Monday, July 05, 2010

Windows 7 page file size

Even though I know 4Gb isn't really a lot for a developer PC, especially one that runs several VMs, one thing that I didn't understand is why under heavy usage my desktop would just suddenlly fly off  to la la land - thrashing and thrashing and thrashing for literally hours. It seems that I've found the cause - the size of the swap file. It seems that Windows started off with a relative small page file size (probably because it detected 4 GB of physical memory,) and was attempting to dynamically allocate the swap file and shed physical memory load at the same time - this lead to the machine being rendered unusable until cold restart.

Bottom line is that with only 4 GB RAM and impending heavy application usage, the Windows page file must be set to a minumum size of at least 4GB to avoid excessive paging. If your system pages incessantly and becomes unresponsive under heavy memory load, setting a large enough minimum pagefile can work wonders. It won't be a s nice as upgrading to 8GB or more, but if you blew all your  money on the Steam summer sale, it's a good temporary fix.

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