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I have my paging file turned off in Vista as i have heard that it is not needed and in some cases may slow down a system that has >=2GB RAM. (no sure how true this is, but i notice that having it switched off doesn't really impact performance noticeably.

I have been reading about Readyboost and it sounds like caching with the benefits of flash memory (low latency etc.)

Which of these would i be better off using?

edit: i have 2gb, and have been using the machine without a pagefile today, and haven't noticed much obvious performance degradation, but will take your suggestions on board. would be good if any claims can be backed up please.

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Turn your page file back on! –  Phoshi Sep 12 '09 at 17:40
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If you use both that would be best. Ready boost really isn't a big boost, just a very very small one. Vista uses so much RAM just to keep the system going that as much is possible is the best. –  D'Arvit Sep 12 '09 at 17:40
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Most of Vista's "ram usage" is caching - that's a good thing, not detrimental. –  Phoshi Sep 12 '09 at 18:05
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i don't like telling folks how they have to operate their computer. i find this rather offensive. there are actually scenarios where Microsoft explicitely recommends to disable pagefile (e.g. on netbooks with solid state disks) –  Molly7244 Sep 12 '09 at 20:01
    
With page file off- its ok to browse the internet in upto 5 tabs and possbily have word open. Did you try and open Photoshop and load 10 12mp fotos for reporcessing.. boom! Windows will main and groan. Many people say TURN IT ON!!! bla bla.. GET MORE RAM! 16GB will be ACE with no page file- that's 4gb RAM and a 12gb page file! DUH- then you will notice a dramatic increase of speed when processing images in photoshop,.. or playing stalker in high detail.( I am speaking from years of experience and trying and testing!)Putting pagefile on SSD is big NO!NO! PS Upgrade to 7 ASAP –  ppumkin Oct 6 '11 at 12:08

3 Answers 3

up vote 12 down vote accepted

Regarding page files, Mark Russinovich (pretty much the expert on Windows in everyway) wrote an article that can be found here: http://blogs.technet.com/markrussinovich/archive/2008/11/17/3155406.aspx.

He finds that turning the pagefile off is a huge mistake. The key quote is probably:

Perhaps one of the most commonly asked questions related to virtual memory is, how big should I make the paging file? There’s no end of ridiculous advice out on the web and in the newsstand magazines that cover Windows, and even Microsoft has published misleading recommendations. Almost all the suggestions are based on multiplying RAM size by some factor, with common values being 1.2, 1.5 and 2. Now that you understand the role that the paging file plays in defining a system’s commit limit and how processes contribute to the commit charge, you’re well positioned to see how useless such formulas truly are.

Since the commit limit sets an upper bound on how much private and pagefile-backed virtual memory can be allocated concurrently by running processes, the only way to reasonably size the paging file is to know the maximum total commit charge for the programs you like to have running at the same time. If the commit limit is smaller than that number, your programs won’t be able to allocate the virtual memory they want and will fail to run properly.

So how do you know how much commit charge your workloads require? You might have noticed in the screenshots that Windows tracks that number and Process Explorer shows it: Peak Commit Charge. To optimally size your paging file you should start all the applications you run at the same time, load typical data sets, and then note the commit charge peak (or look at this value after a period of time where you know maximum load was attained). Set the paging file minimum to be that value minus the amount of RAM in your system (if the value is negative, pick a minimum size to permit the kind of crash dump you are configured for). If you want to have some breathing room for potentially large commit demands, set the maximum to double that number.

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If you have >= 2GB then you have no need of Readyboost, unless you use an application with outrageous demands. If you have 4GB then don't even think about it, since Vista will use almost 2GB for the system cache (minus the video cache). Under normal use you won't notice any performance improvements in I/O speed, and the additional processing of Readyboost might even drag down the performance of your CPU.

And as Phoshi remarked: don't be without a pagefile!

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It will still improve boot speed –  endolith Sep 15 '13 at 19:12

ReadyBoost does produce a huge performance increase regardless of how much RAM you have installed in your system. ReadyBoost works by caching frequently used data to the flash memory of the device that is allocated to use ReadyBoost. The ReadyBoost cache works in tandem with the system page file.

The page file in Windows is actually an area of the hard disk that is allocated as if it were RAM. Therefore Windows caches data and runs programs from this allocated area of the hard disk in the same fashion as it does RAM. When ReadyBoost is functioning and enabled (using a fast enough device such as an SDHC ultra Sandisk SD card 15MB/s, or a High performance flash drive), it works with the page file by moving data that otherwise would have been paged to the hard disk to the flash memory device allocated by ReadyBoost.

A larger page file actually degrades performance by forcing the mechanical drive to read and write data more often. We have RAM in our computers because when we launch a program or a file, windows takes the data from the hard drive (program, file, etc) and moves it to RAM, which is where data is traditionally processed from. Use a Sandisk SD 15MB/s card or flashdrive, set your page file to 2GB or more if you want.

Either way, Windows will cache this data to the ReadyBoost cache instead of your hard disk. You will see a huge performance increase. Also, use only 7200 RPM hard drives and the fastest RAM your system supports. As well, it's best to use at least 4GB of RAM.

I have worked with computers for more than 22,000 hours over 6 years. I am a licensed, certified, college educated computer specialist in St. Louis, MO. I hope my explanation helps to clear things up here. A lot of misleading information on the web these days.

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Mark Russinovich has probably forgotten more about windows internals than youwill learn in your lifetime. The man is THE expert on windows internals. Page files, in general arn't used unless they are needed, so.. i'm afraid you need to brush up a little on your knowledge. –  Journeyman Geek Oct 6 '11 at 8:41
    
@DJdaniel Your advise is simply wrong I'm afraid. –  Sirex Oct 6 '11 at 11:01
    
6 years? A baby. . . –  surfasb Oct 6 '11 at 17:50
    
Do not use an SD card for paging! that 15mb is chunk write/read not random! once you get random IO your computer will shiet itself! besides the actual chips degrade after n-number of IO's and start to fail. But instead put 8GB ram/ then dedicate 4gb with a RAMDRIVE and the rest for system for optimal non photoshop/premiere use if you want to go down the no paging file. Don know why you got down vote as your explanation is reasonable-just slightly inaccurate with the SD. +1 for breaking away from the paging file convention. –  ppumkin Oct 7 '11 at 12:45

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