>Using more than 2GB of RAM in After Effects

UPDATE: This old technique has since been replaced by real operation systems with 64-bit capabilities, so I suggest you use either Windows Vista 64, Windows 7 64-bit or Mac OS X. I also strongly suggest you backup everything before you do any modification to your OS, anything else would be really, really foolish.

If you are as RAM-frustrated as I am (I’m running a 750 frames long 2K render in 16-bit in the background right now) you’ll be happy to know that you can bump up After Effects RAM-usage over the Windows XP limit of 2 GB by changing a simple command in a text file.

How to set this up is so poorly described in the AE manual that I’ve actually filed it as a bug. It only says:

See the Microsoft website for details.

I spent 30 minutes searching until I finally found out how to do this, which I thought I’d share with you:

The limit under Windows XP is 3 GB of RAM (that is per instance of AE, so you can easily start more than one if you have Windows XPx64, but plain XP only supports a total of 4 GB of RAM for the whole system.)
On Mac OS X AE can use up to 3.5 GB of RAM, and on 64-bit Windows XP each instance of After Effects can use up to 4GB of RAM with no special configuration.

Here’s more background information for the geeky:
RAM, Virtual Memory, Pagefile and all that stuff
The /3GB switch

UPDATE: The process for Windows Vista is now described in a comment on the LiveDocs site.

49 Responses to >Using more than 2GB of RAM in After Effects

  1. Ram

    >Cool tip…

    is it restricted only for AE? did u try it in NLEs? (PPro,Vegas etc)

  2. Jonas Hummelstrand

    >No, this tip should work for all apps that are “Large Address Aware” but I haven’t researched other apps, I only know that After Effects and possibly Photoshop benefit from this. However, if your other apps aren’t you shouldn’t experience any problems, so it’s pretty safe to just switch and try it out!

  3. Anonymous

    >Would this work on a Windows 2003 Server OS with 4GB of RAM using the /4GB switch?

  4. Jonas Hummelstrand

    >The links in the original post suggest that it should work with the “/3GB” (not “/4GB”) on Windows 2003 Server, but I can only vouch for After Effects.

  5. LSH

    >Hi there I recenlty had my HP workstation upgraded form 2 to 3 GB of RAM and noticed in the render que that it was only processing the render with the original 2GB, so after hunting on-line I found your video tutorial on how to ammend this, which seemed to work a treat. Unfortunatley though every time I tried to capture from our digi deck into my Avid Adrenaline Media composer it kept crashing early into the capture and gave an unknown error message, after trying all my usual tricks I was still not able to capture so I went back and deleted the text from the Boot command and it captured no problem??? Any ideas as to how I can get round this? Many thanks LSH

  6. Jonas Hummelstrand

    >Unfortunately, it seems that Avid in their infinite software wisdom hasn’t made their app “Large Address Aware,” so I guess you’re out of luck if you have to run really memory-intensive projects on the same machine as your NLE. Sorry…

  7. rod jare

    >I came across, and since I just bought 2 more GB,s ram, plus the 1,
    that was in there, I would give this a try. When I follow the instructions, after booting the first time, everything is fine.
    When it comes times to reboot again, my system will not boot. I have to go to safemode, and take that /3GB, back out.
    Any suggestions? System is
    Media center 2005, latest everything. 3Gb ram.

  8. PhilW

    >When I go to close and save the boot.ini file, I get an error message that reads “Cannot create the c:\boot.ini file. Make sure that the path and filename are correct”. Any suggestions?

  9. Jonas Hummelstrand

    >To “rod jare”:
    I imagine the problem you’re having comes from the fact that you’re trying to do this with MCE, since none of the Microsoft documents I linked to in the original post lists Media Center Edition 2005 as supporting this feature.

    Note that the “/3GB” switch only makes it possible for certain applications (that have been programmed to do so) to use more than 2 GB of RAM for a single application. You can still use more than 2 GB without this switch and start several programs.

  10. Jonas Hummelstrand

    >To “philw”:

    Either you have Windows XP installed to a different disk than C:, or more likely, you are not logged in with Administrator priviliges. Also, locate the “boot.ini” file (you may have to turn on “Show Hidden Files” in your windows’ settings, and make sure the file isn’t “Read Only.”

    Good luck!

  11. rod jare

    >thanks jonas, I figured it was an MCE thing,

  12. Anonymous

    >Very Very helpful! I was searching for the answer on after effects help but, not much information there as you said…

    Thanks a lot!

  13. Brad

    >After getting excited that I could use all 3GB of ram for rendering with AE, I ended up on the Microsoft website researching why I kept getting the blue screen of death, and why my drivers for my video card kept disappearing. Read what I found, what are the odds:

    “On Windows XP, some drivers, especially VIDEO ADAPTER DRIVERS with onboard RAM, CANNOT run with the /3GB parameter because they require more address space than the 1 GB kernel address space permits.”

    That sucks!

  14. Jonas Hummelstrand

    >Unless you are having out-of-memory errors with really big renders, I’d really recommend starting multiple instances of AE (or using “Nucleo” or upgrading to AE CS3) instead of using the /3GB switch.

  15. Anonymous

    I do nto see how to find Edit/ Preferences to check that box in WinXP as it is shown in the video clip. Please advice.

  16. Anonymous


    I have the option /3GB in my boot.ini file and I have 4GB RAM on Windows XP. How we can monitor the RAM above 3GB – it doesn’t show in the Task Manager or in any other Memory Optimization software.

  17. Jonas Hummelstrand

    >The /3GB switch only affects programs that are PAE aware. If your Windows XP can’t see all the RAM you have installed, neither will any programs see the additional RAM, so you need to solve that error first. I’d really recommend starting multiple instances of AE (or using “Nucleo” or upgrading to AE CS3) instead of using the /3GB switch.

  18. Jonas Hummelstrand

    >If you can’t see the checkbox, do you really have more than 2GB of RAM installed (and visible to your OS?)

  19. Anonymous

    >any info on how to solve this issue in vista? i got 4GB ram.

  20. Anonymous

    just upgraded to AE cs3 xp pro, 4gb ram, dual xenon supermicro here. With /3gb switch activated, photoshop cs2 shows over 2gb memory, but AE never has, either AE7 or now cs3. If photoshop can see it, why would you think AE can not? Quite puzzling here. Thanks in advance for your thoughts.

  21. Jonas Hummelstrand

    >Photoshop has its own RAM scheme that is quite different than any other software.

    In AE, you can see the amount of RAM that AE sees either in the splash screen at startup, or in the Render Queue (see the illustration to the blog post.) If you just look in the Task Manager, you will only see the RAM that AE currently has allocated.

    With AE CS3, you are probably better off using the Multiprocessing feature than to try to use the /3GB switch, since the /3GB switch is known to cause instability with a lot of drivers.

  22. Anonymous

    >”Video tutorial on using more than 2 GB of RAM with After Effects on Windows XP”


  23. Jonas Hummelstrand

    >Dear “anonymous,”

    Sorry you’re having problems, but this Microsoft-provided switch is easily reverted by starting in safe mode (hold down F8 while booting) and removing it. Most likely you have a old/incompatible driver on your system that can’t handle the switch, but it shouldn’t “DESTROY” your OS.

    Best regards,
    A. Hole

  24. Anonymous

    >das it work with XP media centre?

  25. jk

    >God Bless you sweet man!
    I use AE a lot and i had started to name the grey hairs that i had begun to get after the adobe programmers. Now it’s working fine!


  26. Anonymous

    >nice 1, big help.

    Anonymous: bet your techie friends avoid helping you like the plague? ;)


  27. Martin Løland

    >Hey, I also get the message: “Cannot create the c:\boot.ini file. Make sure that the path and filename are correct”. I am an administrator, I have selected “show hidden files”, but still it doesn’t show up in explorer.

  28. Jonas Hummelstrand


    Are you sure you have a C disk and that you have write permissions on the root folder and on the boot.ini file?

  29. Anonymous

    >A million thank yous! This simple tip worked like a charm. Jonas is the MAN!!!

  30. Anonymous

    >hi, i just wanna ask, how ’bout using windows vista? How do I change the setting? THx

  31. Jonas Hummelstrand

    >I just updated the post with a link to the manula where someone has posted the steps for Vista.

  32. Anonymous

    >wow thx dude,
    I’m gonna do the manual hehe ^___^

  33. Halex

    >Yessssss!!!! Man you Rockk!!!
    I tryed de AE Help, the microsoft website to do this , and last I googleit and found this great post!!! Now is all Happiness!!! Thank you thank you a lot

  34. Anonymous

    >To allow for edit of boot.ini for those getting the error take the following steps.

    Open Windows Explorer
    Tools>Folder Options>View>
    Uncheck 'Hide protected operating system files'
    Select OK and return to folder view
    Right-Click boot.ini
    Uncheck 'Read Only'



  35. Anonymous

    >Thank you!!! The video tutorial was great. Just what I needed.

    Erik W

  36. Edwin Bradford

    >Working for me so far. Thanks for putting together such a clear tutorial purely for contributing to the community. By the way, your reply to the “Asshole” post was hilarious, best laugh I’ve had for days.

  37. Dane

    >Can this be done with 2003 as well? I have 8 gigs of ram on my 2003 server and would love to utilize more than 2 gigs.

    It worked great on my XP box but did not seem to change anything on my 2003 server..

    Any suggestions?

  38. Anonymous

    >Hi guys, Tried the 3GB option in the boot.ini and all is fine. Except now machine will not acknowledge blackmagic card, can not ingest or send things out. Any suggestions?
    Back to 2GB works fine

  39. Jonas Hummelstrand

    >If one link in the entire chain doesn’t support the /3GB switch then you’re out of luck. Haven’t heard of problems with the BM cards, it could probably just as well be an issue with the motherboard or some other component…

  40. Mangosh

    >First of all a little help for those of you who get the error message saying it cannot find boot.ini path: just use:
    control panel
    > system
    > Advanced Tab
    > click on "settings" button under "Startup and recovery"
    > Then under system startup click on "edit"
    This will bring up the boot.ini file then add /3gb and then file > Save, this time it should not give you error message BUT PLEASE READ ON:

    I actually DO NOT RECOMMEND USING /3GB!!!!! As other people recommend, I would say use Multi-processing in after effects CS3 instead! Reason is after adding /3Gb and then running a graphics card software/driver then my Windows XP Os crashed. Got blue screen and unfortunately could not start even in Safe Mode(as explained before by James using F8 on startup) so I had to reinstall all operating system! F u c k! So be very well aware that if you use /3GB you might run into crashes, blue screen and if you are unlucky even having to reinstall OS.

    As Brad stated above I think I ran into this problem:

    "On Windows XP, some drivers, especially VIDEO ADAPTER DRIVERS with onboard RAM, CANNOT run with the /3GB parameter because they require more address space than the 1 GB kernel address space permits."

    I was trying to run a 4 year old capture card when I got the problem. Be aware of this, espcially if you are running old video hardware!
    Just use multi-processing, come on you can do it, and don't be scared of fluffy rabbits. But be scared of /3Gb and pigeons(as their s h i t is corrosive)

  41. Buch

    >Oh my god, finally I found it. I mean, YOU found it. Very grateful, sir.

  42. Allison Alexander Westbrook IV

    >How is this accomplished with XP Home. I read that if you add the /3GB to the boot.ini file on XP Home you will find yourself with an nonbooting machine.

  43. SpencerT

    >Haha, you know you know that you made it into the AE manual for this? That's how I found this page.

  44. darkforceone

    >Did not work for me unfortunately…

    I've created a system restore point just in case lol

    When I first booted, got error msg: lsass.exe end point invalid

    it then rebooted, then i got the BSOD!!!

    Went back into safemode and changed it, phew…

  45. Anonymous

    >can this work for windows 7? if yes how please

  46. Anonymous

    >Hi, Im using AE CS 3 in windows 7.
    Ho can I do this in windows 7?
    Need is so badly. Thanks

  47. ထက္ႏုိင္

    >Please sir,my ae cs4 is install in 32bit window xp.It show memory usage is 2G but i used memory 4G.Thus how to increase memory usage to 3G.Upper comments i read but i can't understand.If you send by mail the steps by steps making to increase memory usages or clear answer reply.
    I hope your answer mail or reply.I very thanks for your reply.

  48. Anonymous

    >I am using an Intel Core i7 930 with DX58SO motherboard….i have upgraded my RAM with total 8GB…but in After effects CS3(32 bit) itz not showing the whole RAM, but in CS5 i can easily the actual RAM that i have installed…..can anyone tell how much maximum RAM does supported by CS3…..? thnx in advance.. :)

  49. mike

    You really ought to slap a few warnings on this post…I didnt read through the comments and tried this. Windows loaded once but i couldnt open any programs or get back to the boot.ini file. Now windows wont load at all, ive gotten the BSOD, and safe mode wont load either…Please Please add a warning..I dont know how i’m going to fix this without reinstalling windows and losing a lot of time and work