How to Set up a RAM Disk for Free

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Many people confuse the difference between Hard Drive space, and RAM. A Hard Drive is where the data sits, and is stored. RAM is what the data uses when it is actually running. RAM has no moving parts, therefore it is faster. Therefore, you may find yourself in need of a RAM Disk. This will allow you some extra storage. In layman’s terms, it takes a section of the RAM and makes it act as though it is a hard Disk.

Reb suggested a free tool to help you set this up, called RamDisk. A RAMDisk acts as a virtual drive on your system.

It allows you to create directories, copy files to and from it, etc…. The data however is not written onto a hard disk, but remains purely stored into a particular part of the RAM memory. Hard disks have mechanical parts that are needed to seek to a particular position on the magnetic storage media and to read/write data. This makes them relative lazy. A RAMDisk does not need to seek , and by this , it can read and write the same data to upon 30-60 times faster than a hard disk ! However, the data stored in RAM is “volatile” : it disappears when you cut off the power to the RAM memory, in other words, if you turn off your system. This applies to the content of the RAMDisk too !

Do you know of other tools or programs that can help you create a RAM Disk? What other tips do you have for us regarding memory usage? Leave me a follow-up comment on this video, or drop me an email to [email protected]

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David Weston submits the following addendum:

What Reb says is true, but only if the amount of available physical RAM is more than the space you need for your RAM Disk.

Windows uses RAM for data that is immediately required for active program storage, intermediate calculation storage, etc. If you are running a lot of programs, or some large programs, the physical memory can become full. In these cases, Windows shunts the least important stuff off to disk to free up some space. This is called “paging”.

Paging files are optimised for this purpose, so the seek time that Reb mentions is less of an issue, but you still have the time required to read and write from the paging file. Also, if memory is heavily used, you can end up reading and writing the same data multiple times, as Windows tries to optimise the use of memory. This is called “thrashing”. Thrashing really slows a machine down, so there are times when RAM disk should be avoided.

RAM disk can be good, but only if you have large quantities of free memory available, and you only need to hold small amounts of data.