TechSpot

768mb ram + WinXP + No pagefile = uber fast?

By Justin
Jun 1, 2002
  1. I have been monitoring my pagefile usage over the past few weeks and noticed that "pagefile" usage never went over 150mb, and physical ram itself *NEVER* had more then 300mb in use at one time.

    I also noticed, that with a 1gb pagefile, there was a noticeable lag about doing anything.. when you would open a program, when I'd open a directory with many files, when saving things, etc... there was a pause. Not a lot, but noticeable, and enough to irritate.

    I set the pagefile to 0mb, restart.

    I could not *BELIEVE* how fast things work... NOTHING had a delay in launching. I could log off and log back on within 5 seconds, Unreal Tournament would launch/quit in under 3 seconds each. IE and Mozilla were like lightning. The system on a whole seemed more responsive.

    However, I recall when I tried this in Win2k, it bombed out eventually saying out of memory often - But now, quite a bit later and even while encoding a movie, playing music, viewing pages, and using kazaa simultaneously, no issues, still runs obscenely fast.

    Anyways, just a thought, those of you with 768mb+ ram might want to give that a try. Soon as I re-enabled pagefile I noticed that tiny bit of sluggishness in everything XP did. Give it a shot, might be nice.

    I also have a question. I know that XP forces a certain amount of kernel code to be paged out, I heard there was software that could disable that, force it to not page it out. All I remember was the recommendation for it was 512mb+ RAM. Anyone know what this software is, or what I could modify myself to do it?

    Thanks.
     
  2. Justin

    Justin TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 1,595

    Heh... you gotta see this...


    box is STILL not sluggish at *all*

    edit: updated pic url

    http://soulnet.tk/images/f/fulltop.png

    No pagefile, open programs are:

    Unreal Tournament
    Starcraft
    Divx Player playing in highest quality mode
    mirc
    kazaa, playing an mp3
    windows paint
    MS photo editor
    FTP server
    2 IE integrated FTP windows
    ~50 internet explorer windows


    And still not even approaching 512mb

    Again, this is with *NO* pagefile

    Looks like 512mb is XP's magical number

    I noticed it doesn't like having so many windows in the start bar, but if you open apps that consume even more memory but don't sit in taskbar it's still just fine.

    Anyways... if you have that much, I reccomend at least giving it a try.
     
  3. Didou

    Didou Bowtie extraordinair! Posts: 5,899

    Starting at 512mb of Ram, you can prolly afford not to have a swapfile, if you're not the type to have heavy programs such 3dsmax, photoshop, etc all open at the same time. It's a shame it's not possible to do with 2k ( no swap file ).

    BTW I always wondered why MS advises to have a swap twice as big as your ram. Wouldn't it be : "the more ram, the less swap needed" ?
     
  4. TS | Thomas

    TS | Thomas TS Rookie Posts: 1,327

    Memory dumps & all in Windows NT require that pagefile that's one reason anyway. Dunno its pretty dated thinking now though I think too.
     
  5. Justin

    Justin TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 1,595

    Pretty sure the original intention of pagefile/swapfile was to compensate for the lack of RAM when the windows GUI was originally produced... when Win95 rolled around and things had not looked much better in terms of memory (the star system for Win95A was a 486 with 8mb of ram), having the ability to swap ram data in and out as needed was probably a very good thing, albeit ungodly slow.

    However with RAM much cheaper nowadays (when we pieced together our 386, a 1mb stick cost over $100)... I think the role of the pagefile is greatly diminished.

    What irritates me is how XP was using it to begin with. I HAD over 660mb of RAM free, and yet XP still insisted on using the pagefile every chance it got and was very very noticeable in terms of performance. I don't think I ever hit more then 200mb physical ram being used until I finally disabled pf.
     
  6. StormBringer

    StormBringer TS Rookie Posts: 2,871

    I've noticed the same thing, I have 1536MB of RAM and I notice that around 10-15MB of my pagefile is being used and I have around 1200MB RAM free. That is when doing nothing but looking at those stats with Norton Utilities. When I run a memory intensive program like Photoshop I can get the pagefile up to around 60-80MB and my RAM free will still be around 700-800MB.

    I once tried disabling the pagefile in XP but a couple of apps wouldn't run, one was the app that came with a cheap digi-cam, it gives an out of memory error, otherwise I noticed NO difference in system performance with or without the pagefile.
     
  7. Didou

    Didou Bowtie extraordinair! Posts: 5,899

    Did you toggle the ConservativeSwapFileUsage in the registry ?
     
  8. StormBringer

    StormBringer TS Rookie Posts: 2,871

    That didn't make any difference either. I think once you hit a certain surplus of RAM, the virtual memory settings aren't going to make any difference, other than stubborn cheaply made programs refusing to run because they want to use the swapfile rather than RAM.

    I don't have any proof of this other than my system performing the same with and without the pagefile.
     
  9. Justin

    Justin TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 1,595

    So far only CoolEdit has given me trouble, (it tries to force allocate virtual memory) but it worked by just increasing the size of its built in temp files and is working ok now.

    I haven't gotten any out of memory errors yet, however I DO recall a few months ago I had 768mb + 384mb swap file, and THEN I did get out of memory fairly quickly. I wonder why that is... I'm assuming for now it was ghosts.


    I tried, didn't notice a difference. There was still that tiny pause when opening any program, and when opening fairly memory intensive programs like UT. there was still a big hit to the pagefile for no apparent reason. When disabling it (the pagefile), it went back to not pausing at all.
     
  10. Mictlantecuhtli

    Mictlantecuhtli TS Evangelist Posts: 4,916   +9

    That's for Win9x only.
     
  11. Rick

    Rick TechSpot Staff Posts: 6,305   +52 Staff Member

    There are many programs that require a swapfile to be present. 3D Studio Max, Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Premiere.. etc. Usually the professional grade apps.

    Because of this, I can't leave my swapfile off. I also have a tendancy to use more than 512mb of memory, which is the amount I have. So disabling the swapfile is not a good thing for me.

    I have done it using XP before, though. I have to say I wasn't amazed. My system really didn't run much (if any) faster.
     
     
  12. Justin

    Justin TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 1,595

    What are you doing (other then graphics apps) that is requiring more then 512mb?

    I sat there last time churning out IE windows galore and having multiple instances of many things open, while watching and encoding a movie at the same time, and I still wasn't able to max out my ram.
     
  13. StormBringer

    StormBringer TS Rookie Posts: 2,871

    According to your screenshot, you have approx(I rounded down when estimating) 660 MB memory usage, Although your screenshot says it is around 440MB. I estimated the IE usage(you said there were 50 of them) I also couldn't determine the usage of the processes and services that aren't shown so I didn't include them in the figures. If I go by what mine looks like, then that would put you well over 800 MB. My system uses over 200 MB with only the system processes and background apps running. I can reduce that to around 125 MB if I turn off most of the background apps and some of the eyecandy in XP. That would still put it at 785 MB used.
     
  14. Justin

    Justin TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 1,595

    nitpick much?

    No really, the " ~ " insinuated I didn't know the actual number of IE windows open, I was just throwing that out as a wild guess, more of a hyperbole. :)

    And, on a fresh boot, with all the services that are used on startup running(and with IRC open), I am using only 112mb, nowhere NEAR 200mb.
     
  15. StormBringer

    StormBringer TS Rookie Posts: 2,871

    Well, when you throw a number like 50 out there when dealing with a number of IE windows open, you need to be accurate, especially since IE is going to consume approx. 10MB each.

    When you start boasting claims of super performance that seems impossible, you should be accurate with your numbers.
     
  16. Justin

    Justin TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 1,595

    You need to relax :)

    It wasn't a boast so much of a "try it and see".

    So far I haven't encountered any problems in my normal routine, but when I find them I will be sure to post them. The point is, assuming on a fresh boot you are using from 100-200mb and you have excess of 512mb RAM, the usefullness of a pagefile is greatly diminished.. I'm blaming more on poor coding now then anything that those with 768mb+ even require a pagefile anymore, other then perhaps a few certain things such as serious 3D design. Also, it makes absolutely no sense that with an obscene amount of RAM unused, windows will still consume 20-60mb of pagefile for "no apparent reason".
     
  17. Rick

    Rick TechSpot Staff Posts: 6,305   +52 Staff Member

    I believe the page file is the devil and should be vanquished as soon as possible.

    It's old "technology" to accomodate minimalistic machines and extremely low end users.

    I like having the "No Paging file" option avialable even though I might not be able to use it liberally like some of you can. If I had some more RAM though.... :)

    Coincidentally, I've also tried extremely small pagefile sizes (Just for those programs that insist). Is it me or does Windows seem to run even slower with a rediculously small page file?
     
  18. Rick

    Rick TechSpot Staff Posts: 6,305   +52 Staff Member

    Funnily, I have 30mb left right now of physical memory... I'm just doing my normal thing. I have to say though, this is abnormally low.

    The main contributor is Corel Photopaint which is running around 120mb right now... It's always open though. Either that or Adobe Photoshop which uses even more memory.

    I almost religiously have a half-dozen or more IE windows open, sometimes Netscape 6/7... Kind of depends on what I'm in the mood for.

    My system simply does NOT function without ICQ, AIM, and Winamp running... But they are largely small potatoes.

    I have a liberal amount of services running usually, which doesn't help my memory situation any.

    Overall, I'm happy with 512mb and rarely run out, but I get dangerously close. I'm usually in the "150mb left" range.
     
  19. Th3M1ghtyD8

    Th3M1ghtyD8 TechSpot Paladin Posts: 794

    I will try disabling the swapfile on my system when I get home, since my 2nd Gig of RAM should be here today.

    TweakDB can do this - its called Disabling the Paging Executive, and forces as much of NTs Core to remain in RAM as possible. There are a few other tweaks you could also try in my program, to increase the speed of your system/
     
  20. Rick

    Rick TechSpot Staff Posts: 6,305   +52 Staff Member

    DisablePagingExecutive nevers seems to show results in the taskmanager though.. At least for Windows 2000. I don't know if they fixed that in XP or not, but D8 is right about this setting disabling kernel paging.
     
  21. Charliesz

    Charliesz TS Rookie

    View total Pgaefile size

    Hey guys. Is there any programs/utils available to view the "Total" page file usage in Windows XP?
    Or is "Physical Memory" + "Kernel Memory" = total of paging in "Task Manager?

    thanks.
     
  22. Nic

    Nic TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,928

    What happens when you try and use a scanner to scan a large colour photograph? That would generate a file size of several hundreds of megabytes, and probably crash your system. Has anyone tried this? Also when zipping very large files (several gigabytes) your memory usage could go through the roof, as I was constantly getting popups telling me I need to increase my already 1.5GB pagefile. Also, the pagefile speeds up access to programs that you have closed and then restart. I wouldn't recommend switching it off, but its certainly worth a go if it makes your particular system faster. Just my $0.02, and I only have 512MB RAM so I'm going to leave my pagefile as it is.
     
  23. carl0ski

    carl0ski TS Rookie


    my only suggestion you may try

    be warned it may leave you computer unbootable if you dont know how to restore a windows machine stop reading.


    I used to experiment with RAM drive and windows 2000 , i had 512MB ram and a very slow udma 33 5400rpm hdd .
    I created a 100MB Ram drive and moved/created a fixed 100MB Page file to the ramdrive mounted at z:\


    Obviously youd want differnet figures to suit your situation.
    Why is it dangerous? certain ram disk utilities dont mount the drive before windows accesses an invalid z: drive.
     
  24. carl0ski

    carl0ski TS Rookie

    actually another suggestion since windows doesnt like having the PF off try leaving it on at a setting at the minimum of 2MB.
     
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