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To Page or Not to Page - That is the Question

  1. A little history first. On the computer that is the subject of this post, I first installed Windows 7 about 6 years ago. And we've been happily married ever since.

    Recently, in the past month or so, every time I switch applications, the system pauses and the hard drive thrashes for a few moments. I think it's safe to say that this is the Windows paging feature in action. I have 16GB of physical system memory(2x8GB DDR3).

    I finally decided to turn the Window 7 paging feature off. And to my pleasant surprise, every time I switch applications now, there is no hard drive thrashing and it's almost instant.

    I came across a tech article telling me that it was a bad idea to turn Windows 7 paging feature off and that applications would start crashing left and right. Well, it's only been about 48 hours since I made the decision to turn paging off, but so far, everything has been smooth. No crashes, faster response times between application switching.

    So, I am gonna try this for awhile until I have solid proof that it's a bad idea and not blindly accept the opinion of one tech writer.

    http://lifehacker.com/5426041/understanding-the-windows-pagefile-and-why-you-shouldnt-disable-it

    The article I mention is referenced in the URL above for those curious. Just looking for some more opinions on the matter. What are your personal experiences if any with paging off?

    This was done out of desperation because I tried finding out the "why" of my hard drive thrashing to no avail using Microsoft's Task Manager. It wasn't this way in the beginning.

    6 years and no fresh re-installs? Yep, I'll think about installing fresh. Be nice to figure out the actual problem though.

    It looks like the article was written about 6 years ago too, so maybe Microsoft resolved the issues the original author talked about in that time frame.
     
    Last edited: Oct 8, 2015
  2. cliffordcooley

    cliffordcooley TS Guardian Fighter Posts: 8,549   +2,894

    It's been over 3 years for me. I'm running 8GB memory and have only run into an issue while trying to load the second MMO for a minute or two (to start timed profession task).
     
  3. TheBigFatClown

    TheBigFatClown TS Guru Topic Starter Posts: 647   +227

    I have fears of closing tabs in my browser in spite of the ability to search the history. I think this disability of mine is what is crippling my system more than anything. I rarely ever close my browser or the tabs open in them. It looks I have about 40 open right now in my Chrome browser.
    Application switching is faster since I turned off paging but it hasn't completely resolved the issue. The paging is still constantly happening.
    Oh, that's another discovery. Microsoft...apparently...doesn't allow Windows 7 to work "completely" without the paging abilities. I think it's using a 1 GB page file now instead of a 16 GB page size which I had it set at before.

    Thinking about doubling up my installed memory to 32 GB to see if it helps. Memory prices are good but not as low as they have been in the past during a glut. If they keep dropping I am going to strike. :) Like a viper.
     
  4. jobeard

    jobeard TS Ambassador Posts: 9,311   +617

    yes, that is the page-out of the current app, making more memory available for whoever is next

    hardly any surprise was it ...
    that is correct - - dependening upon installed ram and number of concurrent apps
    good concept, but you need a well documented setup and known memory requirements for every concurrent application you intend to switch in-out of foreground.
    Sadly, that's not even sufficient test, as all running programs switch whenever they are 'read-to-run' including all the MS Services.
    not obvious to track down
    -> Task Mgr->Process Tab
    • at the bottom [x] Show all Users
    Performance tab->Resource Monitor button
    Has an overview + 4 group resource tabs { CPU, Disk, Network, Memory }
    (you may need Custom View) Memory tab measurements include
    • hard faults
    • Commit <== this is the paged memory
    • Working Set <==== that comes from this set of pages
    • Shareable
    • Private
    -> Disk Tab shows
    • Read (B/sec)
    • Write (B/sec)
    • Total (B/sec) = Read + Write

    For a system with pagefile == 0, The system will begin failing when the sum of the working sets(for all running applications services) approaches total installed(ram). Each OS controls memory given to programs differently and MS has some 'reserved' sizes given only to the kernel, so failures will occur sooner than expected.

    The NET of all this is the user controls which programs to launch and that controls the sum of the working sets. If one were to severely restrict MS Services and then run one and only one application at a time, you might manage to run for days like this until some program (usually a game) starts demanding large amounts of memory.
     
  5. TheBigFatClown

    TheBigFatClown TS Guru Topic Starter Posts: 647   +227

    Well, maybe turning off paging is not such a good idea. Odd that I get this popup window shortly after doing so although it may be entirely coincidental, or is this a genuine "Windows" window? I can't tell.

    http://I.imgur.com/3ZUxItY.jpg?1
     
    Last edited: Oct 13, 2015
  6. cliffordcooley

    cliffordcooley TS Guardian Fighter Posts: 8,549   +2,894

    I can't see that turning off paging has anything to do with that error. That's either a false report or your Seagate drive is failing. I'm a Seagate fan myself and I don't believe I would be taking any risk with data I didn't want to loose after getting an error like that.

    Like I said earlier in the thread, I have had paging turned off for over 3 years. I also have 3 internal Seagate drives and 1 external Seagate drive. I have never had Windows prompt me with a drive error. If Windows prompts with a drive error suggesting it be replaced, there is probably good reason to listen.

    Might be a good time to run diagnostics and see what the report says.
     
  7. jobeard

    jobeard TS Ambassador Posts: 9,311   +617

    The pagefile == 0 would induce memory allocation failures, not HD.

    Did you notice the drive letters C:\E:\F:\ Strange IMO
    1. do these partitions actually exist?
    2. did you view the S.M.A.R.T. data for the drive?
    You can get it from Defraggler
     
  8. TheBigFatClown

    TheBigFatClown TS Guru Topic Starter Posts: 647   +227

    Those 3 drive letters are valid. Yes they exist.

    At first when I seen the Windows popup I thought it might be a trick but then I decided to take it seriously, and not as virus/malware popup just in case. So I copied my most important data which is unique to me to my Windows 10 system over Ethernet. Then I went to bed to deal with the issue the next morning. When I woke up to my Windows 7 system the computer had rebooted but not past the BIOS boot screen. Something along the lines of "Please insert system disc". So, it looks like a reality that my 1.5TB Seagate is finally failing. It looks like the drive is just over 3 years old now. I got 40GB hard drives that still work but maybe because they were replaced faster in the past.

    I booted my computer up off a flash drive into a Linux OS and it could actually see the label of the drive but it popped up a message reporting a possible issue as well. Hoping I can salvage everything before it completely dies. I think it's on life support right now.
     
  9. jobeard

    jobeard TS Ambassador Posts: 9,311   +617

    OUCH; so sorry to hear this. BTW, if you get files off when booted from the Linux, you will get data fine, but miss all the extended attrs provided by NTFS, eg the ACL perms.

    To me, data trumps perms every time so grab whatever is available asap.
     
  10. TheBigFatClown

    TheBigFatClown TS Guru Topic Starter Posts: 647   +227

    Interesting, I didn't know that. Yeah, I feel pretty lucky right now actually. I'm moving a lot of data fairly easily off the drive under the Linux OS. However, I've decided now that I know my data is still accessible, I am simply to going install Windows 7 fresh on a 1TB Seagate I had in my stock and hook the failing part up as a slave. Then move all the rest of my files to the new drive. Anything lost now is mostly replaceable via downloads, Steam games, etc but I still don't wanna go that route if I can help it.
     
  11. BrianMontanye

    BrianMontanye TS Enthusiast Posts: 43   +21

    In the shop I work for, Seagate hard drives are absolutely terrible. In the past 7-8 years, I have probably replaced 2-300 failed hard drives, of which 95% (guessing) were Seagate drives. I would steer 180 degrees from getting anything with Seagate on it, unless you like losing data and troubleshooting HD issues.
     
  12. TheBigFatClown

    TheBigFatClown TS Guru Topic Starter Posts: 647   +227

    No, I do not like losing data. Thank God for Windows reporting and S.M.A.R.T. that come with newer hard drives. Thanks to these features I have lost no data yet. I have successfully salvaged pretty much everything important and only have generic replaceable data left to move. I keep the drive hooked up and powered down as a slave. I classify this drive as being on 'life support' and will only use it in that manner.

    It is a reality though, hard drives fail. This one lasted just over 3 years so I can't complain too much. I have had 2 80GB Western Digital hard drives fail on me as well in the past which I forgot about during my initial post.
     
  13. BrianMontanye

    BrianMontanye TS Enthusiast Posts: 43   +21

    When the 80gb drives were around the failed rate was much closer and I have seen WD drives go as well. But in the last few years, the quality of the Seagate spindles have been rock bottom. It's almost a given that when a drive fails around here, it is a seagate.
     

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