Soup up your swap file

When your PC needs to access more data than its installed RAM can store, Windows places the overflow in a large file on the hard disk known as the swap file (often called virtual memory). Since accessing data on the disk is much slower than accessing RAM, you must optimise your swap file's settings. To get to those settings, right-click the My Computer icon on your desktop, select Properties, and click the Virtual Memory button under the Performance tab. Once there, do the following:

Check the size of the swap file. By default, Windows enlarges and shrinks the file according to its needs. If hard disk space is limited, the swap file can't expand to meet its needs, so you'll have to free up space on your disk.

You can manually set the minimum and maximum file sizes by selecting the Let me specify my own virtual memory settings button in the Virtual Memory dialogue box. Entering the same number for Minimum and Maximum will fix the file's size. This may improve system performance because Windows no longer has to adjust the file size. However, you risk a memory shortage if the file size isn't large enough.

Use the fastest hard disk. If you have more than one hard disk, place the swap file on the disk with the fastest access times. To do this, just change the setting in the 'Hard disk' field in the Virtual Memory dialogue box and reboot the system.

Defragment the hard disk. Unlike Windows 3.x, Windows 9x allows the swap file to become fragmented on the disk - that is, not stored in a single, contiguous block. In systems that make heavy use of virtual memory, this fragmentation can take a steep toll on performance.

The easiest way to defragment the swap file is to use Norton Utilities' Speed Disk utility. You can also try Windows 98's Disk Defragmenter utility (under the System Tools menu). But since Disk Defragmenter treats the swap file as immovable, you'll first have to move the swap file to a second disk or partition - using the swap file 'Hard disk' setting - then defragment the disk, and finally move the file back. If you have just one disk, check Disable virtual memory, reboot, defrag the disk, enable virtual memory, and reboot again. But beware: if your system doesn't have enough RAM to run without virtual memory, it may not boot.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Kirk Steers

PC World
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Stocking Stuffer

SmartLens - Clip on Phone Camera Lens Set of 3

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Aysha Strobbe

Microsoft Office 365/HP Spectre x360

Microsoft Office continues to make a student’s life that little bit easier by offering reliable, easy to use, time-saving functionality, while continuing to develop new features that further enhance what is already a formidable collection of applications

Michael Hargreaves

Microsoft Office 365/Dell XPS 15 2-in-1

I’d recommend a Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 and the new Windows 10 to anyone who needs to get serious work done (before you kick back on your couch with your favourite Netflix show.)

Maryellen Rose George

Brother PT-P750W

It’s useful for office tasks as well as pragmatic labelling of equipment and storage – just don’t get too excited and label everything in sight!

Cathy Giles

Brother MFC-L8900CDW

The Brother MFC-L8900CDW is an absolute stand out. I struggle to fault it.

Luke Hill

MSI GT75 TITAN

I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?