Windows XP / Beginners

Adjusting the size of the paging file

The size of the page file can automatically be set by the system or it can be set by the user. In some situations, having the page file managed by the system is a good idea, but in others, it is better to manage the paging file yourself.

The biggest argument for setting the paging file size and limit manually is to eliminate the growing on the page file when it is set by the system.When the system is managing the size of the paging file, it will monitor the size of the file and will then automatically make it larger when it is needed. This causes two problems. First of all, it causes a noticeable delay for all applications running on your computer because the computer has to expand the paging file and this is a hard disk-intensive operation. Secondly, allowing the system to grow and shrink the paging file causes fragmentation errors.

For the sake of having enough speed, your page file should not have any file fragments. In the next section on defragmenting, you will learn exactly how to do this. But before the defragmentation can be successful, the page file needs to have a constant size. If the page file will be growing frequently, and because the defrag utility has no clue by how much, it cannot put the file in a place on the hard disk so that it will never get fragmented, as is the case when you set the page file manually to Constant Size.

Setting the paging file to a constant size does have some disadvantages. For example, the lost disk space taken up by the paging file can be as high as 1 gigabyte. Additionally, when you set the maximum paging file size manually, you are setting a limit that your computer can never go above. Should you run some extremely memory-intensive application and your limit is too low, your paging file will fill up and you will be out of luck.

The previous example is why setting the correct paging file size is so important. A real easy way to calculate the maximum size of your page file will be to take the recommended size of the page file from the Virtual Memory Settings window and multiply it by 2.5. If you are having problems finding where your computer states the recommended size, perform the following steps for changing the paging file to a constant size, because this value is on the same screen as that on which you will be working.

Now that you are ready to optimize the paging file to a constant size, follow these steps:

  1. Get inside the System Properties again. Do so by right-clicking one of the My Computer icons that is either in the Start Menu or the desktop and selecting Properties.
  2. Next, click the Advanced tab and click the Settings button under the Performance section.
  3. On the Performance Options window, click the Advanced tab and then click the Change button under the Virtual Memory section.
  4. This will bring up all of the page file settings. Once this information is shown, you will want to modify the custom values so that the initial and maximum sizes are the same.
    Enter in the value that you calculated in these two boxes. If you have not yet calculated what your size should be, you will find the recommended size on the bottom of this window.
  5. Click the Set button and then click OK three times to close all of the windows and save your settings.

Once you restart, you will be using the new constant size paging file. You are now ready to run your defragmenter to defragment the paging file to ensure optimal performance.

Be aware: The method that use to calculate the size of the constant paging file is a very conservative approach. It would be better to be safe than sorry. The method of calculating the size is an effective one. However, if you feel the need for more free disk space, feel free to play around with the calculation, such as only multiplying the recommended amount by 2 or maybe even 1.5. Although if you do that, keep in mind that you will be increasing your chances of maxing out your paging file.

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