Definition: RAM Disk is also known as RAM Drive. A RAM disk is not a disk at all; It is a program which takes the portion of the system memory (RAM, in the form of memory chips) and uses it as a disk drive. You can create a larger RAM disk, if your computer has more RAM.
A RAM disk can also take the form of a hardware device or a virtual disk. RAM drive makes use of regular RAM instead of accessing the data bus. Sometimes RAM drive also makes use of the compressed file system, so that compressed data can access but without decompressing the compressed data.
As long as the power is on, you can use a RAM disk just like a real disk drive-you can copy files to and from the RAM disk, display the RAM disk’s directory or folder on your screen, and run any programs you’ve stored there. A RAM disk may be an external SCSI device, that looks similar to a regular external hard drive (but is very expensive and is slowed down by the limitations of the SCSI connection), or it may be a lot of extra memory that you set aside with special RAM-disks of software, or it may be a memory card that you add to your computer.
The significant advantage of a RAM disk is that because it’s purely electronic (rather than a physical platter), it’s much, much faster than any mechanical disk-hard, floppy, or optical. Typically, if a broad application or program can’t fit into regular memory all at once, the computer has to go to the hard disk from time to time and retrieve what it needs to continue working, which slows down the entire process. But if you copy the application to your RAM disk and run it from there, you’ll barely notice when the program fetches more instructions from the RAM disk.
RAM disappears when the power goes out, or the system crashes. If you make changes in a document file parked on a RAM disk, you still must be careful to save the file to a real drive. Unless you’re willing to go long periods without saving “permanently” and risk losing a lot of work, putting your documents on a RAM disk will slow you down.
RAM disks have another disadvantage: the memory they use is unavailable for other programs. Unless you always use the same programs, your system will run faster, on the average, if you use extra memory for a “disk cache” instead of a RAM disk.
We’ll be covering the following topics in this tutorial:
Recent versions of MS-DOS and Windows come with RAMDRIVE.SYS, a software device driver that will turn part of your PC’s memory into a RAM disk. If you decide you want to set up a RAM disk, place the line DEVICE=RAMDRIVE.SYS in your CONFIG.SYS file (if the RAMDRIVE.SYS file is not in the root directory of your boot drive, you need to put the path name right after the equals sign).
History of RAM Disk
The RAM drive was developed by Jerry Karlin in the UK in 1979-80, and for the first time, it invented for microcomputers. The reason behind the development of the RAM drive was to enable the microcomputers to use more RAM than the CPU does.
Advantages of RAM Disk
The benefits of RAM disk are as follows:
• It makes the performance of I/O process faster and more efficient.
• The users make use of a RAM disk to speed up their applications like games, audio, and video editing, databases, etc.
• The performance of a RAM Disk is higher.
• It creates a virtual memory from the RAM.
• The main benefit of RAM disk is you can access the RAM disk at maximum bandwidth without any fear of mechanical failure.
• Also, at maximum bandwidth, it does not produce excessive heat, noise or vibration.
Disadvantages of using RAM Disk
The disadvantages of using RAM Disk are as follows:
• Its most significant disadvantage is its cost. As we know that, RAM is very costly as compared to a hard disk.
• If your computer lost power and your system gets crashed, then all of your saved data also get lost.
• RAM disk reserves a good portion of your memory so that you cannot use that memory for any other purpose.
Applications of using a RAM disk
A RAM disk is like a hard drive, but it makes the use of memory. You can use a RAM disk like: you can copy applications and files to the RAM disk, and then you can start those applications or those files from there if the program allows that.
Mostly, RAM disks are suitable for those
• who want to store temporary data.
• You can also set the Windows temp folder location there for instance.
Whenever you restart your computer, this data got removed entirely automatically, and you do not need to do this manually.
A lot of RAM disk software is available these days.