Go Back  DVD Talk Forum > General Discussions > Tech Talk
Reload this Page >

Increased RAM, what do I do with virtual memory settings?

Tech Talk Discuss PC Hardware, Software, Internet and Other Technology

Increased RAM, what do I do with virtual memory settings?

Old 05-13-08, 11:55 PM
  #1  
DVD Talk Special Edition
Thread Starter
 
dvduser6's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2000
Posts: 1,675
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Increased RAM, what do I do with virtual memory settings?

So I increased the RAM on my wife's PC from 256 to 2GB. She has about 20,000 photos archived (she's a photographer). What should I change the virtual memory settings to? We notice it is still rather slow when accessing images. Is this due to the sheer volume of images, or is there anything else we can consider to improve performance?
Old 05-14-08, 04:24 AM
  #2  
DVD Talk Special Edition
 
E. Honda's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2007
Location: A sweaty sauna somewhere in Japan
Posts: 1,731
Likes: 0
Received 11 Likes on 4 Posts
Leave the virtual memory settings alone. Windows will increase or decrease it as it needs it. What processor does the computer have? That can make a difference, as can the amount of free space on the hard drive, and the speed of the hard drive, (most are 7200 RPM, there are faster available). Also, a new video card and a monitor that supports higher refresh rates can help.
Old 05-14-08, 06:00 AM
  #3  
Member
 
Join Date: Sep 2001
Location: Chicago, IL
Posts: 130
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
It also depends on how the pictures are stored. Are all 20,000 stored in the same folder? That might kill a weak computer.
Old 05-14-08, 07:33 AM
  #4  
DVD Talk Gold Edition
 
Join Date: Mar 2000
Posts: 2,827
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
http://www.theeldergeek.com/sizing_the_page_file.htm
Old 05-14-08, 07:42 AM
  #5  
DVD Talk Legend
 
Join Date: Oct 2001
Posts: 18,931
Received 280 Likes on 208 Posts
When's the last time you defragged the hard drive?
Old 05-14-08, 08:00 AM
  #6  
DVD Talk Legend
 
Dr Mabuse's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2007
Location: 75 clicks above the Do Lung bridge...
Posts: 18,946
Likes: 0
Received 2 Likes on 2 Posts
there are changes that can be made in the registry that improve and change things in a real way... but i'm not going into that as you need to know what you are doing in there...

i would boot into safe mode... and then defrag the hard drive for sure... defrag it at least 3 times if you have not done so... 3 times in a row...

changing the size of the paging file makes zero, 0, difference...
Old 05-14-08, 09:40 AM
  #7  
DVD Talk Legend
 
Join Date: Jan 2000
Location: Region 1
Posts: 16,291
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Letting Windows manage the pagefile as needed is a dumb move. Best to set the min and max size the same @ a decent size like 1GB if you have 2GB of RAM. Best to defrag the hard drive before doing so. Windows will always use virtual memory even if you have 4GB of RAM.
Old 05-14-08, 10:55 AM
  #8  
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 789
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Originally Posted by Dr Mabuse
there are changes that can be made in the registry that improve and change things in a real way... but i'm not going into that as you need to know what you are doing in there...
I would be interested to hear more about the registry settings that you mention. I know computers - I know the risks of changing registry keys. Could you give more detail about what you'd suggest?
Old 05-14-08, 12:33 PM
  #9  
mbs
DVD Talk Platinum Edition
 
mbs's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2005
Posts: 3,519
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Originally Posted by zuffy
Letting Windows manage the pagefile as needed is a dumb move. Best to set the min and max size the same @ a decent size like 1GB if you have 2GB of RAM.
Agreed. A static pagefile is always a better solution to Window's dynamic pagefile.
Old 05-14-08, 01:47 PM
  #10  
X
Administrator
 
X's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 1987
Location: AA-
Posts: 10,948
Received 48 Likes on 39 Posts
I set my paging file to 0. If the amount of RAM I have isn't enough I certainly want to know when it isn't, not just have the system slow down on me when it's using fake RAM.
Old 05-14-08, 03:54 PM
  #11  
lxl
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jun 1999
Location: San Jose, CA
Posts: 813
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
If you use hibernate, be sure the recreate hiberfil.sys.

btw, I don't think it's necessary to configure pagefile bigger than 512MB if you have 2GB RAM, it you are out of that 512MB pagefile, your system is very slow already and you need to stop some processes to free some RAM.
Old 05-14-08, 08:07 PM
  #12  
DVD Talk Limited Edition
 
GreenMonkey's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2003
Location: Ann Arbor, MI
Posts: 5,568
Received 1 Like on 1 Post
Here's a good forum discussion about the pagefile:

http://forums.2cpu.com/showthread.php?threadid=11689

It's a terrible idea to disable the pagefile. It isn't "fake" RAM. It's another pool of quick-access memory...slower than RAM, sure, but it's there to supplement the RAM. It's around to pre-cache data...programs allocate large hunks of memory space but they're not actively using it...so that allocated memory space is going to be shifted to the pagefile.

Saying disabling the pagefile makes sense because it's just "fake" RAM is like saying you should disable the slowest L2 cache on your processor because it's slower than the faster L1 cache...that way the CPU uses only the fast cache! It's totally wrong thinking.

The pagefile is there for a reason. A good reason.

The only reason dynamic vs static really matters is that as your pagefile expands you can end up with it fragmented. But the expanded pagefile should vanish upon next boot back to the default size, unfragmenting it. And a fragmented pagefile isn't a real performance problem unless it becomes incredibly excessively fragmented (unlikely to happen in the non-server environment...I deal with this in OpenVMS once in a great while).

Other good tweaks would be putting it on a seperate HDD / seperate IDE/SATA channel, or using something like the Gigabyte i-RAM as a dedicated pagefile drive.

The best tweak you can do is simply adding more RAM. The more RAM you have, the less you're going to need that pagefile. If you had, say, 16GB of system RAM I doubt you would barely ever hit the pagefile on a (64bit) WinXP/Vista system.

Another good link:

http://www.codinghorror.com/blog/archives/000422.html

However, I'm not so sure there's any practical performance increase from disabling your pagefile. If our systems were never running out of physical memory with 2gb, then theoretically the pagefile never gets used anyway. And disabling the pagefile also introduces a new risk: if an app requests more memory than is physically available, it will receive a stern "out of memory" error instead of the slow disk-based virtual memory the OS would normally provide. This Q&A outlines the risks:


So, if you have a lot of RAM, you don't need a pagefile, right? Not necessarily. When certain applications start, they allocate a huge amount of memory (hundreds of megabytes typically set aside in virtual memory) even though they might not use it. If no pagefile (i.e., virtual memory) is present, a memory-hogging application can quickly use a large chunk of RAM. Even worse, just a few such programs can bring a machine loaded with memory to a halt. Some applications (e.g., Adobe Photoshop) will display warnings on startup if no pagefile is present.
My advice, therefore, is not to disable the pagefile, because Windows will move pages from RAM to the pagefile only when necessary. Furthermore, you gain no performance improvement by turning off the pagefile. To save disk space, you can set a small initial pagefile size (as little as 100MB) and set a high maximum size (e.g., 1GB) so that Windows can increase the size if needed. With 1GB of RAM under normal application loads, the pagefile would probably never need to grow.

Last edited by GreenMonkey; 05-14-08 at 08:13 PM.
Old 05-14-08, 09:27 PM
  #13  
X
Administrator
 
X's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 1987
Location: AA-
Posts: 10,948
Received 48 Likes on 39 Posts
Originally Posted by GreenMonkey
Here's a good forum discussion about the pagefile:

http://forums.2cpu.com/showthread.php?threadid=11689

It's a terrible idea to disable the pagefile. It isn't "fake" RAM. It's another pool of quick-access memory...slower than RAM, sure, but it's there to supplement the RAM. It's around to pre-cache data...programs allocate large hunks of memory space but they're not actively using it...so that allocated memory space is going to be shifted to the pagefile.

Saying disabling the pagefile makes sense because it's just "fake" RAM is like saying you should disable the slowest L2 cache on your processor because it's slower than the faster L1 cache...that way the CPU uses only the fast cache! It's totally wrong thinking.
Well, I guess you and I just disagree then. I kind of like to know what's going on with my computer and I have yet to see "programs allocate large hunks of memory space but they're not actively using it...so that allocated memory space is going to be shifted to the pagefile". But that might just be me. There are a lot of applications I don't run.

I consider the Photoshop problem to be a bug, not a feature. But if someone's running into that it could be a reason they would want to have a pagefile. If you're not a frequent user of it it's easy enough to turn it on.
Old 05-14-08, 09:58 PM
  #14  
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2002
Posts: 628
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Originally Posted by X
I have yet to see "programs allocate large hunks of memory space but they're not actively using it...so that allocated memory space is going to be shifted to the pagefile". But that might just be me. There are a lot of applications I don't run.
Your machine is doing it all the time, whether or not you know it. Modern OSes are designed under the principle that they can load huge swaths of application code and just page it out when it's not being used. That's one of the reasons Windows can keep infrequently-used services like DHCP resident in memory -- they can get paged out and replaced by other data when they're idle.

Unless you're constantly using all of your memory-resident applications and services simultaneously -- and I guarantee you're not -- then disabling the page file is self-defeating. You're just preventing your OS from reclaiming RAM that could be used for better things, like I/O caches.

Last edited by GHackmann; 05-14-08 at 10:09 PM.
Old 05-14-08, 10:11 PM
  #15  
X
Administrator
 
X's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 1987
Location: AA-
Posts: 10,948
Received 48 Likes on 39 Posts
My RAM is being paged out to the hard drive when I have no pagefile?
Old 05-14-08, 10:14 PM
  #16  
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2002
Posts: 628
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
No. But some of it should be. You're just preventing it from doing so.
Old 05-14-08, 10:38 PM
  #17  
X
Administrator
 
X's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 1987
Location: AA-
Posts: 10,948
Received 48 Likes on 39 Posts
I did not know that.

So if I have say, 4GB of RAM and the maximum task manager says I've used is 1.5GB, my RAM has been used inefficiently?
Old 05-14-08, 11:25 PM
  #18  
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2002
Posts: 628
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Well, that depends.

Windows is very aggressive about filling unused memory; if you've got RAM that's not allocated, it'll try its damnedest to use it as a disk cache or to preload data that it anticipates loading from the hard drive. Windows is aggressive enough about this that it'll even page out unused chunks of memory in order to reuse them for more productive purposes, like caching.

Now it's possible that, with enough RAM and the right usage patterns, you could put Windows in a situation where it won't actually benefit any from paging and it legitimately won't use all of your RAM. In that case, it just won't page anything out, and having the page file enabled won't do any harm. But in the vast, vast majority of situations Windows has better uses for your RAM than keeping idle applications and data resident, and disabling the pagefile just takes that option away from the OS.

Task Manager is a bit confusing because, depending where you look and what columns you've enabled, you may not be seeing things like disk caches or (when paging is enabled) data that's been loaded into virtual memory but paged out to disk. But in general you can assume that all your RAM is being used for something -- and Windows nearly always has a better idea of what that something should be than the user does.

Last edited by GHackmann; 05-14-08 at 11:31 PM.
Old 05-15-08, 01:45 AM
  #19  
DVD Talk Legend
 
Dr Mabuse's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2007
Location: 75 clicks above the Do Lung bridge...
Posts: 18,946
Likes: 0
Received 2 Likes on 2 Posts
Originally Posted by X
I set my paging file to 0. If the amount of RAM I have isn't enough I certainly want to know when it isn't, not just have the system slow down on me when it's using fake RAM.
you can turn off paging in the registry...

it improves performance... a lot of the heavy hitters in graphic design, on the Adobe forums and etc., load up on RAM and disable paging and show performance increases because of it...
Old 05-15-08, 08:00 AM
  #20  
DVD Talk Legend
 
Join Date: Oct 2001
Posts: 18,931
Received 280 Likes on 208 Posts
Originally Posted by Dr Mabuse
A lot of the heavy hitters in graphic design, on the Adobe forums and etc., load up on RAM and disable paging and show performance increases because of it...
Those are two disparate acts though:

1) Loading up on RAM.
2) Disabling the page file.

There's no doubt that increasing RAM will improve performance (unless you hit the cap in 32-bit systems). Those that increase RAM and leave paging enabled are going to see a performance increase as well.

However, the question remains whether disabling the page file with this much memory actually does anything constructive, has no impact, or harms performance.
Old 05-15-08, 08:36 AM
  #21  
DVD Talk Legend
 
Dr Mabuse's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2007
Location: 75 clicks above the Do Lung bridge...
Posts: 18,946
Likes: 0
Received 2 Likes on 2 Posts
Originally Posted by Jay G.
However, the question remains whether disabling the page file with this much memory actually does anything constructive, has no impact, or harms performance.
you may have a question about it...

myself, and others who get into this stuff: tweaks and testing performance and the like, don't have any questions...

and no, i wasn't describing two separate acts... but thanks for the explanation that more RAM increases performance on a system... i mean come on man...

it's by no means a necessary thing, disabling paging... but windows is a toy OS, and it over swaps, it bloats the paging process until the paging 'machine' itself is a large drain on resources... windows doesn't even utilize DMA by default in most cases... you have to go turn it on... it's a joke... there are so many slowdowns in windows it's ridiculous...

the first attempts at journaling this process by Microsoft is the single largest cause of Vista being such a slow, cumbersome, resource hog...

the hard drive is the slow lane in system performance... any time you access the hard drive you just slammed on the brakes and jammed up traffic... the more you can stay in memory the better... diskless workstations smoke on performance because of this...

when you really want photoshop, for example, to smoke, disabling paging improves performance... and there is no question on the matter...

on the other hand... you have to know enough about your software and the way you use it, and your system in whole not to do something stupid like fill your RAM to capacity, this will cause a 'hard' out of memory error and can result in data loss... hence you "load up on RAM" to avoid this... you follow?...

this stuff isn't for the average joe 'techie' i suppose...
Old 05-15-08, 11:44 AM
  #22  
DVD Talk Limited Edition
 
GreenMonkey's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2003
Location: Ann Arbor, MI
Posts: 5,568
Received 1 Like on 1 Post
Originally Posted by Dr Mabuse

the hard drive is the slow lane in system performance... any time you access the hard drive you just slammed on the brakes and jammed up traffic... the more you can stay in memory the better... diskless workstations smoke on performance because of this...

when you really want photoshop, for example, to smoke, disabling paging improves performance... and there is no question on the matter...

on the other hand... you have to know enough about your software and the way you use it, and your system in whole not to do something stupid like fill your RAM to capacity, this will cause a 'hard' out of memory error and can result in data loss... hence you "load up on RAM" to avoid this... you follow?...

this stuff isn't for the average joe 'techie' i suppose...
BTW: I'm not average joe techie...I'm on a team of OpenVMS / Unix sysadmins that administer over a thousand VMS and OpenVMS systems...Unix is a bit new to me though, I'm more of a VMS guy, and a PC tinkerer.

There is absolutely no benchmark or justification that shows that disabling the page file improves performance.

Look, here's another good discussion of it over at hardforum (my normal comp geek hangout).

http://www.hardforum.com/showthread....le+pagefile%22

Programs are going to need to allocate RAM for their usage. A lot of that sits idle.

Do you folks REALLY think that the Windows programmers don't know enough to use physical RAM when it's available and avoid using the pagefile?

Here's another link:

http://home.comcast.net/~SupportCD/XPMyths.html
(search for: "Disable the Paging File" )

There is no measureable or benchmarkable performance gain from disabling the pagefile, and plenty of reasons not to.

This whole discussion boggles my mind. It's like saying to disable the system memory because the processor cache is faster. The system uses all of its pools of memory in best to worst order, looking for what it needs in a descending order or sorts - L1/L2/L3 cache -> system RAM -> files in the pagefile.

At the minimum, a this point, if the file it needs isn't in one of the above sources of virtual memory, it's going to have to go back and hunt around on the disk to grab the file again, and that's a performance problem right there. The pagefile is faster than grabbing files from the disk.

Last edited by GreenMonkey; 05-15-08 at 11:46 AM.
Old 05-15-08, 12:00 PM
  #23  
DVD Talk Limited Edition
 
GreenMonkey's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2003
Location: Ann Arbor, MI
Posts: 5,568
Received 1 Like on 1 Post
One more thing: a great thread here on anandtech forums (I was trying to find it but it took a while) about services tweaking and pagefile tweaking/removal:

http://forums.anandtech.com/messagev...ead=y&arctab=y

There's a lot of Windows performance "tweaks" that recommend disabling services, etc. Testing shows tweaking most of these results in WORSE performance.

Look to "Part IV: "Swap files" [sic], Themes and other miscellany"

He actually does some testing with no pagefile. Guess what the results are? Worse performance, or at best, no improvement.
Old 05-15-08, 12:08 PM
  #24  
X
Administrator
 
X's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 1987
Location: AA-
Posts: 10,948
Received 48 Likes on 39 Posts
Originally Posted by GreenMonkey
This whole discussion boggles my mind. It's like saying to disable the system memory because the processor cache is faster. The system uses all of its pools of memory in best to worst order, looking for what it needs in a descending order or sorts - L1/L2/L3 cache -> system RAM -> files in the pagefile.
Since I don't use the pagefile relative speed is no problem for me. I just want to make sure I have enough RAM and not having the pagefile lets me know that.

If I need it I can turn it on but I hardly ever have to do that. Sometimes if I want a memory dump written to disc I'll turn it on. But I mostly don't want to take up the space for it if I don't need to.
Old 05-15-08, 01:56 PM
  #25  
DVD Talk Legend
 
Join Date: Oct 2001
Posts: 18,931
Received 280 Likes on 208 Posts
Originally Posted by X
Since I don't use the pagefile relative speed is no problem for me. I just want to make sure I have enough RAM and not having the pagefile lets me know that.
So you prefer having programs and/or the OS randomly crashing on you, potentially losing valuable data, because you then know you need to go out and buy more RAM?

If I need it I can turn it on but I hardly ever have to do that.
Or, you could leave it on, and Windows will use it when needed.

But I mostly don't want to take up the space for it if I don't need to.
If you desperately need the HDD space you may be able to do without it, with the added risks and potential errors that entails. However, in this day and age of 100+GB HDD being the norm, I don't see the reason for not having a pagefile of some size.

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Privacy Statement - Terms of Service - Do Not Sell My Personal Information -

Copyright 2021 MH Sub I, LLC dba Internet Brands. All rights reserved. Use of this site indicates your consent to the Terms of Use.