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How to assign external cache memory to your hard disk?

I can understand the frustration when your system boot time goes way beyond one or two minutes. I can understand the pain of pasting your files at 5MB/s. This is normal for all the computer/laptop users with hard disks (especially when they are old).

You might have found several tricks on the internet to increase data read/write speed of your hard disk or even an SSD. They might tell you to defragment or optimize your drives. Or, they might have suggested you some software. I know they haven’t worked for you. They hardly work for any of us.

You may see some improvements with these tweaks but the tangible results are hard to find.

But, I am here to let you take a deeper dive into the working of your storage devices and find the solutions from there. I will help you understand the problem from its roots and then fix it using a reliable method.

We are basically going to increase the speed of your hard disks tremendously with the help of an external cache storage. We are going to use our RAM as a cache memory buffer for our hard disk. As you all know RAMs have a very high data-read write speed, it will give a massive boost to your HDD read/write performance.

I am using this method of speeding up the Hard Disks for a long time. But, here I am going to do it from the start with my WD Blue 1TB (WD10SPZX) hard disk. Before starting the process, let’s see the performance boost that I have received.

What I do is to simply take some part of my computer’s main RAM and use it as my HDD cache buffer. We can also use any other faster drives like SSD’s and help our HDDs read and write data at a very fast pace. We are going to come to all that below. But, before that, let’s see how fast my HDD became with just 1 GB of RAM assigned as the cache memory.

These synthetic benchmarks are done using CrystalDiskMark on my Intel i3 8th Gen laptop. See the results.

Before:

After:

All hard disks tend to slow down with the time. In fact, they are slow from the start but the performance declines as the time passes by. The biggest reason why all the hard disks (either 5400 or 7200 RPM) are slow is because of their mechanical structure.

Also, because most of the hard disks do not have their own cache buffer, locating the data on the hard disk takes a very long time. All these factors make our Hard Disks slow.

The purpose of cache buffer is to take proper care of the location of your data stored. Also, the cache will keep the hot data (mostly used data i.e. OS and software data) in its buffer. So, whenever you need that data again, it will be available to you instantly. Because, hard disks do not store that data, they are very slow in all terms.

As you are aware now that if you assign a cache buffer to your hard disk, its speed will be increased. So, I just had to find a program that can do it for me. Also, I had to find a faster memory that can be used as my HDD cache.

The software I used for this task is PrimoCache. It is a free software. This software basically help you assign your system’s RAM as your storage device’s cache. Not all the RAM but a small portion of it.

Now, it is all up to you that how much RAM you are ready to assign. For example, if you have 8GB of RAM in your system, you can assign 1GB as your HDD’s cache. However, if you just have 4GB of RAM, it is good to assign just 500GB or 250GB.

In simple words, the higher amount of RAM you are ready to assign as your hard drive cache, the better performance you will get from your drive.

Now, let’s see how to do that?

The first step is to go to this link and install the PrimoCache software. You can go for the free version (30-days trial) for now as it will do most of your works we need to do here. However, you can opt for the paid plan later on if you find the need. Once, the software is downloaded, just install it on your computer.

Make sure to restart your system after the installation. Otherwise, the software would not detect any of your available disks.

Now, you can fire up this program.

  1. Once it’s opened, click on the first icon that is indicating the file option.

2. Now, choose the disk locations that you want to optimize. If you want to enhance the performance of your OS and Software only, just choose the C drive. Otherwise, you can select al l the available options.

3. Now, you can choose the appropriate amount of RAM memory that you would like to assign to your SSD. For an 8 GB memory, I would suggest you assigning at least 1 GB to the HDD cache.

Once you did that, press start and you are done. You can now exit the software and then test the HDD performance.

Watch this YouTube video for a visual guide.

Once you follow this process, you actually assign some part of your system RAM to handle the caching tasks of your hard disk. So, what happens after this is you start to see huge performance boost in data copying and pasting.

If we talk about the OS and software loading, everything will happen within seconds. In fact, you can get speed almost similar to a SATA 2.5″ with 1 GB RAM assigned to your Hard disk.

However, if you can assign 2 to 4 GB of RAM as your hard drive cache, you can start getting performance almost similar to an M.2 PCIe NVMe SSD.

This is surely a wise question.

If your hard drive is now capable of providing this level of data read/write performance practically, then why do you need to buy an actually SSD which is way expensive than your HDD.

So, the answer is that this performance boost will disappear when you start to move a huge file from one folder to another. When, a file size more than the cache size is to be moved, the performance will get back to the normal. So, it is just like an artificial boost.

However, you get to see a little bit of permanent boost but it will decline from the initial levels when you are moving huge files. But, this doesn’t happen with the DRAM SSDs. They will provide you almost similar performance at any level of storage filled with any kind of data whether of a small or big size.

What is the important of cache memory in performance?

Cache is like the front gate of any data reading or writing operation. Cache passes all the data through it and then store it on any drive. It does it rapidly. Also, when it come to the retrieval, the cache does it very fast.

How can you assign a fast cache memory to your hard disk?

There are various free software available that you can use to do this.

Is this process safe?

Yes. There are no issued doing it. You are not voiding any warranty doing this. You just make a special use of your RAM with this method and that’s it.

What kind of performance boost can I see in long terms?

With this method, you are not doing any permanent fixing of your slow hard disk. You are actually giving it an external push which will remove once you remove that cache memory. So, it is not a permanent fix in any way.

Is it a practical way of boosting Hard Drive performance?

Things like defragmentation, optimization, and cleaning of hard disk will not work because they are doing very less at the hardware level. But, assigning some part of your system’s RAM as your HDD cache will help it work at a rapid pace. So, it is surely a practical method to boost the HDD performance

Thanks for reading!