A former classmate and industry colleague dropped me a line a few weeks ago. He pointed out that memory is dirt cheap, and he bought 16 GB of RAM, just because it cost him around $100 to do, and was wondering what to do with it. A ramdisk, perhaps?
My search logs prove that ramdisks are the best-kept secret in the industry (virtually nobody knows or cares about them), but they’re still the best way to increase the longevity or life expectancy of an SSD and an outstanding way to pep up performance. A ramdisk is 80 times faster than a hard drive, 60 times faster than a RAID array, and 10-20 times faster than an SSD.
Ramdisks fell out of fashion because for the last couple of decades–basically since Windows 3.0 and OS/2 2.0 came along–there have been more critical uses for that memory. But now, Windows sits very comfortably in 2-4 GB, and 16 GB of RAM costs $100 or less (depending on whether you buy it in 4 GB or 8 GB modules–you’ll pay extra for the higher-density 8 GB sticks).
Practically speaking, 4 GB is the largest ramdisk you can create for free. $20 to create disks of unlimited size is reasonable, but 4 GB is large enough to be useful. I have Firefox (the executable and the profile), downloads, temp files, and my print spooler in a ramdisk. It’s crowded, but not bursting, and the performance difference is noticeable. When my system is slow, it’s because the CPU is taxed, which admittedly isn’t all that often now that CPUs with 4-6 cores are mainstream.