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Configuring the Win2k paging file

Administrator Tip: Configuring the Win2k paging file

Since many of you might have been waiting to install Windows 2000 until the first Service Pack arrival, the next few Admin tips will center on Win2K set-up and configuration.

Configuring the Paging File

From Inside Windows 2000 Server by William Boswell, New Riders, 2000.

Windows 2000 has two files that can take up a lot of space. These are the paging file, PAGEFILE.SYS, and the Active Directory information store, NTDS.DIT. You need to make special allowances for storing these files.

Setup sizes the paging file to be 11MB larger than main memory. This is often inadequate for heavily used servers and desktops that do lots of graphics. Some methods of alleviating this memory burden are as follows:

  • Move the paging file to another disk. You can reduce the size of the Windows 2000 partition by moving the paging file to another drive or drives. You can have up to 16 paging files as long as each one is on a separate logical drive. You will not get a performance improvement unless the paging files are on separate physical drives, as well. If there is no paging file in the system partition, you cannot dump the contents of the memory to disk following a Kernel-mode stop error (Blue Screen of Death). This feature is really only required if you are troubleshooting an unstable system. You can configure a paging file in the system partition when one becomes necessary.
  • Avoid paging file fragmentation. The paging file can become fragmented, which hurts performance in two ways. First, finding pages in a fragmented paging file requires more work from the file system. Second, the paging file is locked, so the disk defragmenter must work around it to defrag the remaining files. One technique that administrators have used with good success is to create a second partition (or use a second hard drive, which also improves performance) for the sole purpose of holding the paging file. This keeps it from becoming fragmented. You can also set NTFS permissions to block the user from seeing this partition, reducing the likelihood that they will accidentally do something to the file

Paging file parameters

The size and distribution of the VMM paging files can be modified using System Properties as follows:

Changing paging file configuration

  1. Right-click the My Desktop icon and select PROPERTIES from the fly-out menu. The System Properties window opens.
  2. Select the Advanced tab.
  3. Click Performance Options.
  4. Under Virtual Memory, click Change to open the Virtual Memory window.

If you want to change the size of the existing paging file, highlight the entry and change the Initial Size and Maximum Size. If you want to build an additional paging file on a second drive, highlight the drive and enter the size values. Here are the paging file limits:

  • Maximum paging file size: 4095MB
  • Maximum number of paging files: 16, with one paging file on any given partition.
  • Default paging file size: RAM + 64MB.
  • Registry parameters: HKLM | System | CurrentControlSet | Control | Session Manager | Memory Management.
  • Virtual memory settings: All Registry parameters are set to 0, giving VMM latitude to assign memory using its own heuristics.

Unlike a Windows 3.x swap file, the Windows 2000 paging file does not occupy a contiguous chunk of disk.

For more information on Inside Windows 2000 Server go to information pages at New Riders or InformIT.

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