Could it really be that simple/stupid?

I guess I must be getting a little stressed about my production system, because I’m yo-yoing from the abyss of despair to the peaks of optimism. If you read my last blog, you’ll get a sense of what things look like at the bottom of that string. Today, the yo-yo is firmly grasped right here in the palm of my hand, and I’m wondering if perhaps a very simple fix might have addressed my mysterious stability problems. Let me explain…

I teach various classes online for the HP Home and Home Office Learning Center. Right now, in fact, I’m teaching two courses on Vista:

As part of what I do for this work, I have to write detailed introductions to each such lesson, partly to bring such information up to date where needed, and partly to leaven the information in the lesson with additional hard-earned wisdom I’ve acquired by breaking and fixing Vista in many, many ways over the past couple of years.

As I was reading over the materials for the advanced customization class yesterday, I came across a passage that indicated it’s not a good idea to situate a Windows paging file on a mirrored (RAID 1) drive. “Holy smokes!” I said to myself; “The C: drive on my production machine is mirrored. Could this be what’s causing my stability problems?”

Being a charter member of the “Try it and see what happens” school of Windows troubleshooting, I promptly relocated my paging file to the D: drive by turning off the paging file on C: (highlighting that drive in the paging file list, then clicking the “No paging file” radio button), after which I created a paging file on D: (I even went with manual sizing because with 3581 MB of usable RAM on my 32-bit Vista system, I’ve noticed that my paging usage numbers in Task Manager seldom, if ever climb above 3000 MB, so I set it to 3896 MB).

Paging file goes to D:, set size to range from 1024-3896 MB

Paging file goes to D:, set size to range from 1024-3896 MB

That was Tuesday (4/7); today is Friday (4/10). Not a glitch, not a hiccup, not even a burp from my system in the meantime, after a solid month of steady every-other-day application “stopped working” error messages or a hung Windows Explorer/GUI that required a disruptive shutdown for me to regain control over my system.

I know I’m on the upswing, and maybe I’m jumping the gun. But gosh, moving the page file seems to have really helped a lot. A little research shows this admonition to date all the way back to the days of NT 4. How could I have missed this in all my Windows studies, certification book writing, and unabashed tinkering with settings, including paging file stuff of nearly every conceivable description? It seems that Windows can get confused when doubling up on reads and writes affects the responsiveness and behavior of the paging file, which is probably one of the busiest, if not the busiest, files in the NTFS file system.

Though I may be late to the party, I’m still glad to be here. Let’s celebrate sometime soon, after I’m convinced that it’s not just an upswing of irrational optimism that’s persuading me to believe my stability problems have been addressed. In other words, I’m waiting for the next curveball that Vista throws my way…

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  1. […] Viz Vista by Ed Tittel Thoughts, tips, tricks and tweaks on and around Windows Vista « Could it really be that simple/stupid? […]

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