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Pagefile "anomalies"?

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Hi all,

For now I thought I understand the operation of the pagefile.. I thought that when the physical RAM runs out, then data will be written in part of the hard drive called pagefile. Since I have 16GB RAM I thought I can completely turn off pagefile, but I have set a fix 4GB space for it just for sure.

Yesterday just for my curiosity I monitored the pagefile used via MSI Afterburner & Riva Tuner Statistic Server while gaming. Looking at the log file it moved between 2147MB and 9331MB, while the physical RAM usage maximum was 5872MB. Wtf? Three questions born in my head immediately:

1. If the pyshical RAM didn't run out, then why is there any pagefile at all?
2. If I have set the maximum amount of pagefile to 4GB, then how is it possible for it to be 9331MB without error?
3. Which fix amount should I set then?

I don't know how the pagefile works anymore.. :(
 

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With Win 10 you just let it do it s own thing, clearly you’ve seen its doing that anyway. Best to just “Let Windows Manage“ default setting and don’t think/worry about it.
 
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The pagefile size should not be messed with, I don't know why MS still lets people try and change it. Paging is a critical component for virtual memory. Contrary to popular belief that if you have enough RAM you don't need it, this is wrong, any OS will always use virtual memory and therefore it will always need paging.

When the OS needs to allocate memory to a program it does not provide a physical address to it but rather it does this through these "memory pages" which have a different address space much larger than the physical one.

In other words, any software will always interact with the memory through these pages and never directly to the physical locations no matter how much memory is available, you can see why there is no point in trying to mess with it.

So it doesn't matter what it does, just let it do it's thing.
 
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Windows 10 has pretty much made this discussion a moot point, since it's memory management, while not 100% perfect, is light years beyond what it used to be in earlier versions of windows (XP, Vista, 7, 8).

A while back, just out of curiosity, I set up 3 identical rigs (OS (fully updated & all background shitzu turned off), components, apps & drivers), 1 with a system-managed page file, 1 with my own settings, and the 3rd one with NO page file..... and then ran them all through a series of tasks that I normally do everyday for over a week.

The results: There was no noticeable difference in performance regardless of the tasks performed, either individually or in multi-app, heavy workload situations....
 
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I agree with Vya Domus. I have 32GB of RAM and I still have Pagefile using about 5 GB of Data when I am gaming. The best thing to do is set it on your fastest drive and be happy.
 
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The page file is also used for memory dumps. Windows will allocate enough space to do this. Dont mess with it, its part of your system recovery
 

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With Win 10 you just let it do it s own thing, clearly you’ve seen its doing that anyway. Best to just “Let Windows Manage“ default setting and don’t think/worry about it.
I set a minimum and max size to same so it doesnt stretch or compress, however i know in the days of the hdd you could put it on a separate drive for better performance.
 
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Dont mess with it, its part of your system recovery
I don't use system recovery either. One of my first doing after a Windows install is to turn it off with restore points as well. I prefer a new clean Windows install instead of recovery. Especially because I had to reinstall OS only after bigger hardware changes in every 3-4 years.
 
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I don't use system recovery either. One of my first doing after a Windows install is to turn it off with restore points as well. I prefer a new clean Windows install instead of recovery. Especially because I had to reinstall OS only after bigger hardware changes in every 3-4 years.
Its not that recovery, its a memory dump. You know when you reboot and it goes right back to your page you were on because your system got an error
 

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I set a minimum and max size to same so it doesnt stretch or compress, however i know in the days of the hdd you could put it on a separate drive for better performance.
I used too as well but it really isn’t necessary anymore but the other drive thing is still valid, I’m probably thrashing my SSD RAID array not moving it but ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ it’s my fastest drive so....
 
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I thought that when the physical RAM runs out, then data will be written in part of the hard drive called pagefile.
Sorry, but no. That is not right at all. And it never has been. That's been a falsehood told and retold since the beginning of page files (as far back as when they were called disk caches, swap files and other names). Operating systems will use the PF even if you have 128GB of RAM installed and only 4GB is being used. And that's a good thing!

What happens is the OS will use the main system RAM for the higher priority data, then stuff the lower priority data into the page file. The more system RAM you have, the more higher priority data can go in it. But it will still use the PF for lower priority data - and again, that's a good thing.

You will often hear if you have lots of RAM, disabling the PF is good because it forces the OS to put everything into RAM. That is illogical and BAD ADVICE! Operating systems use "virtual memory" to process the data. Virtual memory is the system RAM plus the PF. The PF allows the OS to use the system RAM more efficiently. It does NOT improve performance when you disable the PF.

Even if the PF is rarely touched, there is no benefit to disabling it. So why do it? If the excuse is to save disk space, that's BS! For one, if you let Windows manage the space, it will give it up if space is critically low. But more importantly, if you are that low on free disk space, then YOU HAVE FAILED to give your OS the necessary space it needs. You need to uninstall some programs, delete or move some files or buy a bigger drive. Those are user responsibilities, not the operating system's.

There really is no need to set a fixed size either. It does no harm when the PF compresses or stretches back out. In fact, being "dynamic" is one of its virtues. And unless you are a true expert at virtual memory management, how do you know what the optimal size should be? The old rule of thumb (Page file size = RAM X 1.5 or RAM X 2) makes no sense in modern systems.

If the worry of using a fixed size is to minimize fragmentation due to the PF expanding and compressing, then I say that is an unnecessary worry. With XP and before when drives (and RAM amounts) were much smaller, it might have done some good but no longer. For one, if fragmentation is a real concern, you need a bigger drive. Second, fragmentation is not a problem with SSDs. And third, unless the user changes the defaults (not recommended) Windows automatically defrags HDs anyway.

Its important for all of us to remember modern versions of Windows (7/8/10) are not XP. There's no need to treat them the same. In fact, doing so can actually be detrimental. With XP and before all the way back to DOS days, I always set a fixed size. Since 7 and above, I always let Windows manage it.

So I agree with those recommending leaving the defaults alone (all the defaults) and to just let Windows manage your page file(s). Contrary to what some seem to think, the army of PhDs, computer scientists and developers at Microsoft are not stupid. Those developers definitely want our systems to run optimally. And even the oft misguided marketing weenies and execs at Microsoft truly want our computers to run optimally too - if for no other reason than it would be bad publicity (thus bad for business) if they didn't.

Microsoft has decades of experience and exabytes of empirical data to draw from. And they have super computers to analyze that data to ensure Windows (7/8/10) uses the PF in the most efficient manner. I highly doubt any of us here are more knowledgeable in virtual memory management than the development team at MS.

***
I’m probably thrashing my SSD RAID...
Actually SSDs are ideally suited for Page Files. See Support and Q&A for Solid-State Drives and scroll down to, "Frequently Asked Questions, Should the pagefile be placed on SSDs?" Note it says, "there are few files better than the pagefile to place on an SSD." While the article is getting old, it actually applies even more so today since wear problems of early generation SSDs are no longer a problem and each new generation of SSD just keeps getting better and better. So IMO, you were wise to put you PF on your SSD RAID. :)
 

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Actually SSDs are ideally suited for Page Files. See Support and Q&A for Solid-State Drives and scroll down to, "Frequently Asked Questions, Should the pagefile be placed on SSDs?" Note it says, "there are few files better than the pagefile to place on an SSD." While the article is getting old, it actually applies even more so today since wear problems of early generation SSDs are no longer a problem and each new generation of SSD just keeps getting better and better. So IMO, you were wise to put you PF on your SSD RAID. :)
No doubt but it’s also my system drive, but also my fastest so I suppose it’s not a huge deal.
 
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No doubt but it’s also my system drive, but also my fastest so I suppose it’s not a huge deal.
Again, that sounds ideal. :) I always put my OS and my PF on my fastest drives. If the OS itself is allowed to operate most efficiently, all the running programs benefit too.
 

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Again, that sounds ideal. :) I always put my OS and my PF on my fastest drives. If the OS itself is allowed to operate most efficiently, all the running programs benefit too.
Well there’s the whole “Move it to another drive” theory I mean I have a 1TB 960 QVO I suppose I could put it there but I was always sceptical it made any noticeable difference.
 
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Sure, you can move it to another drive. But if you have a fast SSD as your boot/system drive, it would make no sense to move it to a slower drive (like a HD) - unless you were desperately low on disk space.

And yes, for sure, if you move it to another SSD, even a slow one, it is highly unlikely you (as a human) would "notice" any difference in particular because the highest priority data would still be going into system RAM.

But even if you move the PF to a secondary drive, it is still recommended you leave a PF on the system drive for dumps. Windows knows how to use and manage multiple PFs just fine.
 

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Sure, you can move it to another drive. But if you have a fast SSD as your boot/system drive, it would make no sense to move it to a slower drive (like a HD) - unless you were desperately low on disk space.

And yes, for sure, if you move it to another SSD, even a slow one, it is highly unlikely you (as a human) would "notice" any difference in particular because the highest priority data would still be going into system RAM.

But even if you move the PF to a secondary drive, it is still recommended you leave a PF on the system drive for dumps. Windows knows how to use and manage multiple PFs just fine.
Yeah I never really subscribed to it anyway. I only ever used the fixed size back in the day.
 
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Page file for modern OSes is very critical to its performance remaining optimal. And it can work well for the system only when put into an SSD or a RAMdisk. I have a dual-boot system atm with the win7's page file into the OS' SSD and the win10's pagefile in a RAMdisk. It was the only way to keep constant performance. Whenever I put a pagefile into a HDD, performace was degrading after a few days to the point of the system being very laggy.
 
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And it can work well for the system only when put into an SSD or a RAMdisk.
Only? That's not true at all. While certainly better on a SSD, if you only have a hard drive, putting it there too is fine.

As far as your performance degrading "after a few days", that's caused by something else - like low disk space - and not the fact you put the PF on the HD.

Its not like page files fill up and stays filled up with old data.
 
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The pagefile size should not be messed with, I don't know why MS still lets people try and change it. Paging is a critical component for virtual memory. Contrary to popular belief that if you have enough RAM you don't need it, this is wrong, any OS will always use virtual memory and therefore it will always need paging.

When the OS needs to allocate memory to a program it does not provide a physical address to it but rather it does this through these "memory pages" which have a different address space much larger than the physical one.

In other words, any software will always interact with the memory through these pages and never directly to the physical locations no matter how much memory is available, you can see why there is no point in trying to mess with it.

So it doesn't matter what it does, just let it do it's thing.
The problems from previous windows versions managing the page file is that it will claim and allocate more drive space than is really necessary. I set a specific size, 10gb is good for most everything. I have no problem adjusting it as it does not hurt anything really. Setting a size works well for smaller drives.
 
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The problems from previous windows versions managing the page file is that it will claim and allocate more drive space than is really necessary.
But so what? Again, if space becomes critical Windows will adjust it back down again. And it will do it dynamically as and when needed. That's the beauty of letting Windows manage it. When set manually, it is done only when and if the user thinks about it.
I have no problem adjusting it as it does not hurt anything really.
And that's fine but letting Windows manage it does not hurt anything either. That's why just letting Windows manage it is the preferred and most often recommended setting by the experts. I say again, it is not likely any of us here are true experts at virtual memory management.
I set a specific size
And yet your system specs say W10 but your complaint was about previous windows versions. ???

I am not suggesting you are hurting your system. But I am saying setting a fixed size does not help it.

For the record, if W7 was kept fully updated, virtual memory management was updated from when W7 was first introduce and was almost as efficient as that in W10. W8's is pretty much the same as W10. While Windows managed page files was the default in Vista, and it did work, it was not as mature as the later version.

As I noted earlier, with XP and before, I set my own sizes too. I was very hands-on back then. But again, W10 is not XP. We really need to stop treating it like it is. Microsoft has not been sitting on their thumbs these last 20 plus years. They have taken the lessons learned to make Windows manage virtual memory very efficiently.
 
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Only? That's not true at all. While certainly better on a SSD, if you only have a hard drive, putting it there too is fine.

As far as your performance degrading "after a few days", that's caused by something else - like low disk space - and not the fact you put the PF on the HD.

Its not like page files fill up and stays filled up with old data.
Degredation of performance comes from the page file getting fragmented by the constant writesa and not from the size of it. SSD and RAMdisk aren't affected by that at all.
 
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You always need a pagefile.

Photoediting,games,everything uses pagefile.
 
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but your complaint was about previous windows versions. ???
you misread and misinterpret as usual. As for the rest of your unwanted feedback (on my system), ill refrain from telling you what to do with your PC as well.
 
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The old rule of thumb (Page file size = RAM X 1.5 or RAM X 2) makes no sense in modern systems.
Define modern system, or you mean win 10 build xx?

3. Which fix amount should I set then?
If you stick with above, you should not experience any disturbing effect. Or at least the same amount of your ram.
But if you set it manually to 4-8 GB, that should be okay in most cases.

Windows needs the pagefile, so turning it off not a solution and you can experience freezes, lags, program errors ( for me, for example SW Battlefront 2 is very picky with pagefile)
If you have enough storage, let the system handle it. If not set it to same as your ram, or you can try your progs which ones work well with less pagefile, like 4-8GB.
 
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Degredation of performance comes from the page file getting fragmented by the constant writesa and not from the size of it.
While this is certainly possible it is not very common. And the problem would be minimal if the user kept plenty of free disk space available as that would allow the PF to be maintained in large, contiguous, or even one section.
Define modern system, or you mean win 10 build xx?
Not just modern operating systems. But systems with decent amounts of RAM, fast CPUs etc. Even W7 on hardware built for W7 could be considered modern. XP era hardware that was upgraded to W7 might not be.
 
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