Where is My Swap File?

In Windows 95/98, the swap file is Win386.swp and is located in the Windows directory if you are using a Windows managed swap file. If you are specifying your own settings, it will be in the root directory of the drive you chose to put it on. In Windows NT, the swap file is called pagefile.sys. In Windows 3.1, if it is a dynamic swap file it will be called win386.swp and if it is a static swap file it will be called 386spart.par and be located in the root directory of the drive that windows 3.1 is installed on.

System.ini – The Real Swap File Settings

The settings for the swap file are actually under the [386Enh] section in the System.ini file. You can actually override the swap file settings here, if you prefer. Here is a typical [386Enh] section, note the last three lines pertaining to the swap file. Note that the values for min and max are in KILOBYTES in the system.ini file. (not Mb like the setting in system properties)


If you decide to edit the system.ini file, be sure to use upper and lower case exactly as it appears. It matters. For example, pagingdrive=c: is NOT the same as PagingDrive=C: (in fact, there is an issue in Win98 Second Edition where the computer hangs if a lower case drive letter is specified for the paging file location…but that’s another story). The settings shown here are for a swap file on drive C: with a minimum size of 64 MB and Maximum size of 386 MB. (multiply each MB value by 1024 to get KB)


You can improve performance by specifying your own Swap File settings. This is particularly significant if you have less than 64 MB of RAM and Windows is using your swap file frequently. If, however, you have a nice fast hard drive and a large amount of RAM (like 128 MB or 256 MB) then little will be gained by changing the swap file settings from Windows managed. If your swap file is rarely used, then the fact that it is of variable size and fragmented will not degrade your computer’s performance appreciably.

A little tip for good measure:
If you ever copy a hard drive’s contents or the directory that contains the swapfile using Windows Explorer, be sure NOT to copy the swapfile. If you do, most likely Windows will crash.


– Grogan –

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