Moving the paging file and/or print spool directory can improve performance

The location of Windows 2000's paging file and print spool directory can seriously affect system performance. Find out how to move each to keep your system running smoothly.

There are two cosmic laws regarding disk storage space: There is never enough of it and the more you have, the more you use. Two items that can potentially use a lot of storage space are the Windows swap file (a.k.a., the paging file) and the print spooler folder. If your paging file and/or spool directory is on a slow disk, performance suffers. Or, if you're running out of space on the current disk, you may need to move the paging file or print spooler to a new disk. In this article, I'll show you how to solve both problems by moving the paging file and the print spool directory.

How the paging file and print spool directory work
Windows 2000 uses the paging file as virtual memory, swapping data in and out of the file to make it seem that the system has more memory than it really does. For example, what if your system has 64 MB of RAM in it, but you’re running applications and operating resources that need 128 MB of RAM? Windows 2000 would use the paging file to make up the difference and only keep (in physical RAM) the data it needs at the moment.

Windows 2000 uses the print spooler folder to contain the files necessary to print a document. Rather than send the document directly to the printer, which could tie up your system for a long period of time if it's a large document, Windows 2000 prints the document to a file (which happens very quickly). Then, the print spooler takes over the task of moving the data from the spool file to the printer as a background task. The result is you regain control of your application and system almost immediately and can get back to work while the document prints.

Now that you know how the paging file and print spool directory work, let's look at how to move them.

Moving the paging file
To move the paging file, open the System object in Control Panel. Select the Advanced tab and click Performance Options | Change. Select the drive for the paging file, set the minimum and maximum sizes as needed, and then click Set. Click OK twice and restart the system when prompted. You've just moved the Windows 2000 paging file. Wasn't that easy?

Word of warning
The following section suggests ways to edit your System Registry. Using the Windows Registry Editor incorrectly can cause serious problems that may require you to reinstall your operating system and could result in data loss. TechRepublic does not and will not support problems that arise from editing your registry. Use the Registry Editor and the following directions at your own risk.

Moving the print spool directory
The default location for the Windows 2000 spool folder is %systemroot%\System32\Spool\Printers. To move the print spooler folder for all printers, open the Printers folder from the Control Panel and choose File | Server Properties. Click the Advanced tab, enter the desired print spooler folder path in the Spool Folder field, and then click OK. (You don’t have to restart Windows 2000 for the change to take effect.)

To move the spool folder location for a specific printer (such as one you typically use to print large documents), open this registry key: HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\Print\Printers \<printer>, where <printer> is the printer whose spool location you want to modify. Open the value SpoolDirectory. If the value doesn’t exist, create a REG_SZ value by that name. Then, specify the full path to the spool directory as the value of SpoolDirectory. Close the Registry Editor and create the specified folder. If you create the folder on an NTFS volume, verify that the folder grants Full Control to Creator/Owner, Administrators, and to the System account at a minimum, and add the desired permissions for the Everyone group (generally, Full Control). Restart the Spooler service to make the change take effect.

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