It doesn’t matter how fast or powerful your computer is: you can fit the latest bleeding-edge processor, graphics card and motherboard, pack it full of as much RAM as you can afford and install a 64-bit operating system to take full advantage, there’s still one major bottleneck in your computer: the hard drive.
Hard drives have got quicker over time, but they’re still painfully slow compared to the rest of your system: that’s why extra RAM makes such a difference to performance, as data stored in your memory chips is lightning fast compared to the relative slothful nature of your hard drive.
A RAM disk is exactly that: a portion of your memory reserved for storing files and settings, just as if it were a hard drive. Loading data from this virtual drive is much quicker, which can result in improved performance, although you have to accept that you’ll have less RAM to play with as a result, which can have a knock-on effect for performance elsewhere. It’s also worth mentioning that RAM is a volatile storage medium: once power is switched off, the data stored in it is lost, so it’s important you take suitable precautions to protect any data stored within it.
Dataram RAMDisk takes all of this into account: launch the configuration utility, set a size for your RAM disk, then switch to the Load and Save tab – tick both load and save options to ensure the data within your RAM disk is stored on your hard drive, and tick AutoSave for additional protection. Once done, click Start RAMDisk and your virtual disk will be created and accessible via Windows Explorer, complete with its own drive letter.
It’s simple to use and implement – what you store within it is up to you, but you’ll find programs load quicker if their settings are stored within the RAM disk; transfer your browser’s temporary files cache to your RAM disk for example and you can speed up your browsing by as much as 20 per cent. Make sure you read the manual first (available from the Help menu) as it contains some useful information about System Restore and other potential problems you may encounter.
Important: the program is freeware for RAM disks up to 4GB in size, which should be ample for most people’s needs: if you want to create larger RAM disks, you’ll need to register for the Pro version, which costs US$9.99.