When did Paging fil...
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When did Paging file develop?

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Numerous computers seized from a suspect address.

It appears they bought a new computer every 2-3 years and never threw out the old one. The oldest is from circa 2003, Fujitsu-Siemens, Windows XP Pro. The hard drive is 25GB.

I can't seem to find any paging file. I appreciate on a hard this size it may only be a very small paging file… but zero?

Is this possibly before the time paging files were common place? Circa when did paging files become the norm and what capacities?

Posted : 22/06/2016 2:04 am
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Swapping memory pages from RAM to disk is a very old concept, going back to the earliest operating systems (think 1960s).

And yes, it was included in XP. But you can set the size of the file to zero if you wanted. (from the Control Panel, Advanced Tab, under Performance, Settings).

Despite many people at the time saying setting your paging file to zero bytes made your computer faster (because it wouldn't use the disk), it was a dumb idea. The computer would just crash in low RAM situations.

Posted : 22/06/2016 6:48 am
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The oldest is from circa 2003, Fujitsu-Siemens, Windows XP Pro. The hard drive is 25GB.

I can't seem to find any paging file. I appreciate on a hard this size it may only be a very small paging file… but zero?

Your question is not clear are you asking about absence of paging file or a paging file that is sized 0 bytes? Based on what data?

Paging file is connected to virtual memory, which appeared in Windows NT. It's standard in XP, so the total absence of a paging file may be worth investigating. It may be technically possible to disable paging file – it's ages since I checked XP – but it's certainly possible to relocate it, and as fara s I remember it's also possible to specify its size.

For example, on my old XP you would have found the paging file on a non-system drive. Registry would have been pretty clear on the relocation, though.

Take into account that there used to be all kinds of weird optimization advice out there. For example, if your system had more than 1 Gb RAM, some people suggested that the page file was superfluous, and disabling it would actually speed the system up. If the system you're looking at has a lot of RAM ('a lot' in XP terms), this might be an explanation. (Added I see Passmark makes much the same suggestion.)

Posted : 22/06/2016 12:46 pm
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I can't seem to find any paging file. I appreciate on a hard this size it may only be a very small paging file… but zero?

Not a problem having no paging file! Tried it on Win10 a few minutes ago. During those times the drives were slow and due to performance reasons a lot of people thought, having no pagefile would increase PC performance. Putting it on a separate disk, using a second controller or splitting your amount of RAM into 2 pagefiles were comon "concepts" -)

One of your clients might had access to a "highly qualified" PC magazine of those times. Hmm…good old days, despite it took minutes with a Netscape Communicator and a US Robotics modem to open a website with blinking GIF files 😉

best regards,

Posted : 22/06/2016 1:34 pm
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Ahh, the good ol' times of NT 3.x!

The pagefile has been there since those old days, and at the time it made a lot of sense.

Once you have enough RAM, it makes (IMNSHO) none (unless you *need* it for crashdumps).

Still a few programs, the classical example is Photoshop, actually *needed* (actually *pretended* ) that there was one.

With new systems, where it is possible to redirect crashdumps, using the DedicatedDumpFile key in the Registry, and there is enough memory, it makes even less sense than "none"

Of course it has been the object of endless debates over the years, particularly by people that had no or little idea about how it was actually used.


To answer your question, it is not at all "abnormal" in my experience to find NT systems disks without a pagefile, as a number of people will have tweaked them and set pagefile to "none" (or in the good ol' days, as Bunnysniper said, on another hard disk, on another partition, etc.).
What would be highly suspect would be finding a system with a low amount of memory (RAM) without a pagefile or a system with Photshop installed without it.


Posted : 22/06/2016 4:58 pm
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What are you saying happens when you install Photoshop on a system with no paging file? Does it require you to set a paging file?

Posted : 23/06/2016 3:20 am
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Once you have enough RAM, it makes (IMNSHO) none

But there is the problem. Even really experienced users can't predict exactly what peak RAM requirements are today and in the future.

Program's RAM usage can often spike. And sometimes you get unlucky and several programs peak at the same time. Better to have the swap file sitting there (largely unused, but at near zero cost) than have your PC blue screen with a dozen important apps running.

I do customer support, and we see this problem every few months. Based on poor advice, customers turn off the paging file, then forget they have done it, then get random unexplained crashes under high load, then blame the software. Turning it off risks making your PC unreliable, for zero performance benefit.

The only exception is maybe for locked down embedded systems. Where the software running on the box is fixed at the time of manufacture and the hard disk capacity is small.

Posted : 23/06/2016 10:39 am
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