When your computer runs out of RAM, it draws upon the page file. The page file is a part of the hard drive that the computer has set aside to use as memory.
So, instead of having your computer blow up when it reaches its RAM capacity, it can simply draw upon the page file in order to get by.
There has been a long persistent belief in the tech community that increasing the size of the page file will also speed up your PC. But is this actually true? Or is it complete myth? We’re going to answer that question for you today and hopefully shed light on how to speed up your computer for free.
The only time your computer uses your page file is when it runs out of physical memory (RAM). If you have enough RAM, then your page file will rarely be used. To find out if your computer is using your page file at all, press Ctrl+Alt+Delete to bring up the Windows Task Manager.
From this screen, you’ll be able to see everything you need to know about your computer’s physical performance, including its current memory usage. If your memory usage is above 85% consistently, then your computer is relying heavily on RAM in order to run properly.
If, however, your computer is like most computers and is using less than 40% of its RAM, then the page file isn’t really being used. Play around with your computer and run some resource intensive tasks to see if you can get your RAM usage above 90%. If you can’t get above that number under normal operating conditions, then this guide won’t help you speed up your computer – RAM isn’t what’s slowing your system down.
If, however, your RAM usage is unreasonably high no matter what you’re running, then your page file will become an issue.
Increasing the page file size does have an impact on performance, although this impact is small compared to what many people expect. In most cases, the only reason changing the page file size will impact performance is because the page file is currently defragmented, which increases the time it takes to access that part of the hard drive.
Nevertheless, increasing the page file size isn’t a bad idea (unless you’re low on hard drive space). Otherwise, follow these steps:
-Open the Start Menu, then the Control Panel
-Click System and Maintenance, then click System
-On the left pane, click Advanced system settings
-On the Advanced tab, click Settings, which can be found under Performance
-Click the Advanced tab and then click Change, which can be found under Virtual memory
-Clear the Automatically manage paging file size for all drives check box
-Under Drive [A/B/C/D/whatever drive you’re using] click the drive that contains the paging file you wish to change
-Choose Custom size and then type in a new size. Choose the same value for the initial size and maximum size. Say, twice your amount of physical RAM (unless you have 16GB or more of RAM – having a page file that large won’t do any good and you probably have more than enough RAM anyway).
-Click Set and then OK to apply those changes
Your page file has been successfully increased
You probably sped up your PC by a small amount – even if you can’t immediately notice the bump in performance. That’s why most PC experts recommend buying more RAM instead of increasing your page file. Buying more RAM is a more permanent solution to your PC speed problems.
Of course, increasing the page file is a free way to speed up your computer, which makes it a tempting choice among PC enthusiasts. Fortunately, RAM is cheap. Don’t be afraid to install another stick or two of RAM – if you have less than 6GB of RAM, I can virtually guarantee that you’ll notice the boost in performance.
Lesson learned: Increasing page file size is a temporary solution to a serious PC performance problem. It’s okay as a short-term solution, but for a long-term solution, spend $40 to $60 buying another stick of RAM.