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Aranarth
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Windows, SSD's, and the swap file...

Thu Jan 16, 2014 2:07 pm

I've been thinking about ssd's for a while and have read some system optimization guides for SSD's and Windows XP/Vista etc though haven't seen one lately since win7 and later can use them automatically with little user configuration.

I have 8 gig of ram on my win7 box and an 8 gig swap file that at most has 1gig used. (I'm not editing video's, jsut playing games etc.)

The crux of my question is that if the swap file is read heavy, and is not used a lot if you have 8gig+ ram should we leave it turned on so that if you do need to use it suddenly you have a very fast swap file available? This would allow you to page ram with less performance hit.

From what I understand the swap file was disabled primarily because cheaper drives used to be 64 gig or less. While these days the more common ssd size is 120gig or more meaning that we are not trying to save every gig of disk space.

Your comments please...
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Re: Windows, SSD's, and the swap file...

Thu Jan 16, 2014 2:13 pm

On my 128GB SSD with 8GB RAM I have manually set the file size to something like 1 or 2GB and disable hibernation just so I would have more available space on my drive. I think if anything TR's endurance testing has shown that with current/last gen SSDs endurance isn't really anything typical users need worry about - even heavy users would appear to be able to expect many years of trouble free operation barring other causes of failure outside of simply wearing out the drive. It would be helpful to know your drive type/capacity, but unless you're finding yourself running out of room I would worry about it, to be honest.
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Re: Windows, SSD's, and the swap file...

Thu Jan 16, 2014 2:23 pm

Link

Microsoft wrote:
Should the pagefile be placed on SSDs?

Yes. Most pagefile operations are small random reads or larger sequential writes, both of which are types of operations that SSDs handle well.

In looking at telemetry data from thousands of traces and focusing on pagefile reads and writes, we find that
•Pagefile.sys reads outnumber pagefile.sys writes by about 40 to 1,
•Pagefile.sys read sizes are typically quite small, with 67% less than or equal to 4 KB, and 88% less than 16 KB.
•Pagefile.sys writes are relatively large, with 62% greater than or equal to 128 KB and 45% being exactly 1 MB in size.

In fact, given typical pagefile reference patterns and the favorable performance characteristics SSDs have on those patterns, there are few files better than the pagefile to place on an SSD.

Are there any concerns regarding the Hibernate file and SSDs?

No, hiberfile.sys is written to and read from sequentially and in large chunks, and thus can be placed on either HDDs or SSDs.


The proper size of the pagefile is a more complex question.
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Re: Windows, SSD's, and the swap file...

Thu Jan 16, 2014 2:32 pm

That's the way I was leaning.

I guess changing my current setup and allowing the os to change the swap file size on the fly is probably the best way to do it.
Either that or setting the minimum size to 2gig and the max to 8gig would also be a good idea.

If win7 starts giving me a huge swap file I manually limit it to something much smaller.

Its too bad the hibernation file can't be moved to another drive, but the other hand the machine should boot fast enough that hibernation might not be worth it...


Thanks guys!
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Re: Windows, SSD's, and the swap file...

Thu Jan 16, 2014 5:01 pm

You can shrink the hiberfil.sys slightly by leveraging powercfg.

Admin Command Prompt:

powercfg /h /size 50


That's the most you can do short of disabling hibernation/hybrid sleep. That will make the hiberfil.sys half the RAM size.
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Re: Windows, SSD's, and the swap file...

Thu Jan 16, 2014 5:15 pm

YMMV, but I disabled hibernation and set the swap file to 4GB. I have 16GB of RAM, and realistically if I were to use all of it I would need a bigger swap file (probably at least 16GB). So far everything has worked out AOK though. If you use your computer as a workstation with RAM heavy applications (big CAD programs, huge Adobe documents), I'd set aside some more SSD space for the swap file.
 
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Re: Windows, SSD's, and the swap file...

Thu Jan 16, 2014 5:44 pm

you should not leave the swap file on, not because of SSDs but because you don't use it.
 
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Re: Windows, SSD's, and the swap file...

Thu Jan 16, 2014 5:50 pm

Diplomacy42 wrote:
you should not leave the swap file on, not because of SSDs but because you don't use it.

The OS always uses it. Please don't choke it.
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Re: Windows, SSD's, and the swap file...

Thu Jan 16, 2014 5:55 pm

Flying Fox wrote:
Diplomacy42 wrote:
you should not leave the swap file on, not because of SSDs but because you don't use it.
The OS always uses it. Please don't choke it.

One of the pernicious Windows myths (disabling it) that has been around since pagefile.sys came about and has been wrong since the moment it was first proposed.
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Re: Windows, SSD's, and the swap file...

Thu Jan 16, 2014 6:06 pm

Pagefile.sys management is one of the new under the hood features of Windows 8 and 8.1.

The dynamic management of the pagefile.sys by the OS can expand it under intense demand and also shrink it under soft demand.

For example: My system has 24GiB of RAM and Windows 8.1 has shrunk the pagefile.sys to ~1.5GiB in size.

Manually resizing the pagefile.sys is explained here by Mark Russinovich.
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Re: Windows, SSD's, and the swap file...

Thu Jan 16, 2014 6:14 pm

Captain Ned wrote:
Flying Fox wrote:
Diplomacy42 wrote:
you should not leave the swap file on, not because of SSDs but because you don't use it.
The OS always uses it. Please don't choke it.

One of the pernicious Windows myths (disabling it) that has been around since pagefile.sys came about and has been wrong since the moment it was first proposed.

We even have a little panda meme cooked up in the forums about this.
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Re: Windows, SSD's, and the swap file...

Thu Jan 16, 2014 6:18 pm

Ryu Connor wrote:
Manually resizing the pagefile.sys is explained here by Mark Russinovich.

If there's anyone who, better than Russinovich, can:

A: Fully grok the internal workings of Windows, and;
B: Explain it in language mere mortals can understand;

MS needs to find & hire him/her now. I've relied on his SysInternals stuff for years to do the things I want Windows to do (and I 99% know that it can do) but I just can't find the way.
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Re: Windows, SSD's, and the swap file...

Thu Jan 16, 2014 6:53 pm

About the page file; I posted this back in 2004, it remains true today:

Windows does not need a disk based page file if you have enough ram to cover your peak memory usage.

Because Windows pages to disk long before it exhausts main memory, you will see a performance boost by disabling the disk page file. It wont be much, because Windows is quite intelligent about what it pages to disk, but ram is always faster than a HDD.

Is some cases after you disable the page file you will have to manually delete the .sys file to recover the hard disk space. (If windows lets you delete this file, you have already disabled its use.)

I have been running my main machine for three years with no page file; no ill effects. (6GB ram)


Granted, you have to be *really* sure about what your peak memory usage is; but if you watch it over a month or so, it's not hard to get a good feel for it. Been running without a disk page file for 13 years now.
 
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Re: Windows, SSD's, and the swap file...

Fri Jan 17, 2014 2:06 pm

So. if eny of you knows how to tourn off completly swap file i tryed on start,right click on my computer,properties,advanced system settings,under performance settings,advanced,under virtual memory change on all my drives is no paging file but on aida64 is stil showing that i use swap file i got 6GB of ram and when i use 2GB aida64 shows that i use 2GB swap file and 4GB swap file is free. how to torn off that swap file completly ????
 
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Re: Windows, SSD's, and the swap file...

Fri Jan 17, 2014 2:10 pm

MrHostile wrote:
So. if eny of you knows how to tourn off completly swap file i tryed on start,right click on my computer,properties,advanced system settings,under performance settings,advanced,under virtual memory change on all my drives is no paging file but on aida64 is stil showing that i use swap file i got 6GB of ram and when i use 2GB aida64 shows that i use 2GB swap file and 4GB swap file is free. how to torn off that swap file completly ????

Don't. The boffins at MS put it there for a reason and they're smarter than you.
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Re: Windows, SSD's, and the swap file...

Fri Jan 17, 2014 3:14 pm

What you're really saying when you disable the page file is "I'd rather 1-2GB* of my RAM is wasted by garbage that could be offloaded to the page file than give it to the cache manager"

*Totally made up number, but the point still stands.
Last edited by SuperSpy on Fri Jan 17, 2014 4:03 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Windows, SSD's, and the swap file...

Fri Jan 17, 2014 3:43 pm

Captain Ned wrote:
MS needs to find & hire him/her now. I've relied on his SysInternals stuff for years to do the things I want Windows to do (and I 99% know that it can do) but I just can't find the way.


He's been an employee of Microsoft since 2006.

The change to the Windows 8 & 8.1 pagefile.sys mechanics were undoubtedly influenced by him.
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Re: Windows, SSD's, and the swap file...

Fri Jan 17, 2014 3:50 pm

Ryu Connor wrote:
Captain Ned wrote:
MS needs to find & hire him/her now. I've relied on his SysInternals stuff for years to do the things I want Windows to do (and I 99% know that it can do) but I just can't find the way.

He's been an employee of Microsoft since 2006.

Yup. And all the doom-and-gloom naysayers who said that it would be the end of Sysinternals appear to have been wrong. Sysinternals has been under the Microsoft tent for a while now, and AFAICT they have let him continue "doing his thing".

They even still distribute his BSOD screensaver. :lol:
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Re: Windows, SSD's, and the swap file...

Fri Jan 17, 2014 4:10 pm

just brew it! wrote:
They even still distribute his BSOD screensaver. :lol:


Had I known something like this existed, I could've trolled a great many people (back when I knew any who used XP).
 
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Re: Windows, SSD's, and the swap file...

Fri Jan 17, 2014 6:43 pm

Ryu Connor wrote:
He's been an employee of Microsoft since 2006.

I did know that. All I was saying is that if there's possibly someone out there who groks the guts of Windows better than him and DOESN'T work for MS, that would be my first new hire as MS CEO.
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Re: Windows, SSD's, and the swap file...

Sat Jan 18, 2014 4:44 pm

In Lunix you can just turn swap off, or not turn it on in the install more usually. I have not used it in years, I do have 12G RAM and never use it all up in Linux, maybe 8G is the most I see.
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Re: Windows, SSD's, and the swap file...

Sat Jan 18, 2014 6:28 pm

The one general rule about virtual memory is that the experts will never give you a straight answer. Most of the information you'll find is outdated by 10 years, and doesn't account for systems with more than 2GB of RAM. Everything else is just opinions based on no testing whatsoever.

What I can tell you is that there are a handful of programs that have issues with virtual memory disabled. Because of that, I usually just set it to 4GB in modern systems. This is large enough to cover nearly any situation (unless you really need to add RAM to the system), but small enough to not have any impact on the storage device.
 
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Re: Windows, SSD's, and the swap file...

Sat Jan 18, 2014 8:05 pm

PenGun wrote:
In Lunix you can just turn swap off, or not turn it on in the install more usually. I have not used it in years, I do have 12G RAM and never use it all up in Linux, maybe 8G is the most I see.


Linux has these same debates. The kernel maintainers also recommend you leave swap on.

Link

The Linux 2.6 kernel added a new kernel parameter called swappiness to let administrators tweak the way Linux swaps. It is a number from 0 to 100. In essence, higher values lead to more pages being swapped, and lower values lead to more applications being kept in memory, even if they are idle. Kernel maintainer Andrew Morton has said that he runs his desktop machines with a swappiness of 100, stating that "My point is that decreasing the tendency of the kernel to swap stuff out is wrong. You really don't want hundreds of megabytes of BloatyApp's untouched memory floating about in the machine. Get it out on the disk, use the memory for something useful."


The Egg wrote:
The one general rule about virtual memory is that the experts will never give you a straight answer. Most of the information you'll find is outdated by 10 years, and doesn't account for systems with more than 2GB of RAM. Everything else is just opinions based on no testing whatsoever.


Yes, they do give you a straight answer. This very thread has links to those very people.

The information is not outdated by 10 years, not that age really matters. The purpose of swap hasn't changed in decades.

Just as with the previous two statements the information is based on empirical data, not just peoples opinions.

Patently bad information like this is detrimental to the quality of discussion on these forums. It is particularly egregious when made directly after resource links were put in this very thread before you posted.
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Re: Windows, SSD's, and the swap file...

Sat Jan 18, 2014 8:21 pm

It's been 10 years since 2.6 came out. We have come a long way baby.

Edit:
Turned my swappiness down to 10. Ya know I had never paid it no mind, but it's a bit snappier now.
Last edited by PenGun on Sun Jan 19, 2014 5:02 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Windows, SSD's, and the swap file...

Sat Jan 18, 2014 9:20 pm

In prior versions of Windows, I always used to tweak virtual storage so that it was 1.5 to 2.5 times my real memory and I would make min/max the same values to prevent fragmentation on my system drive partition. I never ever completely disabled virtual memory for two reasons:

1. Windows needs it. Comeon, listen to the Microsoft designers, wouldja? Stop being petulant! :roll:

2. A BSOD might be caused by no virtual storage.

3. A BSOD can't be fixed if you have no virtual storage because the dump services routines needs "some" virtual storage on your OS drive. Yes, I look at dumps. Operating systems are like elephants. Sometimes what comes out the back can tell you what's wrong with the insides. :wink:

4. Everybody I know who disabled it eventually had some form of crashes; sometimes app crashes, sometimes BSODs. Reenabling virtual storage would reduce or stop the crashes.

By the way, we now have both a pagefile and a swapfile.

Windows 8 will enlarge and shrink the page file automagically. And yes it does decrease in size; I've seen it do so.

With Windows 8 and 8.1, I no longer manually manage virtual memory. I let Windows 8 manage all three of those files, and when I built this system, I put page, swap, and hiber files on my 256 GB C: partition which is on a Samsung 830 Pro SSD (256 GB), which I converted to GPT right when it was new. To eliminate the frustration of filling up the drive, I just gave the OS the whole drive and put my apps on a secondary, spinning HDD. Been running for a year. The last 7 months, this system has been running 24/7. No bad sectors, no lost data, and no reassigned blocks.

Here are my current stats, courtesy of File Explorer and a fantastic little tool called "WinDirStat":

Total RAM: 64 GB

Size of Hiberfil.sys: ~ 54 GB
Size of Pagefile.sys: ~ 34 GB
Size of Swapfile.sys: ~262 MB

Biggest Folders on my System Drive:

Users: 31.4 GB (mostly in "Appdata" under my userid)
Windows: 21.2 GB (mostly in "WinSxS" and "Installer")
"Program Files" and "Program Files(x86)" together make up about 15 GB.

My App Partition (because I found this interesting):

This one is currently at 110 GB allocated was just today moved to a 240 GB partition on a big Crucial M500 (960 GB) SSD. I moved it to an SSD partly because since I've been doing more 3D graphics and animation, my app partition has become the place where all the action is happening. 50% of the allocated space on this partition consists of 3D assets (meshes, textures, and support files), 40% is 32-bit programs (graphic and non-graphic), and 10% is 64-bit programs (also graphic and non-graphic).

Summary:
If you run Windows XP, you should be getting off it.
If you run Windows Vista, you should be thinking of moving to Win 7 or Win 8.
If you run Windows 7, please don't set your virtual storage to zero.
If you run Windows 8, you can take it from me...just let Windows manage it!
 
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Re: Windows, SSD's, and the swap file...

Sat Jan 18, 2014 10:39 pm

The majority of OS devs recommend you leave paging up to the OS. Yes, good, that's the best thing to do for most users. However it isn't true that this is the best advice for *all* users. I assure you there are workflows that perform better without an on disk pagefile (a squid cache is one example). After all, that's why the option to turn it off is made available in the UI. The critical quote from Russinovich is here:

Some feel having no paging file results in better performance, but in general, having a paging file means Windows can write pages on the modified list (which represent pages that aren’t being accessed actively but have not been saved to disk) out to the paging file, thus making that memory available for more useful purposes (processes or file cache). So while there may be some workloads that perform better with no paging file, in general having one will mean more usable memory being available to the system (never mind that Windows won’t be able to write kernel crash dumps without a paging file sized large enough to hold them).


So, most people are better off leaving the defaults intact; but, if you know your workflow preforms better without a pagefile, there's very little reason to keep it on. If you have an ssd, where space and writecycles are more important, it's worth it to consider which category you fall under.
 
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Re: Windows, SSD's, and the swap file...

Sat Jan 18, 2014 11:33 pm

I have it disabled on my system. The odds of running out of ram with 32 gigs is tiny given my workload.
 
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Re: Windows, SSD's, and the swap file...

Sat Jan 18, 2014 11:39 pm

madlemming wrote:
The majority of OS devs recommend you leave paging up to the OS. Yes, good, that's the best thing to do for most users.


1. There are those here who don't have the skillset.
2. There are those here who think they have the skillset.
3. There are those here who know what they're doing.

Category three does not need our help and would not ask the question. Nor would they proffer advice telling the other two categories to change the default.

Category two knows enough to be dangerous and not only have potentially impacted their own best interests, but will tout to others to do things they shouldn't.

Category one is most users and they needed to be protected from category two. We are not interested in performance corner cases here for most users. We are interested in what will protect them in all outcomes and the answer for that is quite clear: leave the memory management alone and that the SSD impact is too minimal to worry about.

Bad advice detrimental to the quality of discussion on these forums.
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Re: Windows, SSD's, and the swap file...

Sun Jan 19, 2014 10:02 am

I predict that fast SSDs will eventually be cheap enough in terms of $/GB that most of the swap file debates will become irrelevant. Just put your swap on your SSD and don't worry about it.
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Re: Windows, SSD's, and the swap file...

Sun Jan 19, 2014 3:09 pm

Ryu Connor wrote:
The Egg wrote:
The one general rule about virtual memory is that the experts will never give you a straight answer. Most of the information you'll find is outdated by 10 years, and doesn't account for systems with more than 2GB of RAM. Everything else is just opinions based on no testing whatsoever.

Yes, they do give you a straight answer. This very thread has links to those very people.
The information is not outdated by 10 years, not that age really matters. The purpose of swap hasn't changed in decades.
Just as with the previous two statements the information is based on empirical data, not just peoples opinions.
Patently bad information like this is detrimental to the quality of discussion on these forums. It is particularly egregious when made directly after resource links were put in this very thread before you posted.

I must have missed your link (I'm only seeing one, the others were a forum thread from 2004, and another that didn't discuss swap size). The age of the article does in fact matter, because up until your Mark Russinovich piece (assuming you can make it more than halfway through without jumping off a bridge), nearly every other page file article discusses multiplying the system RAM by various amounts, which doesn't quite apply in 16-32GB systems.

As per my comments about trouble finding quality information, the fact that this is still discussed at length in 2014 should speak for itself. My apologies if anyone was offended.

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