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Win10 Gets Smart About Paging Files

In working on a Windows 10 story for SearchEnterpriseDesktop this week, I came to an interesting realization. In Windows 10, MS has finally broken with tradition when it comes to sizing the paging file (you can check this for yourself, no matter what version of Windows you run: by default the paging file resides in the root of the system drive in a file named pagefile.sys). In past versions, up to and including Windows 8.1, MS has always set the size of the paging file equal to the amount of RAM installed on the machine on which it is running. In Windows 10, it seems to set that size at around 20-25% of RAM instead. Here are a couple of illustrative screen shots, with Windows 8.1 on an 8 GB Surface Pro 3 at the left, and Windows 10 on an 8 GB Dell Venue 11 Pro at the right:

Windows 8.1 Surface Pro 3 left, Windows 10 Dell Venue Pro 11 right, 8GB on both machines.

The recommended value for the paging file stays more or less the same at 4 GB, but the default value is dramatically different: exactly 8 GB for the Surface Pro running in Windows 8.1, but only ~1.9 GB for the Venue 11 Pro. Likewise, on my 32 GB desktop running Windows 10, the default paging file is set to a fairly paltry 5 GB with a recommended value of 7.5 GB.

What’s going on here, I believe, is that MS has finally started to take cognizance of machines with adequate (8 GB) or better (16 GB or higher) amounts of installed RAM. Except under heavier load than most end-user devices usually take on, very little paging activity occurs on such machines. A modest paging file of around 2 GB is apparently all that’s needed for less well-endowed machines, and 5 GB proves more than enough on my desktop with 32 GB installed. Tuning and tweaking aficianados have been trimming the paging file this way on Windows versions as far back as XP. I’m glad MS has finally started to do likewise on a more official footing.

Very interesting!

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