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How to Create a 10 GB/s RAM Disk in Windows

Posted by Jim Tanous on January 24, 2014
Windows RAM Disk

After discussing how to create a RAM Disk in OS X during a recent episode of The TekRevue Podcast, several readers emailed us to ask about creating a RAM Disk in Windows. Thankfully, the process for Windows is just as easy as it is in OS X. But first, some background.

What is a RAM Disk?

RAM Disks are logical storage volumes created from a computer’s RAM. RAM is the ultrafast storage medium that a computer uses to temporarily store data while in use, dramatically speeding up the overall performance of a system. Because RAM is so fast, the logical drives we can create in RAM operate at several times the speed of even the fastest modern solid state and mechanical hard drives. This means that any task that is traditionally limited by the speed of a computer’s drive, such as muxing large video files or manipulating complex databases, can gain huge performance boosts when run from a RAM Disk. But it’s not quite that simple; there are some key caveats to consider.
First, RAM is volatile, or non-persistent, storage, which means that any data stored in RAM is lost when the RAM loses power. This contrasts with traditional solid state and mechanical hard drives, which are non-volatile, or persistent, means of storage. These storage methods retain the data written to them when the power is lost, such as when the computer shuts down or when there is a power outage. This means that anything you store in a RAM Disk will be lost when you reboot the computer, or if there’s an unexpected loss of power. Therefore, it’s important to make frequent backups of the contents of your RAM Disk, and to always keep in mind that the data on the disk could be lost at any time.
Second, compared to solid state and mechanical hard drives, RAM is relatively expensive and limited. Whereas hard drives can easily reach 4TB in capacity at a price of about $0.03 per gigabyte, the maximum amount of RAM supported by most consumer computers is usually 32 or 64GB, at a much steeper price of around $10 per gigabyte. These limitations, coupled with the fact that you can’t assign all of your system’s RAM to a RAM Disk (you need to leave some left over for the computer to use, after all), means that your logical RAM Disks will be relatively small, likely no larger than 8 to 16GB for most systems. If these limitations are acceptable, however, an incredibly fast drive awaits you.

How Big Should My RAM Disk Be?

As mentioned above, your computer needs RAM to function properly, so you’ll need to choose a RAM Disk size that balances your need for storage with the computer’s need for memory.
In general, it’s wise to leave at least 50 percent of your computer’s RAM free for the system to use. That means that if you have 16GB of total RAM, you’ll want to limit your RAM Disk to a maximum of 8GB. There are some exceptions to this rule, of course. If your planned tasks for the computer aren’t very RAM intensive, such as working with large sequential video and audio files, then you’re probably safe assigning a bit more RAM to the RAM Disk. Further, if you have a very large amount of RAM (say, for example, 64GB), you can make your RAM Disk quite a bit bigger than 32GB and still leave adequate amounts of RAM for your computer (a 52GB RAM Disk and 12GB reserved for system memory, for example).
As you’ll see next, the process of creating and destroying RAM Disks is quick and easy, so feel free to experiment with different sizes to find the balance that suits your workflow and hardware the best.

How to Create a RAM Disk in Windows

There are many software programs and utilities that can create a RAM Disk in Windows, but many of them are paid commercial apps or are missing key features. A powerful and free option we recommend is called ImDisk. Although ImDisk includes many features, such as the ability to mount and manage virtual disks, it also acts as a super simple interface for configuring and creating RAM Disks.
To get started, first download ImDisk and run the installer. By default, the installer will place three icons on your desktop. When it’s done, open the icon that says “RamDisk Configuration.”
ImDisk RAM Disk
ImDisk provides a handy GUI for configuring your RAM Disks. First, select a size for the disk; we’re using 8GB in our example. You can then choose the drive letter to which your RAM Disk will mount, and select which file system you’d like to use. As we mentioned earlier, RAM Disks are wiped out with a power loss or reboot, but you can configure one or more RAM Disks to be automatically created and mounted during the Windows boot process.
On the Advanced Tab, you can give the RAM Disk a drive name, change the cluster size (most users will be fine leaving this at the default setting), and also set up image files to preserve your RAM Disk data. With image files, users can specify a drive or folder that they always want to have in the RAM Disk, and ImDisk will copy that data to the RAM Disk each time it’s created after a reboot or power loss.
ImDisk RAM Disk
Once all of your variables are set, press OK to create the RAM Disk. This process should take just a few seconds, and you’ll see a Properties Window appear when it’s complete. You’ll now find your new logical drive in Windows Explorer, and you can begin to write data to it at incredible speeds. How incredible, you ask? Keep reading for our benchmarks.

RAM Disk Benchmarks

We not only wanted to measure the performance of the RAM Disk, we also wanted to compare it to more common storage technologies. For these tests, we’re comparing our 8GB RAM Disk to an internal SATA III Samsung 830 SSD and a RAID 5 array comprised of three 2TB Western Digital Black hard drives. Our test computer is a 3.5GHz i7 3770K system with 16GB of total memory running at 1866MHz. All tests were performed with the 64-bit edition of CrystalDiskMark running on Windows 8.1.

RAM Disk Benchmarks

Those who read our previous article on OS X RAM Disks won’t be surprised to see the results, but those new to the concept will be blown away by the performance of the RAM Disk, especially compared to the traditional storage drives. With peak sequential reads of 6.9 gigabytes per second, the RAM Disk is approximately 1,701 percent faster than our Samsung 830 SSD.
RAM Disk Benchmarks
Things get even better with write speeds. The RAM Disk tops 10 gigabytes per second in both sequential and large random operations. For those keeping score at home, that’s a 2,722 percent increase performance.
Once you’re done playing with the RAM Disk, you can delete it by heading back to the ImDisk application and pressing Unmount on the Basic tab. If you have data on the disk, ImDisk will offer to image it for you, so that you can quickly restore it the next time you mount a RAM Disk.

Conclusions

In short, the RAM Disk numbers are a complete game changer when it comes to drive speed, and with the right precautions and expectations, the introduction of a RAM Disk could revolutionize certain drive-dependent workflows.
With a super-simple setup and configuration thanks to the free ImDisk utility, almost anyone can enjoy experimenting with this awesome feature. Just make sure to remember the caveats and never store data on a RAM Disk that you can’t afford to lose.

17 thoughts on “How to Create a 10 GB/s RAM Disk in Windows”

Victor says:
I am an old school ramdrive user. My favorite command in the old DOS days when we were talking MB of RAM. Glad its making a comeback. Things get REALLY interesting when combined with the ability to load from BIOS as I recently have seen available with a MoBo.
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Ratnesh Michelson says:
Is it possible for old laptop with very low RAM.
Like i have 2008 HCL model with 1gb ram and 150gb hdd.
Is it safe and possible for this laptop.
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Ajay Ramachandran says:
You only have 1 gb to spare so there is little point. I wouldn’t do it.
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Jameson Philip North says:
Trojan detected in imdisk-dlg.exe on my PC. I’d review the source you’re using for link.
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TekRevue says:
Hi Jameson,
There are two links in this article for ImDisk, neither of which I’m seeing lead to a “imdisk-dlg.exe” file (I see “imdiskinst.exe” and “ImDiskTk.exe” which both pass a virus scan). Which link are you using?
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Uit 14bs says:
1. the partition i make can restore to its original form or not ? or its always work like ram?
2. it damage the part of hard drive that we create or not ?
waiting 4 ur kind reply?
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ccxex says:
I have an overclocked memory 7-10-8-20 DDR3 1866MHz
And the write speed is worse than the read speed
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Brando Amoguis Reynalda says:
Well it works for me, many thanks 🙂
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Michele Mathew says:
Trying to read the article! But guess what your adds just roll me to download some random app and never let’s me come back to the page I was on. I understand u need revenue to run your site.. but this sucks.. never coming back to your site again.
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Jonathon Mirza says:
After trying to use IMdisk for around 2 months I have got nowhere with it, it does not seem to have any effect. It will create a drive in My computer that does not seem to increase the speed of my computer at all, any time I try to close IMdisk it dis-mounts the drive. The second utility will also allow me to create a drive and mount it, but it will not allow me to format the drive. I have tried doing this with various sizes, from 1GB through 128 GB and I have seen no effect at all other than a waste of space on my hard drive. I have 4GB ram and an AMD-E1 Processor with windows 8 installed this laptop is fast enough to virtualize backtrack 5 R3 Gnome while running Google Chrome but when running IMdisk the speed of the laptop is greatly reduced. For anyone who wants 10GB of RAM I would recommend putting two 4GB DDR4 DIMMS in the primary slots and two 1 GB DDR4 DIMMS in the secondary slots in their desktop computer. IF you have a laptop than just virtualize it with Advanced system properties. Partition the Hard Drive to crate a drive that you want to use for ram format and set the entire thing for virtual memory. That is how I get 64 GB RAM on a laptop with only 4 GB physical RAM. When you format the partition use NTFS otherwise it will not work.
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Julian Tarin says:
Lol you have no idea what you’re talking about.
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Brian says:
Nither do you
Julian Tarin says:
Nither indeed.
John says:
D00d, if you understand virtualization or VM, the OS swap in and out of memory from main memory (RAM) to hard drive when a VM page fault – this is like your basic OS 101 course. From reading your posting “That is how I get 64GB ram on a laptop with only 4GB ram” – moving from ram to hd back and forth just slow thing down, worse yet your laptop HD is SLOW.
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John Fak says:
There is a reason why Ramdisk never went successful in the last 30 years.
Besides the size problems, there really aren’t many things you can do when everything on the disk can go buhbye any second.
Any games you are playing will want to save on the disk a lot of permanent data.
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Luke Higdon says:
Thats why RAM Disk is popular now the software allows you the data to not be erased when turned off as well as you can stripe your Ramdisk to the SSD which means your wont get GB/s but can double or quadruple your SSD. Also software like radeons Ramdisk only saves what has changed. So if you have a 4GB RAM Disk and you save your game once it only saves a couple megabytes.
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Stormbow says:
That ‘guide’ doesn’t tell anyone anything at all about how to actually utilize ImDisk. All it says is, essentially, “go download this”,
“install it this way”, “look how awesome it is”.
There is nothing in that ‘guide’ which details how to use it for … any software whatsoever, actually.
Not at all helpful to people (like me) who have no experience with this stuff.
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Jonathon Mirza says:
Well if the speed of a RAM-Disk is relative to the speed of the RAM than I have to see the benchmark results of a RAM-Disk on a computer with *4 of those new Korean DDR 4 128 Gb RAM cards.
http://blog.gsmarena.com/sk-hynix-develops-128gb-ddr4-ram-module/
The RAM-Disk would hit the Terra Flops.
Not to mention the material used in the bus’s on the mobo would have to contain extra latency in the Lambda constants of the material to allow for the Nu of the signals flowing to increase relative to Eta.
(or if you don’t understand the previous sentence you could just translate as the mother board design would need to be updated to accommodate RAM in a 1Tb range)
The only other solution is to use server dual core mobo, and they cost the same price as a fully built I7 computer.
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Anothereno says:
It also has a lot to do with the latency of the ram.
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John Fak says:
“The RAM-Disk would hit the Terra Flops.”
Flops is a unit of measure for CPU floating point operations performance. It has nothing to do with memory or disk transfer speed.
Learn more at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/FLOPS
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Jonathon Mirza says:
If you think I don’t know that than you sorley underestimate my intelligence. When I say the Ram-Disk is relative to the Speed of the RAM I am referring to the electronic design of the ram, how many electrolytic caps in parallel and how many transistors between each cap ? how many resistors to buffer the outputs between each cap and each collector pin on each transistor ? Each bit in RAM is stored in a cap and the circuit for bidirectional transfer consists of a electrolytic cap with the positive connected to the base of the transistor the negative connected to the emitter of the next cap’s positive the resistor connected to the collector and the next caps negative. The circuit is laid out in a rows of 4 or 8 and at one end a jumper connects the emitter to the next row. A 555 chip is also present in most RAM circuits which is maintained by the cpu clock. Each IC on a standard RAM card will contain an average of 256 caps per row. The more expensive RAM cards contain more caps per row and may also contain layered rows, which allow each IC to contain up to 16 rows, 8 rows of caps in the bottom layer and 8 in the top.
Depending on the quality of the components used, the manufacturing technique, and signal transmission rate through these components along the internal signal lines of the IC’s on the RAM cards the speed of a RAM-DISK at 10GB can very relative to the RAM in the system.
Деян Добромиров says:
Mine Makes 3 GB/s Also, Why is That It should me more
Kingston HyperX Preator 2166 32 GB Dual Channel Aida Says 20 ….
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Anothereno says:
I have been using Imdisk for a few years now its quite simply amazing especially for gaming, I have 32GB of gskill sniper 1866 and generally I create a 26GB rd on it, if you wanna see instant loading screens and increased fps its quite literally insane how fast it can be and when I show other hardcore gamers they are always blown away. Honestly this is the next evolution of the hard drive
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Stormbow says:
This is actually what I came to this page for– to find out how to ramdisk games. It’s a shame nobody actually describes that process, even more so that the actual ImDisk article didn’t. Enlighten me?
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Anothereno says:
Create the ram disk, a new hard drive will show up in then just install the game or program on it. Loading screens will be near instant depending on your cpu. Note: every time you shut down your computer the ram disk will disappear.
Stormbow says:
Ahhh, ok. The games I’m wanting to RAMdisk are over 20 GB each, so I wouldn’t be able to get them in the 10-12 GB I’d have available for a RAMdisk.
John Fak says:
Evolution/revolution my ass.
Welcome to last 30 years.
Ramdisk was here for ages. Newbs will be newbs.
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Anothereno says:
Sure they have been around for years but with more ram becoming standard in off the shelf systems 8gb and 16gb people can actually benefit from it now, in the past systems usually just had enough to run the os.
Not to mention the speed increases over the last few years.
Haseeb Malik says:
When i install imdisk it does not open the file, I tried running at as an administrator but its the same thing.
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Anothereno says:
it will show up in control panel if you switch to classic view, did for me anyways.
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Paul Sierowski says:
First of all ramdisk”ing” a computer is very worthwhile especially if you are short on space on your SSD, Its best to create one anround 4gb in size and put your TMP and TEMP (located in the environment variables tab) windows folders on it, also internet cache and pagefile, this will be very useful and very fast. Ram has come down in price so buying an extra 4gb stick is only gonna cost about £25-£30 and the performance benefits are outstanding.
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tuvshinbat sundui says:
i dont see it working
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tuxwarz says:
the speed of the ramdisk depend of the speed of the ram. What ram you have, my ramdisk only reach 3gb/s
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Paul Sierowski says:
more so the latency of the ram
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