All Macs In-Depth Tests
Using a RAM Disk

For the ultimate in a performance boost the simplest and easiest thing you can do is to create a Ram Disk and run software from there. A Ram Disk is set in the Memory Control Panel and is adjustable. What happens is that the designated RAM is partitioned off into a virtual drive that appears as an icon on your desktop. The advantage of a Ram Disk is that anything placed in it is held continually in RAM and thus the bottleneck of reading and writing to the hard drive is by-passed. Speedometer showed a 150% increase in disk scores and subjective experience is that this may be underestimating the performance boost. Applications and documents placed in the Ram Disk will open extreemly fast and over- all responsiveness of the computer will be signifigantly improved. The disadvantage of a Ram Disk is that the RAM it consumes cannot be used for other purposes, such as opening applications, and that the contents of the Ram Disk will be lost if power to the computer is lost. In using a Ram Disk the more RAM you have the better.

Some Ideas On Using A Ram Disk:

If you have enough RAM consider placing a copy of your system folder in the Disk and using it as your startup disk. Do some serious pruning of your system folder getting rid of extensions etc that you use infrequently. Seldom used extensions can be copied in and out of the Ram Disk as need and reboots will be quick and virtually silent. Again the contents of the Ram Disk will be lost if you shut the computer down or lose power, however you can automate the process so that a Ram booted machine is waiting for you in the morning even if you shut down your computer at night. You will find your computer much more responsive and fluid when running off a Ram Disk

Set the Ram Disk as large as possible leaving only enough non-partitioned RAM to open your largest application plus system software. This will allow you to store more frequently accessed or sluggish applications in the Ram Disk. Applications can be copied quickly in and out of the Ram Disk. The non-partitioned ram can be expanded using Virtual Memory or RamDoubler

    An alternative to the OS's built in Ram Disk support is using an application based Ram Disk generator like ShrinkWrap which will create and remove a Ram Disk on the fly without rebooting. The advantage of this is that the RAM that the Ram Disk is consuming can be quickly and easily recaptured if needed by erasing the Ram Disk. You cannot however startup off a System Folder placed in an application based Ram Disk. I have had some problems launching certain applications out of Ram Disks created with ShrinkWrap but this could be due to my inexperience with the application. There are also other programs that work similarly.

Using a Ram Disk entails additional RAM, especially if you are planning on using the Disk as a startup disk. With RAM prices continuing to drop it is becomming an increasingly affordable way to get a glimpse of the performance you might experience in a top of the line machine. If you have any further ideas on using a Ram Disk drop me a note and I'll add your suggestions to the page

The results below are for the disk test from Speedometer 4.0.2 running on a 6300 with 48MB of RAM

Boot Time Comparison - Expressed As A Percentage Of Improvement