A+ Certification / Beginners

Paging your memory

Windows uses hard drive space to extend the amount of memory that is available to applications. The total pool of memory that is available is referred to as the Virtual Memory Page Pool, or just virtual memory. Virtual memory is composed of both physical RAM and hard drive space and is maintained by the Virtual Memory Manager (VMM).

The Virtual Memory Manager is responsible for keeping track of where different kinds of information are located in memory. As applications request to have information placed in memory, the VMM places the information in an area of RAM. If RAM is getting full, then some information is moved from RAM to an area on the hard drive. The location that is used on the hard drive is either called a swap file (in older version of Windows) or a paging or page file (in current versions of Windows). As applications request stored data, then the VMM moves information around so that the data is available in RAM.

You configure the paging file in the System Properties. Follow these steps to adjust how much virtual memory your computer uses:

  1. Open the System Properties dialog box.
    Windows offers a few routes to get there:
    • Right-click the My Computer icon on the desktop and choose Properties.
    • Right-click the My Computer icon in the Start menu and choose Properties.
    • Choose Start → Control Panel → System.
  2. In the System Properties dialog box, click the Advanced tab.
  3. Click the Performance Settings button.
    The Performance Options dialog box appears.
  4. In the Advanced tab, click the Virtual Memory Change button.
    The Virtual Memory dialog box appears. In this dialog box, you can set an initial and a maximum size for the paging file on each logical drive.
  5. Adjust the settings as needed.
    You might want to adjust the virtual memory settings for the following reasons:
    • You are running out of space on your boot partition (the one with the Windows directory).
    • You want to improve paging performance by reducing disk contention with the OS. In this case, you can move the paging file to a different physical disk if you have one.
    • You want to improve paging performance by load balancing the page file between different physical drives. Unlike Windows 9x, current Windows systems allow you to have multiple paging files, each on a different disk.
    If you reduce the size of the paging file on your boot partition below the size of the physical RAM on your system, you are warned that some of the recovery options will be disabled. The paging file is used as a storage space for the memory.dmp file that is generated during a Stop error.
  6. Click OK on three consecutive dialog boxes to close them all out.
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