How to manage Virtual Memory size on Windows XP machines?

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I am working as a Technical support Executive and often get calls complaining that their system is running very slow. I delete temp files and set virtual memory. What should be the standard procedure to set the Virtual memory? I often disable few programs from start up through msconfig like Microsoft Office and few more but I am not sure which other applications I should disable. Can I get some tricks and tips on this issue? Can we kill some processes from task manager to speed up the performance? Any help would be highly appreciated.
ASKED: May 29, 2007  8:59 PM
UPDATED: August 23, 2013  4:24 PM

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For managing virtual memory, I’d recommend setting it so that the minimum is 1.5x of the physical memory, and maximum is 2x.

Example: If there is 512MB of RAM installed, the minimum pagefile should be 768MB and the maximum 1GB

For cleaning up startup items, I always bypass MSCONFIG, and go to the key in the registry that MSCONFIG is pulling from:

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINESOFTWAREMicrosoftWindowsCurrentVersionRun

If you delete items from in there, they no longer start with Windows, and you can still have a “Normal” startup as far as the MSCONFIG tool is concerned.

For troubleshooting performance, a good tool to begin using is Sysinternal’s Process Explorer (now Microsoft Process Explorer). Just google that and start using it – you’ll be suprised how much it has to offer.

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  • rg7777
    The one thing that I found useful is reducing page file fragmentation. On new computers, I set the minimum and maximum page file size to the recommended size, usually 1.5 times the RAM. This eliminates page file fragmentation. On computers that have been running for sometime, remove the page file by specifying none. Reboot the computer and run the Windows XP/2000 Defrag utlility a few times until most fragmentation is gone. recreate the page file to the specified size. Another useful utility to locate and disable or remove unwanted programs is Microsoft's SysInternals utility called Autoruns. You may disable items in the startup and enable them later if you find that they are essential or casuse other operational issues. That's my 2 cents.
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  • Wrobinson
    For guidance on virtual memory and paging files in Windows XP, consult the following URLS http://support.microsoft.com/kb/314482, http://support.microsoft.com/kb/555223 and http://support.microsoft.com/?kbid=294418.
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  • Wrobinson
    For guidance on VM and pagefile optimization in Windows XP, consult http://www.petri.co.il/pagefile_optimization.htm.
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  • Ravendawson
    Sorry I have to edit the link part... There is a way to increase the paging file to increase the amount of program data that can be stored there. However, increasing it a process called thrashing, which is the therm applied to "too much swapping"--and as a result it will impair overall performance. So in order to optimize virtual memory speed and performance, you can follow this guide to increase virtual memory size depending on the system you’re using.
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  • Chippy088
    I have to correct a minor error in Ravendawson's post. Thrashing is not caused by increasing the page file size, it is caused my have too many programs running in too small ram, (requiring more physical ram than is actually there, hence the constant file swaping to virtual memory.) Computers run slow for many reasons. For personal/home use, 1gig is good for surfing, emailing and some games playing, is usually enough. Business use normally requires large data file access, like a spreadsheet, which can be memory hungry, so the more physical memory (upto 3.5gig) the better. I agree with restricting the programs that load up at start up, why load them if they are not needed. Stopping programs in task manager is a temp fix. Do you really want users to stop running processes indiscriminately? I think not. I always recommend disabling task manager access. How many normal users know what each process does, or what program it is needed by? I also do the same as Rq7777 suggests, defrag the hard drive after turning off virtual memory pageing. Defrag the disk, then re-enable the paging with the higher size value. The reason for turning page swapping off first, is because the swap area is marked in the OS 'as do not move' (because programs refer to physical addressing to retrieve the data segments.) So any defragmentation will wrap around the swap file. By turning it off before defragging, it will create a large contiguous area after the files have been compacted. This will allow a larger contiguous swap file to be created. So giving faster recall of the data.
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