The bottom line with page files is that the debate has been raging for over twenty years and is still going strong. But in reality, here is the blind truth.
If you disable your pagefile, you will not make the OS run any smoother, faster, or gain responsiveness by doing so. The pagefile is created not because of any lack of RAM for systems, rather it is there so that Windows can manage calls and pages more efficiently. Windows has progressed with better functionality in this area starting originally with Windows XP which provided some much needed improvements to handling the pagefile. It has further progressed into Windows 7 and the OS does a fine job at managing memory, for both physical and virtual RAM.
The more RAM you have, the more your pagefile will grow (when left to Windows to decide what to do). The reason for this is so that Windows may swap calls and pages quickly to address any needs by programs for physical RAM. Such programs are things like Photoshop, CAD programs, and MS Office which can load enormous files into physical RAM if needed (large Excel function files, for example - spread across multiple books). There is nothing wrong with having a large page file, upwards of 12+GB, unless you're only running a single SSD or the likes (for obvious precious HDD/SSD space).
But what people have issues with is that by enabling Windows to manage the pagefile, if you leave large programs open constantly that need to buffer data to a virtual space until it is needed, that pagefile will grow and shrink (regardless of how large Windows may report it being) which causes the pagefile (especially on HDD's) to become fragmented. This can lead to lower performance in some cases (where a machine is running 24/7 and constantly needing to page). However, this scenario is far from what any gamer, average user, or even most power users will ever encounter.
The best way to gauge things is to know exactly how much Windows will page on a given typical day or week. To figure this, you can check this link here
and download the VBS to better manage. It will indicate what kind of maximum paging you use (or rather, your OS). What has been found as this was originally passed around (way back when) was that typical users with 4GB of RAM or more rarely used any more than 2GB of paging space and usually closer to 1~1.5GB of space. In some rarer cases people needed upwards of 4GB or more (for various programs and resources). The sweet spot for 4GB was roughly 1~2GB depending on your personal usage, for 8GB systems this was lowered to 768MB on average, with rare cases needing closer to 1~1.2GB. For more than 8GB of RAM, rarely did anything need much more than 768MB on average.
The best thing to do is to manually limit a static minimum and maximum for most situations unless you prefer to let Windows handle paging (which works well without any adjustments).
However, you must remember that if you set your pagefile any lower than what Windows manages on it's own and/or if you decided to manually run it with lower than the amount of RAM you have physically installed,
you will not gain complete and full memory dumps should you encounter any BSOD's. You will only get a fraction of what was in physical and virtual memory if that happens and can lead to poor troubleshooting of drivers (which are the second most often seen culprits of BSOD's behind memory errors, though this too has been a raging debate for a long time).
If you have no SSD and you are still running with mechanical HDD's the best option is to either put the pagefile (static, remember) on the second disk (the disk that your OS is not
installed on) or on the fastest of any of your installed HDD's.
To mention as well, both Windows and some programs (if you're an eBay person and use Turbo Lister frequently you'll know exactly what I mean) require
a pagefile to operate correctly. Not to say that you can't run them without one, but at some point or another you will encounter problems if you use these types of programs constantly. Windows will resort to using TMP files as well, in the absence of a pagefile for internal tasks as well, essentially resulting in having a pagefile regardless of whether you've turned it off.
Hope that clear some things up for you. Edited by GanjaSMK - 12/25/11 at 11:02am