Creating a RAMdisk
To create a new RAM disk, just click at the green plus button on the program's toolbar. A wizard will kick-in allowing you to configure the settings of your new RAM disk. If you are using the simple wizard setting, then some of the options that I will be describing below will not be available. But even with the advanced wizard, some options may be greyed-out and unavailable as the following screenshot shows:
Just click Next to continue to the next set of options. This one allows you to define a size for your RAM disk in megabytes. Be careful on how much RAM you allocate here. Your desired RAM disk size should be a number lower or equal to the total size of your RAM, minus 3GB. This ensures that 3GB of RAM will be left for system use. This is something that is absolutely essential. For example, if your system only has 4GB of RAM total, then you should create a RAMdisk no larger than 1000MB or so. My current testbed has 32GB of RAM, but for the purpose of this review, I have assigned a single 6000MB RAM disk, as shown on the screenshot below. There is also an option here to zero memory when the RAM disk is removed:
The next screen allows you to create either a partitionable RAM disk (which is detected by Windows as a real disk), or a removable one (which is detected as a removable media device). Personally I would recommend for you to leave this option at the default setting (partitionable):
The next set of options allows advanced users to create a RAM disk that features the newer GUID partition table standard. If you are a novice user, I would recommend for you to leave the options on this screen at their defaults; this will create a RAM disk using the regular MBR partition standard instead:
On the next screen users can choose the file system for the RAM disk, and can also define a drive letter and a label for it. Here you can also choose to enable NTFS compression by ticking the "compress file system" box. At this point you can also allow the program to auto-create a TEMP folder on the RAM disk at every system start-up. This is useful if you plan to relocate your Windows TEMP folder to the RAM disk later on. The field at the bottom allows you to define the names of custom folders that you want to automatically create at boot time.
The next set of options has to do with the saving and restoring of the RAM disk contents as an image file. If you don't use an associated image file, then the RAMdisk contents will always be lost between reboots. Personally, I don't use an image file, as I prefer for the RAM disk contents to be purged every time I shut the system down. If you need to preserve the RAMdisk contents between reboots, then make sure to tick the "Use associated image file" box. There also a drop-down menu that allows you to specify the partition that will hold the RAM disk's image file. By default it will be located at the root of the boot partition, but if you have more than one partition available, you can choose the one that will hold the RAM disk image. The image file will always be located at the root directory of the partition and will be marked as hidden. Its name will be "SsRdXxxx.cif", where Xxxx represents the four-digit identifier assigned to the RAM disk.
There are some more options on this screen. The "Save at system shutdown" box allows you to save the contents of the RAM disk to its associated image file at system shutdown. This option effectively makes the RAM disk persistent across reboots. The "Reserve space for full disk" option expands the size of the associated image file to the largest size necessary in order to contain the entire RAM disk's contents. This option specifies that sufficient space will be reserved on the partition containing the associated image file, in order to allow for the entire RAM disk to be saved.
There is also a possible issue that needs to be addressed here. If the RAM disk image has not been saved in advance and the system crashes, then you will lose all RAM disk contents. Personally I never store any valuable or sensitive data on it, and this is the reason why I prefer not to use an associated image file. If you frequently store useful data on the RAM disk then it's best to keep backing up the contents manually every now and then. It's best to do this even if you just move over sensitive data temporarily to the RAM disk. You must remember that if a crash occurs at that point, you will lose all data contained within. By manually saving the image file you will be ensuring that everything you have stored on the RAM disk up to that point will be saved to a real disk.
The program is actually very fast when saving and restoring an image file. I filled my 6GB RAM disk to the brim with data and rebooted. The system took a bit longer to turn itself off, but this is understandable since it has to save the RAM disk contents to disk at that point. Overall here was only a six second additional shut down delay to my system in order to save the image to an SSD. Upon rebooting the system took only five additional seconds to read the image from the SSD and write it back into RAM. I have also tested saving and restoring the image with a conventional hard disk (WD 10EACS SATA2) used as the storage medium. The delay was once again within very respectable limits, with an overall 10 second delay added on my X79 system.
Of course the delay will increase when backing-up/restoring larger RAM disks, especially when the host is an older or underpowered system. But then again, not many people with older systems would actually get to use a RAM disk larger than 6GB anyway. In fact, most people will get to use a much smaller RAM disk, so the associated image file saving/loading delays will most certainly be endurable. Of course, the more time one can shave-off at boot time the better; so it makes good sense to assign an SSD (if available) as the storage medium for the RAM disk image. Also don't forget to keep saving the thing manually at regular intervals, especially if you frequently add data to the RAM disk that you want to preserve between reboots / if your system crashes or you occur a power failure event, such as a black out.
The next screen of the wizard is an overview of the RAM disk settings. This is the last opportunity to review the desired settings before completing the wizard. Carefully examine the settings listed in the window for any changes that may be necessary. Upon clicking the Finish button the new RAM disk will be created, and you will be prompted by Windows to format it. Once formatting is done, the RAM disk will now be ready to use, and an entry for it will be added at the RamDisk Plus main window. If you want to delete the RAM disk in the future, just select that entry and press the X button on the toolbar. A confirmation dialogue will come up, also giving you the option to zero memory before the RAM disk is removed.
There are some more options located at the program's toolbar, things like icons for manual image file backup/restoration, a memory information sheet, plus an option to auto-wipe at log-off:
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