Apart from physical memory (by that we mean RAM and connected storage devices), your operating system also has virtual memory. This type of memory is needed for the system to be able to execute multiple (loads, actually) processes simultaneously, which cannot be done by RAM solely. SWAP is one of the main virtual memory mechanisms – it is the virtual memory extension of PC’s RAM. When the system uses its functions, data fragments from RAM are transferred to an HDD or any other external storage device. In today’s article, we are going to talk about this mechanism and explain core details any Windows user should know.
What is the appropriate page file size?
If you google this question, you will find plenty of debates on this topic. However, there is no correct and tested universal answer to date because the appropriate size for a page file is individual for each and every system. It depends on the amount of RAM installed as well as peak loads of the system with multiple processes and programs running at the same time. Let’s explore two easy way to determine the optimal SWAP size for your computer.
Find out the best pagefile size with Process Explorer
Finding out an optimal size for the page file won’t take much time as you only need to do a few short calculations. You will need to launch all the programs you usually use simultaneously. We recommend you to wait a bit after that, so the load reaches its peak. When it is maxed, you will need to run Process Explorer. This software displays full information about active processes. In order to make the required calculations, follow these steps:
- Go to the official Process Explorer download page and get the archive (or you can use any other trusted web source as well – it is freeware).
- Open the archive with any archiver (WinRAR, 7-Zip) and run the program.
- In the main menu look for the tab “View.” Click it and select “System Information.”
- In the tab called “Memory” look for the section “Commit Charge (K)” and check the value of the “Peak” parameter.
That number indicates the peak physical and virtual memory consumption during this section. We want to remind you once again that it is important to check this parameter only after you started all needed programs and they have been working at very least for ten minutes.
Now, when you have the information you need, do the following calculations:
- Open a standard Windows calculator and subtract the size of your RAM from the value of “Peak.”
- The number you get will be your virtual memory. If you got a negative result, set the value of the page file to 700 MB for Windows to be able to create a proper system dump.
- Given you have a positive result, you will need to enter a min and max amount of the SWAP. You can set max value a bit higher than the number you got during the test. However, you should not make it too big, so that the fragmentation of the file does not increase.
Analyze system RAM to determine the page file size
This method is less effective than the previous one, but if you don’t want to run tests with calculation and if you don’t load your system very much, then it should work just fine. In order to set the appropriate page file size, you need to know the amount of RAM installed in your computer or laptop. If you don’t know how much RAM do you have, search for the article on our website that explains how to get this information. After finding the amount of RAM, check the information below:
- Less than 2GBs. If you have only 2GBs of RAM or less, then you should set the page file size to be equal to that value or maybe a little bit above.
- From 4 to 8GBs. In this case, it depends on how loaded your system is. An optimal solution would be set the page file size equal to the halved amount of the installed RAM.
- 8Gbs and more. This amount of RAM is more than enough for an average user that does not run plenty of heavy programs hungry for system resources. We recommend leaving the default page file size in this case (don’t forget to allocate around 1Gb for a system dump).
Windows allows you to create up to sixteen pagefiles, but the must be saved on different partitions. In order to increase file-reading speeds, we suggest creating a separate disk partition for SWAP and move it on the second storage device. Furthermore, we recommend our readers to never disable this function because some programs need it by default and it is also required to create system dumps as we said before.