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RAM Disks

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RAM Disks Empty RAM Disks

Post by Corenat Rovarnus on 2016-07-10, 03:50

In the interest of a more educated forum community I'll be giving a quick rundown on RAM disks so you don't get any misunderstandings about what are and what they can do from articles or user comments elsewhere on the interwebs.

A RAM Disk is a virtual drive created using a portion of your system RAM, usually specified by the creator. Upon creation this RAM is locked up and cannot be used for anything else even if you have no data on the drive. This virtual drive will probably not even come close to having the capacity of a normal modern hard drive, but anything on that drive can be accessed extremely fast. The average PC's RAM seems to increase every few years, so to partially futureproof this guide I won't give exact numbers.

Before jumping onto the RAM disk bandwagon, consider the following factors to decide whether you should:

  • Can your computer afford to give up RAM? Use a tool like Windows Task Manager, Resource Monitor, or Process Explorer to keep track of this. If over the course of your regular computing activities, the total usage exceeds 70% of available physical memory, it is probably a bad idea. Taking away too much RAM could cause usage to hit 100% and force your operating system to use the pagefile on the hard disk to keep up. The resulting slowdowns will effectively cancel out the benefits of using the RAM disk and probably make using your computer extremely painful until you turn it off. I speak from personal experience; while I have never created a RAM disk that took up too much memory, I have used old computers where running modern non-memory conscious applications took up all the RAM.
  • Do you really need the speed? This is really a matter of personal preference. If you want all of your apps to load faster, just bite the bullet and buy a Solid State Drive instead. If you already have an SSD you might not need a RAM disk as the speed difference isn't nearly great as the difference between SSD and a regular spinning drive. Diminishing returns, so to speak. And sometimes there is no speed boost at all. I tested this out with a League of Legends custom match, the time it took to load from champion select to the actual game was about 28 seconds for both the SSD copy and the RAM disk copy.
  • Are you willing to go through the hassle? It can take a bit of jury rigging and path changing to get your apps to play nice with the RAM disk, especially stuff like steam. You may have to create an image file for the RAMdisk to dump to and read from so that the data is saved between shutdowns. This will increase startup and shutdown times.

A RAM disk CAN:

  • Accelerate the launching of any applications that are stored on it
  • Accelerate search and retrieval of any data(pictures, videos, etc.) on it
  • Allow large games to load new levels/data faster if said data files are on the disk
  • Be used to store temporary or sensitive files you would rather be deleted without a trace when you shut down.

A RAM disk CANNOT:

  • Improve performance of your games, Frames Per Second and such is not affected
  • Serve as permanent storage
  • Be used to boot off of, for the above reason


If after these considerations you still want to get into RAM disks, here is probably the best free software you'll find for the job, SoftPerfect RAMDisk:
https://www.softperfect.com/products/ramdisk/
SoftPerfect has a user manual, but if that's not good enough for you this guide from Tech ARP tells you specifically how to reallocate temporary file storage to your RAM disk.
http://archive.techarp.com/showarticlee6c7.html?artno=816&pgno=0
Corenat Rovarnus
Corenat Rovarnus
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