Which disk should I put the paging file on? What is a swap file?

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Which disk should I put the paging file on? What is a swap file?
Which disk should I put the paging file on? What is a swap file?

Many users of Windows systems know that all operating systems of this family have a special tool for optimizing the performance and functioning of software components, called virtual memory, the use of which is activated when there is a shortage of working RAM. The pagefile.sys system component or the paging file is responsible for its operation. It is believed that ordinary users do not need to change the settings for using virtual memory, since the system itself regulates its use in automatic mode. However, sometimes it is very advisable to install your own options, which will optimize the performance of your computer or laptop even more. But on which drive to put the paging file in order to achieve the most effective result? The question is not idle, so it is worth dwelling separately on the mainthe principles of using virtual memory and choosing the preferred disk or partition in which the pagefile.sys component will be stored.

Principles of virtual memory

First of all, let's take a quick look at the main aspects related to the functioning of virtual memory. It is not some invisible (virtual) component, but a very real thing, which, if you want, you can even “touch”.

Virtual memory is nothing more than a specially reserved space on the computer's hard drive, which begins to be actively used at the moment when the RAM is loaded "to the eyeballs", and it is no longer possible to process more and more new components of launched applications and services maybe. Applets of running programs and processes, most often presented in the form of dynamic libraries and drivers of the currently used equipment, are not unloaded from RAM. It turns out that new similar components can no longer be placed in RAM when other applications start. When virtual memory is used, they are "dumped" to the same place on the hard disk. The paging file in this case is just a kind of regulator responsible for reserving the disk space used for virtual memory.

paging file in explorer
paging file in explorer

In Windows settings of any generation, by default, the swap file is stored on all connected hard drives and system partitions, which is not always the best option. The main problem of many ignorantof users is their belief that the more disk space allocated for virtual memory, the better. But after all, virtual memory works a little differently, and the speed of loading and processing program components when they are “dumped” to a hard disk is several times lower than with direct access to RAM. So it turns out that when setting an excessively large size of the FP and VP (paging file and virtual memory), the system not only does not accelerate, but also starts to slow down incredibly.

How does the swap file affect system performance?

Multiple studies show that storing the desired system component (PC) in the system partition quite often causes performance degradation even when using the default settings. This is especially true in cases where the system drive "C" has the NTFS file structure, which is used when installing an OS with x64 architecture. Using virtual memory for logical partitions on which users usually store only extremely important files (so that they are not deleted during a possible reinstallation of Windows) generally looks completely inappropriate. But then a completely legitimate question arises: on which disk should the paging file be placed if neither the system nor the logical partitions are recommended for this? If you do not have the necessary knowledge, it is better not to touch the settings or disable the use of virtual memory for the logical partition. But even here everything depends to a very high extent on the installed amount of RAM. On the optimal solutionstop a little later, but for now let's look at the basic settings.

How to call settings?

To access to change the VI and FP options through the properties of the computer, go to the advanced settings section.

Recalling virtual memory settings
Recalling virtual memory settings

Now in the window that opens, in the performance block, click the parameters button, then move to the "Advanced" tab and in the virtual memory block, click the change FP button. It is easy to see that the automatic selection of the size is initially activated (there is a check mark on the item responsible for this at the very top).

Windows default settings

However, even in this state of affairs, many people notice that for some reason in the lowest block there are recommended values set by the system itself.

System Recommended Swap File Sizes
System Recommended Swap File Sizes

What's the matter? This is done so that the user can focus on the preferred settings, if he suddenly decides to change them. It is easy to see that the current and recommended size can differ quite significantly. If you use an excessively large size, the system will just slow down.

How to change RAM swap file settings?

Let's try to change some options. Regarding which disk to put the paging file on, first, simply select the system partition in the list of disks at the top, uncheck both automatic selection items, and then write down the very recommended options located in the very bottom block.

Change the swap file size
Change the swap file size

For the settings to be activated, the computer must be restarted without fail, after which you can see how stable Windows is and whether the performance has increased.

Recommended virtual memory options

In general, even such a decision is rather difficult to call optimal. It is recommended to use it only for those users who do not particularly understand these settings and do not want to experiment on their own computer system. However, most experts give average values of options that directly depend on the amount of RAM, shown in the image below.

Dependence of the paging file size on the amount of RAM
Dependence of the paging file size on the amount of RAM

As you can see, if you have 6-8 GB of RAM, virtual memory can be disabled altogether.

If we talk about the preferred swap file size for games, there are a few important points to consider. Firstly, it looks very doubtful that modern computer games with their most complex textures will be installed on low-power PCs with small amounts of RAM, and secondly, it must be taken into account that most of them require a powerful graphics accelerator with its own amount of allocated (discrete) memory.

Thus, both the RAM and the memory of the video card will participate in the processing of graphics and other components of the game application. In other words, with a sufficient amount of "RAM" and the presence of a discrete graphics adapter, you can refuse to use the VI. But it is notrefers to those cases when you, along with the game, will run several more resource-intensive applications in parallel. Alternatively, in order to avoid emergency situations associated with RAM overload, in the tenth modification of Windows, you can immediately set the game mode for the program (Win + G). When starting the game, all other processes will be blocked.

Which drive should I put the paging file on?

Finally, let's look at some non-standard solutions, which, according to many experts who have tested stationary computer terminals and laptops, are the most beneficial in achieving optimal performance.

Suppose you have two or more hard drives installed on your computer. In this case, they form a so-called RAID array. Which drive should I put the paging file on? Naturally, only the fastest. For example, if one drive is an outdated hard drive of the HDD standard, and the second is a newer solid-state modification of the SSD, it is better to activate the use of virtual memory with FP preservation, if it is really required, on the SSD (SSD drives are faster when compared to conventional HDDs).).

An equally interesting and even somewhat unusual solution to the problem of which disk to put the paging file on is to create an independent partition with a size of about 15-20 GB, but always with the FAT32 file structure. True, and here there is one important nuance. It is strongly not recommended to put any other data likemovies, music, documents, etc. Moreover, you should not install any components of user applications in this section. He must be the only inhabitant there!

Partitioning a disk
Partitioning a disk

To perform such actions, you can “pinch off” a place in the same system partition, using not even system tools, but more advanced programs like AOMEI Partition Assistant, in which resizing is done by moving a single slider with subsequent formatting and confirmation of the completion of all scheduled operations.

How useful is the use of virtual memory?

By and large, the use of virtual memory is very controversial, and there is still no consensus on this matter.

Disabling the paging file
Disabling the paging file

However, with absolute certainty, it can be argued that when working only with office applications, even on relatively weak PCs with 2-core mid-range processors and only two gigabytes of RAM, disabling the FP will have an extremely positive effect on the system. But if you use resource-intensive applications on such configurations or run several office applets at the same time, it is better to set the parameters recommended by the system or set the options that were presented in the list above.


Summing up, the conclusion can be made completely ambiguous. Of course, if you only have one hard drive and the swap file is vitalnecessary, it is better to leave it in the system partition, but specify the size based on the above recommendations. In the case of high-speed FP drives, it is better to leave them on them. But the use of independent sections seems to be the most effective.

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