So, you just bought that spiffy new solid state drive, with all the 500MB/s read and write the box promised you? Awesome. Just a shame it’s so slow, really, eh?
Yeah, yeah, OK, so it beats the living wotsits off my prehistoric magnetic spinning circles, but bear with me, I’m not totally nuts.
Having just built a new desktop I decided it would be the ideal opportunity to cram this thing to the gills with RAM, 16GB of it to be accurate. I don’t need it all right now, but had I bought less of it, I would’ve almost certainly needed more at a point where it would be inconvenient or expensive to purchase.
Anyway, with such a beast sitting here, I realised that I’d need to work out what to fill all that memory with so as not to waste it, which would be an awful shame. Recalling my days of working with AmigaOS, Acorn’s RISCOS and good old MSDOS itself, it occurred to me that I could set up a RAMdisk, something that all of those systems had as standard.
A RAMdisk, as may be obvious already, is a disk which sits in system RAM rather than on any form of physical media. In that sense I don’t suppose it’s much of a disk at all, but we shall press on. Now, RAM being what it is, it will forget everything the moment you pull the plug, so this isn’t ideal for long term storage. It is, however, perfect for extremely fast short term, scratch and temporary storage.
Can your SSD do that? Huh? No, I didn’t think so. Fortunately, though, even if you don’t have giant piles of RAM, you can try this yourself. While there are many RAMdisk programs for Windows, the one I use is Dataram’s RAMDisk because I’m a cheap git and it’s free if you create a RAMdisk of 4GB or less, which should suffice for me. Minimum requirements are modest, Windows XP, Vista, 7 or their server counterparts, running on at least 512MB RAM. I wouldn’t recommend trying with less because 512MB is already pretty cramped these days, but I would wager that it would still work.
Simply install the application, it will set up a driver (which works fine on 32 and 64bit machines) and a small tool to configure your RAMdisk. That’s about it, really. Just choose a size and you’re golden. There aren’t many options, there doesn’t really need to be, but one useful feature it does have is that if you ask it to, it will synchronise the RAMdisk to and from an image on a HDD so the data survives between reboots. That’s entirely optional though, and absolutely not required if you just use it as a temporary cache for downloads and the like.
Some excellent uses I’ve discovered so far include booting virtual machine ISOs and HDDs from it in super quick time and extracting large archives without straining my actual drives at all. As the image above shows, it’s more than fast enough for almost anything else I can think of. The only restriction is that if you need to use more than 4GB of your RAM to store files, it’ll set you back $14.99.