to be the main reason why Microsoft won’t enable it in consumer versions of Windows. Microsoft doesn’t want to make any changes that result in more bluescreens.

  2. Terrific work! This is the type of information that should be shared around the web. Shame on Google for not positioning this post higher! Come on over and visit my web site . Thanks =)

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