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Defragment Your Pagefile

Keeping your pagefile defragmented can provide a major performance boost. One of the best ways of doing this is to creat a separate partition on your hard drive just for your page file, so that it doesn’t get impacted by normal disk usage. Another way of keeping your pagefile defragmented is to run PageDefrag. This cool little app can be used to defrag your pagefile, and can also be set to defrag the pagefile everytime your PC starts. To install:

  1. Download and Run PageDefrag
  2. Tick “Defrag at next Reboot”,
  3. Click “Ok”
  4. Reboot

PageDefrag v2.32

By Mark Russinovich

Published: November 1, 2006


One of the limitations of the Windows NT/2000 defragmentation interface is that it is not possible to defragment files that are open for exclusive access. Thus, standard defragmentation programs can neither show you how fragmented your paging files or Registry hives are, nor defragment them. Paging and Registry file fragmentation can be one of the leading causes of performance degradation related to file fragmentation in a system.

PageDefrag uses advanced techniques to provide you what commercial defragmenters cannot: the ability for you to see how fragmented your paging files and Registry hives are, and to defragment them. In addition, it defragments event log files and Windows 2000/XP hibernation files (where system memory is saved when you hibernate a laptop).

PageDefrag works on Windows NT 4.0, Windows 2000, Windows XP, and Server 2003.

Installation and Use

When you run PageDefrag (pagedfrg.exe) you will be presented a listbox that tells you how many clusters make up your paging files, event log files, and Registry hives (SAM, SYSTEM, SYSTEM.ALT, SECURITY, SOFTWARE, .DEFAULT), as well as how many fragments those files are in. If you feel that these files are fragmented enough to warrant a shot at defragmenting them, or if you want to defragment them at every boot, select the appropriate radio button choice and click OK.

When you direct PageDefrag to defragment, the next time the system boots it will attempt to do so. Immediately after CHKDSK examines your hard drives PageDefrag uses the standard file defragmentation APIs (see my Inside Windows NT Disk Defragmenting page for documentation of these APIs) to defragment the files. As it processes each file PageDefrag will print on the boot-time startup screen the file name and its success at defragmenting it. If it is successful at reducing the fragmentation it will tell you the number of clusters the file started with and the number it consists of after the defragmentation.

In some cases PageDefrag may be unable to reduce fragmentation on one or more of the files, and it will indicate so on the boot-time Blue Screen. This can happen either because there is not enough space on the drive for defragmentation, or the free space itself is highly fragmented. For the best results you should use PageDefrag in conjunction with a commercial defragmentation utility or my free Contig defragmenter.


Command-Line Options

You can run PageDefrag non-interactively by specifying a command-line option for the setting you want:

usage: pagedefrag [-e | -o | -n] [-t <seconds>]


Defrag every boot


Defrag once


Never defrag


Set countdown to specified number of seconds

Defragmenting A Page File

There are two approaches to defragmenting a page file. One is free; the other costs you some money but is well worth the expense. The phrase 'by design' crops up a lot when talking about XP and here it comes again. By design, Windows XP will not allow a page file to be defragmented when the computer is online. Online in this case does not mean when it's connected to the internet, but when it is powered on and the operating system has been loaded and ready for use. This is why you can defrag 1000 times from inside XP, check the defrag log page file section and it will never show it being defragmented. To get around this problem using the free method, it's necessary to:

  • Eliminate the fragmented pagefile

  • Create a temporary page file on another drive

  • Reboot

  • Defragment the drive that held the original page file

  • Eliminate the temporary page file

  • Recreate the original page file

  • Reboot

It sounds worse than it really is, but it's easily accomplished using the Virtual Memory property sheet and the standard disk defragmenter utility that ships with XP. If you don't have a secondary drive to create the temporary paging file just eliminate the current paging file, reboot, recreate the paging file and reboot once more.

If you're willing to spend a few dollars, read about Diskeeper at the Executive Software International, Inc site. Diskeeper is actually the defragmenter utility that ships with XP. If you're wondering why you'd pay good money for something you already have, the version that ships with XP is a stripped down version that doesn't include a fraction of the features that the full Diskeeper product contains, including the ability to defragment paging files using a method called Boot-Time Defragmentation. The links below will convince you of the desirability of upgrading the included XP defragmenter utility.

The Limitations of the Disk Defragmenter Tool in Windows XP (Q314848)
Diskeeper vs. Built-In Defragmenter

Just so there is no confusion or doubt, I have no stake in Executive Software International, Inc. or Diskeeper. There may be other products out there that do an equal or better job, but I have experience using Diskeeper and highly recommend it for use with XP. Nuff' said.



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