Microsoft Office Tutorials and References
In Depth Information
Tweaking the Paging File
Tweaking the Paging File
The Windows paging file, also known as the swap file or virtual memory, is very
important to the operation of Windows. The operating system uses the paging
file as a place to store data that was once in physical memory but was kicked
out because Windows needed the space for other purposes.
The method that Windows uses to decide what programs will stay in physical
RAM is very complex and impossible to alter. However, several tweaks help you
optimize your computer’s use of the paging file. It is possible to prevent certain
system files from being pushed into the paging or you can completely disable
the paging file to prevent the entire system from using it.
The next section guides you through optimizing the paging file for your
Disabling the Paging File
If you have a large amount of RAM in your box, you have the ability to stop the
operating system from pushing any data out into the paging file. This causes
faster memory management and memory access than is physically possible for
your RAM. Reading and writing directly to the RAM is always significantly
faster than having to use the paging file, because reading and writing to the
paging file requires multiple steps and that takes time. First, the data has to be
copied out of physical RAM to the hard drive, and then the new data must be
loaded from the hard drive into RAM and then executed. The hard drive is a
big bottleneck in this situation.
If you have 16 GB or more of RAM in your computer, you most likely can
disable the paging file. If you have less than 16 GB of RAM, do not even consider
disabling the paging file or you will run into problems. There is no one-size-
its-all rule because it ultimately depends on what applications you run. If you
use memory intensive applications such as Adobe Photoshop or a professional
video editing software, disabling your page file may be a bad idea.
What can happen if you disable your paging file? If you have enough RAM,
nothing; but if you do not have enough RAM, applications may refuse to load
or may even crash. For example, if you run Photoshop and are working on a
large image, you will run into “out of memory” errors and the application will
crash, causing you to lose all your work. This is a pretty extreme example, but it
can happen to you if you don’t have enough RAM and disable your paging file.
If you stick to the 8 GB minimum you will have no problems in most cases,
but be aware that if you ever choose to run some memory-intensive
applications, such as rendering a two-hour movie, or if you just like to run dozens of
programs at once, you can run out of memory easily.