Paging File Size Recommendations

Many of us who run heavy applications, as I term it, on our computers are always in a dilemma as to whether we need a particular paging file. This article will thus help you in solving this query and many others and provide you with the paging file size recommendations. But before going into the technicalities of all these aspects, let us try to answer the basic question, what is a paging file and try to find out its importance.

What is Page File?
The RAM (Random Access Memory) of a computer is the primary memory of the computer. The primary memory of a computer is the place where all the data needed for processing is stored. The computer processor can in fact directly access only the primary memory of the computer. The situation of paging occurs, when this primary RAM is completely full. When the computer is running a good number of application and the RAM is not able to handle or store all the operations in the computer, the computer processor uses the hard disk for storing the extra data. It is done through a particular process. The computer processor creates a file called the page file in the hard disk and uses this file for storing the extra information. The page file is nothing but a virtual memory that acts as the primary memory of the computer. The virtual memory paging file size is usually set at the time when you install the operating system for the computer. Let us deal with this topic in the next sections. Read more on what is RAM (Random Access Memory).

What is the Ideal Page File Size?
As already mentioned, when the operating system in a computer is loaded, the virtual memory paging file size is automatically assigned. It is not necessary that the computer processor will need it every time. In most of the operating systems like the Windows XP, the paging file size is set at three times the available RAM. So, if your computer has 512 MB or RAM, then your paging file size is somewhere around 1.5 GB. In fact, in most of the cases, this is the recommended paging file size for Windows XP and most of the other operating systems. Another important aspect that needs to be mentioned out here is that, with the increase in RAM, the need for paging file decreases. The 32 bit versions of Windows XP or Windows Server 2003 may need paging files, as they are not capable of supporting a lot of RAM. But the 64 bit versions of these operating systems can support a lot of RAM, hence making the use of paging files unnecessary. Just take the following example into consideration. For a 32 bit Windows XP operating system, the amount of RAM that the processor can support is maximum 4GB. Whereas, for a 64 bit, Windows XP operating system, the amount of RAM that is supported can be up to 128 GB. In fact, with the introduction of Windows Vista and Windows 7 accompanied with good amount of RAM, the need for paging files is almost completely eliminated.

How to Get the Size of Paging File?
Most of us know the answer, where to view the paging file size. Many of us simply use the pages/sec file size counter to calculate the paging file size. But the answer that you receive through this method may not be accurate. The pages/sec counter can be accessed while using the System Monitor. No doubt, the data that you get through this method is also very useful. The pages/sec value that you get here is the sum of the pages input/sec and the pages output/sec counter values. So, if monitoring memory pressure is your main concern then pages/sec is the value that you need to monitor. However, if you want to know the minimum page file size required by the system, then you can add the peak private bytes used in the system by all the processes running in the system and subtract the memory in the system. The value that you get is the minimum size of paging files required by your system.

Paging File Too Small Error
Many a times, we encounter the error paging file too small for operation to complete. Why does this happen and what are its reasons? Well, the reason is simple. As already mentioned, the page file is created on your hard drive. If in case your computer RAM is totally full and your hard drive too does not have enough space, then the computer does not have enough space to run the application that you started. Thus, this may become a common message that you may encounter. What you can do to resolve this issue, is to free up some hard disk space. Move some data from your hard drive to an external or spare hard drive. The other option is that you end the unnecessary processes or the processes that you do not require, which are consuming a good amount of RAM.

Paging File Error When Logging into Operating System
Many a times you may face the error that while your operating system, say Windows XP, while loading your personal settings, simply hangs and/or shows the error message, Limited Virtual Memory. The problem mainly occurs when you are using NTFS hard drives. The main reason behind this error is that the operating system tries to create virtual memory paging file of a particular size on your hard disk, but the system and administrator accounts do not have the proper permissions to do so. Giving full access to the system and administrator accounts will simply resolve your issue. Refer the website of your operating system's vendor to find out how to change these settings. Read more to know what is virtual memory.

I hope that I have been able to provide you with some information regarding the paging file size recommendations and their requirements. To sum up, we can simply say that if your computer processor can support a good amount of RAM and you have so, a paging file may not be necessary. But, in case you do not have sufficient memory in your computer, the paging file is what helps you in executing your operations smoothly.

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