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Final word on XP page file size?

Posted on 2003-11-03
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Last Modified: 2012-06-27
I have read various guidelines on how to best set the page file size, including these, with their downsides:

-Set the low end equal to the ram size, and the high end to 2.5 times the ram size, but I'm told that this uses resources while XP manages the size.

-Set the low and high to the same number, and 2.5 the size of ram, so XP does not have to manage it.  But I'm told that the user will be in 'big trouble' if XP ever needs more.

-Set it so that XP automatically manages it, like in Win98.  I have seen Microsoft recommend this approach on their site.  But I'm told that XP will have to manage this, wasting resources.  And, after setting it this way for numerous users in real-life environments, they still get warnings saying they are low!

So what's the bottom line on the best way to manage the page file size?  To me, 'best' means that it gives maximum benefit with few downsides, and does not continue to warn the user that they've got 'problems', which worries them needlessly!
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Question by:sasllc
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12 Comments
 
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Expert Comment

by:CrazyOne
ID: 9671732
Depends on how much RAM you have how much of it is used. I set the Min and Max to the same size. This prevents it from becoming fragmented. I currentl have 1GB of RAM and I have set it the page file to 200MB's
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by:CrazyOne
ID: 9671748
>>>they still get warnings saying they are low!

What message are they seeing?
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by:jhance
ID: 9671752
Any setting is a COMPROMISE here.  You need to do what works BEST for your situation.  There is NO "always the best" choice here.  Otherwise, this options would not exist.

I disagree with the statement:

"-Set the low and high to the same number, and 2.5 the size of ram, so XP does not have to manage it.  But I'm told that the user will be in 'big trouble' if XP ever needs more."

First, this is not a catastrophic error.  XP, when it runs out of virtual space in the page file will fail relatively gradefully by refusing to open more apps when it gets fill.  

Secondly, you will RARELY ever have this problem on a properly configured (i.e. enough REAL RAM) XP system unless you are really abusing things.  

Thirdly, if you are pressing the limits on the pagefile, the system performance degrades itself so much that the user will generally either shutdown applications or reboot to resolve the slowness.

I usually set this to let XP manage the settings unless I KNOW that the machine will be using lots of pagefile all the time.  Then I manually configure it to a large enough value.
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LVL 44

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by:CrazyOne
ID: 9671796
>>>But I'm told that the user will be in 'big trouble' if XP ever needs more.

Not true. They would get messages warning them that the pagefile is too small. There usually isn't any big trouble just increase the pagefile. Experimentation some times is the best way to find out what works. If you want to insure less hassle then set it the size to be 3 times or more then the RAM
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Expert Comment

by:Crash2100
ID: 9671876
If you have 512MB or more, setting the swap file between 250MB to 300MB should be enough.  I have 1GB of RAM on my machine and I have the swap file set to this.

If you have less than 512MB of RAM I'd recommend that you set the minimum swap file value to 1.5 times your physical memory, and leave the default max.  If you have less than 512MB most certainly leave the default maximum value alone, because you may need that.  If you run out of physical memory and virtual memory, your computer can do nothing more than say "i can't work anymore" and crash.
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by:Crash2100
ID: 9671881
I guess I didn't type fast enough!
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by:jhance
jhance earned 50 total points
ID: 9671973
>> I guess I didn't type fast enough!

That's for sure.  You know that I've written a program that has automatically pre-generated every possible answer to questions on EE.  So whenever a new question pops up, I just retrieve the right answer from my database and post it.  ;-)
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by:LucF
ID: 9673917
You might want to take a look at http:Q_20746373.html

LucF
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by:LucF
ID: 9673931
If you have a great amount of internal memmory (512MB+) you can add this line to system.ini

under the [386Enh] section add this line:
ConservativeSwapFileUsage=1

And see if it works for you.

LucF
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by:Crash2100
Crash2100 earned 50 total points
ID: 9673945
I didn't think windows xp even used the system.ini and win.ini files.  I thought it was all stored in the registry.
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Assisted Solution

by:LucF
LucF earned 50 total points
ID: 9673970
It's not all stored in the registry (thank god, otherwise there was nothing to tweak anymore;-) )

LucF
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Accepted Solution

by:
CrazyOne earned 100 total points
ID: 9675031
>>> didn't think windows xp even used the system.ini and win.ini files

These files are only used when 16bit applications are in usre otherewise they are not proccessed.

But LucF reminded me of these settings

Memory Performance Tweak
http://www.windowsxpatoz.com/cgi-bin/performance/index.cgi?answer=1036284180&id=1036282433

These Settings will fine tune your systems memory

management -atleast 256MB of ram recccomended

go to start\run\regedit -and then to the following key

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\Session Manager\Memory Management

1.DisablePagingExecutive -double click it and in the decimal put a 1 - this allows XP to keep data in memory now instead of paging sections of ram to harddrive yeilds faster performance.

2.LargeSystemCache- double click it and change the decimal to 1 -this allows XP Kernal to Run in memory improves system performance alot

3.create a new dword and name it IOPageLockLimit - double click it and set the value in hex - 4000 if you have 128MB of ram or set it to 10000 if you have 256MB set it to 40000 if you have more than 512MB of ram -this tweak will speed up your disckcache

Reboot and watch your system fly
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