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Trying to understand Task Manager's PF Usage Graph

Posted on 2006-06-23
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Last Modified: 2013-12-03
In Windows Task Manager, I had always thought, or assumed, that the graphs under the "Performance" tab were for Processor and Memory usage.  However, yesterday I noticed that graph for memory usage actually says PF or Page File Usage.  My understanding of the page file is that Windows creates a page file on the hard disk to act as virtual memory once the physical memory is all used up.  The graph doesn't say "memory usage history", so am I to understand that this graph is actually showing how much virtual memory/page file/hard disk memory is being used?  The strange thing is, I have 1 GB of RAM on my machine, and even when I boot up the computer and have nothing running, the graph shows a few hundred MB's of usage in the page file.  Does that mean my 1GB of physical memory is completely used up and the computer is already tapping into the page file for extra memory???

Is there a way to see a graph of the PHYSICAL memory somewhere?  I can't beleive that just running windows, and nothing else, will eat up my entire 1GB of physical memory.  Since that is probably not the case, why would windows not use the physical memory first?  Since physical memory is so fast, and hard drive/page file is so slow, I don't want my computer to ever touch the page file.  I would like to evaluate my physical memory usage better so if the computer does access the page file, I would rather just add more physical memory.

Thanks,
Jeff
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Question by:jbobst
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carl_legere earned 75 total points
ID: 16970395
the pf use graph is equal to the total commit charge,
for example mine says 1445244
divide by 1024
divide by 1024
equals 1.37  which is what the chart says.

re: "Since physical memory is so fast, and hard drive/page file is so slow, I don't want my computer to ever touch the page file."

Because of the way windows works, this is impossible.  You can try and try and never reach that situation.  Windows optimizes what is in real memory and page file very well.

windows memory rules to remember-
when mostly idle, expect your system to page out various kernal components that are not in use.  Leaving you with 50/50
when being used moderately, expect the system to page out more to free up memory to make things run faster. leaving you with maybe 40/60
when running very hot, expect real physical memory to stay at about 90% used

page file use graph is a very good indicator of the how your choice of total physical memory is being used.  If you us a fixed page file size of 2Xphysical memory, and see the chart at less than 75% all the time, you are doing well.  If it goes above 75-80% you will be in the market for more memory and increase the size of your fixed page file.  It is against best practices to have windows manage the page file.  It should be on i'ts own disk or partition also.

There may be a graph of hardware memory via a third party utility, but because of windows complex memory managment, you will find that it does not mean anything.
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by:Kenneniah
Kenneniah earned 50 total points
ID: 16970479
A quick and dirty explaination as to why the page file gets used, is that it is actually more efficient to do so due to the way a virtual memory system works. Rarely accessed data and non-volatile data gets placed in the page file, leaving room in physical RAM for processes to create new memory calls, and for cache etc. If Windows instead used up all physical RAM first, then EVERY new memory call no matter how small, would require swapping memory in and out, which slows performance dramatically. By paging what it can, overall performace is actually increased, and RAM is still available when needed.
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