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Virtual Memory Can Speed Up (Or Slow Down) Computer

Paul Watson, PC Technician

Friday, August 14th 2009

Virtual Memory Can Speed Up (Or Slow Down) Computer

Virtual Memory Can Speed Up (Or Slow Down) Computer

In my last post, I talked about using ReadyBoost on a USB drive to create a virtual memory cache for your Windows Vista computer. You can also readjust Windows built-in memory cache, the paging file. The paging file enables your computer to keep some scratch space handy. It uses this space to create temporary files, and swap information from active to inactive memory. Having adequate paging memory will help speed up your computer Reducing the page size below the computer’s installed RAM capacity limits what the computer can do with the paging file.

Paging Memory Can Help Your Computer Juggle Items In Use

As with the RAM cache on the USB drive, the memory that you set aside on your hard disk won’t be available for file storage. By default, Windows sets up a paging file that is equal in size to the amount of RAM the computer has installed plus 300 megabytes. The default paging file has a maximum size of three times the installed RAM.

You can change the minimum and maximum sizes of your paging file, provided that you have the disk space to set aside. You can disable or delete the paging file, but that’s not recommended. That approach as the potential to seriously slow things down! If you’ve disabled or deleted your paging file, you can (and should) re-enable it for better performance.

To alter the settings on the paging file, go to Control Panel and select System and Maintenance, then choose System. In the console window on the left side, choose Advanced System Settings. Choose the Advanced tab, and locate Performance, then choose Settings. Click the Advanced tab here too, and locate Virtual Memory, then choose Change.

Deselect the checkbox labeled Automatically manage paging file size for all drives. This setting, when active, will allow Windows to change the upper limit of the paging file as needed.

Under Drive, choose the drive whose paging file you want to adjust (each drive has its own settings) and choose Custom size. Enter the new minimum size for your paging file. Some people set their paging files to be a minimum of 1.5 times the default paging file size and report a performance improvement. You can also increase the maximum page size.

You don’t need to restart the computer if you’ve increased the minimum or maximum paging sizes, but you will need to restart if you’ve decreased either the minimum or maximum file size allotments.

Photo Credit: Andy Hares, via Flickr

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