Ram Drive

I haven't created a Ram Drive for a very long time. Years ago I dabbled in creating a ram drive but then the available ram to a consumer level pc was around 512mb - 1gig. Ram was the virtue of the privileged. RamDisks at that time would only be used to speed up browser cache directories.This week I have been experimenting with a ram disk created by DataRam. Their freeware version allows the use of a 4 gig ram drive. My current setup has 16gig so giving up 4gig was not a heavy decision to make at all. Only Photoshop uses the most of the memory and the odd jaunt around the lands of Skyrim plays just as well with 11gig as opposed to 16.

The Ram Drive appears as a normal drive and you can change its drive letter using Computer Management. I have changed mine to R: short for RamDrive of course.

This opened up a number of options:-

  • The first was to tell Photoshop that the RamDrive was available to use for a scratch disk. This had a marked difference, everything seemed much faster.
  • I then set Firefox cache folder to the RamDrive too, this would drastically minimize the amount of files written to the solid state drive and extend its life.
  • User variables as well as Temp: and Tmp: were redirected to the RamDrive as well.
  • I use the archive program 7Zip which allows you to change its working directory to where ever you like. This was changed to the RamDrive too.

This means the only thing that the SSD is doing is being a fast boot drive with quick loading of programs.

Hmmm... So there is one other program I see that writes a lot of files to the solid state drive... it is the Lightroom preview files. If, like me you have 5000 of them then having them on the RamDisk makes sense.

But this would also mean the catalog files need to be copied to the RamDrive as well. Of course if the power to the computer fails then the data is lost.

Looking through the documentation of the RamDrive I saw that it could save an image when the computer shuts down, it will also save an image file after a set number of seconds. Mine is set to 300 seconds (five minutes). This image can also be read back at boot up. This image file is one large file rather than 5000 preview files. I use Microsoft Synctoy before I switch off the computer so the catalog files are copied down to the data drives on a regular basis anyway.

Once the catalog files were copied up and Lightroom launched, the preview files virtually flew into view. It was so much faster!

To give a comparison, my solid state drive is rated at 500mb/s for reading and writing. The RamDrive stomped that into the floor and demanded its lunch money by reporting a blistering 5596mb/s read and 7917mb/s...

Now to look at some ram boards...