How to optimise your Windows swap file

After testing we're glad to see that indeed our preferred user-fixed page file certainly performed well. To our surprise it outperformed the dedicated drive to a small degree in some tests, but it was certainly outpaced in others by the dedicated drive; the most notable being the save test. That aside it completed a number of tests 20 to 25 seconds quicker than the managed option.

The big surprise is that the split page file was the one that really performed best overall. As you'd expect it at least matched the dedicated drive option in most cases, but in others certainly pulls out a good lead over the user-defined and dedicated drives options.

While we have no direct reason for why this should be the case, as we've mentioned Microsoft alludes to the fact Windows does intelligently spread the load across multiple page files, depending on which drives are used the least.

No matter whether that's done historically or on the fly, something seems to be working and for the majority of users we'd imagine is the optimum and most achievable solution. As much as we love our spinning hard drive friends and their penchant for storing grotesque amounts of video in all of its many fleshy forms, they're still damn slow.

Those mirrored spinning surfaces may look shiny and attractive but get too close and the horrific realisation that their access times can be measured in geological ages claws at our souls as much as our own reflected twisted images. Which is to say they're a bit slow.

While still expensive in comparison to 'spinning disks' you can certainly pick up 32GB solid state drives for under £100 now and even the more recent 80GB drives are slipping into the £200 price bracket. This definitely puts a solid state boot-drive solution into the price range of most people. The question is what's the impact of this technology on page file performance?

We decided to run two scenarios, as we've already established that a user-defined fixed page file is the way to go, the two options we want to test are with a full Windows installation and as a plain drive with a fixed page file on it.

As you'd hope the up-to-date solid state architecture efficiently smothers the randomness of the mechanical drives, in most cases yielding double the performance, with a halving in most times and a three-fold increase in throughput on the scroll test.

As you'd also expect the dedicated driver option also offered a little improvement in performance, though the sheer efficiency of the solid state access system meant the Windows managed file was almost as efficient.