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1 or 2 GB flash drive used for pagefile instead of the HD?

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October 11, 2006 8:21:37 PM

Any thoughts on using a high speed 1 or 2 GB flash drive for paging file?

If it could be used, HD usage could be greatly reduced and possibly extend the life of a harddrive. It also make the computer a little quieter.

More about : flash drive pagefile

October 11, 2006 9:50:19 PM

That's an interesting Idea. I don't see why it wouldnt work, but I think it would be slower than if you used your HD. I'm sure there is someone on these forums that has actually tried this and will be posting soon :) 
October 11, 2006 11:27:06 PM

I'm quite interested in the answer to this. It depends on the read/write speed of drive ... also, why not just buy more RAM?
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October 11, 2006 11:39:44 PM

I have three gig ram and my system (D805) still uses the page file, even when the ram usage is below 50%
October 11, 2006 11:44:40 PM

huh, I always thought that the windows page file was where windows put data that it couldn't fit into the RAM ... I know some programs make thier own page files, like photoshop. The other question would be: Does USB 2.0 or Firewire have a bandwidth greater than SATA 3.0? And if so, do any flashdrives actually use that full bandwidth?
October 12, 2006 12:11:22 AM

The thing about NAND flash used in flash drives is that it has a maximum number of reads\writes that can be done, after that it just stops working. Doing what tou suggested might make things faster, but with the enomours number of times windows acceces the page file, its going to stop working very soon.

The bandwith of USB 2.0 is 480MBps = 60MB/s while SATA II is 3Gbps = 300MB/s, but that does not mean its faster... usualy a HD can sustain a transfer speed of 25MB/s.
October 12, 2006 12:33:53 AM

@ smelly_feet:
I guess this could help make a computer quieter, although I can't hear any of my 3 drives anyway. I guess it could also benefit drive longevity, but I'm not sure if it would be significant.

Quote:
The bandwith of USB 2.0 is 480MBps = 60MB/s while SATA II is 3Gbps = 300MB/s, but that does not mean its faster... usualy a HD can sustain a transfer speed of 25MB/s.

You're on the right track saying that the theoretical speed of the connecting bus isn't a primary factor, but modern hard drives (7200RPM) can usually average at least 40MB/s over the entire surface of the drive. Also, though I'm sure the decreased access time of using flash would help for pagefile usage, I'm not sure if it would be worth the tradeoff in throughput. Fast flashdrives these days have transfer speeds in the 20-25MB/s range, but run-of-the-mill drives tend to be more in the 10-15MB/s range. Unfortunately, faster flash won't help much since 25MB/s is already approaching the EFFECTIVE throughput of USB 2.0. If I hadn't lost my flash drive I might have given this a shot, but I doubt the performance benefit would be worthwhile since I already have 2GB of Ram. Also, transfers over the USB bus require CPU overhead, and the faster the transfer, the more CPU time is used. This said, it may actually be detrimental to use USB based flash, especially if what you are doing is processor intensive.

-mcg
October 12, 2006 12:39:49 AM

That is a very interesting idea. Don't know if it works. Let me know if it does please.

I have a 1GB SD card that could find second life for this. I also have a 2 GB USB key that could do the same. Never touht of this, but it's a good idea "on paper" at least.

Question to XZezin: I know what you say is true to a certain point, but I personally think the read/write cycle of NAND flash memory shouldn't be a problem. Otherwise Intel, Microsoft and everybody else is dead wrong with their idea of ROBSON and other technique to use NAND Flash memory to improve system performances exactly in a way that works like the one said above, only better on it's implementation. Or maybe i missed something, no offence I hope.
October 12, 2006 12:41:59 AM

isn't vista going to have an option of doing almos this exact thing to increase proformance on low end systems?
October 12, 2006 12:46:07 AM

why don't you just turn pagefiling off if you have 3 gigs of ram? set the amount to be used to 0 and no worries.
October 12, 2006 1:11:48 AM

Quote:
why don't you just turn pagefiling off if you have 3 gigs of ram? set the amount to be used to 0 and no worries.


Agreed.
October 12, 2006 4:31:44 AM

Quote:
why don't you just turn pagefiling off if you have 3 gigs of ram? set the amount to be used to 0 and no worries.


Not sure about XP but with win98se, turning the page file off causes problems with applications that expect a page file. My printer for instance, would not print without a page file (crappy drivers). It would complain about not enough memory when there was 500MB of ram sitting there waiting to be used.

I solved this by creating a ramdisk and sticking a small 32mb page file on it.

So I know this sounds dumb, but maybe creating a ram disk and putting the page file on this, is a better solution than having no page file. It's easy in win98 cos you create the ramdisk before windows starts,but not sure how you would do it in xp.

With win98se, I can boot to dos then run win98 in ram. Responsive and quiet, virus resistant, but takes a couple of minutes to load the os into ram. It's my prefered internet pc. A clean load every time.
October 12, 2006 5:14:49 AM

MS doesn't agree with your conclusions regarding disk vs flash speeds.

From the Vista features list:

Windows ReadyBoost

Adding system memory (RAM) is often the best way to improve your PC's performance. More memory means applications can run without needing to access the hard drive. However, upgrading memory is not always easy. You need to know what type of memory you need, purchase the memory, and open your computer to install the memory—which sometimes can invalidate your support agreement. Also, some machines have limited memory expansion capabilities, preventing you from adding RAM even if you are willing to do so.

Windows Vista introduces a new concept in adding memory to a system. Windows ReadyBoost lets users use a removable flash memory device, such as a USB thumb drive, to improve system performance without opening the box. Windows ReadyBoost can improve system performance because it can retrieve data kept on the flash memory more quickly than it can retrieve data kept on the hard disk, decreasing the time you need to wait for your PC to respond. Combined with SuperFetch technology, this can help drive impressive improvements in system responsiveness.
October 12, 2006 12:17:36 PM

Quote:
MS doesn't agree with your conclusions regarding disk vs flash speeds.



...and you believe Microsoft ?

Maybe it's true, but a statement from Microsoft is about as believable as a statement from George Bush as far as I'm concerned. Better to ignore them and find more reliable sources. They just confuse the issue.

My favourite Microsoft statement, cos it's just so obviously not true, is the claim from Microsoft that Windows XP starts faster than any previous version of windows.

I haven't tried any versions before 3.1, but I still have a copy of windows 3.1 on an antique hard drive (less than 1 gb so very slow by todays standards). The last time I booted it up was on a celeron 300 running at 450: it booted in a couple of seconds. I suspect on a modern hard drive it would boot in under 2 seconds... I must try it out again.

Every version of windows they bring out is "faster and more secure" apparently. Can't wait for Vista, bound to be blisteringly fast and really secure.
October 12, 2006 12:52:54 PM

Quote:
MS doesn't agree with your conclusions regarding disk vs flash speeds.



...and you believe Microsoft ?

Maybe it's true, but a statement from Microsoft is about as believable as a statement from George Bush as far as I'm concerned. Better to ignore them and find more reliable sources. They just confuse the issue.


There are always people who won’t believe anything if it is inconsistent with their views. I tend to believe that MS actually knows more about Windows and technology than someone on this, or any other forum.
October 12, 2006 1:34:48 PM

Readyboost does not rely on pure bandwidth between a USB device and the rest of the system to boost performance. what it DOES though is allow lots of small bits of information to be accessed at the same time. while not an extreme boost in performance, it would certainly be faster than accessing the HD for the same information as it can only access, aside from what is in its buffer, one request at a time (physical limitation, R/W heads being an actual physical arm). flash allows hundreds.
Major boost in performance? not likely as overall bandwidth is limited. will it hurt? dont know why it would.
October 12, 2006 1:39:54 PM

Quote:

The bandwith of USB 2.0 is 480MBps = 60MB/s while SATA II is 3Gbps = 300MB/s, but that does not mean its faster... usualy a HD can sustain a transfer speed of 25MB/s.


You must also remember that 480MBps on USB2.0 is it's burst speed and it cannot sustain that either.
October 12, 2006 2:42:34 PM

They do make IDE and SATA connectors for Compact flash cards. Why do we have to worry about the limits of usb/firewire?
October 12, 2006 2:50:44 PM

Not that it would be financiallly responsible....I wonder how 8 large CF cards would perform in some raid setup.
October 12, 2006 3:39:46 PM

if you have 3 gigs of Ram, and your not running 64bit.... Disable your pagefile system, or reduce it to 256-512mb. I have mine turned off, and the system runs much faster with less "trashing".
October 12, 2006 4:09:28 PM

Part of the advantage of ReadyBoost is that the flash memory will be loading information in parallel with the hard drive.
October 12, 2006 5:38:40 PM

Quote:
isn't vista going to have an option of doing almos this exact thing to increase proformance on low end systems?


Yes, 2 such options: one (can't remember name) is for system with less than 512MB memory (just the hell who is gonna use Vista with less than 1GB memory is beyound me but...) and the other one (READYBOOST I think) will be to store most frequently accessed file.

Also, add to this that really soon HDD manufacturer will start adding Flash memory on their HDD to do exactly that.

This bring me back to my first question tough: will we be limited by the number of write/read flash memory can do before "dying"? Anybody knows?
October 12, 2006 6:38:07 PM

Interesting question, and one I was considering myself a few days ago. I'm concerned about burning out the flash using it as a pagefile, and wonder if readyboost uses an algorithm for distributing writes equally across the drive in order to maximise lifetime, which presumably isn't something thats done with conventional swapping techniques. It's possible though that the flash drive itself handles distributing the number of writes across the drive.
October 12, 2006 7:10:41 PM

Quote:
isn't vista going to have an option of doing almos this exact thing to increase proformance on low end systems?


Vista does have this feature, ReadyBoost, and interestingly enough, this past Monday I plugged in a 256MB flash drive for this purpose. I didn't see any discernable performance increase in the low-end system (Athlon 3K+, 1GB PC3200) tested. It could be that the flash drive was just too small to be of any real use...I'll keep an eye on it.
October 12, 2006 7:34:16 PM

that isn't a low end system ... check out what the minimum system reqs are for vista, something along those lines would be "low end". I think the forums have spoiled most of us there were computers before 2000.
October 12, 2006 7:51:44 PM

Quote:
that isn't a low end system ... check out what the minimum system reqs are for vista, something along those lines would be "low end". I think the forums have spoiled most of us there were computers before 2000.


I was speaking relatively. Compared to a C2D6800 my rigs don't even show up on the radar.
October 12, 2006 8:29:50 PM

The "SwapFile" does not get used all that often if you have sufficient memory. The 'Temp' directory, however, gets used quite a bit more often and this is something you could consider.

Will it help performance?
Give your system a test.

Load an intense program to your thumb drive and try and run it from there. Compare the load speeds to that from you HDD.

If you see a big difference, then try and use it for the performance boost.
If you can't tell the difference why bother?

Note: If you do see a minor increase, there could be cases where placing the Temp and/or swap files could further increase performance. The Windows File system is rather simple compared to others and it retrieves files in the order they are requested. This often leads to disk thrasing and some bottlenecking. If you have multiple things going on which may lead to the use of the swap file, Windows may perform better if the Swap Read/Writes where to a different location than the other program/data files. The same theorey applies to why you may move swap/temp files to alternate locations.

Now for Windows to get a more advanced file system in which it can read any portion of any file it needs in the queue as the drive head passes over top. The inability to do this is why you must defrag for Windows but not all systems.
October 12, 2006 8:45:28 PM

Quote:
MS doesn't agree with your conclusions regarding disk vs flash speeds.



...and you believe Microsoft ?

Maybe it's true, but a statement from Microsoft is about as believable as a statement from George Bush as far as I'm concerned. Better to ignore them and find more reliable sources. They just confuse the issue.


There are always people who won’t believe anything if it is inconsistent with their views. I tend to believe that MS actually knows more about Windows and technology than someone on this, or any other forum.

Of course, you are right....about M$ knowing more. I just don't believe their marketing department...until I see it.
My response was a bit rude though. Sorry.

I read somewhere that ready boost is only used for some types of data transfers where times will be improved. I think (but cant be sure) that large sequential writes wont use ready boost.
So using flash memory without the technology behind it wont produce the same results as ready boost (as claimed by M$). Ready boost is only used in the instances where it will increase performance.
October 12, 2006 10:15:01 PM

Some of these systems will have the Flash Memory built right into the system and not use the USB interface. Along the lines of the Flash Memory Hard Drives, albeit with a much lower amount of memory.
This is what will give the big perfomance boost.
October 12, 2006 10:31:30 PM

Quote:
The thing about NAND flash used in flash drives is that it has a maximum number of reads\writes that can be done, after that it just stops working. Doing what tou suggested might make things faster, but with the enomours number of times windows acceces the page file, its going to stop working very soon.

The bandwith of USB 2.0 is 480MBps = 60MB/s while SATA II is 3Gbps = 300MB/s, but that does not mean its faster... usualy a HD can sustain a transfer speed of 25MB/s.


.... ANd the USB speed is theoretical also, I think I remembe rsomething like sustained reads of 17MB/s last time I looked at flash drives.
October 24, 2006 4:58:06 PM

You can already buy adapters to convert IDE and SATA to flash. I think that if you stuck a 2Gb or 4Gb high speed flash drive on your machine for pagefile / temp folder / temporary internet files whatever... its got to be an improvement. There are already rumours of incorporating flash on motherboards for such uses. I mean how about a motherboard with Vista pre-installed on flash ? You connect all your equipment boot to flash... run install... and Voila.

I think the future for flash and Vista look pretty good. I am already considering buying a super fast 2Gb USB thumb drive to add to my machine permanently - they are only about $40 now. As for the life span of them... well for $40 I'll give it a try and if it fails I'll send it in for repair.

:lol: 
March 31, 2009 4:40:59 AM

I know this is thread necromancy at its finest, but with the cheaper prices of compact flash cards, and the even cheaper prices of CF/IDE or CF/SATA adapters, I had to give it a try.

It works.

The only snag I ran into was locating Industrial or True IDE CF cards. CF cards have internal settings that show either removable or fixed disk configuration to Windows XP, and if they're not configured as fixed disks, XP won't allow you to move your pagefile to such a device. Industrial CF cards come set as fixed disks, so you'll have to be selective in your purchase of same.

Otherwise, no big problem, and I've been running two such machines so configured for a while now. I'm doing so to check the durability of CF under repeated read/write cycles after relocating the WinXP Pro pagefile to the little solid-state devices:

http://neuralmisfires.blogspot.com/2009/03/moving-windo...
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