If your computer has a lot of RAM, a significant portion of which is unused, you can create a RAM disk (RAMDisk, RAM Drive), that is, a virtual drive that the operating system sees as a regular disk but is located in RAM instead. The main advantage of this disk is that it is very fast (faster than SSD disks).
In this review, we cover how to create a RAM disk in Windows, what it can be used for, and the limitations you may encounter. We tested all programs to create a RAM disk.
What does a RAM disk do?
As already mentioned, the main thing in this drive is high speed. The second feature is that the RAM disk data is automatically lost when you turn off your computer or laptop (because it needs power to store information in RAM), but with this program, when the computer is turned off, the files are transferred to a normal disk and when the PC restarts, they are restored to RAM.
These features make it possible, in the presence of “extra” RAM, to efficiently use disks in RAM for the following main purposes: placing temporary Windows files, browser cache and similar information (we get a speed boost, they are automatically deleted). You can also use such a disk for the purpose of placing only files needed during work.
Of course, there are also disadvantages to using RAM disks. The main disadvantage is often the use of RAM. And in the end, if a program needs more memory than the remaining RAM, it will be forced to use the pagefile on a regular disk, which will be slower.
Best free programs to create RAM disk
Below is an overview of the best free programs for creating RAM disks, along with information about their functions and limitations.
ImDisk is a completely free open source program for creating RAM disks without any restrictions (you can set any size in available RAM, create multiple disks).
After installing the program, it will create an item in the Windows Control Panel, create disks and manage them there.
- Open the ImDisk virtual disk drive and click “Mount New” to create the disk.
- Set the drive letter, disk size. The remaining items cannot be changed. Click OK.
- The drive will be created and mounted to the system, but not formatted; this can be done with Windows tools.
You can download the ImDisk program to create RAM disks from the official website: www.ltr-data.se/opencode.html/# ImDisk
AMD Radeon RAMDisk
The AMD RAMDisk program is one of the most popular programs for creating a RAM disk, despite its main limitation. No, it does not require AMD hardware to be installed on your computer if you are in doubt about the name. Its main limitation is that with the free version AMD RAMDisk it allows you to create a RAM disk no larger than 4 gigabytes (or 6 GB if you have AMD memory installed).
But this amount is often enough, and the ease of use and additional features of the program allow us to recommend its use.
The process of creating a RAM disk in AMD RAMDisk consists of the following simple steps:
- Specify the desired disk size in megabytes in the main window of the program.
- If prompted, check “Create TEMP directory” to create a folder for temporary files on this disk. Also, specify a Set Disk Label and letter if necessary.
- Click the “Initialize RAMDisk” button.
- The disk will be created and mounted to the system. It is also formatted, but during the creation process Windows may display several windows stating that the drive needs to be formatted, click the “Cancel” button on them.
- Additional features of the program include saving the RAM disk image and automatically loading it when the computer is turned off and on (on the “Load / Save” tab).
- Also, by default, the program is appended to Windows startup, disabling it (with a host of other options) is available in the Options tab.
AMD Radeon RAMDisk is available for free download from official website (only free version is not available there): www.radeonramdisk.com/…
A very similar program, which I will not consider separately, is Dataram RamDisk. It is also shareware, but the limitation for the free version is 1GB. At the same time, Dataram is the developer of AMD RAMDisk (which explains the similarity of these programs). However, if you are interested, you can try this option, here memory.dataram.com/…
PassMark OSFMount is another completely free program that, in addition to mounting various images on the system, can also create RAM disks without restrictions.
The creation process is as follows:
- Click “Mount New” in the main window of the program.
- In the next window, under “Source”, select “Empty RAM Driver” (empty RAM disk), specify the size, drive letter, type of drive, volume label. You can also format it right away (but only to FAT32).
- Click OK.
OSFMount download is available here: www.osforensics.com…
StarWind RAM Disk
And the last free software in this review, StarWind RAM Disk, also allows you to create multiple RAM disks of any size in one convenient interface.
The program is free from the official site www.starwindsoftware.com/… You can download it as a free download, but you must be registered to download it (You will be emailed a link to the StarWind RAM Disk installer).