Memory Management

Question: I am getting the following error message.

SYS1477: Warning: The partition containing the SWAPPER.DAT file is full. You may lose data.

What does this mean and what can I do to fix it?

Answer: Firstly, don't ignore this error message as you may find your system can lock up completely if you don't resolve the problem.

The swapper.dat file is the one that OS/2 uses as a swap file to swap out memory where you don't have enough memory in your computer for all of the applications that you are trying to run. The more actual RAM that your system has, the less often that your system will need to use swapper.dat and the smaller that swapper.dat needs to be. The best long term fix therefore is to add more RAM.

Of course you can't do that immediately when the message appears and depending on how much RAM you already have and how much your hardware can handle you may not have this option at all.

The next best solution is to move the swapper.dat file to a disk drive or partition with more space. To change the swapper.dat file from its default location to the drive of your choice you will need to edit the SWAPPATH= entry in your CONFIG.SYS file to specify the new location. This will then take effect from your next reboot. (Don't forget to backup config.sys before you edit it).

The above are long term fixes for the problem and if you are receiving the message on a regular basis you definitely need to apply one or both of these fixes.

Of course you also need to take action when the error message appears to immediately rectify the immediate problem. The first thing that you need to do when the message appears is to close down as many of the applications that you are currently executing as you possibly can. This should reduce the requirement for swapping the content of RAM out into the swapper.dat file and make sure that it doesn't need to be any bigger. After you have done this you then need to open an OS/2 command prompt and delete as many data files from your computer as you can (don't delete any that you still need). Hopefully this will then free up enough space on your system for you to continue operating until you can apply one of the longer term fixes.


This article written by Stephen Chapman, Felgall Pty Ltd.

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