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The RAM Disk Guide Rev. 3.1
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What Do You Need To Create A RAM Disk?

If you have decided that a RAM disk is a good idea for your system, this is what you need :

At least 6 GB of RAM

Although there are no hard and fast rules and you can create a RAM disk with any amount of memory, we do not recommend that you create one unless you have at least 6 GB of RAM.

This ensures that your applications will have sufficient memory to use. If they have to use a paging file because there's not enough memory, that would defeat the purpose of having a RAM disk.

If you have less than 6 GB of RAM, we recommend you upgrade to 8 GB or more. RAM is cheap and you should have no problem upgrading to 12 GB, 16 GB of RAM or even 32 GB of RAM.

This is particularly important in computers that use integrated or processor graphics because they do not have their own dedicated memory. Instead, they reserve part of the system RAM for use as graphics memory.

A 64-bit Windows operating system

You will need a 64-bit version of Microsoft Windows, to allow you to make use of more than 4 GB of memory.

RAM disk software

There are many paid solutions, from Dataram's RAMDisk (which includes the AMD Radeon RAMDisk) to SoftPerfect's RAM Disk. However, there are several free RAM disk software like ImDisk which may not look as polished but works just as well.

In this guide, we will be using the SoftPerfect RAM Disk because it's not only very user-friendly, it is also free for non-commercial use.

Note that if you intend to use the RAM disk to run copy and write benchmark tests, you must make sure it is large enough to hold the files you are using for the tests. Take, for example, the two sets of test files we use in our copy and write tests (e.g. in the 256 GB Kingston UHS-I SDXC Card review) :

  • Large Files : 5 high-resolution videos (2,002,511,061 bytes)
  • Small Files : 2,527 mix of low, medium and high-resolution photos (2,000,704,583 bytes)

Although both sets are 4 GB in size, we needed another 2 GB of space as work space, so we created a 6 GB RAM disk. The good news is if you made a mistake, you can always redo the RAM disk without restarting Windows.


What File System Should You Use?

Even though a RAM disk uses your system memory for storage, it still behaves like a hard disk drive, albeit a very fast one. After creating the RAM disk, you will be asked to select a file system. So what should you choose? NTFS, FAT32 or FAT16?

As a RAM disk is used with the expectation that data stored in it will be wiped out whenever the computer restarts or shutdown, data safety or persistence is irrelevant. That's why there are guides that recommend the FAT16 file system because it has less overhead and is thus perceived to be faster.

However, the FAT16 file system has many limitations, chiefly :

  • a maximum volume (partition) size of 2 GB, with a 32 KB cluster size
  • limited to just 65,460 files in the entire volume (partition).

Even if you are expecting to limit yourself to a RAM disk of 2 GB or less, we would still advise against using the FAT16 file system because of the file number limit. This could be a problem, especially if you are planning to use it to store the Windows TEMP folder and the file cache of your Internet browsers.

The newer FAT32 and NTFS file systems avoid those problems with a maximum volume (partition) size of 16 TB and 16 EB respectively. They also boast a much expanded limit on the number of files at 268 million per volume, and just under 4.3 billion per volume respectively.

The FAT32 file system should have a lower overhead than NTFS, since it doesn't support journaling. On the other hand, the NTFS is an extent-based file system, which helps to reduce internal file fragmentation. NTFS also allows for faster file look-up times due to its superior (B+ trees) indexing algorithm.

Ultimately, we recommend that you stick with NTFS for your RAM disk's file system. You can try FAT32, if you want to maximise performance, but we certainly wouldn't recommend FAT16.





Journaling support




Extent support




Advanced indexing and look-up




Maximum volume size

256 TB (with 64 KB clusters)

2 TB (with 512 byte sectors)
8 TB (with 32 KB clusters)
16 TB (with 64 KB clusters)

2 GB (with 32 KB clusters)

Maximum file size

16 EB (theoretical maximum)
16 TB (in Windows 7 / Windows Server 2008 R2)
256 TB (in Windows 8 / Windows Server 2012)

2 GB

2 GB

Maximum number of files

4,294,967,295 (with 32 KB clusters)

268,173,300 (with 32 KB clusters)

65,460 (with 32 KB clusters)

Maximum directory depth

No hard limit, although most applications generally limit this to 32,767 characters

32 levels or 66 characters

32 levels or 66 characters

Got all that? Alright then, let's start creating a new RAM disk!

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The RAM Disk Guide


Why Use A RAM Disk?
When Should You NOT Use A RAM Disk?
How Fast Is A RAM Disk Really?


What Do You Need?
What File System Should You Use?


How To Create A RAM Disk


How To Move The TEMP Folder To A RAM Disk


How To Make A RAM Disk A Photoshop Scratch Disk


How To Move IE's Temporary Files To A RAM Disk


How To Move Chrome's Cache Files To A RAM Disk


How To Move Firefox's Cache To A RAM Disk
End Notes

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