What is the difference between paging & segmentation?

Written by mary barton
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What is the difference between paging & segmentation?
Operating systems use paging and segmentation to control computer memory. (curled pages image by timur1970 from Fotolia.com)

Computer software programmers use paging and segmentation techniques to allocate, process and access computer memory. Efficient use of computer storage and processing space requires the proper use of computer pages and segments.

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Page Definition

Pages are fixed units of computer memory allocated by the computer for storing and processing information. Pages are easier to place in computer memory since they are always the same size.

What is the difference between paging & segmentation?
Operating systems use various techniques to allocate memory. (ANSI image by DBX 60 from Fotolia.com)

Segment Definition

Segments are divisions of computer memory of variable size that temporarily store memory addresses required for a logical computer process. These segments may be either shared by other computer processes or unique to a particular process. Since segments can be different sizes, memory allocation takes more processing to achieve.

What is the difference between paging & segmentation?
Moving bits and bytes around for a single process takes organisation. (circuit board image by Adrian Hillman from Fotolia.com)


Paging frequently occurs when the computer operating system requires the use of random access memory (RAM) and no space is available. The system will move a currently unused RAM page to storage and use the freed page to continue the processing procedure. A primary function of segmentation is the ability to share code for read-only processes. Segmentation is governed by the memory management unit of an operating system, which sets the details of the address space allocated, the permissions allowed and checks whether the process is a valid one. If more storage is necessary for segmentation processes, a page table will be allocated by those systems which allow that functionality.

What is the difference between paging & segmentation?
Computer processing speed increases functionality. (computer im gras image by schaltwerk from Fotolia.com)

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