In computer operating systems, demand paging (as opposed to anticipatory paging) is a method of virtual memory management. In a system that uses demand paging, the operating system copies a disk page into physical memory only if an attempt is made to access it and that page is not already in memory (i.e., if a page fault occurs). It follows that a process begins execution with none of its pages in physical memory, and many page faults will occur until most of a process's working set of pages are located in physical memory. This is an example of a lazy loading technique.
Demand paging follows that pages should only be brought into memory if the executing process demands them. This is often referred to as lazy evaluation as only those pages demanded by the process are swapped from secondary storage to main memory. Contrast this to pure swapping, where all memory for a process is swapped from secondary storage to main memory during the process startup.
Commonly, to achieve this process a page table implementation is used. The page table maps logical memory to physical memory. The page table uses a bitwise operator to mark if a page is valid or invalid. A valid page is one that currently resides in main memory. An invalid page is one that currently resides in secondary memory. When a process tries to access a page, the following steps are generally followed:
Demand paging, as opposed to loading all pages immediately: