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Create a RAM drive in Windows 10 to improve a modded instance of TES V Skyrim

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Original source (superuser.com)
Tags: windows ramdisk
Clipped on: 2018-06-27

How can one create a RAM disk in Windows 10 to enhance a modded TES V? I'd like to to use a ramdisk to load assets of TES V to improve performance. I have 16Gb of ram on this laptop and Windows 10 can only utilize 3.5Gb while playing Skyrim My thinking would be to to make a ramdisk of 8Gb to load essential assets, not my complete mod list, and leave 4 Gb for the OS and 4Gb for TES V Would this work?

asked Jun 21 '16 at 0:40
Todd
72126

First, couple of things to consider:

  • A SSD has been shown to generally provides similar loading times than a RAM drive in practice (source), even though in theory a RAM drive is faster than a SSD in theory. Also, a SSD would make other things faster, from loading DirectX and other drivers, in addition to game files themselves.
  • If you make your RAM disk too large, you may prevent Windows from improving the loading times with caching data on your unused RAM.
  • If you make your RAM disk too large, you may induce pagefile swapping, severely slowing things down.
  • Since you won't be able to copy the entire game, it will be hard to effectively determine which files are most often used and slowing down the most.

That said, to try doing this, you can use symbolic links (junctions, for folders) to make some files or folders from you Skyrim installation point to the RAM drive locations instead.

  1. Create a ram drive using one of free softwares available online. Some benchmarks and prices here. I personally like ImDisk because you can create an ISO image of your RAM disk with your files for easier loading the next time.
  2. Copy a folder or some files, such as the HighResTexturePack**.bsa to the RAM drive
  3. Move those files from the Skyrim installation folder somewhere else temporarily on your HDD (to restore them later)
  4. Open command prompt as an administrator, and create links for each files to the RAM drive location, using mklink. mklink /h for a "hard" link (so the game can't tell the difference) and /d for a folder link (junction). For example, if R is your ram disk, those examples link one file or one folder.

    mklink /h C:\Skyrim\Data\BigFile01.bsa R:\BigFile01.bsa

    mklink /d C:\Skyrim\Data\Textures R:\Textures

  5. Play the game.

answered Jun 21 '16 at 1:12
mtone
10.6k53657
  • I like this, thanks. – Todd Jun 21 '16 at 1:19
  • Since ram is volatile I think it would be essential to somehow write that data to back it up. Would you agree? – Todd Jun 21 '16 at 1:25
  • @Todd On step 3, I suggest to move the files you want to cache on your Ram Disk elsewhere on your HDD, you'll have to delete the links (in Windows Explorer) and put back the originals if you want to restore the normal state. The idea I propose is to cache only a few big data/texture files that don't get written onto so you can loose them from RAM at anytime and easily restore the normal state. If you install/remove mods, make sure to restore the state first. – mtone Jun 21 '16 at 1:28
  • Simply cause its counterintuitive "A SSD has been shown to generally provides similar loading times than a RAM drive in practice," would be nice with citations. That said, I agree that an SSD would be the smart choice simply cause overall performance would be better – Journeyman Geek Jun 21 '16 at 1:35
  • @JourneymanGeek It's hard to find semi-official sources (eg. not forums) benchmarks, but I've found one. There was one youtube video that got a faster result on HDD than SSD, obviously the windows' own caching kicked in there - not a worthy source! I've also tried it myself with Fallout 4 just for kicks and didn't notice any improvement whatsoever. Furthermore, Windows is likely going to cache the often-accessed ramdisk, thus double wasting memory. It's fun to toy with, but I doubt it's ever worth it with a SSD. At a certain point, CPU is the bottleneck. – mtone Jun 21 '16 at 1:59

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