Types of Paging

Introduction to Paging

Paging is a crucial aspect of computer memory management that plays a significant role in optimizing system performance and resource utilization.

In this article, we will explore the various types of paging used in modern operating systems. We’ll delve into the intricacies of each type, discussing their benefits, drawbacks, and specific use cases.

Paging Types

What Is Paging? 

Paging is a memory management scheme used in operating systems to efficiently manage memory resources. It allows the operating system to divide the logical address space of a process into fixed-sized blocks called pages. These pages are then mapped to physical memory, enabling efficient memory allocation and retrieval.

How Demand Paging Works?

  • Demand paging is a memory management technique where pages are loaded into memory only when they are needed.
  • Instead of loading the entire program into memory at once, the operating system loads pages on-demand as the program accesses specific memory locations. This approach minimizes the initial loading time and conserves memory resources.

Advantages of Demand Paging

  • Reduced memory usage: Demand paging allows programs to use less memory since only the required pages are loaded into memory.
  • Faster startup times: By loading only the necessary pages, the initial startup time of programs is significantly reduced.
  • Improved system responsiveness: Demand paging improves system responsiveness by loading pages on an as-needed basis, ensuring that the most frequently accessed pages are always available in memory.

Limitations of Demand Paging

  • Page faults: If a program tries to access a page that is not present in memory, a page fault occurs. This can cause a slight delay as the operating system fetches the required page from secondary storage.
  • Increased I/O overhead: Demand paging involves frequent disk I/O operations to retrieve pages from secondary storage, which can impact system performance if not managed efficiently.
  • Thrashing: In some cases, demand paging can lead to thrashing, where the system spends more time swapping pages in and out of memory than executing useful work.

Understanding Prepaging

  • Prepaging is a technique where the operating system anticipates future memory requirements and loads additional pages into memory before they are actually requested.
  • This proactive approach aims to reduce page faults and improve overall system performance by prefetching pages that are likely to be needed soon.

Benefits of Prepaging:

  • Reduced page faults: By loading additional pages in advance, prepaging minimizes the occurrence of page faults during program execution.
  • Enhanced responsiveness: By prefetching data that is likely to be accessed, prepaging ensures that the necessary pages are readily available, improving system responsiveness.
  • Efficient memory utilization: Prepaging can optimize memory usage by identifying and loading related pages, reducing unnecessary disk I/O operations.

Drawbacks of Prepaging

  • Increased memory overhead: Prepaging requires additional memory resources to store the prefetched pages, which can impact systems with limited memory capacity.
    Uncertain prediction accuracy: Predicting future memory requirements accurately can be challenging, and incorrect predictions may lead to wasted resources and decreased performance.
Types of Paging

The Concept of Swapping

Swapping is a paging technique where entire processes or parts of processes are temporarily moved out of main memory and into secondary storage, typically a hard disk. This allows the operating system to free up memory for other processes when the available physical memory becomes insufficient.

Pros of Swapping

  • Efficient memory utilization: Swapping enables the operating system to utilize secondary storage as an extension of physical memory, allowing more processes to run concurrently.
  • Flexibility in process management: Swapping facilitates the execution of processes with memory requirements larger than the available physical memory, preventing resource constraints.
  • Multiprogramming support: Swapping enables the execution of a greater number of programs simultaneously, enhancing overall system efficiency.

Cons of Swapping

  • Increased I/O overhead: Swapping involves frequent disk I/O operations to move processes between main memory and secondary storage, potentially affecting system performance.
  • Delayed process execution: Swapping can introduce delays in process execution as processes need to be swapped in and out of memory, resulting in increased response times.
  • Data integrity risks: Swapping poses a risk of data loss or corruption if a system failure occurs while a process is swapped out, but its modified data is not yet written back to disk.

Overview of Segmentation with Paging

  • Segmentation with paging combines the benefits of both segmentation and paging techniques. In this approach, a program’s logical address space is divided into segments, which are further divided into fixed-sized pages.
  • This hybrid scheme offers advantages in terms of memory management flexibility and address space organization.

Advantages of Segmentation with Paging

  • Improved memory management: Segmentation with paging provides greater flexibility in managing memory by allowing dynamic growth and sharing of segments.
  • Enhanced protection and security: Segment-level protection mechanisms can be applied, providing finer-grained access control to program segments.
  • Efficient address space allocation: Combining segmentation and paging allows for more efficient allocation of address space, reducing internal and external fragmentation.

Limitations of Segmentation with Paging

  • Increased complexity: Implementing segmentation with paging requires additional hardware support and more sophisticated memory management algorithms, increasing system complexity.
  • Overhead in address translation: The combined address translation process of segmentation and paging can introduce additional overhead compared to other memory management schemes.
  • Potential for fragmentation: While segmentation with paging reduces external fragmentation, it may still be susceptible to internal fragmentation within individual segments.

Inverted Page Tables 

Inverted page tables are an alternative approach to traditional page tables used for virtual-to-physical address translation. Unlike conventional page tables, where each process has its own page table, inverted page tables maintain a single global table that maps physical frames to the corresponding virtual pages.

Benefits of Inverted Page Tables

  • Reduced memory overhead: Inverted page tables require less memory since they store mappings only for the pages currently in use, rather than the entire address space of each process.
  • Improved TLB efficiency: The smaller size of inverted page tables enables better utilization of the Translation Lookaside Buffer (TLB), resulting in faster address translation.
  • Scalability: Inverted page tables can efficiently handle systems with a large number of processes, as they eliminate the need for duplicating page tables for each process.

Challenges with Inverted Page Tables

  • Slower page table lookup: Inverted page tables require a linear search to find the mapping for a given physical frame, which can be slower compared to direct lookups in traditional page tables.
  • Increased complexity: Maintaining coherence and managing updates in a shared global page table can be more complex, especially in systems with concurrent access from multiple processes.
  • Limited support for sharing: Inverted page tables may have limitations in supporting efficient memory sharing among processes due to the shared nature of the tables.


In this article, we explored various types of paging used in modern operating systems. We discussed demand paging, prepaging, swapping, segmentation with paging, and inverted page tables, along with their respective advantages and limitations.

Each paging technique offers unique characteristics that cater to different system requirements and constraints. By understanding these types of paging, system designers and administrators can make informed decisions to optimize memory management and enhance overall system performance.

Prime Course Trailer

Related Banners

Get PrepInsta Prime & get Access to all 200+ courses offered by PrepInsta in One Subscription

Get over 200+ course One Subscription

Courses like AI/ML, Cloud Computing, Ethical Hacking, C, C++, Java, Python, DSA (All Languages), Competitive Coding (All Languages), TCS, Infosys, Wipro, Amazon, DBMS, SQL and others

Checkout list of all the video courses in PrepInsta Prime Subscription

Checkout list of all the video courses in PrepInsta Prime Subscription