Windows XP / Beginners

Disabling the paging file

Users of computers with a large amount of RAM have the ability to stop the operating system from pushing any data out into the paging file. This will allow for the faster memory management and memory access that is physically possible for your RAM. Reading and writing directly to the RAM is always significantly faster than having to use the page file. Reading and writing to the paging file requires multiple steps and that takes time. Moreover, reading from the hard drive is nowhere as fast as reading from the RAM.

If your system has a large amount of RAM, over 1 gigabytes, then you can consider disabling the paging file. If you have less than 1 gigabyte of RAM, do not even consider disabling the paging file or else you will be running into problems.

What can happen if you disable your paging file? If you have enough RAM, then nothing. But if you do not have enough RAM, then if you run a large program such as 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 of your work. This is a pretty extreme example, but it can happen.

Basically, stick to the 1 gigabyte minimum and you will have no problems. But be aware that if you ever choose to run some memory-intensive applications, such as rendering a two-hour 3D movie, you could run out of memory easily.

So, now that I have warned you, you are ready to follow these steps to disable the paging file:

  1. Enter System Properties, either by right-clicking the My Computer icon on the desktop and selecting Properties or by doing the same to the My Computer icon in the Start Menu.
  2. Once the System Properties window has loaded, click the Advanced tab and then click the Settings button under Performance.
  3. Once you are in the performance options, click the Advanced tab again.
  4. Click the Change button that is located under the Virtual Memory section.
  5. This will load the Virtual Memory screen. Locate and select the No Paging File radio button, under the Paging File Size for Selected Drive section.
  6. Click the Set button and then click OK three times and you are finished. After you reboot, your page file will be disabled.

Feel free to delete the pagefile.sys file from your hard drive after you reboot to claim some extra few hundred megabytes of free space.

If you do not have enough RAM to disable the paging file completely, follow the directions in the next section to adjust the size of the paging file for best performance.

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