Enhance Performance by Moving the Pagefile

A significant performance gain can usually be achieved on Windows 2000 and Windows Server 2003 by moving the pagefile to a different partition or volume. By default, Windows creates a pagefile of size 1.5 x RAM and locates it on the root of the boot partition (usually C: drive). Unfortunately, this means the I/O subsystem must contend for access to operating system files (%systemroot% and %systemroot%\system32) and the pagefile (%systemdrive%\pagefile.sys), which increases disk activity and slows performance. By moving pagefile.sys to a different volume, this contention is reduced–especially if the pagefile volume is on a different hard drive with its own controller.

To move the pagefile, open the System utility in Control Panel and select the Advanced tab, click Settings under Performance, then select Advanced and click Change to display the Virtual Memory properties sheet. Moving the pagefile is a two-step process. First, create a new pagefile on the target drive by selecting the drive and specifying its pagefile settings. Then select C: and remove the pagefile there by selecting No Paging File (Windows Server 2003) or specifying initial and maximum pagefile sizes of zero (Windows 2000). You’ll be warned that having no pagefile (or a pagefile smaller than RAM) on your boot partition means that Windows won’t be able to save a crashdump file should a STOP error occur. If you’re concerned about that (no crashdump could make it harder to troubleshoot system failures) then go ahead and leave a pagefile of size RAM + 1MB on C: drive as you’ll still experience the performance gains desired. The reason is that when you have a pagefile split across several volumes, the VMM chooses the least busy drive for writing pages to disk, which in our example would mean the pagefile on E: would almost always be used since C: has a lot of system activity. And, by the way, always restart the computer after moving or reconfiguring the paging file, even if Windows doesn’t prompt you to do so. Otherwise some Windows utilities may display an incorrect value for total pagefile size.

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