| By Fred Langa |
On a PC with an abundance of RAM, is it possible to do away with the pagefile altogether?
Nixing your pagefile will save some disk wear — and maybe even gain your machine some speed — but doing so may be skating on very thin ice.
Reasons you may not want to quash the pagefile
Joel Swehla is running an experiment on his PC by working without a pagefile:
- “I enjoyed Fred’s June 11 article, ‘Will moving the pagefile improve performance?’ I was wondering about not having a pagefile at all. I have 4GB of RAM and no pagefile and have never had any issue. Am I tempting fate by doing this? I keep track of my RAM usage and never come close to using all 4GB, so I don’t think it’s a problem but am hoping for feedback.”
Here’s why: Windows is designed to improve file-access times by keeping as much critical data as possible in RAM at all times. Some data isn’t that critical, so Windows will try to get it out of the way by writing it to the pagefile, which is nothing more than a system scratchpad on the hard drive. It’s called a “pagefile” because in Windows’ memory architecture, data is organized in constructs called “pages.”
When Windows pushes non-critical data to the pagefile, it opens space for storage of more top-priority data in live RAM. With a fair amount of RAM left open, your PC can also be more-immediately responsive if or when you suddenly launch a large or RAM-hungry task.
Some argue that Microsoft software engineers were too conservative in deciding how much RAM should be left open. They claim that RAM could and should be used more aggressively. One way to force Windows to use more RAM is to turn off the pagefile.