RAM disks are logical storage volumes created from computer RAM. RAM is an ultra-fast storage medium that a computer uses to temporarily store information during its use, which significantly speeds up the overall system performance. Since RAM is so fast, logical drives that we can create in RAM run several times faster than even the fastest modern solid-state and mechanical hard drives. This means that any task, traditionally limited by the speed of the computer's hard drive, such as converting and processing large video files or managing complex databases, can get a huge performance improvement when running from a RAM disk. But it is not so easy; There are some key caveats to consider.
Work with RAM-disk in Windows.
What is a ramdisk
First, RAM is volatile or non-volatile, meaning that any data stored in RAM is lost when it is disconnected from power. This is a significant disadvantage compared to traditional solid-state and mechanical hard drives, which are permanent storage media. They save the data recorded in them when power is lost, for example, when the computer shuts down or when a power outage occurs. This means that everything that you store on a RAM disk will be lost when you restart the computer or if there is an unexpected loss of power. Therefore, it is important to make frequent backup copies of the contents of your RAM disk and always keep in mind that data on the disk may be lost at any time.
Secondly, in comparison with solid-state and mechanical hard drives, RAM is relatively expensive and limited. While hard drives can easily reach 4 TB at about $ 0.03 per GB, the maximum amount of RAM supported by most consumer computers is usually 32 or 64 GB, at a much higher price - about $ 10 per gigabyte. These limitations, combined with the fact that you cannot assign all of your system’s RAM to a RAM disk, means that your logical RAM disks will be relatively small, most likely no more than 8–16 GB for most systems. However, if these restrictions are right, an incredibly fast disk is waiting for you.
How big should a ramdisk be
As mentioned above, for your computer to work properly, RAM is required, so you will need to choose the size of the RAM disk that will satisfy your need for storage and the computer's need for memory. In general, it is wise to use at least 50% of the RAM of your computer to use the system. This means that if you have 16 GB of total RAM, you should limit your RAM disk to a maximum of 8 GB. If you have a very large amount of RAM (say, for example, 64 GB), you can make your RAM disk larger than 32 GB, and at the same time leave enough RAM for your computer (disk with 52 GB RAM and 12 GB for system memory, for example). As you will see later, the process of creating and removing RAM disks is quick and easy, so feel free to experiment with different sizes to find the best balance for your workflow and equipment.
Programs for creating RAM-disks
There are many programs and utilities that can create a RAM disk in Windows, but many of them are paid commercial applications or do not contain key functions. ImDisk is powerful and the best free option. Although ImDisk includes many features such as the ability to mount and manage virtual disks, it also acts as a simple interface for configuring and creating RAM disks. To get started with the program for creating a RAM disk, first download ImDisk and run the installer. By default, the installer will place three icons on the desktop. When this is done, launch the icon called “RamDisk Setup”.
ImDisk provides a convenient graphical interface for setting up your RAM disks. First select the size for the disk. Then you can assign a drive letter on which the RAM disk will be installed and choose which file system you want to use. As we mentioned earlier, RAM disks are deleted when power is lost or rebooted. But you can configure one or more RAM disks to be automatically created and mounted during the Windows boot process.
On the Advanced tab, you can specify the name of the RAM, change the cluster size (in most cases, you can leave this default value), as well as configure the images to save data. With image files, you can specify a disk or folder that will always be loaded onto a RAM disk, and ImDisk will copy this data to RAM each time after a reboot or loss of power. When all values are set, click OK to create the RAM disk. Done!
Creating a ramdisk
Now that you know what RAM is and what its advantages and disadvantages are, let's see how to create a RAM disk in Windows 7 and use it on a PC. Let's do it on the example of the program Dataram RAMDisk. It allows you to use 4 GB of RAM for free, but to create large volumes of disks you will need to purchase a paid version. The tool is very easy to use and quite reliable. If you want to create large disks, you can also use other similar RAM image creation tools, such as the StarWind or SoftPerfect RAM Disk.
However, when it comes to the user interface and the performance of Windows 10, they may not be as reliable as Dataram RAMDisk.
How to set up a RAM disk
Install, run the Dataram RAMDisk program and edit its settings to create a RAM disk:
- In the "Settings" menu, find "When I click start, " and select "create s new FAT disk".
- Right under the previous item in the “using” option, select the amount of RAM that you would like to use as storage space. Make sure you have enough RAM for the PC to work.
- In the option “When I make changes to the files on the disk, ” select “save them on shutdown” in the drop-down menu if you want to transfer data to a hard disk before shutting down the PC.
- If you want the data to be deleted instead, select Don't save them.
- If you choose save them on shutdown, you will also need to specify the location where the image will be saved for access later.
- Now just click “Start RAMDisk” and your RAM will be created. You can see the drive next to other system drives.
- To delete a partition, launch the software and select “Stop disk” in the main window.
If you turn off the PC, you will have to run the Dataram RAMDisk application again and select “load a saved image” to select and load the saved data.
Transferring Temp folders to a RAM disk
Windows temporary directories are stored in system variable files. The easiest way to open the configuration window is to move the temporary data to RAM - click "Windows + Pause" on the keyboard and select "Advanced system settings" in the sidebar of the window that opens. Find the Advanced tab in System Properties and click Environment Variables. User variables and system environment variables are configured here. Available for editing are the TEMP and TMP catalogs, as well as user variables. They can be edited using the appropriate button. Enter the new path in the variable value field and leave the variable name as is. Now you can safely use the computer.
Change Firefox Cache
Open the Firefox web browser and type about: config in the address bar. You need to create a new value in Firefox. For this:
- After entering about: config, right-click in the main window and select “New” - “Value”.
- Call it cache.disk.parent_directory.
- Double-click on it and enter the path of the directory that Firefox will use for its cache, for example, f: \ cache.
Internet Explorer Cache
Open Microsoft Internet Explorer and click "Tools" - "Internet Options." Internet settings are also available from the Windows control panel. Click “Settings” next to the browsing history on the “General” tab and “Move folder” in the next window to move the temporary Internet files folder to disk. There is another advantage to using disk space for caching. Upon completion, the disk is cleared automatically, which makes it impossible to recover these caching files.
Other advantages of RAM disks
If the program takes time to load, you can move it to a RAM disk for faster startup. Converters and video / image / audio editors to RAM are usually faster. If you actively use such a program, moving to RAM will speed up the work several times. If you need to work with two folders and often transfer files and documents between them, then moving them to RAM will help. You can also put an unreliable program / file here, and all its data will be deleted upon completion. A very effective security measure. And, of course, if you need more space in case of emergency, you can convert RAM into temporary data storage space. Of course, this is not the most reliable replacement for a hard disk, but desperate times require desperate measures.
RAM will reduce program loading time and nothing more. However, if the program you are using requires that you actively write or read data from the local storage, then it will work faster. For example, a video converter will save converted video to a RAM drive faster than the default storage. Image editing software (or similar software) that saves changes in real time (or automatically) will also run faster in a RAM drive. Of course, if you move data from a folder to RAM, its processing will be very fast.
We not only wanted to measure the performance of the RAM disk, but also to compare it with more common storage technologies. For these tests, we compare an 8-gigabyte RAM disk with an internal Samsung 830 SSD SATA III and a RAID 5 array consisting of three Western Digital Black 2TB hard drives. Our test computer is a 3.57 MHz system i7 3770K with a total memory of 16 GB at a frequency of 1866 MHz. All tests were performed with the 64-bit version of CrystalDiskMark running on Windows 8.1.
With a maximum sequential read of 6.9 gigabytes per second, the RAM disk is approximately 1701 percent faster than the Samsung 830 SSD. Everything gets even better at write speed. RAM provides 10 gigabytes per second, both when copying small alternate files and large files.
After you finish using the RAM disk, you can delete it by returning to the ImDisk application and clicking "Disconnect" on the "Basic" tab. If you have data on the disk, ImDisk will prompt you to save the image so that you can quickly restore it the next time you connect the disk. Thanks to the super-simple setup of the free ImDisk utility, everyone can enjoy experimenting with this great feature. Just remember to remember the reservations and never store data on a RAM disk that you cannot lose.