Page file size on systems with over 500mb ram.

  dagwoood 01:58 05 May 04

I've added some RAM to my system taking it up to 768mb in total.

When I go into task manager I'm surprised to find that on boot up I have just under 600mb of RAM free but my system is still using the page file(it's always around 110mb in size).

Now I know XP by default will always use the page file to store some data, but I can't understand why, with so much free RAM available on my system, that my page file is over 100mb in size.

I'm curious to find out from other forum members using xp, on systems with a lot of free RAM, what size is their page file. I wandered whether the page file size on my system is normal or I have a problem somewhere that needs investigating.

I have tried turning off the page file and see if I could force my system to keep more data in RAM but there's still a page file in use when I go into task manager and it's about the same size as if I had the page file enabled(go figure).

Any feedback about peoples page file size would be appreciated(or any other comments), dagwoood.

  Valvegrid 06:29 05 May 04

Seems a bit small, I've just checked mine and it says 64MB used 1729MB available. I am using 98lite as the O/S.

  Valvegrid 06:39 05 May 04

BTW, this is the rest of the specs of the computer I'm using if it's relevent:

98lite by Brooks Innovations Pty Ltd.

AuthenticAMD AMD Athlon(tm) Processor (1.2GB)


78% system resources free

Windows-managed swap file on drive D (27009MB free)

Available space on drive C: 8863MB of 9993MB (FAT32)

Available space on drive D: 27009MB of 28601MB (FAT32)

Available space on drive E: 28008MB of 28144MB (FAT32)

  MichelleC 09:10 05 May 04

The swapfile/paging is best around 1.5 times ram total, and when ram's getting used a lot the hd space makes up for it. On my w2k pc when I'm dv editing with large files my paging on all 3 hd's is set to 3 times ram total. The following is taken from w2k's info but I think it'll be the same for xp:

Managing Computer Memory
When your computer is running low on RAM and more is needed immediately to complete your current task, Windows 2000 uses hard drive space to simulate system RAM. In Windows 2000, this is known as Virtual Memory, and often called the pagefile. This is similar to the UNIX swapfile. The default size of the virtual memory pagefile (appropriately named pagefile.sys) created during installation is 1.5 times the amount of RAM on your computer.

You can optimize virtual memory use by dividing the space between multiple drives and especially by removing it from slower or heavily accessed drives. To best optimize your virtual memory space, divide it across as many physical hard drives as possible. When selecting drives, keep the following guidelines in mind:

Try to avoid having a pagefile on the same drive as the system files.
Avoid putting a pagefile on a fault-tolerant drive, such as a mirrored volume or a RAID-5 volume. Pagefiles don't need fault-tolerance, and some fault-tolerant systems suffer from slow data writes because they write data to multiple locations.
Don't place multiple pagefiles on different partitions on the same physical disk drive.

  dagwoood 11:39 05 May 04

Thanks for the replies.

Yet again I haven't made myself totally clear about what I meant(it's starting to get embarrassing!).

I understand that the page size should be about 1.5 times the amount of RAM on your system, as per Microsoft's advice.

What I'm trying to find out is page file usage by peoples systems, i.e.the amount of data that is being sent to the page file.

Whats surprising is I have 768mb of RAM and on boot up I have just over 100mb of data being sent to the page file when I have just under 600mb of RAM available. I know some data will be sent to the page file, thats how xp works, I just couldn't understand with me having so much free resources that the amount of data stored on the paging file is over 100mb.

Cheers, dagwoood.

  bertiecharlie 14:59 05 May 04

click here may help. My system has 512mb of ram and the page file is set at one and half times this by default. After start up I have about 320mb of ram available and the usage of the page file is just under 2%. The most I have seen it rise to is 12% although every system will be different depending upon the programmes being run.

You can reduce the size of your page file, but not to less than 2mb in case of a memory dump.

If you haven't done it already, set up a console as described by the elder geek. The way to do this is described in the article. (You should already have a console named "Performance" which gives you processor usage etc. You can add "Available Memory", "Page File Usage", etc. to this console if you want rather than setting up a new one.Have a look at the lists of things you can add).


  dagwoood 04:33 06 May 04

Thank you for taking the time to post.

I had already come across the elder geek article and found it very informative. I'd taken his advice and monitored the the peak commit charge in task manager and know my system only ever gets up to the 200mb mark so I could safely set my page file size to the minimum(in saying that my system wont let me, it keeps increasing the page file size to the recommended minimum ie.1150mb but it will let me turn it off altogether. When I have turned it off, when I go into task manager it still shows that my system is using a page file. Pick the bones out of that one!).

I've tried to set up a console to monitor my page file usage but for some unknown reason the page file is not showing as a performance object on my system so I can't monitor this that way.

As I keep saying, I just can't understand why my system sends so much data to the page file when I have so much free RAM and don't normally run any memory intensive applications. It's really starting to bug me that I can't find an answer to this.

I think for my own mental health I'd better give this one up and just put it down to another one of the foibles of using XP.

Thanks again, dagwoood.

  bertiecharlie 14:44 06 May 04


I can understand your frustration. I have two systems. The one here at work is ME on an old computer. Over the weekend I increased the memory, (old edo ram), from 160mb to 256mb. Prior to this the initial swap file was 36mb, after, 44mb! I've set up System Monitor to show the current size of the swap file which expands and then contracts back to 44mb, and also the swapfile in use figure. The most intensive thing I do is a scan with AVG. The swap file increases to 56mb but the actual swapfile in use is only about 5mb. On this basis, and given I'm really short of space on the disk, I set the swap file at 20mb minimum and 20mb maximum. (I know you shouldn't set a maximum but well....) I ran a few programmes and scans until free ram fell to around 20mb. The swapfile in use figure was zero. I then went to open another programme and windows told me there was insufficient memory! Have gone back to letting Windows manage the memory.

When you open a programme and it calls for memory windows will always tend to allocate some of it to the page/swap file because it is smart enough to know that that particular part of the memory allocation is unlikely to be used. Programmes tend to call out for more memory than they need according to what I've read. Windows is being smart in this respect as it leaves more ram free than otherwise would be the case.

I have a utility programme on both computers called Tune Up Utilities 2004. Whereas the swap file in use figure shown by System Monitor is either zero or very low, the utility programme shows it to be nearer the size of the actual swap file. I've monitored it and the figure changes by the second so I am beginning to doubt the System Monitor swap file in use figure. That's maybe why I had a problem with setting the swap file at 20mb. In XP this programme allows you to allocate ram to the kernal process rather than using the Page File so that could boost your performance. (Haven't tried it.)

Better go before I start on Chapter 2.


  dagwoood 16:26 06 May 04

Cheers for the continued input bertiecharlie.

It's amazing the amount of information and advice you can get where page files are concerned but I can't find any pointers as to my anomalies. It can be confusing with regards as to what some people say is the best configuration for the page file(i.e.some say set the max/min size as the same value, others say let windows decide the size for you).

I still can't get my head round if I turn off my page file and reboot, when I go into task manager it displays my page file usage and if I go into system information it gives me a value for virtual memory available. I'm starting to wander whether my pagefile.sys file is corrupt. If it is, I've no idea how to correct that.

Thanks again, dagwoood.

  Diodorus Siculus 16:33 06 May 04

click here

click here

Two current debates from a respected source.

  bertiecharlie 16:40 06 May 04

Just a thought. (I can't check because my XP is at home). When you change the Virtual Memory settings, do you have to click "Apply" before clicking "Okay"?

Just to show how confusing it all is click here;en-us;240755&Product=winme This article refers to Windows 95/98 but also applies to ME. It basically says that it doesn't matter if your swap/page file is fragmented. The "click here" I'll put below, (haven't really mastered the "click here's yet), refers to 98 but also applies to ME. It says performance is enhanced because the swap/page file is less fragmented.

I know not strictly relevant to your XP situation.


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