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thrashing

Contributor(s): Mic Grover

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

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