Sunday, December 13, 2009

Store temp and cache data on a RAM drive, make your computer actually be ‘fast’

RAM is installed on a computer to make it remember moreimage data, which is supposed to make the computer faster. The OS is not able to remember every single thing in RAM so it needs to swap data back and forth between the hard drive and system memory. This is called ‘cache’ or ‘swap’ memory or a ‘paging file’. Cache is one of the major bottlenecks in PC performance. The computer saves old data in RAM to the hard drive then pulls back the data later when it needs it. This is what makes your computer slow. So what do you do to make things fast regardless of the amount of RAM you have?

Create a RAM drive and move the cache memory to it. I used Dataram RAMdisk 3.5 to create a 1GB RAM disk and I moved the Internet Explorer, Firefox, and Windows temp folders to it. On average, Youtube.com would take a good 3 to 5 seconds to fully load the web page on my computer. After making these configuration changes to my computer, everything loads within half a second! That is a big difference. Performance has increased ten fold on my computer. Here is how to make these same changes on your own computer:

1) Download Dataram RAMdisk on your computer and install it (It is FREE!). Create a drive that uses at least 500MB. Once set up, you will need to initialize the drive in Computer Management. Make sure the file system is NTFS.

2) Open Internet Explorer. Open Tools > Internet Options. Under Browser History, click on Settings. Click Move Folder and choose a folder on the new RAM disk. Restart IE.

3) Open Firefox. In the address bar type “about:config”. Click YES at the warning screen. In the filter bar at the top of the screen, enter “browser.cache.disk.parent_directory”. Change the value to “String” and enter a folder location on your new RAM disk (i.e.: R:\firefox\cache\" where R: is your RAM drive).

4) Click on Start. Right click on Computer in Vista/Win7 or My Computer for Windows XP. Choose Properties. Click on the Advanced Tab or click on “Advanced System Settings”. Click on the Environment Variables button. Change the TEMP and TMP folders to a folder on the RAM drive. As far as the actual paging/system cache settings, I would leave this alone because Windows tends to be unstable after changing these settings.

That should be it. Enjoy blazing fast net surfing and some faster Windows performance in general!