Paging File in XP

Before you start

Objectives: learn where to manage virtual memory in XP

Prerequisites: no prerequisites.

Key terms: page, system, memory, partition, size, virtual, change, manage, optimization, advanced, dump, drive


The Paging File is used by Windows for virtual memory management. When the system is low on physical memory it uses the Page File to swap data from memory to disk and back. We can improve system performance by creating additional page files. To optimize a Page File we have to know a little about the volumes and partitions that we use. The original partition that we create is called the boot and system partition. It is where all our system files reside. If we put the Page File on our system partition it will compete with the read and writes that are necessary for the system files. To optimize that we should move the Page File to another volume or partition. Another thing that we can do is change the size of the page file. By default page file will be created at one and a half times the size of our main memory. Maximum size of the page file is three times our installed memory.

Page File Management

To manage the Page File, go to Start, right-click My Computer, select Properties, go to Advanced tab, under Performance click Settings, go to Advanced tab and under ‘Virtual memory’ click the Change button.

Virtual Memory

Image 266.1 – Virtual Memory Management

Here we can set the space that will be available for page file. We can also let our system to manage the size automatically. In our case we only have one partition so we can only create Page File on our system partition, which is not very optimized. If we had another drive we could create another Page File on that drive. We need to be careful if we plan to delete the Page File from the system partition. Windows uses this page file to create the memory dump file if there’s a stop error. If we delete the page file on our system partition, Windows will not be able to create the memory dump file.


Page File is virtual memory on our Hard Disks. We can change the available space for Page File.