What is Process Suspension and Process Switching?

Let us begin by understanding what process suspension is.

Process suspension

Whenever the processes in main memory are entered into the blocked state, the operating system suspends one process by putting it in the Suspended state and transferring it to disk. The free space present in the memory is used for bringing another process.

Many OS are around Ready, Running, Blocked states. But generally, there is one more state in the operation of an OS that is suspended.

If any process is not occupying the main memory which is in a Ready state, OS swaps one of the blocked processes out onto the Suspend queue.

Suppose, when a Suspended process is ready to run it moves into Ready, Suspend queue. Thus, we have two more states which are Blocked_Suspend and Ready_Suspend.


The purposes for process suspension are as follows −

  • Swapping

  • Timing

  • Interactive User request

  • Parent process request

Now let us discuss process switching.

Process switching

It may occur any time when the operating system has gained control from the currently running process. Let us consider the system interrupts. There are two types of system interrupts which are as follows −

  • Interrupt

  • Trap

Switch process

It is explained below when we can switch processes.

  • Supervisor call − Explicit request by program ex from the file. The process will probably be blocked.

  • Trap − An error resulted from the last instructions. It may cause the process to be moved to a terminal state

  • Interrupt − It is the cause of the external execution of the current process.

Steps to process switch

The steps to process switch are as follows −

  • Save CPU context (mode switch from user mode to kernel mode using mode bit.)

  • Update PCB of the current process.

  • Move the PCB of the current process in the appropriate queue.

  • Select another process for execution. (By CPU scheduler)

  • Update of selected process

  • Update memory management structures

  • Restore CPU context of new PCB (mode switch from kernel mode to user mode)


Process switch is an operating system scheduler change from one running program to another. This requires saving all of the state of the currently executing program, including its register state, associated kernel state, and its entire virtual memory configuration. All of the states of the new program is then loaded and execution continues.


The major differences between process switching and process suspension are as follows −

Process suspension

  • The suspended process is not immediately available.

  • The process may or may not be waiting on an event

  • The process may not be removed from the suspended state until agents order for the removal.

Process switching

  • Process switch also called context switch which involves saving information.

  • Updating the control information.

  • And restore the CPU information.

Updated on: 01-Dec-2021

5K+ Views

Kickstart Your Career

Get certified by completing the course

Get Started