RAM Disk is a technology where you use your computer’s memory, or RAM, and make it into a virtual hard disk drive. People do that because the speed of RAM is so much faster than anything else, including SSD’s, for most kinds of storage and files on a RAM disk can be accessed much more quickly. Another factor is the current generation of RAM (DDR3) is pretty affordable nowadays and most modern computers have at the very least 2GB to 4GB of memory which very rarely gets fully utilized.
Ever get annoyed at how long it takes to run Adobe Photoshop? Even after using Firefox for a long time, you’ll notice that the browser starts to crawl. Well if you install and load Firefox database files in RAM Disk, it should definitely help the time that it takes to startup be cut down by a lot. All you need to do is to install the software on the drive that is created with RAMDisk or if it is a database, set the program to load the database from the RAMDisk.
Here’s a selection of 12 RAM Disk software programs for you to try out and many of them are unlimited freeware, or have only slightly reduced functions and only a few are full shareware. After a little research and testing on the RAM Disk software, it was noticed that some perform faster by giving a faster read and write speed even when working on the same memory. We believe it’s how the RAMdisk driver is being coded and optimized that makes a difference on the performance of the software.
We will be using a free portable utility called CrystalDiskMark, a very popular disk benchmark software to do the test on a clean Windows 7 32bit computer with service pack 1 and all latest hotfixes. 1GB DDR3 (1600MHz) x 2 is in use on the desktop computer. As a standard, a 500MB or 512MB drive will be created on every RAMDisk software if it allows us to. Then we’ll will use the default CrystalDiskMark benchmark settings only changing the test size option to 100MB and then run a test on the RAMdisk space.
We’ve tried running the test a few times and the result is always different to some small degree but the scores are extremely close. CrystalDiskMark itself actually runs each test with 5 passes so the numbers running the test once are a good average. The numbers that matter the most are the 4K tests in the third and forth rows of the screenshots. Higher is better. All RAMDisk’s were formatted with the NTFS filesystem. The screenshot below shows a result from 7200RPM 500GB hard drive without using RAM Disk.
1. Gizmo Drive 2.7.9, part of Gizmo Central (Freeware)
2. Bond Disc 188.8.131.52 (Free for personal use)
The maximum RAM disk limit is 640MB
3. Gilisoft RAMDisk 4.7 (Shareware $40 USD)
4. Primo Ramdisk Standard Edition 5.6.0 (Direct IO) (Shareware $29.95 USD)
5. SuperSpeed RamDisk 11.6 (Shareware $60 USD)
6. Dataram RAMDisk 4.0.0 (Freeware)
The freeware version has a limit of 4GB per RAM disk.
7. VSuite Ramdisk Free Edition 1.18.1531.1240 (SCSI) (Freeware)
This Free version only works on Windows 2000, 2003 and XP.
8. ImDisk 1.5.6 (Freeware)
9. Gavotte Ramdisk 1.1.0 (Freeware)
10. SoftPerfect RAM Disk 3.3.1 (Freeware)
11. Passmark OSFMount 1.5 (Freeware)
12. StarWind Software Virtual RAM Drive Emulator 5.5 (Freeware)
This RAM disk supports sizes of up to 1 GB.
As you can see, there are some quite large differences even just between the free versions. The best free RAMDisk software in terms of raw performance is Bond Disc, but the program is partly an encryption application which isn’t easy to use, has a 640MB RAM disk limit, and also the graphical interface isn’t great. Recently Softperfect have have made their previous $29 shareware RAMDisk software into freeware, and some major updates have brought massive improvements in performance, between 5 and 9 times faster in the 4K scores! Now well worth looking at.
Gavotte Ramdisk also performs pretty good for a freeware utility, and Dataram RAMDisk gives a fairly solid if unspectacular performance.