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Page File vs Physical Memory Usage


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This is an observation concerning the use of my potential swap or virtual memory / page file vs the usage of my actual physical memory.


I am on Windows XP sp3 with 1024 MB Physical memory

In the Advanced area where I can set the swap/virtual memory or Page File as it calls it, it says that 1533 MB is The Windows suggestion.


When I have left it to that I notice through various memory monitoring programs that my “swap” file gets utilized at the rate of 20 to 30%... and the available physical memory say with only one to three programs running such as the monitoring program and an instance of IE and one of WE open runs around 55% ~~ with many more opened it can run down to the lower 40’s and when I hit Optimize I can free up an additional amount to run at 60% + or -


But if I set the page file to both min and max of 4095 MB I then notice that the Swap File is at Zero use... but what I then don’t understand is instead of MORE Physical Memory being used, significantly less is actually used and reported as around 70% free and available with the minimal programs running as I reported at the beginning of this post.


So shouldn’t it be the other way around with more of my Physical memory being used since there is no Swap or Page file in use??


Also why is my Page File not used if I set Both the min / max to 4095 MB?


One last question: I notice in various reporting tools ASC included, that somewhere there is a file cache being used but I have never found anything anywhere where the parameters for a cache are being set. The last I knew about such were in the days of VCache in Windows 3.xx


How Why Where and are there any manual tweaks available to optimize such a cache setting?

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The Way I Understand It...


I think in actuality that your page file is in use,but because of its drastically increased size the effects on it appear very minimal.In other words,the amount being reported back is small enough in comparison to its size to register as zero.The page file is now "taking up the slack" or doing most (if not all) of the work which leaves you with more physical memory available.I'm no expert and this can be a very confusing issue,as I've shown 340 MB page file usage when I didn't even have a page file.Perhaps someone else will add to this.

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Thanks Demitris..


It answers some questions but not all... I still can't find anything definitive about the System Cache that runs and fluctuates when seen through the meter in System Explorer ---> Performance ---> Physical Memory and then System Cache.


I have searched and searched through everything I can get my hands on yet there doesn't seem to be any user interface where I can set or even view whatever parameters there may be. Any thoughts?


Thanks Much

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