Pagefile.sys file: purpose, size, location

Pagefile.sys file: purpose, size, location

The Microsoft Windows operating system stores frames of memory that does not fit into the physical memory in the pagefile.sys file. Pagefile.sys is a system file that allows running tasks even when the physical memory has been exceeded. This guide will explain all you need to know about a Pagefile.sys file.

What is pagefile.sys file?

Pagefile.sys is a file that is used by Microsoft Windows to store frames of memory that do not currently fit into physical memory. This means the system can run more tasks than the memory has enough physical space for and simply swap frames in and out of the memory as required. By default it is located in C:\pagefile.sys, but you won't see it, unless you chose to reveal protected operating system files.

When is pagefile.sys used?

As a way of optimising memory, and improving performance, Windows will move any data that you a not currently using to the page file. For example if you are not actively using a tab or program that has been minimized, the data from this will have most likely been transferred from RAM to the page file. Upon reopening the tab, or reusing the program, it may take a moment longer to start back up, this is because the data is being transferred back away from the page file.

Can I remove pagefile.sys?

You may have heard that removing pagefile.sys will speed your computer up, because pagefile.sys is slower than RAM, however if you disable pagefile.sys, you will find that instead of having the pagefile.sys relieve the RAM during memory intensive tasks, they will start crashing instead of being transferred out into the page file. You may find that some memory heavy programs will simply refuse to run. So it is not recommended that you delete pagefile.sys.

How to delete pagefile.sys?

After all that, you still want to delete pagefile.sys, you can, although a better option is simply clearing the page file, which we will show you how to do later. First you need to view hidden OS files.

  • Go to the C: Drive.
  • Press Control + F1. Select 'View' > 'Options'.
  • On the drop down, select 'Change folder and search options'.
  • In the new window, click the 'view' tab, and unselect 'Hide protected system operating files'.
  • Select the 'Show hidden files, folders, and drives', and chose 'Apply'. Pagefile.sys will now be visible.

Before deleting the pagefile.sys, back up your files.

Now you can delete the pagefile.sys.

  • Right click on pagefile.sys and select 'Delete'.
  • Once the file has finished deleting, restart your computer.

How to reduce pagefile.sys size?

  • To adjust the pagefile.sys size, press the Windows Flag Key + Pause/Break
  • Now choose Advanced system settings, this opens the "System Properties" on the Advanced tab.
  • Now click on Settings in the Performance Group >Advanced tab, then click Change under Virtual Memory.
  • From here, deselect Automatically manage paging file size for all drives, and then click Custom size. You can change it as you wish.

How to clean the pagefile.sys?

Cleaning the pagefile.sys at system shutdown increases the performance of the system. To clean the pagefile.sys, modifications have to be made to the ClearPageFileAtShutdown key value in the Windows registry.

How to access the registry?

The registry can be accessed by the REGEDIT command. Once the changes have been made, the system has to be restarted for the modifications to take effect. Cleaning the pagefile.sys system file also results in a virtual memory extension.

How to extend your virtual memory?

This technique allows you to extend your virtual memory.

In some versions of Windows, you can clean the file pagefile.sys to improve its overall performance. This can be done by creating or modifying the REG_DWORD value from 1 to 0 in the registry key ClearPageFileAtShutdown. This is located here:

HKEY_LOCAL_Machine\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\Session Manager\Memory Management.

To do this:

  • Open the Start menu, click Run and type: regedit
  • Locate the key and alter the value as directed above.
  • Reboot your machine

This system file is locaed under the root: C:\Pagefile.sys.

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Windows 10