[HOME] 9:47 PM October-09-12

To Page Or Not To Page? - No Paging File Brings Backup Programs To A Crawl

I'm one of those people who like to customize my system to death. I also like to optimize my system using tweaks and tips I find online. Sadly, most of these tweaks and tips either don't work or if there are any benifits whe are talking about fractions of a second that we cannot perceive one way or the other.

One tweak that comes up a lot is the setting of the Paging or Virtual Memory. http://windows.microsoft.com/en-US/windows-vista/What-is-virtual-memory

Back in Windows XP, more than once I came across the issue of computers grinding to a slow pace while a message of "running out of memory and Windows needs to adjust the virtual memory file". Sorry, cannot remember exact wording but setting this manually in Win XP I say is a must. In Vista? Why are you still using Vista?? :-)

I recently came across some information online that claims that a computer with at least 4GB of RAM don't really need a page file. So I decided to try it out and see what happens. I have 4GB on a Win7 Home Premium 64bit version.

For Win7 and Vista: Click on Start - Control Panel - System - Advanced System Settings - Then the Advanced tab and then the Settings button in the Performance box. Then again the Advanced tab and in the Virtual memory box then click on the Change button.

Uncheck if checked Automatically manage paging file for all drives.

If you want to keep it set but customize it yourself click on the little circle by Custom size then set both Initial and Maximum to the same size.

This is the formula I use:

(1024 x (amount of memory on system)) x 1.5 - so I have 4GB of memory
1024 x 4 = 4096
4096 x 1.5 = 6144
So I set the Initial and Maximum to 6144.

Another option is to look down below for the Recommended size and set both Initial and Maximum to that size. Then click on the Set button to finish. Click on No Paging file to disable this option as I did and then press Set.

I did not notice any difference in the operation of my computer until I decided to backup my system by creating a System Image. I tried a program called Macrium Reflect - www.macrium.com - It usually only takes about an half hour to back up my 54GB of usage on my 500GB drive. But now it was claiming that it was going to take up to 10 hours!

I thought there was something wrong with the program first until I tried Windows 7 built in backup program. Click on Start - Control Panel - Backup and Restore then Create a system image.

It actually took longer. I was sure that disabling the paging file was what was causing the slowdown. Enabling it again proved my point. So it seems that these two backup programs are dependant on the paging file if you want to get it done in a hurry. I'm keeping it enabled.

In the past, going back to Win98, I remember trying to run Monster Truck Madness 2 and it demanded a 40MB (or 400 can't remember exactly right now) swap file at least and on a Win ME system I use to get error that seemed to indicate my hard drive was going bad because I was getting a message that indicated the system couldn't write to drive C:. After much checking and troubleshooting I was able to determine it was a corrupted page file. I deleted it by booting of a floppy and problem solved.