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Memory in Windows 2000

Posted on 2000-02-18
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How much memory will I need to run Windows 2000 without the need for a swapfile? Does Windows 2000 manage memory differently from Windows 98?
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Question by:Owlguru
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by:Owlguru
ID: 2536802
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by:Dassa
ID: 2537046
Yes, W2K does manage memory a little differently to Win98.  How much memory you would need to have installed before the system doesn't use a swapfile is a little difficult to judge from the information provided.  It all depends on what you are running on top of the OS.  The more programs and services you are running the more memory will be used.  The swapfile is only really used when the company needs to page out some RAM contents to disk to allow access for another process to use the RAM.  The more processes you are running the more likely is the need for the swapfile.  Given the speed of modern drives, and the memory management techniques this isn't such a big issue anymore.

However, the more memory you have the better, with certain caveants.  I would not suggest using W2K with only 32 meg.  64 would be usable, 128 would be a lot better.  Going to 256 meg should give some more improvement but over that, the improvements you may see will depend on how you use the system.
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by:Lee W, MVP
ID: 2537338
You really should run Win2K WITH a swapfile - Microsoft recommends (and by default sets) the swapfile size to 1.5x the amount of RAM you have - if you have 512 MB (as one of my servers does) then the swapfile (virtual memory/pagefile) is set to 768MB.  The more memory you have the larger the page file should be.  Incidentally - I accidentally made mine 2MB on a system with 128 MB and the system became unusable - try to open a property sheet of ANYTHING and there was a problem.
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by:epaul
ID: 2538126
You can run w2000 without swap, but if  applications require more RAM memory than you have,you'll receive an error message: "not enough memory" and then applications will close or the whole windows will crush.
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by:Owlguru
ID: 2538648
I am a software developer, so I generally use programming software and general office applications. If I use 512 MB RAM or more, I think I should be able to run most of these applications without a swapfile. Also, I use a minimal number of services.(I like to keep my system clean)
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by:farout
ID: 2538944
if you use 512mb ram you should atleast have 512kb l2 cache or performence might drop
if you wnat to increse performence move the pageing file to another separate physical drive
if you have no pagefile you cannot dump the contence of memory to disk (kernel mode stop)
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by:Dassa
ID: 2538976
As a developer you would be aware that Office applications are memory hogs and that when developing you may have a large number of processes running at the same time.  512 meg should be plenty but having a swap file is not a drawback and has more advantages than disadvantages.  It will only be used when necessary.
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by:pjknibbs
ID: 2539725
I agree with Dassa--there's no reason to run without a swap file unless you have a critical reason for doing so (trying to defrag the drive containing the swap file, for instance). If you have enough physical RAM to do without a swap file, it won't impact performance any to have one.
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by:Owlguru
ID: 2540822
But if I have a swapfile AND a lot of RAM, wouldn't Windows write stuff ONLY to the swap file and use the RAM for caching?
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by:epaul
ID: 2540838
No.

When you start Windows 2000, it automatically creates a paging file (Pagefile.sys) on the disk where you installed the operating system. Windows 2000 uses the paging file to provide virtual memory. However, the size of the file also depends on the amount of free space available on your hard disk when the file is created.

Although you can reset both the initial and the maximum sizes for the paging file, it is more efficient to expand initial paging file size, rather than force the operating system to allocate more paging file space as programs start, which fragments the disk.

If the paging file reaches its maximum size, a warning is displayed and the system may halt. If these two numbers are close in value, consider increasing initial paging file size or running fewer programs.



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by:Owlguru
ID: 2540868
I meant, when Windows 2000 has no swapfile to work with, it is FORCED to use the RAM for programs. If there is a swapfile won't it use the swapfile instead of the RAM even if there's plenty of RAM to work with?(this is typical in Windows 95/98)
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by:pjknibbs
ID: 2541510
There are other aspects to the paging file. File mapping objects and other items can be created in such a way they're backed by the swap file: if you don't have a swap file, these objects can't be created and some applications may not work.
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by:zhi
ID: 2542024
Unless you tell windows not to use a swap file, windows will use a swap file not matter how much memory you have.  Strange, isn't it?  Windows doesn't rely on the swap file only when memory runs dry.  I don't know why this is so but I believe that I'm right on this one.  At least, that's how it is in windows 98.
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by:Dassa
ID: 2542053
Under Windows the swapfile will always be initialised if possible but that does not mean it will be used.  It is there if needed that is all.  The only real reason I can think of to either limit or do away with the swapfile is if you are desperate for hard drive space.
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by:pjknibbs
ID: 2542129
There's one situation where the swap file can get used when you don't want it to under Win9x--when you're playing movies from hard disk. In these circumstances the idiot memory manager keeps expanding the disk cache because of all the disk access going on, and this can force stuff to be written to the swap file. Whether this holds under Win2K is another matter--I think NT is rather more restrained with its use of disk cache.
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Lee W, MVP earned 100 total points
ID: 2542132
"I meant, when Windows 2000 has no swapfile to work with, it is FORCED to use the RAM for programs. If there is a swapfile won't it use the swapfile instead of the RAM even if there's plenty of RAM to work with?(this is typical in Windows 95/98)"

So you believe Windows 2000 is based on the same technology behind Windows 95 and 98?  It's NOT - Win2K is based on Windows NT - It was NT5 before they released beta 3.  NT does MANY things differently - 95/98 still use DOS (yes, they do, you can boot to a dos prompt - it's DOS 7 (or 7.1/8), but it's still DOS - they can still load real mode drivers.  Windows 2000 (and NT are true OPERATING SYSTEMS (not operating environments like Win3.x and even Win9x.  One little ini file change in Win9x and you can boot to a DOS prompt every time, just like Win31.

I'm telling you, you WANT to use the swap file.  2K is NOT going to start programs there - it's going to move them to the pagefile as they sit idle and other apps are being used.  Have you ever used NT?

Further, if you're a programmer, saving the crash dump could be useful to you and for that you need a page file at least the size of RAM.

Read this - it still applies to 2K, only in 2K, Microsoft's page file recommendations are 1.5x, not RAM+12.
http://www.ars-technica.com/tweak/nt/pagefile-1.html
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by:pjknibbs
ID: 2549455
I did a little experiment at home last night, and here are some numbers. The setup is a Windows 2000 Professional box with 256Mb of RAM. Immediately after bootup the Task Manager reports only 60Mb of memory in use, leaving plenty free. However, Performance Monitor shows 2.7Mb of page file being used even under these circumstances! I can only assume Win2K is using the swap file for something other than unused data, so removing it entirely would not be a good idea.
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by:Owlguru
ID: 2552219
I found a great deal of information at the site you linked to.
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