Windows 8 and 8.1 Forums


Do you really need Virtual Memory?

  1. #1


    Posts : 132
    Windows 8.1 Pro WMC

    Do you really need Virtual Memory?


    I just built myself a new system and with 16GB of memory, I have turned off the virtual memory. It seems to me that real memory is faster than swapping things back and forth from a hard drive and it should save wear and tear on the hard drive. Maybe the operating system only uses the pagefile if it runs out of real memory?

    Ak

      My System SpecsSystem Spec

  2. #2


    Quote Originally Posted by alkaufmann View Post
    I just built myself a new system and with 16GB of memory, I have turned off the virtual memory. It seems to me that real memory is faster than swapping things back and forth from a hard drive and it should save wear and tear on the hard drive. Maybe the operating system only uses the pagefile if it runs out of real memory?

    Ak
    You can turn off virtual memory with 16Gb installed, but at some point your PC may crash if it needs more than 16GB (HD video editing, 3D design software, games, concurrent VMs, etc...), or if a program needs to specifically use the page file, so I would never turn it off to be fair. I would set initial size to 1GB and maximum to 4GB in your case.

      My System SpecsSystem Spec

  3. #3


    Sloe Deth, Californicatia
    Posts : 3,908
    Windows 8 Pro with Media Center/Windows 7


    It's dangerous to shut it off, Logically, I can see why thinking 16 GB would cover the needs of the system, but think about it, most programs use way more than that in overall swap space, the swap apace is just for the stuff that is ready to be crammed into the processor. I only have 2 GB of Ram, my system has set 5 GB in swap space. When working right, your system will determine how much you need and set it accordingly- But 1 to 4 Gig sounds good to go with 16Gb Ram. How big is that space with 16 GB in?

    Maybe one of us should figure out a way to use a 500 GB Hard Drive as RAM - Could that be done? Could an empty drive be hooked up and set to use it's full space as Virtual Memory?
      My System SpecsSystem Spec

  4. #4


    Posts : 1,925
    Windows 8.1 Pro


    The problem here is that you really don't understand what virtual memory is, how it functions, and how Windows uses it to its advantage.

    More than likely, you think virtual memory is when windows takes memory and swaps it to disk. While this is true, it's only part of the story. Windows only swaps things to disk that are not in use for a long time. And it only does so with dynamic memory (that is, memory allocated by the application). It does not do this for the applications themselves, since windows uses a technique called "demand paged executables". This means that Windows maps the physical disk image of the application into virtual memory, and it merely discards memory pages it doesn't use, then it uses the same swap mechanism to load them back into memory if it ever needs them.

    The purpose, however, of using virtual memory, even with a lot of physical memory, is that Windows can free up memory that is never used in order to use it for more important things, such as disk cache, or system cache (which also includes caching network resources). Windows throws away or swaps things you seldom use in order to make more room for things you are ACTUALLY using.

    So by turning off swap, you are actually reducing the performance of your system, because it will have fewer caches to store things. Memory is there to be used, not sit idle doing nothing. There is no reason not to use memory that is doing nothing for things that are.
      My System SpecsSystem Spec

  5. #5


    Posts : 740
    Windows 8.1


    I seem to recall that VM contains crash data, which would be important to resolve problems.

    I just set it to default to a little over the minimum recommended, but with the option to expand as needed.
      My System SpecsSystem Spec

  6. #6


    Posts : 1,320
    Server 2012 / 8.0


    In support of "Ak" (thread starter), and Mystere > excellent concise description of page file and/or swap memory usage.

    Since the advanced system settings makes it optional, a.k.a. setting to zero, or no paging file, I guess we can assume it's an acceptable option. It may not be, but it is there. I have never used a dump file. I have not had a computer crash since 1998. I have not used a page file in years and have had no problems and have seen no performance degradation. My WEI scores (probably irrelevant) are all high end. My computer boots in seconds to the start screen, and there is no delay in launching anything. But then again, I am not creating fractals, or running pi calculations, benchmarking loads, do not do virtual anything, and do not play games, or anything cpu intensive. (except for Microsoft Truck Madness 2) So, a quick Acronis image takes 2 to 3 minutes in full disk mode and it's done. Incrementals take less than a minute.
      My System SpecsSystem Spec

  7. #7


    Posts : 1,925
    Windows 8.1 Pro


    There are also some very good posts on this:

    windows server 2008 - Any benefit or detriment from removing a pagefile on an 8GB RAM machine? - Server Fault
    Pushing the Limits of Windows: Virtual Memory - Mark's Blog - Site Home - TechNet Blogs

    The long and short of it is this. If you want to invest the time into learning all about virtual memory, how it works, what it does, etc.. and after doing all that and knowing all the risks and repercussions, then by all means, do whatever you want.

    However, if you really don't have an interest in learning all the details, I would suggest leaving it at the Windows defined default. You may never have a problem, but if you do.. you won't know how to deal with it, or even understand why its happening. For instance, if you have a blue screen, your computer will just magically reboot.. and you'll be left wondering why that is, and you'll spend hours, if not days posting to boards and nobody will know what your problem is because you won't have connected it enough to tell them.

    I'm never one to tell people not to experiment. By all means do so, but if you do, you have to be willing to accept that things can get messed up. And you may be stuck reinstalling everything. If that's not something you want to do, then I would suggest leaving your system in its default settings.
      My System SpecsSystem Spec

  8. #8


    Posts : 132
    Windows 8.1 Pro WMC


    Lets say I set up a maximum 4GB of virtual memory and I have 16GB of actual ram, what would happen if an application requires 30GB of ram? Would I get the blue screen of death with some system code or would the application tell me I do not have enough memory?

    Thanks for trying to explain it to me but I still don't see how using virtual memory is better than using real memory that is doing nothing. I do keep track of how much memory my system is using at all times.

    Ak
      My System SpecsSystem Spec

  9. #9


    Posts : 740
    Windows 8.1


    Are you going to be running any applications that normally use 30GB of RAM?

    And the OS may be laggy for a moment as it approaches max capacity, then it'll kill the app.
      My System SpecsSystem Spec

  10. #10


    Posts : 132
    Windows 8.1 Pro WMC


    I was just using that 30GB as an example. I suspect that if an application requests more memory than what is available, the system would not crash and neither should the application.

    One of the reasons I got more memory than what I would ever need is because I have set up a ram drive. It makes for a very speedy machine.

    Ak
      My System SpecsSystem Spec

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