Controlling the Size of the Windows Page File

by Barry Dysert
(last updated October 26, 2015)

2

The Windows page file is a system file stored on your disk drive at C:\pagefile.sys. The page file is used to allow virtual memory to work correctly. (Understanding virtual memory is covered under another tip.) This file is typically sized to the amount of physical memory in your computer. So if you have 16 GB of memory in your system, the size of the page file will also be 16 GB. Windows controls this file, so it is recommended that you leave it alone.

If, for some reason, you want to control the size of the page file yourself, how you start depends on the version of Windows you are using. If you are using Windows 7, click the Start button, right-click Computer, and select Properties. A Control Panel screen appears that displays some information about your system.

If you are using Windows 8, you display the same screen by displaying the Control Panel, clicking on the System and Security link, and then clicking the System link.

Regardless of the version of Windows you are using, you should now follow these steps:

  1. At the left side of the screen click Advanced System Settings. Windows displays the System Properties dialog box; the Advanced tab should be displayed. (See Figure 1.)
  2. Figure 1. The Advanced tab of the System Properties dialog box.

  3. In the Performance area of the dialog box, click the Settings button. (This is the first of three Settings buttons in the dialog box.) Windows displays the Performance Options dialog box.
  4. Make sure the Advanced tab is displayed. (See Figure 2.)
  5. Figure 2. The Advanced tab of the Performance Options dialog box.

  6. Click the Change button. Windows displays the Virtual Memory dialog box. (See Figure 3.)
  7. Figure 3. The Virtual memory dialog box.

  8. Clear the first check box on the dialog box. (The one that specifies Windows automatically managers the paging file size.)
  9. In the list of drives on your system, select the drive where you want a paging file located.
  10. Click the Custom Size radio button.
  11. Specify an Initial Size and Maximum Size setting, in megabytes, for the paging file.
  12. Click Set.
  13. Repeat steps 6 through 9 for each drive on which you want a paging file.
  14. Click OK and close all other open dialog boxes.
  15. Restart your system.

 This tip (12629) applies to Windows 7 and 8.

Author Bio

Barry Dysert

Barry has been a computer professional for over 30 years, working in different positions such as technical team leader, project manager, and software developer.  He is currently a senior software engineer with an emphasis on developing custom applications under Microsoft Windows. ...

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What is 9 + 4?

2015-10-26 12:32:19

Barry

You might want to make the page file smaller to free up some disk space. I have never done this, though, so I can't comment on what it may do to your system. Best case is that it will slow it down a bit as it needs to do more paging to disk. Another likely scenario is that it may limit the number of simultaneous applications you have running. Worst case is that your system would become inoperable.


2015-10-26 12:14:28

Scott Renz

What would be possible reasons for changing the size?


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