I followed this advice to get Windows to use more RAM and less paging. To be honest, I'm a total noob to all this page file stuff. I've always just assumed that Windows was using the 8 GB of ram I have installed.

I'm confused because the Performance tab of the Task Manager still says it's only using 12%-16% physical memory at any given time, even when preforming memory intensive tasks like gaming and image editing.

Here's how it breaks down:

Physical Memory (MB)
Total: 8191
Cached: 6311
Available: 7051
Free: 808
Usage: 14%

Kernel Memory (MB)
Paged: 264
Nonpaged: 63

Here it is again while The Witcher is running:

Physical Memory (MB)
Total: 8191
Cached: 6313
Available: 6504
Free: 250
Usage: 20%

Kernel Memory (MB)
Paged: 268
Nonpaged: 64

First question: If I'm reading this right, there's still 264 MB of Windows kernel "stuff" sitting in virtual memory. Shouldn't this be more like 0 MB if I turned off the page file for the SSD with Windows on it?

Second question: If 6311 MB is still in RAM, out of 8191 MB total, why does it say my physical memory usage is only so low? Last time I checked, that came to about 77%.

Final question: I don't have any programs on my other hard drive, so why would I need to "move the page file from your SSD to a storage hard drive" as mentioned in that forum link?

  • Side note: The only reason I started looking into this was because I tried using GIMP instead of the usual Photoshop. Performance in GIMP is AWFUL. – David Kennedy Aug 26 '12 at 3:39
  • 2
    Most games don't use a massive amount of RAM anymore, the majority is dumped to the graphics card – Simon Sheehan Aug 26 '12 at 3:47
  • Oh yeah, guess you're right :) – David Kennedy Aug 26 '12 at 3:49

First, you have a fundamental confusion about what virtual memory is. Virtual memory is something that looks like memory. It is not the same thing as a paging or swap file. (People got this confused because adjusting the paging file is the only virtual memory setting available in the standard Windows GUI, so people started thinking they were the same thing. They are not.)

Second, "paged memory" is memory that is part of the paged pool. You want as much of your memory to be paged as possible because paged memory can be managed flexibly. Only very few things need to be non-paged.

The non-paged pool contains only memory that cannot be paged because it must remain locked in physical memory. Only data that might be needed in a context in which paging is not possible counts towards the non-paged pool. (For example, the buffers used to communicate with the hard drive controller obviously cannot be paged!) Less confusing terms would be "pageable" and "non-pageable".

Second: The vast majority of your memory is used. The only memory that's not being used is memory that's free. The usage percentage is the percentage of memory used for essential purposes. It's really only helpful to help you measure whether you might need more memory or whether memory demand is unusual. It's saying you don't need more memory and Windows doesn't need most of the memory you have, but it's using it to improve performance.

That's how it should be.

There are only two rational reasons to move your page file from an SSD to a hard drive. One would be if you need the space on your SSD. The other would be if you have an older SSD with very limited write lifetime. There's really no reason not to keep a page file on a modern SSD if you have the space. That way, if you do encounter unusually high memory demand, performance won't drop as much as it would if it had to write to a hard drive.

  • Thanks for clearing that up. I'm turning it back on now. Also, I found this answer by @FactorMystic helpful. (Found it after asking.) – David Kennedy Aug 26 '12 at 3:58

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