A RAM disk is a hard drive made up of your computer’s RAM. It can’t save data permanently, but it’s incredibly fast. If you want to try it out, you can create a RAM disk with free software and without a single computer upgrade. This article will walk through how you can set up and use a RAM disk on Windows 10.
Using ImDisk Toolkit
ImDisk Toolkit is an application for managing virtual drives. It also includes a utility that allows the creation of RAM drives.
1. Download ImDisk from Sourceforge.net.
2. Install the application. Be sure to include all the components during the installation.
3. Double-click on the desktop icon labeled “RamDisk Configuration.”
4. Adjust the disk size in the box at the top of the window. We recommend at least 4 gigabytes of storage to get a feel of how the disk works.
5. Click “OK” at the bottom of the window. This will create your RAM disk, which is just a virtual disk that’s assigned to your computer’s RAM. The process happens transparently, so there’s nothing you need to do.
6. If you get a warning about shutdown settings, click on the “Shutdown Settings” button.
Then unlock the settings pane with your administrator password.
Finally, uncheck the check box next to “Turn on fast startup (recommended),” and click “Save Changes” at the bottom of the window.
Fast Startup speeds up the process of turning on your computer by saving a system state between completely off and hibernation to your hard drive. This happens when the computer writes the contents of your RAM to a stable hard drive. As you might guess, this could mess with your RAM disk’s ability to preserve and track its data.
With Fast Startup off, boots might take slightly longer, but it’s doubtful that you’ll notice much.
Disabling fast startup will satisfy the warning window, but let’s consider why. This will also allow ImDisk to save your RAM disk’s data to an image file when you shut down your computer. If you don’t, the contents of your RAM disk will be erased completely every time, with no saved image storage. It would also disable the RAM disk’s ability to load the previous content. Basically, the drive would act a lot more like RAM and a lot less like a disk. Depending on your use case, that might be disappointing or unusable.
6. Your RAM disk is now ready for use. You can access and use it just like any normal hard drive, except exponentially faster. And we mean exponentially. Whereas an SSD might offer 300 to 500 MB when reading from the disk, a RAM disk can offer more than 5000 MB, even on mediocre memory sticks.
The big question about RAM disks is actually “so what?” As fast as the drives are, what are they good for? You can’t boot off the drive, and you can’t save information to them permanently.
RAM disks are most popular and powerful in applications where data writing and reading is important, but data integrity is not. You might see RAM disks used as scratch disks, where programs can perform and save calculations for on-the-fly video rendering and effects playback. They could also be used in statistical modeling or any other system that would require tons of data at high speeds to be effective.