DrDataRAM – Using a RAM disk to speed up your PC – Part 2
This is part 2 of a two part article. I would highly recommend you read How to setup and use a RAM drive – Part 1 before proceeding.
In this segment I’d like to show you how to implement some of things we discussed in the previous section.
I have been talking a lot about what to put on your RAM Drive but I haven’t told you how to do that, so here goes…
Browser Cache Files
Cache Files are a prime candidate for a RAMDrive. They are temporary, fleeting, and don’t need to be saved. If they are deleted, they will simply be re-created by their respective browsers.
I’ll talk about the Big Three, IE, Firefox, and Chrome.
IE is probably the easiest browser to change.
There are a number of ways to open the Internet Properties Sheet. Probably the easiest is to open Control Panel and click Internet Options. That will open this window:
- Under the General tab click the Settings button.
- In the window that opens under the Temporary Internet Files tab, click the Move Folder button.
This will bring up a familiar file browser window for you to choose the new destination folder for your IE cache files. Obviously, for the purposes of this exercise, you’ll want to choose a folder on your new RAM Drive.
I believe Windows will expect you to log out then back into your account for the changes to complete. This should not involve a complete re-boot, however, so it is relatively painless.
Firefox is not quite as straightforward but the principle is the same.
- In the Firefox address bar type: about:config
You may get a warning to be careful if this is the first time you enter the configuration page; just say OK.
- In the Search bar type: cache (this just shortens the list for readability purposes)
At this point we want to create a new string entry which does not exist by default.
If the entry called browser.cache.disk.parent_directory does not exist, you will have to create it. If it does exist, then all you have to do is change its value.
To create the entry:
- Right-click in any empty space and choose New, then String
- In the new window asking for a name use the following: browser.cache.disk.parent_directory
- You will then be asked for the string value. This is old programming jargon. Just type in the complete path to the folder you previously set aside on your RAM Drive for the Firefox cache. You can see the indicated example of mine in the above image.
Note: Do not capitalize nor add spaces; pay attention to spelling and punctuation. If you get this wrong, it won’t work. And there is no way to delete an entry from within this window once it has been entered.
To change the Value:
- Simply Right-click the Preference Name and choose Modify
I recommend re-starting Firefox when you are finished.
Note: If you are using a Firefox variant such as Palemoon or Waterfox, these settings work in those browsers as well.
Google Chrome is an entirely different matter. There are basically two methods from which to choose:
- A command-line option – this works but every time Google Chrome updates to a new version, you will have to reset the command line switches. Kind of a pain…
- A Symbolic Link option – this is more complicated but at least it’s permanent; set it and forget it.
I have written a post at WinCom7 that will explain the second method in detail and you can read it at Moving the Default Chrome Cache Directory.
The first method hasn’t been attempted for quite some time now and is not covered there.
In all the above examples you can test that everything is working by using your favorite file manager. Go to your new RAM Drive and check the various folders while your browser is running. You should see the the cache files being placed there when you open your browser.
Temporary System and User Files
Temporary System and User Files are another set of files that have a need for speed.
If you happen to be the proud owner of a new Solid State Drive, then you will have the added benefit of reducing write operations to that drive. That is always a plus where SSDs are concerned. Also, a RAM Drive is infinitely faster than an SSD. Two birds with one stone…
Here’s how to do it:
- Go to Control Panel and click on System
- In the window that opens, in the left panel, choose Advanced system settings
- Under the Advanced Tab, click the Environment Variables Button
You can see that I have already pointed my TEMP and TMP variables to my RAM Drive (R:\).
- Simply use the Edit button to change the default folder to the new one on your RAM Drive
- You must re-start Windows when you are finished for these changes to take effect
As with the browser cache files you can test that all is working as it should by opening the RAM Drive in a file manager to see that the new Temporary files are now being stored there.
This has been a rather windy discussion of RAMDrives and a few suggested uses. You are only limited by your imagination and by the amount of spare RAM installed in your computer.
For your entertainment, and mine, I once installed the entire Skyrim game on a RAM Drive. It was an experiment for both my amusement and to see if I could actually get it to work. Well, I got it to work but it came at a price- about 10GB worth of RAM! I decided that was a bit much considering I only have the 16GB of RAM available on my computer. Now, if I had 32GB… hmmmm…
If you have the RAM to spare, I highly recommend sticking a RAMDrive in there. Not only is it a lot of fun to experiment with, you can save wear and tear on hard drives, reduce write operations to SSDs, and the speed benefits are palpable.
What are you using a RAM Drive for? I’d sure like to hear about any new ideas that we might try out.