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swapFILE vs swapDISK ??

I was wondering whether there are any benefits to using a swap partition
as opposed to using a swap file.
I am running debian 1.3 on a system with relatively low resources (200
megs HD, 12 megs ram), and have it set up to have a 12 meg swap partition.
But, today I found out about mkswap and how I can on the fly create a swap
file and use that. It seems like this would be pretty useful to me as I
can 'dynamically' choose how to allocate my memory / harddrive space.

Is there any performance loss to making swapfiles (large ones), as opposed
to having a static swap partition?
Will it (this may sound silly, but my hard drive is old too ... 1993)
increase the wear and tear on my hard drive?

Thanks for your help and advise,

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