Why can’t I change the size of the pagefile in Windows XP?

RayInLV January 5, 2012
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I just got my hands on an old Dell Pentium M I9300 Laptop that has only 40GB hard drive using Windows XP. This machine is quite adequate for surfing the Net and easy little day to day things.

But space is limited, and it has only 768kb of memory, so I need the swapfile to be efficient for those occasions it is needed.

I know how to move and resize it using the Control Panel/System/Advanced/Performance/Advanced/Virtual Memory utility.

The problem is, nothing happens. After entering new settings, I reduced size to 2mb on C, and added one to a 2g class 10 MicroSD card.

After reboot, the settings are retained in the utility, but the old pagefile persists at old size and new one is not created.

I had thought the issue could be putting the pagefile on the SD card (might be XP does not support it), so I reset everything and just reduced the size of the pagefile on C to 768k, with no file on the SD. I removed the SD and rebooted. But again, settings are retained and no changes after restart.

The SD is formatted as NTFS which I had read is required.

Any ideas one why the pagefile won’t change in size?

  1. RayInLV
    January 5, 2012 at 7:07 pm

    I think Windows knows the speed on the USB drives is slower than the internal hard drive and taking control putting the Recommended size Pagefile.sys onto the System Disk if you try using the slower alternatives.

    If their are no USB drives in then I can create and size the file without issues.   Just the presence of the USB drives once you have configured the system to try to use them involks the described handling...

    So Until I get a driver update, I will stay with the defaults.

    By the way, I do not have any issues with this on my W7 pc, it seems to use the SDHC oK.   That system does not need this because I have 6g memory and seldom do I think it ever uses the pagefile.

    I did try just to see If I could reposition and size using the SDHC card and it works...

    • RayInLV
      January 5, 2012 at 7:08 pm

      By the way, If I type the comment in the window the Paragraph formatting is retained.

      If I type it into a Text file, cut and Paste into this window then the formatting is lots...


  2. RayInLV
    January 5, 2012 at 5:53 pm

    Well it gets more interesting.   I  have tried several  things.I found that if I set no pagefile on any drive and do a complete shutdown (not reboot) it does release the pagefile.sys on c:.   So having a good backup from before I started this, I started playing around.My Macrium Reflect image had a 384MB swap file.   My first try at changing it had caused this 1150MB.  So I copied (Macrium is nice for retrieving a single file from an image) the file to use.First, Since it always creates the pagefile.sys on c: with size of 1150MB (recommended size) independent of  whether I tell it to use the other drive, I just copied the 384MB out to the SDcard. When I tried to set the the system to use this pagefile.sys in Control panel it said the file was already out there and it asked to overide with a real one.  Answering YES, it does create a New file, but again on C drive and again 1150MB.Now, however, when the system is booted, the SDcard is locked with message inuse and can not be dismounted.  So the system thinks it is using it.  But there is no file on the card, and the file it creates on C is locked and can not be deleted.I thought I'd try putting the file on a regular USB drive not SDcard.   That Yielded same results.I did notice, copying the 384MB file to the SDcard (even though it is class 10) took over 10 minutes (did not time it exactly).Copying the file to the Disk drive took only 20 sec or so.This is telling me that using the SDcard just might be a huge waste of time....Some research has found comments to that effect.  Yet all those articles on Readyboost say it is good...Very conflicting information.  I have time, I will keep playing with it..Finally I did check and notice the SD card driver went back to 2002.  That could be the issue.  I have been looking for updates, but have not found any...

    • RayInLV
      January 5, 2012 at 5:54 pm

      Where has all my paragraph formatting gone?

      January 5, 2012 at 9:33 pm

      Hello, Readyboost does not work in windows XP.  It was a new option for vista and above.  There was some software that tried to make readyboost windows XP ready, but it did not work out pretty well because it was software based.

    January 5, 2012 at 8:07 am

    Hello, if I remember correctly, when moving pagefile to a different drive in XP, it was always recommended to leave at least a 50 MB pagefile in your C: drive for debugging purposes/system dumps.  It was also recommended to move pagefile to a basic partition.  XP would automatically choose the pagefile from disk less used. 

    I think you meant to say that physical memory is 768MB.  According to specs for this laptop, it came with 512 MBs (256MBx2)of memory. If you check the RAM, it has to have 1x512MB and 1x256MB sticks. 


    Anyways, probably the only thing left you could try is removing/deleting the old pagefile.  Once that is done, create/move the pagefile the way you had planned and see if that changes anything. 

    • RayInLV
      January 5, 2012 at 3:12 pm

      Oops, da, ohh, Ya, meant to say 768MB, just had a Perry moment.

      I tried to delete the pagefile.  I set system to  no page file with intent to reboot and delete it, then recreate with new settings, but it did not change and delete indicated it was in use.

      I will look for information on deleting it.

      • FIDELIS
        January 5, 2012 at 9:21 pm

        Hello, if you want to clear your pagefile at avery shutdown you can accomplish it with steps below.  You can also use this to clear pagefile the one time and then after system restart backtrack changes:

        -- start
        -- run
        -- type Regedit
        -- Navigate to following entry:

        HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINESYSTEMCurrentControlSetControlSessionManagerMemory Management

        -- on right hand side screen, highlight  ClearPageFileAtShutdown

        -- Right click on entry above and select Modify
        -- change value to 1 to enable.
        -- restart computer

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