Part of the Operating systems glossary:

Thrashing is computer activity that makes little or no progress, usually because memory or other resources have become exhausted or too limited to perform needed operations. When this happens, a pattern typically develops in which a request is made of the operating system by a process or program, the operating system tries to find resources by taking them from some other process, which in turn makes new requests that can't be satisfied. In a virtual storage system (an operating system that manages its logical storage or memory in units called pages), thrashing is a condition in which excessive paging operations are taking place.

A system that is thrashing can be perceived as either a very slow system or one that has come to a halt.

This was last updated in April 2005
Contributor(s): Mic Grover
Posted by: Margaret Rouse

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