Most computer users with a moderate level of technical understanding recognize the term virtual memory or page file . RAM is cheap today – skimping on your RAM wouldn’t save you much money. When RAM was expensive 5 years ago, though, putting a computer together with 1 GB on-board made sense.
Since Windows still needs a substantial amount of RAM to function smoothly, it is designed to improvise – it sets a section of the hard disk aside and uses it as if it were RAM. This is the computer’s virtual memory. While this method works, it slows the computer down since. RAM disk is the exact opposite of virtual memory.
While using virtual memory requires making the computer believe that the hard disk is actually RAM, using RAM disk involves making the system believe that a part of a computers RAM is really a hard disk – a very fast one.
Systems turn set a part of their hard drives aside when they side have less RAM than they really need. This problem doesn’t exist today, though – if anything, people have far more RAM than they will ever use. Even garden-variety computers these days, usually have at least 4 GB of RAM – they only use about half of it though. When you have a good bit of RAM on your computer, you can set the system to use the unused portion as a RAM disk – something that can speed up your system far more than any SSD could.
What does RAM disk do?
Ever wonder why all programs are copied to RAM before the CPU processes them? It’s because RAM is very fast and can keep up with the CPU. If programs remained in the hard disk, the CPU would need to wait endlessly to get program coding from the plodding hard disk. When your programs live on a portion RAM set aside for RAM disk, you get to speed things along even more.
A bit of software is all you need for RAM disk
Most RAM disk utilities are free for personal use. SoftPerfect RAM Disk is an example of such free software. Its features include auto-loading RAM disk on startup and hard disk saving the contents of the RAM disk at any time and limitless RAM disk size.
A short example
Web browsers create a large number of temporary files. They set these aside on the hard disk for later use. If you set your browser to use your RAM disk instead of your HDD, these temporary files will be processed much faster.
Mozilla Firefox: To store Firefox’s temp files on your RAM disk, you should launch the browser and then enter the string about:config in the address bar. When you click through any warnings, you’ll see Firefox’s settings. You should right-click anywhere among them and select New and then String Value. Enter the string browser.cache.disk.parent_directory in the name field. When prompted for a value, enter the drive letter for your RAM disk.
Internet Explorer: Click Tools and then Internet Options . Click Settings under Browsing history . Here, you will see the current location of the browser’s temp files. Click Move Folder and then simply select the location on the RAM disk that you wish to use.
Google Chrome : There is no easy way to change the temp file location on Chrome. While it can be done, it is not recommended for the casual user. If you are tech-savvy and can manage to use command line and Group Policies, you can check out this link: ghacks.net/2010/10/19/how-to-change-google-chromes-cache-location-and-size.
There it is, a free and easy way for speeding up your web browsing by up to 20%.