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Paging Files and Drive Space

Q: I recently upgraded the RAM in my Vista machine and I lost some drive space. What gives?

A:If you’ve upgraded your Windows Vista computer’s memory (RAM) after you installed the memory, you may be wondering why you suddenly lost some drive space. In Windows XP, when you added more memory to your computer, you had to manually go and increase the size of your paging file to correctly match the amount of memory in your computer. Windows Vista does away with this by automatically setting the optimal size for the paging file, even after you add more memory to your computer.

What is a paging file anyways?
A paging file is a hidden files or files on your hard disk that Windows uses to hold parts of programs and data that do not fit in memory. Both the Paging File and physical memory (RAM), comprise Virtual Memory [1]. Windows moves data from the paging file to memory as needed and moves data from memory to the paging file to make room for new data. This is also know as a swap file.

To continue:, if you had a computer with 1GB of memory, your paging file would be roughly 1300mb, but if you add another 1GB of memory to your computer to make a total of 2GB, now when you look at the paging file, it will have automatically increased:


You can turn this setting on and off by right-clicking the Computer icon, clicking the Advanced System Settings link, then clicking the Settings button under Performance:


Click the Advanced tab, and you should see the current size of the paging file as in the first screenshot. Click the Change button, and you’ll finally see the checkbox to “Automatically manage paging file size for all drives”

~Ramachandran Kumaraswami