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Author Topic: RAMdisk on XP 32bit - brainstorming!  (Read 23127 times)
Nod5
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« on: May 08, 2009, 05:59:19 AM »

I'm soon upgrading my XP 32bit system with two new 2GB sticks of RAM. Together with my two previous 1GB sticks I'll then have a total of 6GB.
But from what I've read XP can only make use of a bit above 3GB for regular RAM for some complex reasons.

So I'm looking into the possibilities of using the leftover memory as a RAM-disk.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/RAM_disk

I'd like to brainstorm a bit about that.  smiley Things I'd like to get feedback on:

1. This RAM-disk program claims to use the memory XP can't use as regular memory for a RAM-disk:
"RamDisk Plus 9 has a most unique feature. Our patent pending technology can access memory beyond the limitation imposed by a Windows 32-bit operating system! In other words, RamDisk Plus 9 can use "unmanaged" Windows' memory e.g. above 4GB. It can also use the stubbornly inaccessable memory between 3.2GB and 4GB."
http://www.superspeed.com/desktop/ramdisk.php 

Has anyone tried that? Does it work well? Any drawbacks? (Note: even if there are great problems with that I'm still interested in the RAM-disk questions below -- 3GB is still a lot of memory for many cases so I could still test to devote a bit of that for a RAM-disk)

(The Ramdisk Plus software was brought up in this older thread that didn't catch on http://www.donationcoder....m/index.php?topic=10979.0 )

2. putting the XP page file on a RAM-disk: one (possible) benefit would be non-recoverability. Are there also noticeable speed benefits?

3. putting the cache of Firefox or other programs on a RAM-disk: speed benefits?

4. putting all of Firefox on a RAM-disk (via a script that copies Portable Firefox to the RAM-disk at each system start): would I get additional speed benefits, especially when starting Firefox?

5. Downloading: I sometimes use Flashget Classic to grab video streams. With many parallell streams Flashget easily freezes and seems to strain the harddrive. Would I avoid those problems by saving the downloads (and perhaps also Flashget cache or all of Flashget) to the RAM-disk and then only later, once all parts are save, move the saved file to a harddrive?

6. Are there any other good RAM-disk applications for XP 32bit (especially freeware/FOSS version that are actively developed)?

another partly related older thread:
http://www.donationcoder....m/index.php?topic=10348.0
« Last Edit: May 08, 2009, 10:39:06 AM by Nod5 » Logged
4wd
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« Reply #1 on: May 08, 2009, 10:19:04 PM »

6. Are there any other good RAM-disk applications for XP 32bit (especially freeware/FOSS version that are actively developed)?

Not sure about 'actively developed' but Gavotte Ramdisk, (Google translated Japanese), was last updated 30-11-2008 and reportedly can use the unavailable RAM that XP x86, (or Vista x86), can't touch, (although you'll still be limited to a ramdisk of 64.5GB).

Oh, did I mention it is free?

EDIT: Having had a quick look at it, it appears you need to enable the /PAE switch in boot.ini and then merge the reg file found in the archive which allows the driver to access memory in the PAE area.
« Last Edit: May 08, 2009, 11:43:22 PM by 4wd » Logged

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« Reply #2 on: May 08, 2009, 11:13:37 PM »

Was there not one that came with Windows XP itself?

It seems there is, but its limited to 64Mbyte. However following this link will lead to a blog describing a much nicer (free) product without limits and working on any version from Windows 2000 and up. So does this link but then from another product.

Ooops, just saw that 4wd was faster than me with posting.
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4wd
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« Reply #3 on: May 08, 2009, 11:42:11 PM »

Ooops, just saw that 4wd was faster than me with posting.

At least we both beat f0dder for a change  tongue
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Nod5
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« Reply #4 on: May 09, 2009, 07:02:27 AM »

Thanks! Here's a roundup from some more searching:

CENATEK.COM -- http://www.cenatek.com/
1. Dataram RAMDisk Beta V.3.5.107  -- released 2008(2009?)____  "free for disks under 4 GB"
2. RAMDiskXP v2.0.100 RC7 (trial) -- released 2005-11-15

http://www.cenatek.com/product_ramdisk.cfm
http://www.cenatek.com/pr...ramdisk_download_list.php
http://www.cenatek.com/do...mDiskXP_Configuration.pdf
"The absolute maximum RAMDiskXP/2000 disk size is 3045 MB, if you have a computer with 4 GB
of RAM installed.  RAMDisk will always leave some memory for the OS." = can't use memory above 3.X GB in XP 32bit?


Gavotte Ramdisk -- http://bbs.et8.net/bbs/showthread.php?t=906641 (non-english)
1. ramdisk5.7z (free) -- released 2008-11-17

http://www.chweng.idv.tw/swintro/ramdisk.php
http://www.mydigitallife....-xp-2000-and-2003-server/
http://translate.google.c...ww10.atwiki.jp/gavotterd/
 (claims Gavotte can use memory above 3.X GB in XP 32bit)


Qsoft RAMDisk -- http://www.ramdisk.tk/
1. RAMDisk Enterprise 5.3.1.11 ($10) -- release 2009-04-17
2. Free RAMDisk 5.0.2.2  (free; 64MB size limit) -- released ______
3. RAMDisk Extended Basic (trial & nag) (RAMDisk_Evaluation_52102PRO.zip) -- released ______

http://members.fortunecit...sk/RAMDisk/ramdiskent.htm
http://members.fortunecit...load/download_and_001.htm
http://members.fortunecit...k/RAMDisk/ramdiskfree.htm
http://members.fortunecit...disk/Download/brewing.htm (updates/news)

limitation: "The 32 bit versions of XP and Vista do not allow the RAMDisk to allocate memory above a particular 3.x GB boundery"

trialware: "The "Enterprise Evaluation" (full) versions are freely available and can be downloaded from the links within the table below. The versions are full functional , but they may however popup randomly a "nasty" reminder message. They may display a "Fatal application exit" message, although there is nothing "fatal" going on and you can continue your work without any fear at all. The evaluation version will expire on September 1st , 2009."


AR Soft -- http://www.arsoft-online.com/
1. AR RAM Disk (free) 1.20 -- released 2009-04-23

http://www.arsoft-online....e&id=26&Itemid=47
"The AR RAM Disk is no longer supported by AR Soft. You may continue to use the RAM Disk, but we will not provide any help or additional information. Since the development of this product has been stopped there will no more versions of the software."

http://www.softpedia.com/...us/AR-Soft-RAM-Disk.shtml

can't use memory above 3.x GB in XP 32bit


SuperSpeed -- http://www.superspeed.com/ramdisk.php
1. RamDisk ($35)
2. Ramdisk Plus ($50)

"RamDisk Plus 9 has a most unique feature. Our patent pending technology can access memory beyond the limitation imposed by a Windows 32-bit operating system! In other words, RamDisk Plus 9 can use "unmanaged" Windows' memory e.g. above 4GB. It can also use the stubbornly inaccessable memory between 3.2GB and 4GB." = can use memory above 3.x GB in XP 32bit

http://www.superspeed.com...ownload/trialversions.php

ImDisk -- http://www.ltr-data.se/opencode.html#ImDisk
1. ImDisk (freeware) 1.1.4 -- 2009-04-21

+ free ; actively developed ; author active in forum (below)
+ can also mount image files (like an .iso image of a DVD)
- can't use memory above 3.x GB in XP 32bit

http://www.ltr-data.se/opencode.html#ImDisk (official page)
http://www.boot-land.net/...hp?act=SF&s=&f=59 (official forum)

FarStone -- http://www.farstone.com/s...re/virtual-hard-drive.htm
1. Virtual Hard Drive 2 Pro ($30)

edit changelog:
090511 added ImDisk, Farstone
« Last Edit: May 11, 2009, 04:40:41 PM by Nod5 » Logged
f0dder
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« Reply #5 on: May 09, 2009, 11:11:59 AM »

Yes, superspeed (and another which I forgot the name of) can use >4GB memory on 32bit systems, since it does PAE magic. XP itself can do this as well, but it's disabled in the client versions of Windows.

Pagefile on ramdisk = lame. If you've got enough ram, simply disable the pagefile altogether.

I've put my firefox profile (and disk cache) along with a few other often-accessed things on a ramdisk, and it does make my system seem slightly snappier - before, if I had heavy disk I/O, firefox could stall a bit when loading new pages - not so anymore.
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« Reply #6 on: May 10, 2009, 03:22:44 AM »

I tested Cenatek Dataram RAMDisk Beta V.3.5.107: Got a blue screen of death 10 seconds after starting a ramdisk! I think the software firewall was the cause because after disabling it things worked fine.

Startup time for Firefox portable 3 from ramdisk / harddisk: 2 / 6 seconds. But after the first start Firefox is cached in system memory so the starting it from the harddrive is just as fast thereafter (until something else takes its place in the cache I guess)

f0dder: that makes sense. Once I have upgraded to more RAM I'll setup things similarly:
- disable pagefile completely
- place programs I often start (but don't keep running all the time) on the ramdisk. (Dataram RAMDisk already has built in support for loading/saving RAMDisk contents on system startup/shutdown. But I'll test and compare the other programs too. What ramdisk software are you using?)
- experiment with using the ramdisk for FlashGet downloads
« Last Edit: May 10, 2009, 04:10:47 AM by Nod5 » Logged
f0dder
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« Reply #7 on: May 10, 2009, 07:45:42 AM »

SuperSpeed ramdisk - but I'm on the lookout for an alternative... for whatever lame marketing reason, I'll have to get a new license when I move from XP to Vista/Win7. And the 64bit version is almost twice as expensive as the 32bit >_<

I've set %TEMP% and %TMP% to point to the ramdrive too, which occasionally causes trouble (lame installers), but as a whole is nice.

I haven't moved the firefox program files to the ramdrive, because it doesn't give that much extra speedup - but keeping the cache and the profile there is nice. It's noticeable once firefox's .sqlite files grow big and fragmented smiley
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4wd
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« Reply #8 on: May 10, 2009, 01:26:25 PM »

Just gave Gavotte a quick test and it looks like it does indeed use the space above 3.5GB, (or 3.25GB in my case).

Quick test:
1) Edit boot.ini to add the /pae switch.
2) Merge the ram4g.reg in the archive - do this first, there's a reason.
3) Run the ramdisk.exe program to install the RamDisk.

If you're using PAE then the name of the drive, (default R:), will be 'RamDisk+PAE'.  If you remove the RamDisk and then reinstall it again, then you will lose PAE mode, (the drive name becomes 'RamDisk'), because it wipes out all it's registry entries.  So you'll have to merge the ram4g.reg file in before you install it again.

My available RAM before creating a ramdisk was ~2770000 out of 3405228 according to TaskManager, I made a ramdisk of 1GB using PAE and my available RAM dropped by only 256MB to around 2500000 - the other 768MB being the part XP32 can't access.

I copied 1GB of files to it and the amount of available RAM stayed at ~2500000.

I then changed the size of the ramdisk to 768MB using ramdisk.exe and the name of the ramdisk changed to 'RamDisk-PAE' and the system got back 256MB.

I copied ~700MB and the system still had it's original ~2770000 out of 3405228 available, the RamDisk being completely in the PAE area this time.

I think I've found a use for that unseen 768MB smiley

SuperSpeed ramdisk - but I'm on the lookout for an alternative... for whatever lame marketing reason, I'll have to get a new license when I move from XP to Vista/Win7. And the 64bit version is almost twice as expensive as the 32bit >_<

Maybe you should give Gavotte a look, however, be warned that the 64bit version is twice the price of the 32bit version  Wink
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f0dder
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« Reply #9 on: May 10, 2009, 02:19:01 PM »

I don't feel comfortable running the Gavotte ramdisk - it doesn't seem to have any official site, nor to be supported...

I wonder why there aren't any (decent) opensource ramdisks around? I would think that it's a relatively simple thing to implement the basics, especially considering there's (afaik) a sample limited ramdisk in the NTDDK. PAE memory on 32bit non-server systems might be tricky, and save+restore contents might also have some complications, but... meh.
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« Reply #10 on: May 10, 2009, 03:00:17 PM »

f0dder: try the Dataram RAMDisk then. Free for <4GB disks which seems plenty big for a ramdisk.

4wd: great! I will try Gavotte once I upgrade.

Here's a translation of the forum page linked above (which seems to be the first page the author uses to post his updates to)
http://translate.google.c...tl=en&history_state0=

If I understand that list correct there are two releases of the v1.4096.5. Which one are you running? We should make a list of releases and their MD5/SHA1 hashes. I share f0dders sentiments about the lack of an official website. I'm in general a bit wary about running software from posts in forums where I can't read the context directly, there always a risk of missing some important info or run the risk of installing malware. That forum seems legit though but I'd be more comfortable if it was a program that was also carried by major download sites like filehippo.com . Open source would be best for this type of tool, I agree on that.
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Nod5
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« Reply #11 on: May 10, 2009, 03:17:28 PM »

Another ramdisk discussion thread:
http://www.boot-land.net/forums/?showtopic=1507
That thread and others mention "ImDisk Virtual Disk Driver" which is open source. But it doesn't seem to be a ramdisk, more a virtualization software or a daemon tools like program. Or?
http://www.ltr-data.se/opencode.html#ImDisk
edit: it seems to be a ramdisk. Not sure if it can make use of the >3.x GB memory parts in win XP 32bit though.
quote from: http://www.ltr-data.se/files/imdisk_screenshot.gif
"If you want to create a virtual disk backed by memory instead of an image file, leave the image file field blank and just enter a size in the size field."
« Last Edit: May 10, 2009, 03:25:04 PM by Nod5 » Logged
4wd
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« Reply #12 on: May 10, 2009, 09:08:01 PM »

4wd: great! I will try Gavotte once I upgrade.

Here's a translation of the forum page linked above (which seems to be the first page the author uses to post his updates to)
http://translate.google.c...tl=en&history_state0=

If I understand that list correct there are two releases of the v1.4096.5. Which one are you running?

I'm running the one from here which is the first link on the wiki page I mention below.

BTW, here's a comment from Gameeer.com re. Gavotte:
Quote
Great utility. Highly recommended especially if you have 2GB of RAM installed. Easy to set up a RAMdisk, which is essentially a virtual hard drive using your free RAM. I use a 512MB RAMdisk to store my Windows Temp Files and internet browser cache files. Keep in mind that once you restart your PC, however, anything stored in the RAMdisk is purged (lost). For some reason cookie files remain intact after I reboot. This is a good thing IMHO, but haven't figured out why or how to NOT have it do this.

So, you get persistent cookies smiley

Here's their article on setting up a RamDisk using Gavotte on the EeePC.  It doesn't take into account having RAM over 2GB of course but does tell you how to config IE, Firefox and Windows to use it for temp files.

Quote
We should make a list of releases and their MD5/SHA1 hashes. I share f0dders sentiments about the lack of an official website.

Here's the home site AFAICT, it's using a wiki page....but then again, so is a lot of other software.

Quote
That forum seems legit though but I'd be more comfortable if it was a program that was also carried by major download sites like filehippo.com .

Gavotte is also used by Boot Land on a lot of their WinPE type disks. Which are frequented by the likes of jaclaz who is well known on MSFN, UBCD4Win and others - I'm sure if there was something dodgy with it, the folks at Boot Land, WinImage, MSFN, WinBuilder, etc would have found out by now.

BTW, I rarely use major download sites, (a lot of the software I seem to use I find on a small home pages, wiki, forum, etc, hidden away somewhere), so I don't count being carried by the likes of Tucows, filehippo, (which I've only just looked at), SoftPedia, etc, as an advantage.

Boot Land forum sticky: RAMdisk and FILEdisk drivers  - EDIT: Ooppss!  I see you mentioned it in your post above but I failed to pick up on it without the thread title, so I'll leave it here to indicate what it's about.
« Last Edit: May 10, 2009, 10:07:17 PM by 4wd » Logged

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« Reply #13 on: May 11, 2009, 01:34:51 PM »

4wd: right, if there was malware in Gavotte ramdisk then, as you say, many of the veterans at places like Boot Land would have reported on it. So I think it is clean. That said, anyone could of course name a file ramdisk and upload somewhere so it makes sense to download from several places and compare hashes I think.

Tried ImDisk now - it works great! I'm adding it to the list above. It installed very quickly. It created no shortcut - I had to make a shortcut to C:\WINDOWS\system32\imdisk.cpl myself. Great that it is actively developed. A bonus is that it can also mount regular .iso files so it can replace Daemon Tools or SlySoft CloneDisk in many cases.

There's a subforum dedicated to ImDisk at http://www.boot-land.net/...hp?act=SF&s=&f=59 and the ImDisk developer participates in it. But ImDisk can't use memory above 3.x GB in XP 32bit.
« Last Edit: May 11, 2009, 01:42:10 PM by Nod5 » Logged
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« Reply #14 on: May 11, 2009, 01:40:32 PM »

I use Farstone's ramdisk (forget the official name and I'm at work). The main reason I like it is because it will automatically save the disk image at shudown or whenever you specify. That is important to me because I put my entire Firefox profile on the ramdisk. I want to preserve any changes I make to it. I have been very pleased with the product and the speed increase in runnng my FF profile off the ramdisk.
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« Reply #15 on: May 11, 2009, 04:40:03 PM »

edbro: nice, I'm adding that to the list above. Do you know if it can use memory above 3.x GB in XP 32bit? The homepage and manual doesn't say anything about that so my guess is "no".
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« Reply #16 on: May 11, 2009, 09:37:24 PM »

I have been using Qsoft RAMDisk Enterprise edition for years now.

XP 32bit and more recently, on vista 64bit.

Current usage: 2GB ramdisk.
Ramdisk holds my pagefile 1.5 GB and my firefox cache and yes I do notice a difference in speed and less HD thrashing.
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« Reply #17 on: May 11, 2009, 10:32:25 PM »

edbro: nice, I'm adding that to the list above. Do you know if it can use memory above 3.x GB in XP 32bit? The homepage and manual doesn't say anything about that so my guess is "no".

In the manual:
Quote
FAT     - Max 2GB
FAT32 - Max 4GB
NTFS   - Max. supported by the OS

These are filesystem limitations and wrt. NTFS, the maximum RAM supported by Windows 32bit is 3.x GB.  So I'd say definitely not.

Of course, the easy way to find out is probably just do 'My Computer->Properties' and see if Physical Address Extension appears under the amount of RAM - my take is that has to be enabled via the /PAE switch before any type of RamDisk will use the full 4GB.

f0dder, you have SuperSpeed - does it add that switch or use some other nefarious means ?

The main reason I like it is because it will automatically save the disk image at shudown or whenever you specify.

Good point, I was wondering how I could update my Firefox profile but I believe I could accomplish this using RoboCopy in the Logon/Logoff script area of Windows, (or perhaps SyncBackSE since it's running all the time).
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« Reply #18 on: May 12, 2009, 12:51:06 AM »

Ramdisk holds my pagefile 1.5 GB and my firefox cache and yes I do notice a difference in speed and less HD thrashing.
It's silly putting pagefile on the ramdisk - instead, make the ramdisk smaller and turn off the pagefile completely.

f0dder, you have SuperSpeed - does it add that switch or use some other nefarious means ?
Wouldn't know, as I run 64bit XP smiley. I thought the default for 32bit Windows was running in PAE mode if the CPU supports it, since that's a requirement for getting hardware no-execute page protection support... you definitely do need to be operating in PAE mode to access high physical RAM in 32bit mode.
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« Reply #19 on: May 12, 2009, 02:17:09 AM »

My Win XP pro 32bit runs in PAE mode. I've not activated that manually and I think it was active even before I started trying out these ramdisk programs.
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« Reply #20 on: May 12, 2009, 03:37:32 AM »

What would be nice is to run sandboxed applications (you know Sandboxie?) on RAMdisk, with an option to dump the data on the hard disk at the end of the Windows session... This gives you both speed and protects you from messing up - as long as the data is not dumped, you can erase any mistake you've made... Of course, you better have an UPS system then smiley
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« Reply #21 on: May 12, 2009, 05:18:51 AM »

My Win XP pro 32bit runs in PAE mode. I've not activated that manually and I think it was active even before I started trying out these ramdisk programs.

Interesting, I had to specifically enable it - then again, it's been some time since I installed this particular incarnation of my system and it was 4GB from the initial install, maybe I removed it, way, way back in the distant past.
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« Reply #22 on: May 12, 2009, 06:55:20 AM »

I am wondering whether eboostr (www.eboostr.com) with its cache mechanism could also be applied with benefits here ?
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« Reply #23 on: May 12, 2009, 07:11:27 AM »

I am wondering whether eboostr (www.eboostr.com) with its cache mechanism could also be applied with benefits here ?
Dunno, I wish I knew wtf that application really does - there's no technical explanations (that I've found), so it sounds like a bunch of marketing snake-oil to me. That app probably won't be able to use the high physical memory anyway.
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« Reply #24 on: May 12, 2009, 07:19:13 AM »

I am wondering whether eboostr (www.eboostr.com) with its cache mechanism could also be applied with benefits here ?
Dunno, I wish I knew wtf that application really does - there's no technical explanations (that I've found), so it sounds like a bunch of marketing snake-oil to me. That app probably won't be able to use the high physical memory anyway.

On my XP Pro PC (at the office), where I have only 512MB ram, it does make a small difference, when I use an external USB key readyboost compatible.  I see less pagination/disk access, but I admit it's hard to benchmark.
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