Troubleshooting Memory Issues - Part Two

In our last post, we looked at some common memory issues and how to troubleshoot them. Today we're going to go over excessive paging and memory bottlenecks. We've talked about issues with the page file in several posts - something to bear in mind is that although you want to have enough RAM to prevent […]

In our last post, we looked at some common memory issues and how to troubleshoot them. Today we're going to go over excessive paging and memory bottlenecks.

We've talked about issues with the page file in several posts - something to bear in mind is that although you want to have enough RAM to prevent excessive paging, the aim should not be to try to prevent paging activity completely. Some page fault behavior is inevitable - for example when a process is first initialized. Modified virtual pages in memory have to be updated on the disk eventually, so there will be some amount of Page Writes /sec. However, when there is not enough RAM installed, there are two issues in particular that you may see - too many page faults, and disk contention.

Let's start with Page Faults. Page faults are divided into two types, soft and hard. A page fault occurs when a process requests a page in memory and the system cannot find the page at the requested location. If the requested page is actually elsewhere in memory, then the fault is a soft page fault. However, if the page has to be retrieved from the disk, then a hard fault occurs. Most systems can handle soft page faults with no issues. However, if there are lots of hard page faults you may experience delays. The additional disk I/O resulting from constantly paging to disk can interfere with applications that are trying to access data stored on the same disk as the page file. Although high page faults on a system is a fairly straightforward issue, it requires some extensive data gathering and analysis in Performance Monitor. The counters below are the important ones when troubleshooting a suspected page fault issue:

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Windows, Memory, Architecture, Memory Management, Pperformance, Troubleshooting, Knowledgebase