it used to be that 'many' programs required a page file, now fewer 'require' it. But windows needs somewhere to turn to when you run out of memory, else it will crash. So you need a page file unless you understand the implications of not having one. But if you have plenty of ram you could just have a really small one.
you could set 1Gb and be very safe. you could set 50MB and be a bit risky. Some programs may check for pagefile and refuse to work without it. Some program may assume that pagefile is the best place to put some resources. These are less common as programs nowadays.
I always disagree about disabling the page file. Aside from the lack of benefit from disabling it, you use more RAM without one.
Remember, with or without a page file, the OS allocates memory in terms of Virtual Memory. Its at a later stage that Virtual Memory Address gets mapped to a Physical Memory Address.
With a page file, data is not moved into a Physical Memory Address until it is needed.
Without a page file, because Virtual Memory Addresses MUST be mapped to a single Physical Memory Address, data is moved into Physical Memory upon creation, whether or not that data is needed (or even used at all).
As a result, you typically use more RAM without a pagefile. The reason you don't run out, is because of the 4GB upper limit on Address Space usage for Win32 processes running under Win64. Once we get more native 64-bit apps, I expect to see the "no pagefile" club start to run into all types of memory related problems.
Now, if you have a SSD, I can understand disabling the page file to save as many of the flash's write cycles as possible. Kind of begs the question of why bothering with a SSD though...[thats the primary reason I'll stick to 10k RPM drives for my OS and 7200 RPM drives for my data. No reason a HDD should be dead within about a decade or so of use...]
I've had my paging file disabled since I built the computer.
I also never come close to filling 16GB of RAM, so its not an issue.
And? You have 8GB free. Wonderful. Whats the largest contiguous block of RAM available for use?
Look at it this way: I ask the OS for 100MB of data. I have 1GB of RAM free. No problem, right? Wrong.
Remember, I need 100MB of CONTIGUOUS RAM to hold my data structure. So even though I have 10x that amount free, I can not say with any certainty whether or not I have a 100MB block of contiguous RAM. If I don't, "Out of Memory", because the OS has no mechanism to write data from RAM to a page file to clear space in RAM for my structure.
The above post shows why people need at least a basic understanding of how the Windows memory subsystem works. They see "16GB, 50% free", and assume they have 8GB and have plenty of space left. Depending on fragmentation of the RAM though, this may or may not be the case. Especially for users who do not reboot their PC's often. And even if such a contiguous space exists, the OS still has to go through a "best fit" algorithm to figure out the optimum position in RAM to place the data structure. That performance gained by disabling the page file? There it goes again.
Nevermind the lack of a performance benefit anyways. With 16GB, its not like the OS is going to be doing a lot of paging in the first place...