1 Simple Tweak To Double PC Performance

Shifting your page file off the boot partition on to a secondary hard drive to increase system performance.


So I’ve made a pretty big promise with that headline but believe me I plan to deliver with this one but first a bit of theory. Stay with me! It isn’t difficult, you might even learn something and once you see the performance increase of this little tweak for your self you will be thankful you took the time to read more.

I also highly recommend reading this article on boosting your computer’s performance as well.

The Theory
If you own a computer you would have heard of memory or RAM. Memory is often measured in megabytes (mb) or gigabytes (gb) and it is where your computer stores information required for your computer programs and services to run.

If you already know all of this or are completely trusting you can skip this whole section and move on to the “How-to” section.

Programs running on your computer will use up some (or all of, in some cases) your computer’s memory, some programs and services use up quite a lot of memory while others barely use any. As memory usage increases computer speed and general performance decreases.

Let’s imagine that your computer has 512mb of memory (RAM). This is the amount of physical memory your computer has. Now let’s say that you have a lot of programs and services running on your computer and these programs and services use up 612mb of memory. Where is the last 100mb of data kept you might ask?

The computer uses what is known as a page file to store the oldest data from memory. The bad thing about this is that this page file is stored on your computer’s hard drive and to access the data in the page file is very work intensive on the hard drive. It is inefficient and essentially just bad news as far as performance goes.

There is more bad news, the page file is by default stored on the same hard drive partition as Windows. So when the computer is trying to reference data from the page file it also has to compete with data being read from the hard drive by Windows or other running applications.

The good news is that we can shift this page file and for best results you will need a second hard drive. We will be moving the page file from the default location, off the boot partition of the hard drive on to a seperate physical hard drive and all done correctly we should improve the computer’s performance dramatically!

 

How-to

(Remember: As a prerequisite to this tweak you will need two hard-drives installed in your PC)

To begin follow these steps:

  • Click on Start and click on Run (Windows Start Key + R)
  • In the Run dialogue box type in sysdm.cpl and press enter (See my list of 100 handy run commands)
  • The System Properties window should be displayed
  • Click on the ‘Advanced‘ tab
  • Under the ‘Performance‘ box click on ‘Settings
  • Click on the ‘Advanced’ tab again
  • In the ‘Virtual Memory‘ box click on ‘Change

On the resulting screen you will see that it will list all of your partitions and hard drives under the ‘Page file size for all drives‘.

Now you will need to determine which drive letter corresponds to your boot partition (the part of your hard drive that Windows is installed on). By default this is the C: drive. In this example we will use the C: drive as if it were the boot partition.

  • Click on  ‘C:‘ in the ‘Page file size for all drives’ section
  • Select the ‘No paging file’ option
  • Now select your other hard drive (For this example we will assume the second hard drive has the drive letter D: assigned to it)
  • I quite often now just select ‘System Managed Size’ but you can also manually select the size if you are feeling adventurous (Read below).

Manual setting recommendations

To manually set the page file size you will need to know how much physical memory (RAM) you have. For the purpose of this article we will say that we have 512mb (which isn’t much, I know). I set the initial size of the page file to match the amount of physical memory, in this case 512mb and the maximum size to 1.5x your physical memory, which is 512 x 1.5 = 768. So in this case the maximum page file size setting would be 768mb.

If you get a ‘Virtual Memory too low’ type error while running your computer I would suggest either increasing the maximum size of the page file or setting it to system managed size.

Warning: If you have a single partitioned hard-drive please do not shift your page file on to another partition. It won’t damage your computer in any way but can in fact cause it run slower as the read head on the hard drive must skip backwards and forwards between the system partition and the partition on which the page file is located. A special thanks to Colanth on Yahoo! Answers for this information.

Conclusion

In any case that your computer is using too much physical memory the best option is to install more RAM into your PC, this will give you a far better result in increased performance than shifting your page file around. Quite often this is a reasonably simple and cheap excercise. Shifting the page file is still definately worthwhile and it’s totally free! Closing unused programs and disabling unused services at start up will help to free up memory.

That is all there is to it, this will get your Starcraft II: Wings of Liberty frame rates up! 🙂

For more tips for optimising your computer’s performance read my ‘Peak Performance: 7 easy ways to keep your computer running smoothly’ article.

I hope you found this article useful and thank you for reading.

Please leave me a comment if you liked this article or if there was something you did not understand and I will try to help you as best I can.


4 thoughts on “1 Simple Tweak To Double PC Performance”

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