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    Page File Usage (XP, SP1)

    Hi All,

    We are new users of XP and are running it on the family computer with four member logon environments and one guest. This is on a Dell 8100. When I run the Task Manager, my page file usage graph is usually close to the top and I am wondering if that is OK or whether I should try to manage things differently. I admit that I am not sure what "page file usage" is even. Any advise out there?

    Douglas

  2. #2
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    Re: Page File Usage (XP, SP1)

    The page file is used if the applications you run need more memory than is physically available in your PC. This will happen in particular if you have little RAM, or if you run a lot of applications simultaneously, or resource-hungry applications.

    You can view/set the size of virtual memory (the page file) as follows:
    - Right click My Computer
    - Select Properties
    - Activate the Advanced tab.
    - Click Settings in the Performance frame (the upper Settings button)
    - Activate the Advanced tab.
    - Virtual memory size is displayed near the bottom.
    - If you want to edit the size, click Edit.
    - In most cases, it is best to let Windows manage virtual memory size.
    - If you want to change it, set its size to (for example) 768 MB or 1024 MB (initial and maximum size).

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    Re: Page File Usage (XP, SP1)

    Like Hans says, the more Ram you have, the less you will need Page File{Virtual Memeory or Swap File} other names for it. I have 768 MB SDRAM and have the Page File turned off. I have never used it or needed it, even playing 3D games.
    How much RAM do you have?

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    Re: Page File Usage (XP, SP1)

    I would agree with Hans with one small exception. I look at the recommended value that Windows displays and set the minimum and maximum values to the same - the highest value. The benefit to doing this is that Windows doesn't resize the page file so you don't lose CPU time for the effort.

    There was a healthy discussion some time back about this issue on these boards. Take a look at this thread if you are interested.

    Sorry Cowboy, but I vehemently disagree with disabling the page file in its entirety. Windows XP is designed to use it. On my desktop with a gigabyte of RAM I still let Windows suggest the size, because some applications will need it where others may not (Adobe Photoshop is a good example).
    -Mark

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    Re: Page File Usage (XP, SP1)

    Hi Mark,

    My post wasn't very clear on that point. I agree with you that minimum and maximum sizes should be the same - I have set it that way on my own PC.

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    Super Moderator jscher2000's Avatar
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    Re: Page File Usage (XP, SP1)

    > I have 768 MB SDRAM and have the Page File turned off.

    What happens when Windows needs to use more memory than is physically available? I guess it depends on how many apps you like to have open. When I'm running Word, Outlook, IE, Adobe Photoshop, and lots of stuff in the background, I don't think I could get by just on RAM.

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    Re: Page File Usage (XP, SP1)

    <hr>What happens when Windows needs to use more memory than is physically available?<hr>
    Don't know, I have never ran into that problem. Not even playing 3D games like Soldier Of Fortune. Guess I just haven't opened enough apps at one time to worry about it. And if I haven't needed it so far, can't see any reason coming up down the road, for me to need it {the Page File} to be turned on.

    <hr>I don't think I could get by just on RAM. <hr>
    That may very well be true for you and your usage. But for me that has not been the case in the last 2 years that I have had the Page File turned off.


    <hr>Sorry Cowboy, but I vehemently disagree with disabling the page file in its entirety. Windows XP is designed to use it.<hr>
    Well that may be, but WinXp was designed with lots of things that is not absolutely necessary for it to work as good if not better without them. Hence all the forums for Tweeking WinXP.
    For instance your CPU was not designed to Overclock, but I do it anyway and love the performance boost I get.

    But as you said, if your running a lot of apps, and they need more Ram then you have installed, then the Page File will come in handy. I have not opened enough apps or played a game that needed more then 768 MB of Ram YET. Yet being the word to watch. But if I run into that problem, I will install more Ram and leave the Page File turned off anyway.

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    Re: Page File Usage (XP, SP1)

    A couple of things:

    First I don't think that Adobe Photoshop will work at all without a page file. Just the way it's set up.

    Setting the min and max to the same size, and/or placing the page file on a separate partition means no fragmentation.

    For most applications, it's probably about a push anymore whether the space saved on the hard disk (not much, maybe 1-2g) is more valuable than the speed generated by the page file (again, not much)

    I don't know of any evidence that a pagefile degrades performance, and the couple of gigs of hd space it will take up is fairly small on most fairly new systems. Probably the best thing to do is to just leave it alone and forget about it!

    ps my pagefile is set up at the front of the second of 2 hard drives (meaning slightly faster read/write times as the info is read off one hd and written to the second. Two heads are better than one!), on a separate partition, with min and max set to 1.5x memory - this on a system with 1.5g ddr ram!

    kip

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    Uranium Lounger viking33's Avatar
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    Re: Page File Usage (XP, SP1)

    Kip,
    -------------------------------------------------
    I don't know of any evidence that a pagefile degrades performance, and the couple of gigs of hd space it will take up is fairly small on most fairly new systems. Probably the best thing to do is to just leave it alone and forget about it!
    ------------------------------------------------
    Having a pagefile doesn't degrade performance, BUT the use of the pagefile vs, RAM is no contest. RAM is MUCH faster than a HD and you will take a performance hit when the pagefile is used instead of RAM. IF you see you are going to the pagefile too often, that should mean get more RAM. 512MB or more is the way to go.

    Bob
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    Super Moderator jscher2000's Avatar
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    Re: Page File Usage (XP, SP1)

    > First I don't think that Adobe Photoshop will work at all without a page file. Just the way it's set up.

    Photoshop creates its own dedicated "scratch" file, and suggests that you place it on a different hard drive for maximum speed. It's another world over there at Adobe. <img src=/S/grin.gif border=0 alt=grin width=15 height=15>

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    Re: Page File Usage (XP, SP1)

    Correct, but the graphically intensive nature of the program benefits from the Windows swap file, too. Either that or I've been drinking too much when I start Photochopping and it was all illusory. <img src=/S/grin.gif border=0 alt=grin width=15 height=15>
    -Mark

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    Super Moderator jscher2000's Avatar
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    Re: Page File Usage (XP, SP1)

    I don't doubt it. Referring to your first sentence. <img src=/S/grin.gif border=0 alt=grin width=15 height=15>

  13. #13
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    Re: Page File Usage (XP, SP1)

    Hi,

    Just thought I would chime in and let you all know how the original situation played out. I decided that 128 MB of RAM was a bottleneck with XP and installed another 256 MB this morning. BIG DIFFERENCE. We are back up and running. Thanks for all of your invaluable experience and advice.

    Douglas

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    Re: Page File Usage (XP, SP1)

    Great news! You've just learned the number one lesson about Windows XP and any future Windows version: it loves memory like a fat kid loves cake. <img src=/S/wink.gif border=0 alt=wink width=15 height=15> The more you can feed it, the happier it will be.
    -Mark

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    Re: Page File Usage (XP, SP1)

    >it loves memory like a fat kid loves cake. The more you can feed it, the happier it will be.
    One of the things we have not had to relearn as each version of WIndows has come out! <img src=/S/grin.gif border=0 alt=grin width=15 height=15>
    Gre

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