What is Virtual Memory Paging File
Using computer systems with inadequate RAM has become a second nature to us all. Call it ever changing needs of modern software or the inability of hardware in keeping up with the continuously evolving application architecture, our system memory seems to shrink day by day. While problem was rightly recognized in its early days by computer software majors like Microsoft and Apple, a reliable solution needed to be found. Although the most appropriate answer came to be known as Virtual Memory, the need for that extra bit of RAM will always be there. With virtual memory support in operating systems like windows XP, MAC OS X and Linux versions along with advanced virtual memory integration methodologies in modern operating systems like windows vista, virtual memory has surely emerged as the most economical way to use advanced software without the need to buy expensive RAM.
What is Virtual Memory?
Virtual memory is a technique used by operating systems with which it allows its users to execute applications that require memory that is up and over the free memory (RAM) available with the system. Made available on the hard disk, data in virtual memory is usually stored as pages and the process is commonly known as paging. By allowing the excess memory requirements to overflow in virtual memory, an operating system with virtual memory capability allows its users to experience improved performance while working with applications. While the data is being stored in hard disk, virtual memory gives an impression to the software that it is working with normal contiguous memory addresses in system RAM.
Although virtual memory is usually implemented by overflowing extra memory requirements from RAM, it is not always the case. Methods like overlays and data swapping can also be used to completely transfer the runtime data of a program to virtual memory while it is in inactive state.
Virtual Memory and Paging
Be redefining the used address apace with contiguous virtual memory addresses, an operating system tricks a software to believe that it is working normally with large block of contiguous memory space. While implementing virtual memory, the virtual address space used by an application is divided into pages. While a page is a block of contiguous memory addresses, they usually store around 4k of data. Although advanced computer operating systems with high capacity hard disks and large amounts of system RAM can set higher limit to their page files, the usual size of a paging file is 4k.
Virtual memory paging files are the key behind implementation of virtual memory in operating systems. In Paging, the data (pages) that is no longer required by a software is stored in the virtual memory and is restored back to RAM when deemed essential for the execution of a program.
Virtual memory and paging errors
The issue of virtual memory paging errors is a common occurrence in today's computers. Not only does virtual memory errors cause nuisance for computer users, they can also impart slow computing and faulty programming. There can be many virtual memory errors; as virtual memory and pages are stored in the hard disk dynamically, fragmentation is an issue of major concern. Data fragmentation can lead to slow computing while fetching data from hard disk as the data is not stored in contiguous memory addresses.
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