Adjusting Virtual Memory (Windows Pagefile) for increased SOLIDWORKS Performance

Article by Chris Briand, CSWE created/updated April 10, 2017

A kin to the article that our teammate Josh Carrier wrote, back in 2010, I thought it high time we review the process of how to increase virtual memory on your workstation.

We use this procedure a great deal when attempting to enhance the performance of systems where SOLIDWORKS is having difficulty with importing or exporting geometry, or handling larger assemblies.

What we are essentially doing is raising the ceiling and giving the operating system the extra room it needs to maneuver if it runs out of physical memory. The Virtual Memory is not used until the Physical RAM in the system has been exhausted and the system requires somewhere to hold additional information.

One of the tidbits we have discovered over the years is that SOLIDWORKS typically throws the demand for more page file at the Operating System so quickly that it takes time for the operating system to allocate the needed amount of virtual memory, further slowing operations.

Before you continue reading this article, please carefully assess the costs involved in increasing the Physical RAM on your system, as this is by far the best option to improve your performance!

SSD or NOT?

One item to highlight, having grown in prominence these last few years is the effect of a page file being located on an SSD drive which may be acting as the host drive for your Operating system and installation of SOLIDWORKS.

Before SSD technology was readily available you would have placed the page file on the Root of the main drive (C:\), without jeopardizing the long term safety of your HDD drive. The trade off here is that writing operations to a page file located on the HDD would have slowed performance as the HDD reacts much more slowly than RAM.

This is still true today with SSD drives however the performance is greatly increased due to the enhanced speed that SSD Drives offer. Prior fears regarding the Limited life span of SSD Drives have been put to rest by a number of independent tests. With the results being that there is a limited lifespan to SSD modern SSD Drives, however most designers will never see it during their careers.

If you are interested in reading about some of the testing performed on SSD Drives to determine the lifespan, please see the links provided at the bottom of the article.

How much RAM?

To properly adjust your virtual memory values, you will need to know how much physical memory, or RAM, is on the system.  You can find this by navigating to the System Information Dialog

The System Info Dialog can be found by typing “System Info” in windows 10 and opening the System Info dialog (or Start > All Apps > Windows Administrative Tools > System Information)

IMPORTANT: One question to research before attempting the following procedure is: Do I have sufficient Disk Space to make a change to the page file size?

With Physical Memory (RAM) amounts of 4GB to 24 GB we suggest having a page file minimum size set to 2 times the amount of Physical Memory (RAM) in the system.

If you are lucky enough that you have more than 16 GB of RAM in the system, we suggest that the page file minimum be set between 1 and 1.5 times the amount of RAM.

Changing the Virtual Memory Values

  1. Within the Windows 10 Search type “Performance”
  2. This should bring up an entry that states: “Adjust the appearance and performance of Windows” (This is the same dialog that you would have accessed if you had navigated via the control panel: Control Panel > System > Advanced System Settings > Advanced Tab > Settings)
Adjusting Virtual Memory for SOLIDWORKS Performance

Accessing Virtual Memory

  1. Once you have arrived within the performance options dialog choose the Advanced Tab > and select the “Change” button located within the in the Virtual Memory section of the dialog.
  2. Uncheck the “Automatically manage paging file size for all drives” Option
  3. Select the drive where you have room or deem it appropriate to place the page file.
  4. Choose the “Custom Size” Radio Button.
  5. Enter a MINIMUM value of 1 to 2 times the amount of physical RAM you have in the system. (16GB would appear as 16000MB)
  6. Enter a MAXIMUM value of 2GB more than the MINIMUM value specified in the step above. (This will ensure that windows reporting and other diagnostic reports are correct)
  7. Choose the “Set” button
  8. Restart the Workstation to realize the changes to Virtual Memory.

 

If interested, please find some reference articles regarding SSD Lifespan testing as mentioned earlier,

(Thanks to Mark Johnson at Dassault Systems for directing us toward the reference material)

http://www.pcworld.com/article/2856052/grueling-endurance-test-blows-away-ssd-durability-fears.html

https://www.samsungsemiblog.com/memoryandssd/dispelling-myths-uncovering-truth-ssds/

Stay tuned to the Javelin Blog for many more tips regarding SOLIDWORKS and system performance!

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Chris Briand, CSWE

Chris has been educating and supporting Engineers, Designers and IT Personnel within the 3D CAD industry since 2002, and was adopted into the fantastic team of applications experts here at Javelin Technologies in early 2006.  Chris enjoys the continuous learning driven by the ingenuity and challenges Designers bring forward. Innovation using 3D Printing, 3D CAD and other technologies, combined with a diverse background as a technologist, allows Chris to find solutions that accelerate Designers, and take Design Teams to new heights. Chris is currently being held at an undisclosed location, near Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada.

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