What the difference between swapping and paging?

Swapping is one of the Unix mechanisms to accommodate the size limitation of memory by moving entire processes to disk to reclaim memory.

Paging is another Unix mechanism to manage the limitations of memory. Unlike swapping, where entire processes are moved in and out of memory, paging moves only individual pages of processes to disk. Paging is not as serious a problem as swapping, as the entire program does not have to reside in memory to run. A small amount of paging may not noticeably affect the performance of a system. However, the performance of a system may degrade rapidly as paging activity increases.

Swap space on disk is used to hold pages of memory that have been paged or swapped out. A shortage of swap space may cause symptoms such as system hanging, poor response times, and unsuccessful spawning of new processes.


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