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Windows Paging File

General Information

The paging file (pagefile.sys) is a hidden file on the hard drive of a computer that is used by the Windows operating system in a similar way to RAM. The paging file and RAM together constitute the virtual memory. By default, the Windows operating system stores the paging file in the boot partition (the partition where the operating system and auxiliary files are installed). Typically, the volume of the paging file is set to 1.5 times the total RAM volume.

The paging file is needed in order to take some load off RAM during periods of high load. If you simultaneously run several applications that make active use of RAM, some of these applications will be inactive (they will be minimized or simply will not be used at the moment) and, as a result, their data will be offloaded into a slower area, i.e. the paging file, while data from the currently active applications will be handled directly by RAM. When a non-active application is accessed, the data from the paging file will be moved directly to RAM to speed up its execution. When there is an acute shortage of RAM in the system, the paging file is used directly, that is, the data of active applications is also dumped there. If the total size of the virtual memory is too small, some applications may become unstable, and the operating system may display a message about insufficient virtual memory. In such situations, the size of the paging file must be increased.

If your computer has more than one hard drive: in order to improve system performance, the paging file should be moved to another partition on a different hard drive. In this case, the operating system will process multiple input/output requests more quickly.

If you have one hard drive on your computer: it is also recommended to move the paging file to another hard drive partition. When the paging file is located in the boot partition, the Windows operating system sends requests to read from and write to drive, both to the system folder and to the paging file. After moving the paging file to another partition, there will be less conflict between read and write requests.

If your computer has both HDD and SSD drives: it is recommended to put the paging file on one of the partitions of the HDD drive. This will reduce the number of read/write requests, which in turn, may favorably affect the reliability of the SSD drive.
To avoid fragmentation of the paging file, it is recommended to create a separate partition on the hard drive, where only the paging file will be located. Using a separate partition for the paging file has the following advantage: the file is not fragmented. The paging file located in the section where other data is located may be broken into fragments when it is made bigger, to increase the size of virtual memory. A defragmented paging file allows for faster access to virtual memory.

Paging File Operations

To perform operations with the paging file, go to the virtual memory management window.

To do this:

1. Press the Win + R In the window that opens, type “sysdm.cpl” in the Open field and click OK.

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2. In the System Properties window that opens, go to the Advanced tab and click the Settings button under Performance.

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3. In the Performance Settings window, go to Advanced and click Change.

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4. After performing these actions, the virtual memory management window will open, where the default setting is ‘Automatically manage the paging file size for all drives’. In this case, the paging file is located on the same drive where the operating system is installed (drive C). The number of logical drives available for selection on each computer can vary.

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Disabling the Paging File

1. Uncheck ‘Automatically manage paging file size’ for all drives.

2. Select No paging file and click Set.

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3. After that, the operating system will give you a warning. Click Yes and then OK.

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4. After performing all operations, restart the computer.

Moving the Paging File Between Hard Drive Partitions

1. Perform all actions from the Disabling the Paging File

2. Select the logical drive where you want to place the paging file.

3. Select System managed size for the selected drive and click Set, then OK.

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4. After performing all operations, restart the computer.

Changing the Paging File Size

1. Uncheck ‘Automatically manage paging file size’ for all drives.

2. Select Custom size and put in two values: initial and maximum sizes in Mb. Click Set, then OK.

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3. After performing all operations, restart the computer.

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