Windows

How do I use a RAM disk to help speed up disk-intensive applications?

Jack Wallen explains how to create a RAM disk on your Windows PC and how it can be used to increase the performance of disk-intensive applications.

There are certain applications that do an unusual amount of reading and writing data. Under normal operating circumstances, these applications work fine. But what happens when those disk-intensive applications start competing with other applications? When this happens, a serious slowdown can occur. You can prevent those slowdowns with the help of RAM disks.

A RAM disk is basically a special partition of your PC's memory that has been formatted and configured (via a special application) to be used as a high-speed target for data reading and writing. These RAM drives are significantly faster than traditional storage, so those applications will see a noticeable boost. Let's take a look at the process of creating a RAM drive in Windows for this purpose.

This blog post is also available in PDF format in a TechRepublic download.

Step 1: Download and install the necessary application

One of the best applications that I have found for this task is Dataram's RAMDisk. You can download a free version that will give you up to a 4GB RAM drive. If you need more than 4GB, you can purchase the registration license for only $9.95. I would recommend trying the free version first to make sure the tool will suit your needs.

Once you have downloaded the file, go ahead and install it. The installation is as simple as any other Windows install. After you have the application installed, you are ready to start creating your RAM disk.

Step 2: Configure the RAM disk

To start the configuration tool, click: Start | Dataram RAMDisk | RAMDisk Configuration Utility. When you start this tool, a small window will open (Figure A) where you take care of all the RAM disk configurations.

Figure A

The maximum size of your RAM disk will depend on how much spare RAM your computer has (you will want to have plenty of extra RAM) and whether or not you have purchased a license.

Enter the size you want, check the type of partition you want to use, and then click Start. You will be prompted to install the device software in order for this to work. The installation of the drivers is part of the RAMDisk start-up.

Note: There are a few reasons why a RAM disk will fail to start. First and foremost is that you need to have administrative privileges for this to work. If you have admin privileges and the RAM disk still fails, lower the size of the RAM disk and try again.

When the RAM disk has been initialized, it will show up in Windows Explorer as a regular disk (in my case it is showing up as Local Disk I).

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Now, it is very important to understand that, by nature, RAM disks use volatile storage. In other words, when you stop that RAM disk (by either manually stopping it in the RAMDisk utility or by rebooting the computer) all the contents of that RAM disk will be lost.

Fortunately, Dataram has thought of this and gives you another option in the configuration. If you look at the Load and Save tab, you will see that you can set the RAM disk up so that it will load at start-up. You will also want to consider the box marked as Save Disk Image on Shutdown. If you know you do not want to lose the data on the RAM disk, you MUST check at least this latter option. You can also set it up to autosave an image of the RAM disk if the data you are writing to the RAM disk is crucial and you want to ensure it is saved.

Step 3: Use the RAM disk

One of the easiest ways to use the RAM disk is for temporary Internet files. You can move the temporary folder for Internet Explorer over to your RAM disk, which will do two things: First, it will speed up Web browsing, and second (if you set the RAM disk to not save the image) it will lose all browsing history every time the machine is rebooted. So you get a speed increase and an increase in security.

To do this, open Internet Explorer and then click Tools | Internet Options | General. In the Browsing History section, click Settings. In this new window (Figure B), you will need to make sure the size of the disk space to use is less than the size of the RAM disk you intend on using.

Figure B

By default your temporary IE storage folder will be on C. You need to redirect this to the RAM disk.

After configuring the size, click on the Move Folder button and then relocate the folder to your RAM disk. Click OK when you are done with this task.

Another great use for RAM disks is for application building. If you are a programmer and want to try to cut down build times, try moving your build folders to a RAM disk and build from within. You will find your build times can be cut by approximately 25 percent. Although this may not sound like a terribly huge time advantage, if you constantly have to rebuild (during testing phases or the like), that 25 percent is going to mean a lot at the end of the day.

Final thoughts

RAM disks are very handy tools for those trying to squeeze out as much performance and/or security as they can from their PCs. Give RAM disks a try and see if you can manage to increase your PC's or application's performance. If you have found an interesting (or helpful) use for RAM disks, share your experience with your fellow TechRepublic users.

About

Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website getjackd.net.

83 comments
mherboldsheimer
mherboldsheimer

I have, for quite some time, been perplexed with a particular application I use daily. Be advised, this is only a hobby for me, and it's not so terribly important that I want to take up time and effort from anyone that doesn't wish to be bothered. Here is the problem: 1. I use a fantastic ebook management program, Calibre. This program was, for Windoze, a 32-bit program. It has recently been updated to a 64-bit program for Windoze. It is written using Python scripting language. From the beginning, there was a 64-bit program written for Linux. It has a feature for converting ebook file formats, ie, from *.pdf or *.epub and, in my case, turning them into a *.mobi file that is friendly to my Kindle products. Whenever I perform conversion operations in bulk, the program is very CPU intensive, boosting CPU usage to 100%, but, with the 64-bit program, only maximum usage of about 4.2-3 of the 16 GB RAM I have installed, 14+ or so usable. My system: HP p6677c Motherboard Manufacturer: Foxconn Motherboard Name: H-ALVORIX_HF-RS880-uATX HP/Compaq motherboard name: Alvorix-GL8E FN-Alvorix-RS880-uATX (Alvorix) Foxconn Model 2AB1 (1.00) Motherboard Chipset AMD 785G(RS880/SB710), Alvorix Board: FOXCONN 2AB1 1.00 Bus Clock: 200 megahertz BIOS: American Megatrends Inc. 6.04 09/07/2010 OS Version: Microsoft Windows 7 Professional, Service Pack 1, 64 bit Processor: AMD Athlon(tm) II X4 635 Processor, AMD64 Family 16 Model 5 Stepping 3; Processor Count: 4 RAM: 16127 Mb Graphics Card: ATI Radeon HD 4200, 256 Mb Hard Drives: C: Total - 941411 MB, Free - 851600 MB; D: Total - 12354 MB, Free - 145 MB; (external) J: Total - 476937 MB, Free - 276144 MB 2. I'm wondering whether creating a RAM disk to crunch a 15 GB database of ebooks, 10,300 individual books - each with supporting metadata, would be more efficient? 3. Can anyone briefly tell me how I can do this? The library is on my C:\ drive and it is backed up on the G:\ drive external. The Calibre program is located, also on my C:\ drive. Understand, my system isn't a bulldozer, but it isn't a piece of junk, either. My CPU fan, presently, when rendering this database, sounds like a "C-130, rollin' down the strip." I don't have a bios that supports heat sensor information. Core Temp reported 23 degree C at idle and off the chart under 100% load. I'm adding an aftermarket cooler when it arrives, but I'd like to ease that processor load with this idea if it is feasible. Thanks for your time.

dynamichael
dynamichael

The page file (aka swap file) is used by the system to free up RAM by moving infrequently accessed RAM data to disk. Putting a page file on a RAMDisk not only entirely defeats the purpose of the page file, but adds unnecessary overhead and increases the margin of error. You're better off just disabling your page files entirely! I have 8GB RAM in Windows 7 (64-bit) with a 256MB RAMDisk for TMP, TEMP, browser cache, etc., and absolutely no page file set up on any drive. I do a large amount of 3D modeling, graphics work, and programming, not to mention some pretty heavy gaming (e.g., Battlefield 3) and I never have a problem and my system flies :)

lchene
lchene

How to go about making Chrome to use the Ram memory ?

thabiso_preetyboy_kgole
thabiso_preetyboy_kgole

i just found out about it and i can't wait to use it, it will centainly make my life easier.

eyesak
eyesak

I had been advised to set a static pagefile as well long ago. The reasoning was so Windows will not be busy changing the size of the pagefile. I believe this helps and I don't see the low on pagefile prompts.

riveragabriel68
riveragabriel68

Can i use Dataram RamDisk on a computer formatted with NTFS, windows XP Pro Version 2002 service pack 3, Intel pentium 111 processor 730MHz 512MB of Ram.

TuneUp Utilities
TuneUp Utilities

Thanks for these tips, Jack. I agree that it?s important to squeeze out as much performance from your PC as possible and RAM disks seems like one great way to do this. I?m curious?do you know how long the Dataram RAMDisk?s registration license is valid for?

redventura
redventura

USE the RAM Disk "better" than just Temp Internet Explorer files... (are you still on a 500 Mhz Celeron?) With Junction Link Magic [http://www.rekenwonder.com/linkmagic.htm] you can link any files or folders onto your RAM Disk, and link them to the "new" location (being the RAM Disk) just like how symlinks work in Linux. Also, with better RAM Disk applications, you can have specific data copied to the RAM Disk upon startup. See SuperSpeed RamDisk Plus [http://www.superspeed.com/desktop/ramdisk.php] and Romex's VSuite Ramdisk [http://www.romexsoftware.com/en-us/].

ian
ian

Is a ramdisk effective on x64 systems or is it better suited for x32 to utilize the "lost" ram? Is there a yardstick for how much ram should be allocated to ramdisk? Does this improve efficiency where the amount of onboard ram is limited?

Gis Bun
Gis Bun

I don't think your system will speed up by using the RAM disk to store the temporary internet files. If anything, moving the temp folder [or if possible, the swap file] into the RAM disk.

Gis Bun
Gis Bun

Note that the software mentioned in this blog is a release candidate. Seems Dataram is using people as guinea pigs. Should offer a stable version and optionally this RC. It's an RC - it's in the version number from their web site.

RF7000
RF7000

just run on the command line, mount -t tmpfs -o size=2gb tmpfs /myramdisk

skivelitis
skivelitis

How is this different/better than ReadyBoost ?

tony.davis
tony.davis

The main point of this article, is based around the fact that disk I/O is about 200 times slower than the equivalent move/copy of memory pages from memory to memory. As has been stated in other parts of this post, if you are getting the message that the pagefile is too small, then probably you have too little ram for what you are using the PC for. It will be swamping swap wiuth disk I/O, and THAT is what is taking time, not the drop-in-the-ocean change in size. RAM disk seems a good solution in some circumstances. TD

JCitizen
JCitizen

to Nick's advice, I'd like to add that none of my clients still using XP has less than 1Gb of RAM. A fully updated XP installation already gobbles up quite a bit of it.

NickNielsen
NickNielsen

But with only 512MB RAM in system, you won't gain anything in speed. In fact, you will probably notice your system slows down significantly.

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

It's basically a hard disk in ram; some of your ram is allocated to be used as standard storage mounted with a drive letter (R:\ if you like). It would be better to use a 64bit system since you can drop in far more ram than the OS needs giving you that extra room for R:\directories\fi.les. The measuring stick would be how much "storage" you want to apear out of the free RAM not used. The one interesting use mentioned was for 32bit systems where the amount of physical RAM is limited by 32bit memory addressing. In that case, it may be possible to add far more than 3.5 gig of ram but use that additional ram to host the R:\ which in turn hosts your swap file. Theoretically, this should bring your swap file speed up to RAM speeds rather than running at slower IDE/SATA/USB speeds. I question this a little based on the 32bit OS not being able to see more than 3.5 gig of RAM so anything running on the OS is limited to that total sum. With a 64bit system, the OS can address the more than 3.5 gigs though a 32bit program running on top of that 64bit OS is still limited to 3.5 gigs it can make use of. Now, what you can do is use multiple 32bit programs each limited to 3.5 gigs. They don't have to share the same sum total 3.5 gigs so your two 32bit programs would potentially use 7.0 Gigs total.

gechurch
gechurch

I too am dubious that putting Temporary Internet Files on a RAM disk would provide any perceivable speed increase. Speaking personally, I can't perceive any difference in speed once we get below about 200ms. Anything below that speed seems "instant" to me. 200ms is plenty of time to yank a bunch of html and images from a hard drive, so I would be amazed if I could tell the difference between temp internet files being on a drive and being on a RAM disk. And that's ignoring that most of the time I am looking at new content, that has to be pulled down the wire, often from the other side of the world. RAM disks definitely have their place, but it seems to me trying to optimise the lesser common scenario (looking at content you have already viewed recently), when it is already fast enough to begin with is pointless. Then there's the issue that you lose the contents of the folder when you restart the computer. Next time you revisit a web site after a restart you will again have to download the content over the Internet, instead of viewing it from your local cache. That speed difference I definitely would notice.

Justin James
Justin James

"If anything, moving the temp folder [or if possible, the swap file] into the RAM disk." That doesn't make sense. If I have free RAM, I shouldn't put the swap file on a RAM disk, I should configure my computer to use RAM before swap file... a much better (and cheaper) choice on a Windows PC is "Ready Boost", which moves the swap file to a flash drive. J.Ja

Gis Bun
Gis Bun

Some say ReadyBoost isn't that useful - gives you that "extra" memory but does it really improve things? I added a 1GB SD card [which I configured with ReadyBoost] on my netbook which already has 2GB of RAM. I can't see any improvement. Maybe I needed a larger card.

NickNielsen
NickNielsen

With ReadyBoost, the data has to pass through the drive controller and the USB hub, then leave the mainboard, and the maximum speed of the transfer is usually at USB 2.0 speeds. With a RAM drive, data remains in memory and all data transfers at memory bus speed.

ian
ian

I am just getting into Photo Shop so I will give this a try, plus I just like tweaking. Good way to learn.

unoentremil
unoentremil

Anyhow, using RAM drives to deal with continuous data is a great methhod to protect HD's (specially SSD drives), improves performance, saves energy... Having enough memory available I don't see any drawback (and it's really cheap nowadays). In addition, data can remain after reboot if you wish.

Who Am I Really
Who Am I Really

is to keep it from otherwise plugging up the system with multiple thousands of useless files and MFT Bloat the more you surf the more the MFT Bloats the more you surf the more your disk gets fragments etc. plus the benefits of: - at boot the T.I.F. is always empty - at reboot / shutdown the T.I.F. is dumped including those pesky .dat files - persistent critters that hide in T.I.F. are gone with every boot / restart / shutdown etc.

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

My guess is that a browser isn't going to have any benefit from it's cache directory being on a ramdisk. The speed of the network will determine it's responsiveness more than what cached files it has from recent browsing; it's still going out to the DNS and grabbing the base html that the cached images and such may fit into.

gsveeb
gsveeb

Would I have to re-install the game on the RAM disk for it to work? Or is there some other way to get the game to utilize the RAM disk?

Who Am I Really
Who Am I Really

causes the PageFile to operate at the speed of RAM with no Disk subsystem I/O delays

Justin James
Justin James

I loved ReadyBoost. I haven't used it in a while, since my current machine has 12 GB of RAM and a super fast, RB-ready drive that is appropriate in size (24 GB) would be kind pricey. But when I had Vista on 2 GB of RAM, RB was awesome. J.Ja

alexisgarcia72
alexisgarcia72

I see huge speed improvement in LOAD Speeds with software like Adobe Photoshop, Premiere etc when I have readyboost enabled with a 4Gb usb fast drive.

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

Between RAM and the CPU things are stinking fast. Between RAM and IDE/SATA, things are fast'ish.. but not stinking fast. This is your swap speed slow down; you get more memory but running at the speed of the storage not memory. Between RAM and USB, thinks really slow down. Like 0.680Gps versus SATA at 3.0GPS. I just don't see how ReadyBoost using USB bus speeds is any different from simply using a swap file on the SATA bus which would be over three times faster. I'm open to the idea that I'm not understanding something inbetween though.

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

Happy Hacking. (after all Hacking is simply tweaking about with your own property to learn about it)

gechurch
gechurch

Yeah, I can see benefits of doing this for some people. I would add privacy to your list as one of the key benefits. Not only is your browsing cache "deleted" automatically for you on restart, it is near impossible to retrieve (as opposed to deleting something from an actual hard drive, which can be recovered). I can see different circumstances where a RAM disk can speed things up. That's why I find the author's choice of example as a weird one.

unoentremil
unoentremil

Hi, The content of the virtual drive can be saved on exit (optional feature). Restarting the computer the data is loaded again, so you can continue where you leave it. RAM drives are great to play games.

gechurch
gechurch

@Who Am I Really If you see the "Windows is running low on virtual memory" then there's a great chance you would benefit from more physical RAM. Seeing that message means you're out of physical RAM, and just about out of swap file too. If you're hitting the swap file so much that it's running low, then performance has likely already taken a massive swan dive. The answer to that is more RAM. Setting a static page file isn't actually that useful. Firstly, setting system managed you basically get a static page file anyway. It can increase (and later decrease again) if needed, but in normal circumstances this doesn't happen much. It's not like your swap file is constantly shrinking and growing as your memory usage changes. Think of system managed as "a static swap file, but with the ability to grow if it has to". It's able to avoid the "Windows is getting low..." message in situations where a static swap file wouldn't be able to. Secondly, it doesn't matter if your swapfile is fragmented. Pages get swapped back in to physical RAM on demand. There's no way for an application to tell Windows "hey, I'm about to use a whole bunch of pages now that I haven't used in a while... can you go ahead and load them all into physical RAM". Paging is transparent to applications - they aren't even aware that their pages have been swapped. So as pages are needed, Windows swaps them in. This is adhoc, there are never streams of pages being paged back in in a single hit, therefore sustained transfer speed isn't important. It's seek time that matters, and fragmentation doesn't affect this. I also question the wisdom of setting your page file based on some multiple of your amount of RAM. Soooo many sites recommend this (all with different multiples!). It really makes me laugh. If the "perfect" page file size happens to be some neat multiple of your RAM then that's purely coincidence. In reality, the appropriate page file depends on what you are doing. No multiple or any other formula will be able to tell you what *your* memory requirements are. Analyse your needs and set the page file accordingly. Or, given the small cost and large capacity of hard drives, just set it high and forget about it. Then again, if you're going to do that you may as well set it to system managed. That gives you the benefit of being able to go very large if needed, but without actually wasting that space if it's not needed. Of course, all of the above is over-analysing something that just isn't that important. My advice has always been that if you see *any* benefit from tweaking page file settings, you should instead go out and get more RAM. You will see far more improvement.

NickNielsen
NickNielsen

The customers have all chosen RAID 10. I've said it before and I'll keep saying it: None of my servers has ever crashed due to a drive failure in a RAID array, and the only time I had a disk fail to rebuild, the replacement was DOA. I always carry two... B-) One of our customers is upgrading their servers and eliminating up to 5 separate boxes per store by going virtual. They're using IBM's DS3200 System Storage units for the new servers, configured with multiple RAID 10 arrays hosting logical drives for each virtual server.

Justin James
Justin James

After working for some time for the help desk for [name of NAS maker who was acquired a few years ago], I will NEVER touch RAID 5. It was so sad, enraging, and embarrassing to get calls day in and day out from users who had RAID 5 installed, and when it had to rebuild, it blew up. After all, there is no guarantee that when it's doing the rebuilding that the disk it is moving data to is healthy! All it takes is a minor disruption during that rebuild process (Murphy's Law, folks) and you can kiss it all goodbye. There are three common RAID levels that I trust, in this order: 1, 10 (aka 1 + 0), and 6. And even 6 I'm not a huge fan of. Given the cost of drives, and the value of data, if you have enough data to justify more than one drive, you can spend the extra cash on RAID 10. If you don't have enough data to fill one drive, RAID 1 is an extra $80 or so to add (cost of a second drive). I experience one drive failure every 9 months, on average. Even though I perform nightly backups, the time lost due to a drive failure with a single disk is unacceptable and costs me a LOT more than what a second drive costs. If I'm going to keep a spare disk on the shelf, I might as well have it in the box in a RAID 1. I buy Western Digital disks lately, and one reason why I do is that every time I have a failure, their RMA process is painless. I'm rarely more than 3 days without 2 healthy drives in my system. J.Ja

Who Am I Really
Who Am I Really

a static pagefile will not fragment a system managed page file will eventually be all over the drive especially if you frequently get the "windows is running low on virtual memory ..." popup dialog I have and always will set a static pagefile of a min 2x the installed RAM to a max of 2GB ie. - a system with 512MB gets a static 1GB page file - a system with only 128MB RAM gets a 512MB page file - a system with 2GB and up gets a 2GB page file doing this I have never received the "windows is running low on virtual memory ..." popup dialog etu

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

I don't doubt that Microsoft can hire some of the smartest developers out there. In past though, it seems the quality of the developers work gets degraded by the OS design choices and general inter-office politics. Most of the time I'd consider if a tweak does refine something towards my uses or beyond the factory defaults. I believe it was Mr Russonivich (sp?) long before MS bought Sysinternals and hired him on. He did state pretty clearly that one of the things Windows does far better than tweaked hard setting is swap management. If I can track down my PDF or the original URL I'll post it for those interested.

gechurch
gechurch

You are of course correct about using all the RAM. I assume the other poster was talking about having a 32-bit OS with >4GB physical RAM. With the swap file - it's a bad idea to disable it completely. Some programs (poorly written ones generally) request large amounts of RAM when they are launched, but never use a lot of it. Windows is smart enough to service these RAM requests with the pagefile, and only actually swapthose pages into physical RAM if the application actually uses them. If you disable the swap file, the OS has no choice but to waste physical RAM with all these unused pages.

gechurch
gechurch

Agreed. I always set my swap file to system-managed. I've always considered "tweaking" the swap file to be stupid. If you're hitting the swap file a lot, don't "tweak" the thing that is an order of magnitude slower than your actual RAM. Get more RAM instead to make sure you never hit the swap file hard. My second thought on the matter is that some really smart person at Microsoft has spent a lot of time writing code to manage the swap file. Chances are they have thought of all sorts of things I haven't, and will therefore handle the swap file far better than any setup I come up with. Anyway, I haven't seen the interview you refer to but it will no doubt be by Mark Russinovich. And if he says Windows is good at handling the swap file, you can take that as a fact.

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

It's my minimum for trusting storage; wouldn't touch a NAS (home or business) without minimum two drives mirrored. Hardware RAID where possible. (more lenient with my workstations though as they mirror critical data to trusted storage or don't have it locally at all. Nature of the work though.) I've heard of RAID5 failing to rebuild (software RAID) even when using the device specific "reconstruct RAID disk". I've yanked a drive out of a RAID1 without the machine so much as hickuping or failing to re-mirror when a second drive was stuffed back in.

Who Am I Really
Who Am I Really

first and foremost, win vista / win7 doesn't support Kernel Audio drivers, it's user mode audio only which doesn't work with my hardware or apps I'm not replacing my hardware and applications until absolutely necessary plus it's way more than $500.00 - $1000.00 to upgrade the XP x64 Dual Socket Dual Quad Xeon system came in @ just over $5000.00 - not including apps the next time I drop $5000.00 on a system I expect to get: at least a Dual Socket, Dual Octo-core Xeon running @ over 3GHz with 100GB RAM and that's not including replacing the audio hardware and all the apps with real x64 apps / drivers which will probably come in around an extra $1200.00 - $1600.00 so we're talking about $6000.00 - $7000.00 to upgrade that's the current repair / upgrade budget for a whole year _ here's my task manager on the main workstation http://i832.photobucket.com/albums/zz249/WhatNameShoudIUse/XP-ProTM.png 24-processes with one 436MB 44,100 16-bit stereo file loaded in the audio editor _ edit: add

Justin James
Justin James

What you are describing is the textbook example of a company not spending $500 or $1000 and costing themselves a fortune. They could get you a fully tricked out W7 x64 machine for $1,000. My work machine is a custom spec'ed box with RAID 1 drives (I will *never* use a box without RAID 1 as my primary work machine again!), 12 GB RAM, Intel 920 CPU, and a gorgeous aluminum case, and it ran around $1,200. I could step up to SSDs for a few hundred more. From the sound of what you are doing, and a rough estimate of what it costs to keep someone at your level on payroll, they are losing money by keeping you on this 5 year old PC. J.Ja

Who Am I Really
Who Am I Really

system is not optimized for x64 plus, the only way I can use the DDR2 pc6400 800MHz RAM is with 4GB as 2x 2GB or 4x 1GB modules if I want to use 6 - 8GB I have to drop back to PC5300 667Mhz or PC4200 533Mhz (MB/chipset limitation) and really the only time it's "slow" is if I try to set it to no pagefile I have the 320GB C:\ short stroked to 39GB where the OS /Programs an page file are located, and all user files are stored elsewhere System: (custom build: 2007) OS: XP-Pro SP3 MB: - Intel DG965RY Proc: - Core2Duo e6600 @ 2.4GHz RAM: 4GB OCZ PC6400 800MHz 2x 2GB (5.5.5.15) Optical: - 3x CD/DVD DL +-RW multi-RW DVD RAM HDD: - HDD0 320GB Seagate (C:\ 39GB, F:\ 254GB, L:\4.8GB) - HDD1 1TB Hitachi (D:\) - HDD2 1.5TB WD Green (E:\) - HDD3 1TB WD Green AFD (J:\) - HDD4 1TB WD Green AFD (K:\) I use XP x64 at the studio on a Dual Socket Dual Quad Xeon 2.33GHz with 8GB RAM PC4200 533MHz FB DIMM and there's not much difference in performance between these systems I'm running the same Audio Apps on both, the differences appear when running FFT processes against the audio and file saving - FFT Processes run about 20-25% quicker - saving a file is about 1/4 less time (mostly due to a larger File cache) - the difference in loading a file is indiscernible

Justin James
Justin James

Yeah, in that scenario, it actually makes sense (at a technical level). That being said, it points out that you need to install an x64 bit OS, badly. And probably upgrade the RAM a bit too, because for that you are doing, 4 GB of RAM really isn't going to cut it one way or the other. When working with a file that large, in my experience (having written applications which work with large multimedia files in the past), there is a multiplicative effect on RAM usage. For each byte of file, the application will need, say, 1 byte for the file data plus 3 bytes of application data. For example, if you are working with a 100 pixel image, not only does it have each pixel in memory, but it has data about each pixel too (like its position). If the original file had any compression in it, what the application brings into memory will be the size after decompression, naturally. So, if you are working file files like that, coming from someone who used to do the same on a Vista machine with 4 GB of RAM, I can tell you... upgrade. No tweak you make with RAM disk will have the same benefit of upgrading. J.Ja

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

I've heard that Windows is actually pretty good at managing the swap file. If you create a system managed swap on multiple drives; it'll use the apropriate drive/swap. I'm guessing this means it'll swap to D when your making heavy use of C for active files or it'll track which drive provides the best performance? I believe it was an interview with the guys behind Sysinternals but it's a long while back now and the details are faint.

Who Am I Really
Who Am I Really

an x86 32-bit windows desktop OS system won't use more than the first 3.xGB with the last part of it going to managing system devices etc. leaving you with 8GB of un-managed RAM that can't be used for anything but a RAMDisk disabling pagefile in a 32bit desktop OS doesn't always produce the desired result either, especially for huge apps using huge files I run my XP 32 4GB RAM system with a 2GB pagefile and it always has at least a 40 - 50% VMem / pagefile allocation for system processes and apps. ie. if Mem Usage for any one process is 500MB, then VMem / pagefile usage is around 400 - 500MB I've never had any decent level of success with setting: "No PageFile / 0byte pagefile" shutting if off makes the system crawl especially when editing huge 1.8GB 24-bit audio files I've had better success with creating a pagefile at the very beginning of a second HDD than setting it to 0Bytes

Justin James
Justin James

... it still doesn't make sense. Look at it like this: System RAM: 12 GB Size of swap file: 4 GB Total RAM used by applications: 11 GB Now, if I am running like this, I should be using 11 GB of RAM, all in physical RAM. If I push the swap file to RAM disk, what happens? The system using 8 GB of physical RAM for apps, then goes to swap, and pushes it all... guess where... into RAM. It's totally illogical. If you want to force 100% of your RAM usage into physical RAM, the solution is simple. Disable swap file. Why have the system jump through the hoops and layers of putting a swap file on RAM disk? I guarantee you that pushing the swap file onto RAM disk will be slower than not using a RAM disk for it, and in terms of the total RAM available, it is *identical*. J.Ja

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

I'd still rather just use SSD on my 3 Gig SATA bus. I've never seen the same overall performance come out of usb attached storage even with the lesser seek time. Cheers though. I thought it was the speed of the bus more than the seek times.

pmansbach
pmansbach

Your 3.0 Gps is the data rate once the sector is found. But your disk has to first seek to the sector, which takes several millisecs each time. The USB has no seek time.

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