by Steve Siercks, Jordan Streiff, & Chris Rogers
computer news with the teen perspective
How To Make A RAM Disk
by Brandon Drezner
June 22nd, 2000
With all of the commentaries that iTeen has been putting out lately, I though it would be appropriate to toss in a little bit of tech advice. For those of you with slow Internet connections and/or slow computers, I have a solution that will help put a little bit of life back into your machine. I suggest this for us teens because we usually don't have enough money to buy a G4 with half a gig of RAM. Therefore, we need to make do with what we do have.
Well, all you need is a little bit of free RAM, and when I say RAM, I mean real RAM, not RamDoubler or Virtual Memory (VM). If you haven't already guessed the trick to which I allude, then here it is: Store your internet cache files on a RAM Disk. This will increase the performance of your Internet browsing.
Let's start with the RAM Disk. A RAM Disk is a pseudo disk that your computer can create out of RAM; it doesn't really exist physically. It is just a segment of unused RAM that gets put aside to be partitioned into a "disk." To create this pseudo disk, go into your Control Panels, and open up the Memory Control Panel. At the bottom of the window, you will see an option to turn on the RAM Disk. Turn it on, then set the desired size of the disk. Remember, whatever amount you set aside for the disk will be static, meaning that although you might not fill the disk up, it will always take x number of megabytes away from your total RAM available to the system. I set mine to 1.4 megs., the size of a floppy disk. Depending on how much extra RAM your system has, and how much browsing you do, the size should be set accordingly. Don't forge that you can always go back and change it later.
Now for the actual application of the disk. Open your favorite web browser. Go into the settings/preferences and locate the section for the Cache. Set the size of your browser cache to slightly less than the size of the RAM Disk. Next, select the location of the Cache folder (somewhere in the RAM Disk). Now save the changes, and you can surf the web with a slight speed boost.
What makes this whole RAM Disk thing faster, anyway? I am so glad you asked. Your web browser stores information from the web sites that you visit on your hard drive. When you go back to those web pages or web pages in the same site that use the same information, your computer loads them from the cache folder rather than downloading them again. (Notice that pages load faster when you click the "BACK" button than when they load for the first time.) The hard drive in your computer is slow. It moves at 5400 7200 Rpm's and has a seek time of roughly ±8 ms. RAM on the other hand moves at the speed of light and has a seek time of 0.00001 0.00006 ms. (10 60 ns) Therefore, when you go to load a page that is already in the cache, it comes up much faster than if it were transferring from a regular hard drive. Plus, you'll reduce the wear and tear from storing thousands and thousands of files on your hard drive over time.
The best part about this trick, is that it can be applied to anything with a cache. FTP programs, image editors, CD burning software, and more. So the next time you need to boost a program's speed a little bit, try relocating the cache folder to a RAM Disk. Remember as always, if you have any questions or comments as to the execution of this, feel free to email me.
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