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Can't Set PageFile Size Manually (win XP)


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recently I was troubled by the automatic change of pagefile size, each time I set pagefile size manually, the system will change it to 1.5 times of the size of the total memory size after reboot.

OS spec:

Win Xp Pro Sp2


any help


Edited by chee
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Then, try to set it to "no pagefile" and reboot. Then create it again and reboot again.

If the same happens, try to reboot in safe mode, and see if the problem still there. If not, chances are that something autostarting is causing this problem.

Check if you are not using Norton AV or something else from Symantec(with autostart).

Try to do this :

boot in safe mode and disable pagefile for all drives, reboot.

boot in safe mode and delete manually pagefile.sys from all drives, reboot.

boot in safe mode and change pagefile as you want, reboot.

Pagefile settings are here, see how it changes:

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\System\CurrentControlSet\Control\Session Manager\Memory Management

Edited by rms
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I second the registry change method, as I've seen this type of thing happen before. The OS is convinced it needs that space due to RAM constraints on boot, so it's likely you've got a startup application, service, or driver that is making an allocation request for a large amount of contiguous process space, and so right off of the bat Windows is "sure" that you'll need the pagefile if this app is going to use that process space.

If you set it via the registry, it should take your changes on the next boot and stick with them.

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Thanks, RMS and Cluberti

I've tried "No pagefile" option and set pagefile size via registry both in normal and safe modes, the pagefile size still goes back to 1.5x RAM.

I've also checked services and applications listed in Startup panel via msconfig.exe, only mandatory system applications and services are allowed. items of win.ini wer also checked.

No antivirus software are allowed to startup when system boots up (ZA, F-secure), all av software services are set to start manually.

The registry value at:

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\System\CurrentControlSet\Control\Session Manager\Memory Management

Paging Files C:\pagefile.sys 400 460

remains unchanged but the actually page file size is 761m.

Weird enough.

Why does this happen?


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It sounds like something is setting it in the registry on boot - have you changed the reg value manually, and then rebooted directly into safe mode to see if it changed? If not, you've got a startup program or service doing it.

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@Cluberti: thanks for your consistent help.

there're 3 cases:

1> Check "No pagefile": then the system won't create a pagefile

2> set pagefile size manually:

2.1> in Normal and Safe modes, the reg value remains the same

2.2> in Safe mode, the actually pagefile size matches the value set in reg

2.3> in Normal mode, the actually pagefile size matches 1.5 time the ram size

I've searched online again and found posts saying that some had this problem before, yet none gave a solution.

only your suggestion gives an inspiration.

I'll post progress.


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I'd suggest downloading autoruns from sysinternals and disabling all non-Microsoft items. I'd also suggest (as a test) uninstalling any antivirus and antispyware applications you may have installed, then set the registry value and reboot - see if the problem remains after doing the aforementioned during a regular boot. If it does, download regmon from sysinternals and configure it to log the next boot (read the .hlp file if you're unsure where it is in the tools menu). If we get to that point, we can use the regmon log to see who or what is touching that registry value and changing it.

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@ Cluberti---

Just as you said: it's AV software that did this.

After a whole day's trying and searching, the bad guy finally revealed itself: Zone Alarm Internet Security Suite

though all Zone Alarm related services are disabled from starting at boot up, it still changed the page file size to system default by dumping extra needed memory into the page file on the very first reboot after its installation, as any antivirus software always does, and lock the pagefiles size. Most uses would not notice this subtle change.

I chose "Diagnostic Boot" and "Safe Mode", both of which made the pagefile size intact. Yet I still didn't know which application changed the size. then ghosted my backup os (without any anyvirus software installed), the pagefile size became again manually controllable

thanks again for your help and suggestion.

Now I'm trying to solve this problem and further suggestions, if any, will be appreciated


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Well, I hate to say it, but I think the only options you have are to either report this to ZoneAlarm support and see if they have a workaround or a patch to fix this, or use a different suite that doesn't think it knows better than you how to configure your machine ;).

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