Questions about RAM and pagefile

By Mithanlas
May 9, 2009
  1. Hello everyone

    Some time ago I removed 2 gb of RAM from my computer because it happened to be causing BSODs. Now I have another 2 gb left and I'm wondering what's up with the RAM/pagefile usage of my comp's OS, which is Windows XP. I haven't really paid attention to this before, so I'm asking you if these figures are normal:

    My XP seems to use about 470 megabytes of RAM (Commit charge: 470M/5987M). Isn't that rather high considering that the computer is idle with only Internet Explorer and one tab open? I checked this in the Windows Task Manager. Also, the "PF usage" bar under "performance" in WTM tells me that the same 470 mb of memory is used. Doesn't this mean that the computer is using pagefile/virtual memory instead of RAM?

    The Physical Memory (K) section in the task manager shows the following numbers: Total 2096172, available 1522684 and system cache 682360. This means that I have a total amount of 2096 mb RAM, of which 1522 mb is available, am I right?

    Another thing that caught my attention was the Commit Charge which I mentioned earlier. Since it is 470M/5987M, that means my pagefile must be set to 4gb? I checked this by going to My Computer -> Properties -> Advanced -> Settings, under the title performance -> Advanced --> Change, under the title virtual memory.
    On that page the "total paging size for all drives" is: minimum 2 mb, recommended 3070 mb, currently allocated 4094 mb. I have a single HDD with two partitions in my computer. Both drives/partitions (C: and F: ) are set to "system managed pagefile size".

    So, to sum it all up: I would like to find out why my computer seems to spend so much RAM/pagefile when idle, and is there any sense in having a 4 gb pagefile with 2 gb of actual RAM? I use my computer mostly for playing games, some of which are very RAM intensive, for example Crysis.

    Please don't hesitate to ask me for more info. :)
  2. jobeard

    jobeard TS Ambassador Posts: 9,147   +597

    All this is normal.

    Many assume that with sufficient real RAM, the pagefile would not be used at all, which is not true.

    Your 4 gb pagefile with 2 gb of actual RAM is a good set of number; be sure to
    make the min = max = 4gb to avoid dynamic expansion of the pagefile.

    The boot volume ALWAYS needs a pagefile, but you can get it to be minimal
    and set the other HD pagefile to max size to improve performance.
  3. captaincranky

    captaincranky TechSpot Addict Posts: 11,455   +1,759

    While you were in task manager, didn't you check out the "processes" tab. That will tell you right off who's using what memory, and to what end, be it benevolent or nefarious.

    To answer your original question, no 470MB of RAM in use with any apps open seems about normal. He said while sitting with 91 tabs open in Firefox, and watching it consume 602MB of RAM.
  4. Mithanlas

    Mithanlas TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 23

    The partition C: is the one with XP on it, while all my games/downloads and such are on the F: partition. So should I give the OS/boot partition a smaller pagefile, say, 1gb (1 gb min, 1gb max)? While the one with all the games gets 3 gb for example (again 3 gb min, 3 gb max)?

    I did, but there's no way that the listed processes would take 470 mb. By my quick calculations the listed processes would take up less than 300 mb of memory.
  5. jobeard

    jobeard TS Ambassador Posts: 9,147   +597

    I would coerce C:\ to the smallest number possible -- you're forcing paging on the the F:\ and thus not
    interfere with programs from the system. Gaming doesn't rattle the HD much so
    this should perform well
  6. Mithanlas

    Mithanlas TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 23

    Ok, I haven't changed the pagefile values yet but something else came up. Just now when I started up Dawn of War II and alt tabbed back to desktop, the task manager shows that the game is using 135 mb of memory. Not while while playing, but in the main menu. The weird thing is that the commit charge jumped up to 1121M/5987M. How can this be true? I have all the same processes running as before + the game, yet the commit charge is way higher than it should be? (Should be around 470 + 135 = 605)
  7. captaincranky

    captaincranky TechSpot Addict Posts: 11,455   +1,759

    This Seems Like It's Going to Take a While.....

    OK, I'm sitting here at a machine with 1.5GB installed RAM. 40 processes are running, plus 1 Program, firefox.exe @.

    Now, task manager lists total RAM @ 1545268 ("K" in thousands)

    It lists available RAM @ 958064

    So, what have we learned? Either this box is screwed up, I should be the one complaining, or you're asking, (pick an adjective here), questions.

    As to your issue that the running processes only total "X" but the MB number is higher. The conversion factor is 8 to 1, not 10 to 1.

    I had 768Kbs (Kilo >bits< per second) yet it accomplished downloads @ 90 KBS (Kilo > Bytes< per second). So if were actually 10:1 you would get downloads @76.8 KBs. It's not, so you don't. Now divide 768 by 8. Eureka!

    So, you've taken the numbers in task manager which are in thousands, and converted them >decimally< when we should be using Binary Math.

    I think the commit charge might be what the game use of memory maxes out at.
  8. Mithanlas

    Mithanlas TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 23

    So that explains it. Oh well, you learn something new every day eh? Thanks for your answers :)
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