RamDisk Basics
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How To Setup RamDisk
Introduction 01. Introduction
Introduction 02. Ramdisk Software
Secure Deletion 03. Using Ramdisk

1. Introduction

Ram Disks are exactly as the name suggests. Using Ram Disk software you are able to assign part of your physical memory to act as a "drive" on your computer. You can then use this drive as any other drive on your system but the difference is the data is cleared upon a reboot (since all data on the RAM chip is lost). So you can see that the best things to store on a Ram Disk are your Temporary Internet files and Cookies. Every bit of persistent data will "vanish" without a trace when you want it to. There is also the added bonus of reduced disk activity and possibly enhanced performance.

To "mount" a Ram Disk means stealing from your current system ram. Remember every bit of RAM is important for the well being of your system and the bigger your Ram Disk the less memory that is available for your system. Get a decent RAM monitor and see how much free physical memory you have left during your normal day to day use of your computer. Then think how much space you'll require on your RAM DISK. You may need to purchase more RAM for everything to work smoothly.


2. Ramdisk Software:-

 

  • AR RAM Disk for NT/2000/XP
    This is freeware software which allows you to create a RAM DISK and can emulate it as a hard drive. Your physical memory will be the limiting factor for a maximum disk size. Configuring is achieved by launching the dialog settings box from within "Control Panel" - very easy to use. Remember a restart is required for any settings to take effect.
  • Ramdisk9x / RamDiskNT
    This is commercial software which provides a rich feature set. There are lots of settings to optimize your Ram Disk including disk images. If you chose this software please read the documentation thoroughly as the various options are VERY powerful. Also it supports both the NT/2000/XP AND Win9x architecture.
  • Superspeed RamDisk
    Another commercial program which provides a rich feature set. Supporting both the NT/2000/XP AND Win9x architecture.
  • HyperOS
    This commercial program allows multiple operating systems to run on separate RamDisks. It supports the NT/2000/XP AND Win9x architectures.
    Reviewed here:

3. Using Ramdisk:-

After you install the Ram Disk software and got a new drive try moving your caches over to it.

IE CACHE
First lets set your IE Cache to be stored on your new RAM Disk. Create a folder on your new RAM DISK where you want your Temporary Internet Files to be stored. Creating directories on your new disk is the same as on a normal hard disk.

Now click Start -> Settings -> Control Panel -> "Internet Options", click "Settings" and then "Move Folder". Browse to the folder you just created on your RAM DISK, move the disk space slider to a new value that is less than your RAM Disk and then hit OK at all the prompts. Internet Explorer will recreate this folder upon every reboot.

Moving Cookies Dir
Moving your cookie directory to your RAM Disk a little harder. You'll have to edit these two keys in the registry so be careful.

HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\Shell Folders\History
HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\User Shell Folders\History
Change the key values from the current cookie location to your new RAM DISK. A reboot is required for this change to take effect. You'll know if you've done it right as you'll be able to delete the "old" cookie location without Windows complaining.

You can move anything "temporary" onto your Ram Disk. All data will be lost permanently upon a reboot or system shut down. I recommend not moving your Windows "temp" directory to your Ram Disk because some software store data in there which may be required after a reboot. That's an incorrect way to use the temp directory but unfortunately many software titles do so. Although at bootup making discretionary use of the autoexec.bat file to rename , reassign and copy your Windows\System folder to your RamDrive can circumvent this problem. While this works you have to keep in mind that data grows as it does it eats up Ramdrive space. This will eventually push the drivers out of the Ramdrive leaving only the data. This has been known to cause BSOD's (Blue screens of death) or worse, but with sufficient ram it is possible to install windows98 onto and run form a RamDisk.

A ~30MB Ram Disk should be fine for tasks mentioned above, although if you have less than 128MB then it may actually be too big and will deny the system of valuable memory. If you have a lot of RAM such as 768MB or 1024MB you could make a massive 500MB RAM Disk. This will boost performance if you have to extract large amounts of data before installing it (there is virtually no "write/read" time on a RAM DISK). If you are a developer of software that creates lots temporary files at compile time then again this "large" RAM Disk method is good. Most Ram Disk software create drives with FAT16 as the file system hence the "disk" size is ~2GB (though I doubt most have this much to dedicate to a disk). Ram Disks work well in the NT/2000/XP environment as they have far superior memory management compared with the Win9x/ME product line.

As a final note never store important data on your Ram Disk as a system crash may mean a reboot and a reboot means loss of all data on the Ram Disk!


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