RAM drives are temporary digital data storage solutions that are typically between 50 and 100 times faster than mechanical hard drives and almost 10 times faster than even the best and fastest SSDs. Using RAM disks on a PC could, in theory, dramatically improve performance in terms of read/write speeds. So today we’re going to show you how to create a RAM Disk (sometimes also called RAM Drive) on your Windows 10 computer. We’ll also tell you more about the technology and its benefits, as well as RAM Disk vs SSD benchmarks for give you a more holistic understanding of the subject.
Create RAM Disk in Windows 10 to Improve PC Performance
Today we will be using a free third-party program for Windows 10 called ImDisk Toolkit for this demo. However, there are a number of other such software available including AMD Radeon RAMDisk, Dataram RAMDisk, Gavotte RAMDisk, etc. They all have their pros and cons, but ImDisk is established software and is often seen as the industry standard bearer alongside Dataram offerings. So, without further ado, let’s dive straight into it and see how we can create a RAM disk (RAM drive) in our Windows 10 computers. However, we will start with more details about the RAM disk itself, its advantages and its benchmarks against SSD flash storage devices.
What is RAM disk?
A RAM disk (also called RAM drive) is part of a computer’s random access memory that is specifically reserved to be treated as a normal storage drive by the operating system. Once you have mounted a RAM disk, you will be able to use it as a regular secondary storage drive and even install programs on it. It is sometimes referred to as a virtual RAM drive or software RAM drive and is different from a hardware RAM drive which uses RAM chips to create super-fast battery-powered solid-state drives.
How do Ram drives compare to SSD drives?
RAM drive read/write speeds are typically an order of magnitude faster than SSDs – the fastest form of secondary storage available on the market. The performance gain is due to several factors, including access time, maximum throughput, and file system type. The biggest gain is due to the higher maximum throughput, which in the case of RAM disks is limited only by the speed of the RAM, data bus, and processor. SSds, on the other hand, are further limited by the speed of the storage bus, such as SATA or USB. Other forms of storage media, such as hard drives and optical drives, are even slower due to longer access times.
RAM Disk vs SSD: Benchmarks
To measure the read/write speed difference between the RAM drive and the M.2 SSD on my company’s laptop, I ran CystalDiskMark 8, the industry standard free tool for comparing disk drives. storage. As expected, the battle between the RAM disk and the SSD turned out to be a wipeout. While the M.2 drive is no slouch, the RAM drive outperforms it by an order of magnitude. It is about 7-8 times faster in sequential read speed and almost 20 times faster in random read speed for small amounts of data. The difference is equally striking for write speeds, hovering between 5-6 times for sequential and 3-4 times for random.
RAM disks: advantages and disadvantages
The advantages of RAM disks in terms of speed advantage are visible to all. Technically, programs installed in a RAM drive would have near-instant load times because their data would be stored in the fastest type of memory available. Opening files, viewing documents, and loading games or apps happened almost instantly every time, as their data would simply be copied to another part of RAM. However, despite its obvious benefits, there is one major problem that has prevented the RAM disk trick from becoming a more widely deployed way to speed up people’s slow PCs.
The biggest problem here is that RAM is volatile memory. Which means that all the data stored on it would be lost the moment the PC is turned off or in the event of a power failure. Of course, you could save your RAM disk data to an image file before each shutdown and reload it on each boot to alleviate the problem, but that would increase system boot and shutdown times, negating the very point of creating RAM disks in the first place.
RAM disks also reserve a lot of your memory, which means you can’t use it for anything else. While this is acceptable in computers with a ton of RAM, it might be illegal in older or cheaper systems with little memory available. However, on balance, games and programs installed on RAM drives seem to open and run much faster than those installed in standard SSDs. This is especially true for programs that don’t normally use RAM as a cache and instead save small files to secondary storage.
Hardware RAM disks
Some super-premium SSDs use RAM chips instead of flash memory for storage, making them much faster than standard SSDs. These drives contain built-in batteries that ensure they can retain data written to them even when the PC is turned off. However, increased electronics and the cost of semiconductor chips mean that these storage drives are also much more expensive and not generally aimed at retail consumers (that would be you and me). Instead, they’re aimed at data centers and researchers who might need blazing-fast speeds for mission-critical purposes, regardless of cost.
How to Create RAM Disk in Windows 10?
You can easily create RAM disks on Windows computers using lightweight and small third-party tools. As mentioned earlier, we use a utility called ‘ImDisk’ to create the RAM disk on our Windows 10 PC. You can, however, use a variety of other similar software available for free.
To note: The methods described in this article will work on both desktop and laptop computers. Also, I’m using Windows 10 for this demo, but the methods detailed here will also work on older versions of Windows, including Windows 7, 8, and 8.1..
Step 1: Download and install ImDisk
- First, download the IMDisk Toolkit (free) Zip file of the Sourceforge official developer page and extract the contents to a location of your choice. Now open the folder and run the batch file install.bat.
To note: If prompted by User Account Control (UAC), click or tap “Yes” to approve. You can also disable annoying UAC prompts to improve your workflow.
- In the installer setup window, check all the boxes in the “Components” section then click/tap To install. Your installation will barely take a second or two.
Step 2: Use ImDisk to Create RAM Disk in Windows 10
- Run ImDisk. On the Basic tab , select the RAM size  you want to allocate to the RAM disk. You can also opt for the dynamic memory function by checking “Allocate memory dynamically” . Leave the rest of the default settings and click Okay  to create the RAM disk.
To note: The dynamic memory feature, if chosen, would allow the RAM disk size to change on the fly, with more space allocated if needed. It is slower, but will save a lot of memory when only a small part of the RAM disk is used.
- Go to This PC (My Computer in earlier versions of Windows) and you’ll see a new drive with the drive letter and size you chose. This is your RAM disk.
- To undo all changes, you can remove the RAM disk by clicking on the To disassemble on the Basic tab in the ImDisk configuration window, as shown below.
Step 3: Prevent data loss from RAM disk after every shutdown
RAM is volatile memory, which means that the data on your RAM disk will be automatically deleted every time you shut down your computer. However, you can save data that was on the RAM disk at shutdown and quickly reload it on startup. Here’s how:
- Move to the Data tongue  in the ImDisk configuration window. Now, in the “Load content from an image file or folder” field, browse (or type) the path of the image file  with auto-saved RAM disk data that will sync on next boot. Make sure to check “Synchronize on system shutdown” . Click on Okay  once done.
Enjoy super-fast read/write speeds with RAM disk on your Windows 10 PC
Using our tutorial above, you should be able to easily create a RAM disk to speed up your Windows 10 computer. And since you want to play around with the RAM configurations on your computer in search of better performance, check out our guide on how to to allocate more RAM to specific apps in Windows 10. Finally, also check out our guides detailing the best Windows 10 tips and tricks and steps you can take to improve the battery life of your Windows PC.