Installing applications on a RAM disk
Generally, it is not advisable to place or install applications on a RAM disk. There is a range of potential issues in doing so, and very little benefit.
When a program is installed on a hard disk
By design, Windows executes program code in RAM and is smart enough to cache frequently used programs. When you launch some hypothetical APP.EXE for the first time, here is what happens:
- Windows copies APP.EXE file from the hard disk into RAM.
- Windows copies its associated DLL files from the hard disk into RAM.
- Windows prepares the code in RAM and starts its execution.
- The files loaded in steps 1 and 2 stay in the disk cache (in RAM) while the computer is on.
If you launch APP.EXE again during the same session, Windows will quickly fetch the files from the disk cache. That's why it usually takes longer to start a program for the first time, but subsequent starts are faster.
When a program is installed on a RAM disk
If you try placing the same APP.EXE on a RAM disk, it would start faster for the first time, as Windows would be copying data from RAM to RAM, which is a very fast process. However, this gain is debatable, because we had to spend time copying the APP.EXE to the RAM disk beforehand, e.g. by reading the associated image file. As RAM disks are volatile in nature, any persistent data on a RAM disk requires an image file, contents of which are read on startup and written back on shutdown, which take time.
There are also potential issues with applications that include kernel drivers and services. The operating system may attempt to start them before the RAM disk where they are kept is ready, so it would fail.
We don't recommend placing applications on a RAM Disk. Instead, it is better to set up your applications so that they use a RAM disk for their temporary data. This process differs from application to application, but we prepared some advice on how to boost your PC performance with a RAM disk.
Related articles:How to move application data to a RAM disk
How to create persistent RAM disks with contents preserved between sessions
Article ID: 51
Category: RAM Disk: technical questions and how-to
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