You probably know that the slowest component of a computer is the hard drive. This situation has improved in the last few years since solid state drives (SSD) have been introduced. However, these are still expensive and many of us will have to wait for a while until these will become more affordable. The good news is that there’s another way for improving the performance of your computer by making a minimal investment or none at all if you already have the necessary amount of memory.
If the computer that you have has at least 6GB of RAM, you have the possibility of using the extra memory that you don’t need to transform it into a small RAM disk which will appear in Windows 7 as a fully functional storage drive which can hold the files and apps that you use the most so that these will be launched considerably quicker from now on.
Despite the fact that you can create this RAM disk with any amount of memory that your computer has, it isn’t recommended to do this if you have less than 4GB of RAM. The amount that you will assign to this disk will not be available in Windows. Taking into account that nowadays most computer users have 4GB of RAM, you need to get at least 2GB more so that you will have enough RAM for the OS to run smoothly and also for that RAM disk that you’ll want to create. The great news is that adding RAM to your computer that supports DDR3, which it probably does since this has been the standard for the last four years, will be quite cheap as an 8GB DDR3 RAM kit consists of 2 x 4GB will set you back less than $40, depending on where you buy it from.
Besides the extra RAM, you’ll also need to run the 64-bit version of Windows since the 32-bit version can only detect 3GB. After you have taken care of this, you’ll need the proper software for creating that RAM disk. You might want to know that there are several applications that can do this, but one of the best would have to be RAMDisk developed by DataRAM, an easy-to-use and free app which can support up to 4GB of this kind of storage space. If you get the paid version that costs $18.99, you’ll be able to create a RAM disk that’s larger than 4GB.
The first step that you have to take is to install RAMDisk. At the various prompts you’ll simply have to hit “next” and “I agree” as there are no settings to configure during the installation process. After you’ve installed the software, go to the Start Menu and launch the RAMDisk Configuration Utility. Under the settings tab you will have to set the size and type of the RAMDisk. Taking into account that the size is in megabyte, you must set it to 2046MB for a 2GB RAM Disk or to 4092MB for a 4GB RAM Disk. The type has to be “unformatted”.
Now that you’ve done this you must enable Load Disk Image at Startup. This can be done from the Load and Save tab. By doing this it will save the contents of the RAM disk on the HDD / SSD so that it will appear every time you turn on the computer. You will then have to configure the save image settings by enabling save disk image on shutdown if you want the computer to automatically save the modifications made to the image file of the RAM Disk when you turn off the PC. There’s also the possibility of enabling AutoSave that will automatically write any modifications to the image file on a regular basis, with the default being once in every 300 seconds. You will have to experiment with these two options since there is a risk of slowing down the computer.
The good part is that if you plan on storing applications on that RAM Disk you will not have to resave the image file regularly. When you update or install an app, you have the possibility of manually saving the image file simply by going to the Load and Save tab and then clicking on the Save Image Now button.
The follow step is to click on the button that says “Start RAMDisk” and then if you are asked to want to add a driver you must click on install. Now, if you are asked to format the new disk you must click on format, while if the software does not prompt you with this you’ll have to find the new drive letter, right click and hit format. The chosen file system has to be NTFS and you should also enter a label, followed by pressing the Start button.
Now this RAM Disk should be prepared for you to install your apps on it. When you will install applications don’t forget to select the new letter rather than choosing C: like you did before.
Various tests have shown that this RAM Disk is approximately 50x faster than a 7,200 rpm hard drive and about 11x quicker than an average solid state drive. It depends on the model of the HDD / SSD but you get the idea of how much faster is the RAM Disk compared to the other two storage options available for the computer.
In the link below you can download the necessary software for creating a RAM Disk.