Optimize system by using separate drive letter for Virtual Memory?

Dennis Faas's picture

Infopackets Reader Don K. writes:

" Dear Dennis,

My computer has 1000 megabytes of primary system memory (RAM). I recently partitioned (split) one of my hard drives into a separate drive letter (Drive Z, for example) and set it as a dedicated unit handle all my virtual (secondary) memory.

After it was all said and done, a friend of mine commented that having 1 gigabyte of RAM in my machine is plenty of primary memory, and I've wasted my time trying to optimize my system by setting up a separate drive letter for virtual memory. Do you agree with my friend's comments? "

My response:

First, let me say that you should always have a virtual memory page file enabled on your system, regardless of how much RAM you have. In the unlikely event that an application runs ramped and gobbles up every last bit of your RAM, your system would most likely crash (if no page file was enabled). By not having a page file, you've essentially cut off your temporary memory "drainage" point, which can be dangerous.

As for the separate hard drive partition set aside for virtual memory: it's not necessary, but it's certainly a good system optimization because there's less of a chance that the page file will get fragmented as it grows and shrinks (compared to having it on the same drive letter as Windows, for example). As you know, fragmentation can slow your computer's response (more fragmentation = the longer it takes for your hard drive to access the page file = the longer you have to wait).

As for how big your 'virtual memory' partition should be: the rule of thumb is roughly twice the amount of physical memory. So, I wouldn't go any bigger than 2 gigabytes on your particular system. On a side note: the page file on my computer with 768 meg RAM is currently set at 768 virtual memory, with a maximum value of 1.5 gigabytes -- and that's the default value.

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