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page faults

Posted on 2009-05-09
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Last Modified: 2013-11-10
We had a situation with Windows 2003 server where applications were failing and timing out with 6GB, but with 10GB the problem went away. There was a SQL app in particular that dragged everything down. The only clue we had were messages about Hard Page faults. In the past we've seen these but they never were a problem - more like the occasional glitch message that doesn't seem to amount to much - when you check RAM/CPU - everything looks ok. Yet there's a problem.

Can anybody provide me with some rules of thumb for page faults?

e.g.

How Many Hard Page Faults are Too Many?
 
Hard Faults/Min

Hard Faults/sec
 
Page Fault Delta?


Links appreciated. Similar experience even more appreciated.
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Question by:lineonecorp
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Tim1130 earned 500 total points
ID: 24358814
Hello,

Page faults can mean two things:
- the server is under stress
- or there is not enough RAM

Since 1996 I have installed many 100's of Windows Servers, but I never saw page faults connected to hardware issues.

Generally, having spikes of page-faults is normal - unless the faults continue at a high level. What is high, this depends a lot - and that is why Microsoft does not give us much guidance on that. On a single CPU single core P3 sustained over 20/sec is high (this was confirmed by Microsoft at the time). On a recent model dual-quad-core with SAS disks 100 or 200 sustained is not good. And I'm sure as soon as  I hit submit, someone will disagree.

Just keep in mind that software like SQL gobbles up all memory at startup - so it can manage the memory itself, instead of letting the OS do the job. So from an OS point of view, 90% are always allocated- but does not mean anything; makes our troubleshooting more difficult.

As such, watch out for disk activity where the swapfile is, and as soon as the machine is swapping you will notice an increase in CPU as well.

The best way would be modulate the load on the server - so you can get some handle what "no load" and "lots of load" mean for your hardware and software configuration. Check MSDN under performance monitoring subject.

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Expert Comment

by:PCBONEZ
ID: 24369175
If the voltage regulators that handle your RAM or Chipset are having problems that can show up as page faults.
It can vary a lot with different load situations.
The RAM will test good because there isn't actually anything wrong with it.
Usual cause is bad capacitors in PSU or on the Motherboard.
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