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I'm really curious of those software that promise you to make your RAM bigger and faster. But before I try it, I have to get your thoughts on it, Does the software really make your RAM run faster or boost your RAM? I just know that when you buy a physical RAM (eg. 2GB) and thats it. now if you wan't to make your computer run faster you would have to add/upgrade some of the hardware.

Please share your Ideas.

Thanks!

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5 Answers 5

up vote 11 down vote accepted

In my experience, these RAM Booster are counter-productive.

During normal operation, Windows fills free space of RAM with stuff it thinks that you might need in the future. If an application requests more that the current free amount, this information is discarded without much overhead.

Most RAM Boosters "free" additional memory by requesting a large amount (getting it from the system) and freeing it immidiately. Thus the task manager shows more free ram, but actually the "booster" just disables the prefetch feature, effectively slowing down your system.

After all, you do could argue that free RAM is wasted RAM. It does not do anything and as long as every application needs as much as it needs, you're fine.

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2  
so, lets call such tools "snake oil" :) –  akira Jun 28 '10 at 10:00
    
cool. thanks for explaining it to me. It's now kinda clear to me how the softwares operates. Thanks! –  Pennf0lio Jun 28 '10 at 10:07
    
The RAM Boosters I'm familiar with use data compression to make it seem like you have more RAM. The effectiveness is debateable. Definitely causes a performance hit on the processor side, but if your stuff is highly compressible, maybe it might work... –  Brian Knoblauch Jun 28 '10 at 14:27

Modern operating systems use RAM quite efficiently, dynamically adjusting its use to meet the current load on the system. You'd be better off spending your money on additional RAM instead of something that claims to optimise the RAM you already have.

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Thanks, that's also what i have in mind. –  Pennf0lio Jun 28 '10 at 10:04

You can't 'make RAM bigger', though, you can tell the OS that it now can use more RAM and redirect everything into a swapfile/partition on the harddisk. But that would slow down everything.

Also, you can't make RAM faster or 'optimize' it. I mean, you can most likely overclock it (never heard of it, though), but then two problems arise: First heat, second instability.

I'd call every program which offers to 'boost' RAM as junkware, it either does nothing or may even damage your system.

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Great Point. In what case it would slow down? The hard drive, the Ram or the total System? in partitioning some of your hard drive to use as a RAM. Thanks for sharing your idea. –  Pennf0lio Jun 28 '10 at 10:02
    
@Pennf0lio: The harddrive (no SSD) is way slower than the RAM (reading, writing and accessing). The moment you or the system would try to access the swapfile/partition the performance would drop. –  Bobby Jun 28 '10 at 10:39
    
Back in the old days we used to speed up RAM access by twiddling with the data refresh cycles (done through the DMA controller back then). Could gain up to 5% more speed on sustained memory accesses if your RAM was solid and you stretched out the refresh to the max. –  Brian Knoblauch Jun 28 '10 at 14:28

Just here to share some of my experience. In modern operating systems, as many of us commentators have described, memory access has been optimized to a degree that a simple user mode tool could not put much improvement to.

In most modern operating systems, the memory architecture is grossly divided into real memory and virtual memory, or swap in the Linux/unix sense. Memory can be used by program, caching, or being free. Memory is divided into "pages" for organizational purposes. The priorities are given to frequently assessed pages to be kept in real memory. When some of the memory pages are infrequently used, what happens is that the operating system will move it into the virtual memory space to allow better use of the memory. How frequent this happen depends on the swappiness of the system (this is actually a parameter you can set in the Linux kernel options!) and then the memory can be used for better purposes for example for another software which need frequent memory access.

What is being done by these programs has been explained by others above - allocatng a big chunk of memory and freeing it. This is counter productive and will cause even frequently accessed pages to be swapped put of memory, and any further access of those pages means retrieving it from slow, magnetic stores.

Nowadays most OS would dedicate most of the free memory for the use by the caching subsystem - and they ate pretty good at doing it. So by all means don't try to modify the behavior even if you are long term kernel hackers...

Most books on memory system will tell you that free memory. They are very correct and remember, leaving the free memory as cache is much better than leaving them as free memory. One caveat though is that for interactive systems a small margin of free memory would allow for better responsiveness.

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It might be of interest that David Solomon and Mark Russinovich had some very uncomplimentary things to say about these memory "optimizers" in "Windows Internals", fifth edition. Both of these individuals are well known experts who know more about Windows internals than just about anybody.

The only "benefit" of these products is to make the numbers in Task Manager look better to people who don't understand what they mean.

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