Jul 27, 2009
My Digital Life Editorial Team

Hack to Install Windows 7, Vista or Server 2008 On Computer or Virtual Machine with Less Than 512 MB RAM Memory

Officially Windows 7, Windows Vista and Windows Server 2008 minimum system hardware specifications (see Windows 7 system requirements and Windows Vista system requirements) requires more than 512 MB of RAM physical memory, though Microsoft recommends 1 GB minimum memory is most production scenarios. As such, the install wizard does not allow setup process to go through when the system memory is less than 512 MB when installing Windows 7, Windows Vista and Windows Server 2008 on PC computer or virtual machine. The setup wizard will halt and force stop installation process with the following error message.

Windows detected that this computer has <128 | 192 | 256 | 320> MB of RAM, but 512 MB is required for installation. Installation cannot proceed.

Install Cannot Proceed with Less Than 512 MB of RAM Memory

Contrary to popular belief, the installation process of Windows operating system may require even more memory to load and boot than post-installation running system. The installation routine started from DVD disc or ISO will create a RAM disk, which takes up more than 128 MB of RAM. This fact has to be taken note when trying to install Windows 7, Windows Vista or Windows Server 2008 on a computer or virtual machine with less than 512 MB of RAM, and it’s recommended to have at least 256 MB of RAM even after using the hack below to ensure setup process can be loaded properl. Else, various errors such as “Ramdisk device creation failed due to insufficient memory” by “Windows Boot Manager”, or simply freezing and stop responding when DVD is booting.

So, how to install Windows 7, Windows Vista and Windows Server 2008 on a system or VM with only 256 MB to 512 MB of RAM memory? There are few workarounds to can be used to install Windows operating system even without 512 MB RAM.

Method 1: 384 MB of RAM to Run Setup Installation

Although the Windows setup process dialog message indicating at least 512 MB of RAM is required, in actual it will only look for available memory of around 384 MB (373 MB of RAM is workable in the case of Windows 7). Thus, end-user can easily add an additional piece of physical RAM into RAM slot to reach this threshold, or even easier in virtual machine, increase the allocated RAM slightly to match 384 MB level.

Method 2: Install With Required RAM Size and Reduce Memory Amount After Installation

While setup installation of Windows 7, Windows Vista and Windows Server 2008 requires 512 MB of memory to proceed, but that does stop user to reduce amount of RAM memory available to the system after installation completed. So, this workaround requires user to increase the amount of physical or virtual RAM to 512 MB (adding memory stick) in order to fulfill setup requirement, and then reduce the memory size to lower level (remove the added memory stick) once installation is completed. This workaround is especially easy for virtual machine, which more likely encounter low memory issue.

Method 3: Patch winsetup.dll Hack

The system check for RAM size and its stop installation routine is coded in winsetup.dll file on the DVD disc or ISO image. Follow the steps below to patch winsetup.dll to bypass the RAM memory check during setup installation of Windows 7, Windows Vista and Windows Server 2008.

Note: Only works on 32-bit (x86) version.

  1. Copy the content of DVD installation disc media, or extract the contents of DVD ISO image to hard disk drive.
  2. Download and install any HEX editor such as AptEdit Pro, WinHEX and Notepad++ (a Notepad alternative) with HEX Editor plugin.
  3. Use the HEX editor to open winsetup.dll located inside the /source/ folder of the copied installation files.
  4. Search or find the following HEX (hexadecimal) string:

    77073D7801

  5. Modify the HEX string to replace and overwrite it with the following HEX code:

    E90400000

  6. Save the modified winsetup.dll file.
  7. Run the setup.exe from the installation files copied to hard disk. For user who wants to start installation from bootable DVD instead, replace the winsetup.dll in the ISO with patched version, and then burn the ISO to disc.

Do note that although Windows can still run at less than mandatory required RAM memory, the performance of the system will take serious hit. With ridiculously low amount of memory, Windows Boot Manager may simply fail to load and stop with “Windows failed to start” or “No physical memory is available at the location required for the Windows Boot Manager. The system can not continue” error message, if not system driver or registry file is missing or corrupt message.

  • fix slow computer

    It was once okay on the web too! Over the past month, my laptop has been therefore slow online

  • ceyG

    I replaced the HEX strings in winsetup.dll but it still displays the error message.

  • j0j0gr

    hexeditor #3 solution is better and faster, worked this too

  • topolab

    256ram needs about 20minutes to install :)

  • jojo

    worked with usb and i think will work with dvd too!! did it in 15 minutes

  • http://yahoo.com crucial damz

    can I Install Windows 7 (x64) with just 1 gb of RAM?………. those who have 512 mb or below VM, even if you hacked it, after the installation, your computer will run too slow………………………………

    14 years old-Philippines

  • http://lmnet.net LM

    Method 3 works, just need to add and extra zero (OP missed one).

  • Jake

    I confirm that the bootable iso did not work after this trick, but it did work if xp sp2 was installed. If less than sp2 it will gripe about not having sp2 installed.

  • missingxtension

    Worked like a charm, its actually easier if you do it with a usb stick. Basically prepare a usb stick for windows 7 install.

  • http://www.gadjetspace.com Gajendra Ratnam

    I need to install Windows 7 Starter Edition to my IBM T22 which only has 256RAM and all the memory slots are used up.

    The hardisk is an old IDE version. I fitted an IDE adaptor to the hardisk and stuck into my desktop which is an AMD with 1GB Ram.

    Started the install and let it run till the system does reboots after copying all the files. At this point I power down the desktop. Replace the laptop hardisk back into the IBM, put in the Windows 7 DVD in the laptop and continue with the rest of the installation on the laptop. Work ok for me.

    I got the system runnig. Looking for some drivers. Got an old Linksys PCMICA Wireless card and installed the XP drivers and it works!

  • Bengal

    I think you forgot to add an extra 0 to the new hex code. the nex hex code you ahve is only 9 digits long and the old is 10.

    I am trying to install on a laptop that only has 256mb ram and will see how it works.

    Bengal

  • Japoopy

    Found a working method to install a Win7 on a PC that got 256MB RAM:

    Install Windows 7 in another PC, with 512 MB RAM and then move the hard drive into another PC, where there are 256 MB of RAM. When the setup completes files copying and reboots for the first time, do not allow the PC to boot and turn it off. Remove the hard drive, put it in another PC (don’t forget the Windows 7 DVD as well) and boot the second PC. The setup will continue as it should and RAM limit check will be bypassed. (The method worked every time on numerous different PCs).

  • Japoopy

    This method DOES NOT work. There will be the same message after you change the HEX value.

    Dont waste your time.

  • Mikael King

    When i try to install Windows 7 on my computer who has 3.0 GHZ and 1 gb RAM I still get this error message that says that I only has 256 mb of RAM but i have 1 gb! I dont know what to do?? Please Someone help me!!

  • http://gokhiel.com Computer tips

    Even you can install windows on Virtual Machine with 256 or 512 MB RAM Memory, the computer will running slow.

    • KKKK

      It will not crash

  • Peter Paul

    I installed Windows 7 RTM on an 8 year old PC which has a 1.4GHZ P4 and 384 MB RDRAM. This makes it about as 'powerful' as a Netbook from early 2008, but with too little RAM.

    Installation went without a hitch, as Windows 7 will not complain. While Vista was slow as molasses on that machine, Windows 7 runs quite well using initially about 250 MB of RAM. It is very usable for surfing with Firefox and writing with OO.