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My setup is as follows:

A strong desktop, with quad core CPU and a 7200RPM HDD. A weak three years old lenovo laptop, used as a media center, running Ubuntu.

They are connected using WiFi (N).

Often, while playing HD movies, the Ubuntu machine starts swapping background apps to make room for the active application that plays the movie. Movie playback performance is unaffected, there is no sensible thrashing, but if I switch to a different application afterwards I can feel the slowness of paging that memory back in.

Is it possible that using a swapfile on the hard drive of the desktop will give me better performance than the laptop's local hard drive?

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migrated from Jul 13 '10 at 16:27

This question came from our site for system and network administrators.

swap file on a network share? ... just ... so ... wrong. – Zypher Jul 13 '10 at 16:13
The 802.11n network support on a 3 year old laptop is unlikely to be able to manage much better than about 30Mbps at best. The local hard disk, assuming it's a 5400rpm laptop drive, should be good for 30Mbytes per sec at worst. Even if there were no other problems with the idea (and there are), those basic limits would make it a bad idea. – Helvick Jul 13 '10 at 16:23
Wired ethernet can be faster than your disks in bandwidth and latency; wireless certainly won't. – Tobu Jul 13 '10 at 16:33
up vote 3 down vote accepted

In most cases, it will give you worse performance. However, if you had a SAN with enough bandwidth, you could potentially exceed the I/O potential of your laptop's local bus. Nevertheless, I suspect you do not have any high grade storage.

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Thanks! Is it possible that I will gain from being able to swap to both storages simultaneously, even though one is slower? – Tzafrir Jul 13 '10 at 17:06

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