Your computer has two types of memory, Random Access Memory (RAM) and Virtual Memory. All programs use RAM, but when there isn't enough RAM for the program you're trying to run, Windows temporarily moves information that would normally be stored in RAM to a file on your hard disk called a Paging File. The amount of information temporarily stored in a paging file is also referred to as virtual memory. Using virtual memory, in other words, moving information to and from the paging file, frees up enough RAM for programs to run correctly.
Virtual Memory is a storage allocation scheme in which secondary memory can be addressed as though it were part of main memory.
The size of virtual storage is limited by the addressing scheme of the computer system and amount of secondary memory is available not by the actual number of the main storage locations.
A virtual address does not represent the actual physical location of an object in memory; instead, the system maintains a page table for each process, which is an internal data structure used to translate virtual addresses into their corresponding physical addresses. Each time a thread references an address, the system translates the virtual address to a physical address.
The virtual address space for 32-bit Windows is 4 gigabytes (GB) in size and divided into two partitions: one for use by the process and the other reserved for use by the system.
Swapping is a mechanism in which a process can be swapped temporarily out of main memory (or move) to secondary storage (disk) and make that memory available to other processes. At some later time, the system swaps back the process from the secondary storage to main memory.
Though performance is usually affected by swapping process but it helps in running multiple and big processes in parallel and that's the reason Swapping is also known as a technique for memory compaction.
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