What is a Pagefile and what does it do?
Paging is an important memory management feature found in Windows. When the total amount of RAM used by your active programs exceeds the amount of RAM installed on your computer, Windows starts moving the data of the least active or minimized programs from RAM to a file called pagefile.sys located on your Hard Disk Drive. This transfer of data is done to make space for the active programs or the programs that you want to use. This is also done to prevent the applications from crashing, which would mean the loss of data.
Benefits of Pagefile
- No Program Crashes – Using paging means that there is always some backup space for storing the data of inactive programs in case the total amount of memory required exceeds the total amount of available memory.
- Memory Dumps – A paging file is used for storing Memory dumps that can be used for troubleshooting purposes.
The appropriate size of a pagefile depends on the amount of RAM installed, and the usage of that RAM in that particular computer. Microsoft recommends that the pagefile should be about 1.5 to 2 times the RAM installed on the system. But this recommendation has been around since the days of 32-bit systems. 32-bit systems support only up to 4GB of RAM. So, by this logic, you could only be using a maximum of 8 GB of your HDD storage as pagefile, which is not a big deal. But nowadays 8GB is the norm for computer RAM. And, this is only for the average users, and not the Power Users. Tech enthusiasts and gamers are having 16GB, 32GB RAM, or even more RAM installed on their systems. So a 1.5 of 32 means 48GB of storage.
How to determine the appropriate page file size?
Because each user has his own usage habits and requirements, one paging size cannot be determined.
In 2018, if you have less than 2GB of RAM installed, then what you need is some extra RAM, and not a paging file. A web browser alone will use around 1GB of your RAM. Don’t forget that the computers are made for multi-tasking. And, with 2GB or lesser RAM, there is nothing left for multi-tasking. You should set up your system in such a way that, on a regular basis, only 50% of the total memory is used; the rest of it is there for those occasions when you use resource-heavy programs.
- For 4GB or less RAM, use 1.5 to 2 times the amount of RAM. Also, make sure that you keep making changes to tour work files, so even if paging fails, your data is safe/saved.
- For 8GB RAM, a paging file with 1:1 with RAM is enough i.e., an 8GB pagefile.
- For 16GB or more RAM, there is no need for the paging file. But, you should not disable it completely, rather set a small value in the size field to store the Memory Dumps.
You should have more paging if you have less RAM installed, and less paging if you have more RAM. In any case, you should never disable the paging function completely.