Pagefile - Windows XP

Discussion in 'other software & services' started by John Bull, Jul 10, 2010.

Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.
  1. John Bull

    John Bull Registered Member

    Joined:
    Nov 22, 2009
    Posts:
    904
    Location:
    London UK
    Pagefile data and descriptive matter on the net gets quite involved for an ordinary web-walker like me. But it does sound very important.

    My Pagefile size is shown at 687,332 KB. The Windows data shows 448 MB of RAM. Am using Windows 2002 XP Home, with SP3 and I have Pagefile size on auto under Windows control.

    Q : Is auto control of Pagefile size by Windows OK ? Why is there a need to customise the sizing ?

    I tried once by following some recommendations, but went back to auto - could not get it right or see the benefit of doing so. Only rarely have I had a VM problem, when I just shut down Windows and rebooted - seemed to solve it.

    John B
     
  2. crofttk

    crofttk Registered Member

    Joined:
    May 15, 2004
    Posts:
    1,976
    Location:
    Eastern PA, USA
    Been there and done that, as they say, John. It's all esoterica unless you have a specific need for special optimization.

    I do fix mine at 1.5 times the installed RAM and leave it alone, only because I have experimented with its location relative to disk defragmenting and so forth.

    There are simple pagefile monitoring utilities available if one wanted to really scrutinize what goes on with pagefile usage.

    You can burn time looking at it with a microscope but, unless there is a specific need, I find a pint in London, a pintje in Bruges, or a lager at my own coffee table a more "productive" use of my time.
     
  3. ABee

    ABee Registered Member

    Joined:
    Jun 2, 2010
    Posts:
    330
    A : Yes.

    There isn't. However, sometimes there's a desire to use a customized size.

    Yet another of the myriad reasons why it's called a "personal computer", and why the term "user preference" has valid meaning.

    (Since I'm on your 'block list', I post this for others who might find the info useful.)

    http://aumha.org/win5/a/xpvm.htm
     
  4. Sully

    Sully Registered Member

    Joined:
    Dec 23, 2005
    Posts:
    3,719
    lol, this is another one of those things that works great for one machine but not another, at least if you follow prescribed settings.

    A very long time ago, I use a symantec tool (I think) that put my pagefile on the outer area of the hdd platter, on a notebook. It made some difference, but not much.

    Then I started following lots of tweak advice, and found not much difference in those either.

    The only thing I have ever found when messing with the paging file that makes a difference, is to place it on the fastest drive you have. Some even say to span it across drives. Regardless, since the pagefile is on a disc, the fastest disc you have will yield the fastest read/writes to and from the pagefile. It can make a difference if you are watching for those differences, but one usually does not see the difference.

    Never hurts to play with it a little bit, you will likely learn something from it. There used to be a bunch of tweaks that would supposedly make something like a game use all the available RAM so that it did not have to fetch data from the disc as often. Theory was if you started a game, and loaded everything you could into RAM, it would be that much faster. Problem was that games don't normally attempt to allocate all 4gb of thier files to memory if available. They are split into many small files. This way it is quick(er) to load one map, then load the next when needed. The theory was good, but using it for games just did not make a difference. You certainly could see your RAM get filled up though ;)

    Sul.
     
  5. Johnny123

    Johnny123 Registered Member

    Joined:
    May 4, 2006
    Posts:
    548
    Location:
    Bremen, Germany
    It's OK to let Windows control the page file.

    There's no need to customize the size, but some people seem to think there is. You can find all kinds of theories on this, ranging from no page file at all to page file on a seperate partition, page file on a seperate physical drive, etc., etc. The consensus seems to be that the results of these "tweaks" are either negligible, not noticable at all or even counter-productive. One thing you can do is make the size static, i.e., smallest size=maximum size using the recommended amount shown. This helps keep the page file from fragmenting.
     
  6. John Bull

    John Bull Registered Member

    Joined:
    Nov 22, 2009
    Posts:
    904
    Location:
    London UK
    Hello Johnny,
    Sounds good advice. The old sound advice, if it works - leave it alone.

    Sully`s contributions to all these threads are so logical and informative that whilst they give immaculate advice in general, they leave ordinary footsloggers like me far behind. I know he is not one of NASA`s top scientists, but he sure seems to know about this kind of jazz and he is so diplomatic. He would pacify an angry Rhino into being a Teddy Bear.

    John B
     
    Last edited: Jul 11, 2010
  7. YeOldeStonecat

    YeOldeStonecat Registered Member

    Joined:
    Apr 25, 2005
    Posts:
    2,345
    Location:
    Along the Shorelines somewhere in New England
    I always set it to system managed size. Years ago I fiddled around with all those so called performance tips of setting min/max, blah blah. Never saw a thing for any performance change. And once in a while depending on what you're doing with your PC it can bump into an issue about running out of pagefile, etc. And don't forget if you add/remove memory, should go change it again.

    If you let the OS manage it...you never have those issues, it adjusts just fine on the fly..as its needs change.

    The best thing I found to improve computer performance regarding your virtual memory....take an old hard drive that you no longer use, slave it into your computer as a second hard drive. Move your pagefile to that drive. This is a HUGE boost in performance for computers like yours with low amounts of system RAM (under 1 gig). Because the pagefile is on an entirely different spindle from the %system% drive...your computer can far better multi-task with concurrent read/writes to the pagefile as it's reading data from your primary drive. Putting the pagefile on an old drive..even if that drive is slower than your system drive, is still desired. The ability to have the entire drive dedicated to the pagefile input/output...is more beneficial than "sharing" the input/output on a fast system drive. This performance boost may not be as apparent to the average home user that does basic surfing, e-mail, basic document stuff. But as you get into power users, gamers, photo editing, etc..you'll see the performance gains.
     
  8. John Bull

    John Bull Registered Member

    Joined:
    Nov 22, 2009
    Posts:
    904
    Location:
    London UK
    Pagefile ? UH !

    Not for the faint hearted. Pagefile is a massive memory of everything we do, all our browsing history and all our personal details. It is a bonanza of information to every hacker on Planet Earth.

    OK, the Pagefile provides us with a rapid response to all the sites we have visited and to our personal data, BUT it also provides hackers with exactly the stuff they want. Security is a shambles. While we press on at a high rate of knots, Pagefile stores an untouchable record of our activities.

    I ask you, what is the point in deleting Cookies, Cache data and God knows what else if all this very same data is still sitting happily on the untouchable Pagefile ? No point at all. It is ridiculous.

    If we tweak the Registry to make Windows delete the Pagefile on shutdown, what do we achieve ?
    NOTHING ! It simply means that on re-boot, we start again to re-invent the wheel. A Pagefile per session is about as useful as a nail in a tyre. It means that response times go through the ceiling and we achieve nothing. there is no point in having a Pagefile in the first place.

    In any case, if auto delete of the Pagefile on shutdown was sensible, then Windows would be programmed to do it. It would not be left to us keyboard gymnasts.

    So, where do we go ? Have a Pagefile and let anybody who wants to hack into our system and see what we have been up to, together with letting them have our private data, or delete Pagefile on shutdown and extend response times to achieve nothing.

    If security means anything at all, why have a Pagefile ?
    Response times GREAT - security NONE EXISTENT. Well, we can`t win `em all can we ?

    John B
     
  9. trismegistos

    trismegistos Registered Member

    Joined:
    Jan 29, 2009
    Posts:
    365
    Remember the mantra:RAM is always faster than the spinning Hard disk. If you have ample RAM and you are not doing memory hungry tasks like video editing, let go of paging of files to disk and you'll have a very speedy system plus privacy and security advantages.
     
  10. CloneRanger

    CloneRanger Registered Member

    Joined:
    Jan 4, 2006
    Posts:
    4,833
    Yes we can :)

    Easy solution disable it :D https://www.wilderssecurity.com/showthread.php?t=270449
     
    Last edited: Jul 12, 2010
  11. wtsinnc

    wtsinnc Registered Member

    Joined:
    Oct 3, 2008
    Posts:
    943
    I did away with pagefile over a year ago, haven't missed it, and won't go back.

    I'm running XP SP-2 with 4gb of RAM plus 128mb of dedicated video memory and the most strenuous task my computer is ever called upon to perform is the occasional DVD backup.

    My total install size almost never exceeds 1.8gb and my old Pentium 4 Dell E510 is as fast as I need; boot time from power-on to a fully accessible desktop is less than 50 seconds, and that includes CTM.
     
  12. John Bull

    John Bull Registered Member

    Joined:
    Nov 22, 2009
    Posts:
    904
    Location:
    London UK
    In harmony with the thread title, I used the authentic :-

    Start>Run>Regedit
    HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\Session
    Manager\Memory Management
    Change the Reg_Dword value of ClearPageFileAtShutdown, to a value of 1
    Thus ;-
    Value Name: ClearPageFileAtShutdown
    Value Type: REG_DWORD
    Value: 1
    Start>Turn offcomputer>Restart

    Note the word CLEAR - it is NOT DELETE. My dear friend GlobalForce put me onto this via Kelly`s Korner, for which I am very grateful.

    I followed this procedure and found that the Pagefile was still there after reboot at the same size as previous.
    No deletion had actually taken place. Could not understand it until I saw the following.

    Reason - Given by Walter Mautner on the Velocity Reviews Forum a few years ago, but still valid today :-

    "Actually changing the Reg_Dword to 1 does not DELETE the Pagefile and recreate it, because that would only lead to excessive fragmentation over time, and help nothing against raw-sector based recovery programs. Instead it "zeroes out" the Pagefile upon shutdown - shutting down Windows will take a little longer and the HD light will go on."

    This explains why the Pagefile still appears after reboot at the same size as before shutdown. CLEAR is not DELETE.

    So there we have it. No delete, just a zero out - I have no idea what that does, but guess it does something or it would not be available.
    I can of course choose not to have a Pagefile at all by :-

    Control Panel>Run System>Advanced>Settings>Advanced>Change>No Paging File>Set

    But I have no wish to run without a Pagefile, neither do I wish to play around with size settings, since what I wanted is Pagefile deletion on shutdown, so I have to remain on Windows Auto. Auntie Windows does not do a bad job after all. For what good it does or does not do, I will keep the Reg_Dword value at 1.

    John Bull
     
    Last edited: Jul 12, 2010
  13. crofttk

    crofttk Registered Member

    Joined:
    May 15, 2004
    Posts:
    1,976
    Location:
    Eastern PA, USA
    My semi-educated guess would be that it changes all bits in the associated clusters to 0's as opposed to the prior mixture of 1's and 0's, i.e., it overwrites all existing value's to nul values, which I would assume is what you prefer, short of a forensically significant and highly redundant repeated overwrite and scrambling of the bit values.

    If you want to delete it for good, simply do so, at your own (debatable) risk, by using the "No Paging File" setting.

    More at: http://support.microsoft.com/kb/314834
    Note this part:
     
    Last edited: Jul 12, 2010
  14. hierophant

    hierophant Registered Member

    Joined:
    Dec 18, 2009
    Posts:
    854
    I'm still fine with no page file :D

    Win XP SP3
    4GB memory
     
  15. NGRhodes

    NGRhodes Registered Member

    Joined:
    Jun 23, 2003
    Posts:
    2,331
    Location:
    West Yorkshire, UK
    Multiple page files on different physical drives can help performance by tiny amounts, because Windows is smart enough to load balance the usage depending on general i/o usage across all drives, so if one drive has a lot of filesystem read/write, its smart enough to use the pagefile on the other drive. But of course the amount to be gained is minimal, because drive access is so many factors slower than ram access you are paging to something 1000 times slower or 1010 times slower (those head seeks are a killer). Also the paging algorithms are pretty smart and well tuned.

    Advice about putting the page file on the fastest part of the drive is plain wrong.
    Read/write access is very random (blocks of 64kb max) and Windows tends to interleave these with regular read/writes (you can check this with process explorer).
    Latency is the biggest issue, head movement on the common hdd, not sequential read/write speed, therefore the best place to put the pagefile is in the middle of the most accessed files on the hdd, or a close second, right inthe middle of all your files on you hdd, to minimise the amount of head movement required to access the pagefile.

    Default settings for size etc are great for 99% of desktop users, never seen a single benchmark to prove any noticeable performance gains from tweaking for general users.

    But, as with all things, there are fringe cases, gamers, developers, movie editting that can put big demands on memory and changing the defaults can help, but for the average desktop office/internet users, probably spend more time changing the settings and rebooting than you would get back on years of usage.

    In terms of security, clearing the pagefile on shutdown does help, but I'd rather look at wider security such as drive encryption etc.

    Cheers, Nick
     
  16. vasa1

    vasa1 Registered Member

    Joined:
    May 1, 2010
    Posts:
    4,152
    Suppose a PC has enough RAM and has a pagefile. What is the order of use (for average work such as browsing (not video) or using spreadsheets or word processor programmes)? Is the pagefile used only when RAM is limiting?
     
  17. NGRhodes

    NGRhodes Registered Member

    Joined:
    Jun 23, 2003
    Posts:
    2,331
    Location:
    West Yorkshire, UK
    The main things are when running out memory and a mixture of when memory pages have been unused and would be better used for the various caches used.
     
  18. vasa1

    vasa1 Registered Member

    Joined:
    May 1, 2010
    Posts:
    4,152
    I just came across this:
    http://articles.techrepublic.com.com/5100-10878_11-5071997.html

    There are nice explanations for a BLM (beginner like me) on various components of the performance tab of Windows Task Manager.

    If I understood it correctly, the pagefile is invoked only when actual RAM is in short supply and this article helps explain the meanings of what's what.

    So I see no need to disable the pagefile since it isn't being used by me and I have no shortage of disk space or RAM.
     
  19. Get

    Get Registered Member

    Joined:
    Nov 26, 2009
    Posts:
    384
    Location:
    the Netherlands
    I have the initial size at 256 and the maximum at ram+12 = 1036 (please don't ask me why:ninja: ). When defragging it's only 256 and when needed it can grow to 1036. More than enough for me. I don't clean pagefile at reboot. You can do that and many other "tweaks" with Xp-Antispy . Maybe nice to play with.
     
  20. John Bull

    John Bull Registered Member

    Joined:
    Nov 22, 2009
    Posts:
    904
    Location:
    London UK
    From reading the numerous items on Pagefile covered by the net, I gather that if you have a monster machine with BIG resources of RAM, then you do not need a Pagefile. OK, bully for you and have a nice day with your big boy.

    But if you are a stumblebum surfer like me with an old standard XP, then YOU DO need a Pagefile. No Pagefile under these conditions means lots of trouble and sleepless nights.

    So, at a RAM of 448 MB and Pagefile of about 1.5 times that, I stick with what I said in my last post as a Windows plodder not wishing to break any world records and settle or a happy life.

    After all, the vast majority of keyboard thumper`s don`t give a fig about the more exotic possibilities of ultimate cybernetic gymnastics practiced by enthusiastic wizards, they just want to enjoy their everyday play-school activities with a moderation of understanding of operation and security.

    John B
     
  21. John Bull

    John Bull Registered Member

    Joined:
    Nov 22, 2009
    Posts:
    904
    Location:
    London UK
    See my post 12.

    Crofttk has given a guess on this in post 13, presumably a Binary flip-flop but to satisfy my moderate but inquisitive technical mind, can any boffin participant reading this thread possibly explain precisely what "zeroed out " means and what purpose is served by doing it ? Otherwise we are simply dealing with unintelligible jargon.

    John B
     
  22. vasa1

    vasa1 Registered Member

    Joined:
    May 1, 2010
    Posts:
    4,152
    Did you mean modicum :doubt: ?

    Actually, I don't think my PC is all that hot! It's just a Dell laptop 1545 with 2 GB RAM. But still I don't push my luck with it.
     
  23. NGRhodes

    NGRhodes Registered Member

    Joined:
    Jun 23, 2003
    Posts:
    2,331
    Location:
    West Yorkshire, UK
    When a file is "deleted" from windows, usually the file system just removes the marker that says where the file is but the data is left behind to be overwritten as needed, when a new file/data needs to be placed there. The file system does not need to care about what was left behind because its now marked unused, reguardless if what is/was there previously.
    There is potential for people to scan a drive and retrieve this information and reconstruct it into meaninful data. As the page file is usually fixed, the process of retrieving data from a page file, if access has been made, is made significantly easier.
    Zeroing out is the process of actually removing the data that is left behind and is not normally done because it reduces performance greatly.

    Cheers, Nick
     
  24. crofttk

    crofttk Registered Member

    Joined:
    May 15, 2004
    Posts:
    1,976
    Location:
    Eastern PA, USA
    Unintelligible.... OK:
    1) All of the information on your drives is encoded as 1's and 0's. If the information in a given file is changed to all 0's, which is what is meant by "zeroed out", there is no longer any information content to the file.

    2) It could take what you feel is an unacceptable amount of time to zero out the pagefile, you will have to make your own value judgment on that.

    3) One pass of zeroing is probably more than enough, unless you think the bill is going to take your hard drive and do a forensic analysis in which case they may be able to get magnetic traces of where the 1's used to be. Most probably not a concern for anyone here (I hope).

    I hope that is sufficiently coherent. After all, I realize I am no Sully (said with nothing but respect for Sul).
     
  25. John Bull

    John Bull Registered Member

    Joined:
    Nov 22, 2009
    Posts:
    904
    Location:
    London UK
    To Crofttk

    Sounds a good explanation and thank you very much. I find all this interesting.

    Don`t take the Peewee out of Sully - he is the epitome of ultimate wisdom and diplomacy extraordinaire, far beyond us mere mortals. A Messiah of extreme providence to all mankind.
     
    Last edited: Jul 13, 2010
Loading...
Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.