Don't run a fixed sized page file. Do a custom size, make min about 512 MB and Maximum 2048.
I am running 2 gig of ram on a 160 gig harddrive Presario. I don't usually keep over 3 windows open at any given time. I know Windows suggests 1-1/2 times ram for page file size, but that seems to slow the start-up. What is the minimum I can get away with and be safe? Or do I really need a page file? any input is helpful.
Only large files in memory intensive programs like Photoshop or AutoCad are going to push the page file to it's limit. Normally it will stay at the initial size, until larger is needed.
If you want to speed up Windows shutdown, you can disable clearing the page file at shutdown.
in Control Panel:
Administrative tools>Local Security Policy>Local Security Settings>Local Policies>Security Options>Shutdown: Clear virtual memory pagefile>Disable
If you want to do a more scientific test to determine your optimum pagefile size, go here for instructions: