Apps running on your computer needs physical memory (or Random Access Memory) to quickly access the data. This is a physical device inserted in the processor’s slot(s) and total capacity in Windows 11 PC can range from 4 GB to 6 TB depending on Windows edition. In addition to RAM, Windows automatically uses a paging file in your hard disk called virtual memory. In this article, let us explore the purpose of paging file, how to increase virtual memory size and when to increase.
Purposes of Virtual Memory Paging File
It helps to support the system in the following two ways:
- Move unused or rarely used memory from RAM and free up the memory for frequently used resources.
- Store memory dump file during system crash.
So, you can improve the overall system performance by allocating correct paging file size.
How Windows Calculates Paging File Size?
As mentioned, Windows will automatically calculate the paging file size based on your RAM size. Here is the calculation logic provided by Microsoft:
- Minimum or initial size – RAM / 8 and you can use up to 32 GB.
- Maximum size – 3 x RAM size and you can use up to 4 GB. The maximum size also cannot be more than the volume size / 8.
Remember, automatic paging file is created for each volume in your hard disk based on the system usage. Therefore, the above calculation may not match when you check the real values in your Windows 10 or 11 PC.
Change Page File Size in Windows 11
When the virtual memory is low, you will see system is running on low memory warning. That’s when you should consider upgrading your RAM or increasing the virtual memory paging file size. Follow the below steps in Windows 11 PC to change the size of the page file size.
- Right-click on This PC icon on your desktop and select “Properties” option. If you do not have This PC, learn how to enable it on your desktop. Alternatively, right-click on Start menu icon to open “Settings” and go to “System > About” section.
- Expand “Device Specifications” section and click “Advanced system settings” link showing against “Related links” section. Here, you can check the installed physical RAM in your system.
- This will open “System Properties” dialog box. Go to “Advanced” tab and click “Settings…” button showing in “Performance” section.
- Again, go to “Advanced” tab in “Performance Options” dialog. Click “Change…” button showing in “Virtual memory” section. Here, you can find the total allocated paging file size by Windows for your system.
- First uncheck the “Automatically manage paging file size for all drives” box showing on top to open the options for editing. You will see the paging file size is showing as “System managed”.
- After that, click on your drive and select “Custom size” option.
- On the bottom, you can see minimum allowed (which is generally 16 MB), recommended and currently allocate sizes. You can use this as a reference or use the calculation explained to above to set initial (minimum) and maximum virtual memory sizes.
- Remember, you should enter the file size in MB and use 1 GB = 1024 MB when you want to calculate based on your RAM size. For example, if you have 8 GB RAM then the initial and maximum sizes can be 1024 MB (8 / 8) and 4096 MB (4 GB) respectively.
- After entering the values, click on the “Set” button. You will see the set size range will show below the paging file size column against the selected drive. Follow the same steps for all the drives that you want to change the virtual memory file size.
- Click on the “OK” button and you will be prompted to restart the system for the changes to take effect.
Save all your work and restart the system to apply the changes in virtual memory paging file size change.
Using System Managed Paging File Size
If you are increasing virtual memory paging file size as a temporary measure to manage issues, then you need to change the settings back after upgrading RAM or fixing your app issues. For that, follow the above instructions and go to “Performance Options” dialog box. Select “System managed” option and then enable “Automatically enable paging file size for all drives” option to freeze the screen from editing. Now, Windows will start using automatically allocated paging file size for your system.
Committed Memory and Performance Counters
There are two things you can check when you have doubt whether to increase or decrease the paging file size in Windows 11. One is committed memory in Task Manager and other is page file size related performance counters in Performance Monitor.
Checking Committed Memory in Windows 11
- Right-click on Taskbar and open Task Manager.
- Go to “Performance” section and select “Memory” option.
- You will see the summary below the graphs. Check the “Committed” option which will show the used/available committed memory in your system.
The committed memory in Windows 11 is the total of physical RAM and virtual paging file size of all drives. High used committed memory indicates the system utilized RAM and the paging files. You should consider either upgrading RAM or increase paging file sizes of all drives to avoid slowness or crashing.
Performance Counters in Performance Monitor App
Paging file in Windows is located in each drive like C:\pagefile.sys. However, you can’t view the file and opening the location in File Explorer will not allow to download the file as it will be in using. There are counters which you can add and monitor the paging file size usage in Performance Monitor app.
- Search and open Performance Monitor app.
- Expand “Monitoring Tools” section and go to “Performance Monitor” option.
- Click the green + icon in the toolbar.
- On the “Add Counter” pop-up, select and add “Paging File” counters as shown below.
- Now that you can monitor the real-time usage of paging files (pagefile.sys file in each drive) and understand whether you need to increase the size.
Moving Virtual Memory Page from C Drive
If you are using any system optimization app, you will see a recommendation to move the virtual memory page file from C: drive to D: or other drives. For example, below is how it will look on the Huawei PC Manager app which comes default with all Huawei model laptops. You can simply click on “Optimize” button to move the memory file.
If you want to manually manage this, then select “No paging file” option for C drive and allocate sufficient size in other drive files.
Avoid changing virtual memory paging file size in Windows 11 when you have large physical memory (RAM) like 16 GB. You should change the file size only when seeing low memory warning or high committed memory usage in Task Manager. You can also use the Performance Monitor to check the real-time usage to understand the usage. Play around with increasing the size to nominal maximum value and check if that resolves your memory related problems.