Postscript error: VMerror

VMerrors mean that your RIP or printer doesn’t have enough memory to process your job. To be more elaborate: VM is a percentage of the total RAM in a RIP that is used to hold static information, such as font metrics. You can run a printer with *any* amount of RAM installed out of VM if the setting is too low for the amount of information that a particular file requires.

  • PostScript Level 1 machines are particularly sensitive to this setting because the assignment of VM is discreet.
  • PostScript level 2 introduced a more dynamic assignment of VM. However, graphically complex content, such as a document with a large number of fonts along with vector graphics containing a large number of nodes and/or PostScript fills all on one page can still “blow out” the VM, regardless of the total amount of RAM in the machine.


There are several things you can try to get rid of VMerrors. There are two fundamental approaches:

1. Reduce the complexity of the document so it needs less VM when being processed. This can be achieved in several ways:

  • Print only one page or even one color at the time, instead of sending the entire document in one go.
  • Simplify the page or modify the PPD file if applicable. If you have complex EPS files, simplify them. Adjust the flatness of curves in your drawing, or increase the split path resolution. If you have blends in EPS picture files, reduce the number of steps in the blends (as can be done in Corel Draw).
  • Try to reduce the number of fonts used in the document.
  • Use the option ‘split long paths’ in drawing applications to split up complex paths in easier to process chunks.
  • If you are printing from Illustrator: if the document contains gradients, select Compatible Gradient Printing (Illustrator 7.x or earlier) or Compatible Gradient and Gradient Mesh Printing (Illustrator 8.0) in the Document Setup dialog box.
  • Print at a lower resolution. Many systems support multiple resolutions. The lower the resolution, the easier the job can be processed by the RIP. Avoid the use of very high or low screen rulings.
  • Get rid of all extra software that adds to the complexity of the job: do not use OPI, do not print using a printer queue, disable any extension or plug-in that adds stuff to the PostScript data, don’t download an error handler,…

2. If all of the above fails you can try to make VM larger. Here are some ways of achieving this:

  • Reboot the RIP (or printer) to clear its memory and perform a font cache delete if it is a PostScript level 1 device and you have the tools for this.
  • If you are using a software RIP: make sure there is enough free space on the hard disks.
  • Sometimes RIPs and printers come with a tool that gives you access to VM and other internal settings so you can change its size.
  • Some printers come with a SCSI-connector that allow you to hook up an external disk. Maybe you still have an old disk lying around that can be put to good use.
  • Buy more RAM for your printer or RIP.

Other sources of information

Adobe have an excellent tech note if you run into a VMerror problem with Illustrator.

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