In the world of computing, RAM plays a crucial role in determining the speed and performance of a system. However, there might be situations where you find the existing RAM in your Ubuntu system insufficient and need a temporary boost. This is where the concept of using a USB as RAM comes into play. While it’s not a perfect replacement for physical RAM, it can provide a temporary solution when dealing with heavy loads.
In this article, we will guide you through the process of using a USB flash drive as virtual RAM in Ubuntu, similar to the ReadyBoost feature in Windows.
Disclaimer: It is important to note that using a USB drive as RAM is not advisable for long-term use. In fact, writing to a USB drive repeatedly can degrade its lifespan. Therefore, it is recommended to only use this method when the system has heavy load and not for regular use.
Using a USB as RAM in Ubuntu can provide a temporary performance boost when dealing with heavy loads. However, it is not a long-term solution and may not provide significant performance gains compared to a swap file on a hard disk drive. For a more permanent solution, consider using features like zRam or upgrading your physical RAM.
Preparing Your USB Drive
Before we start, ensure that you have a USB drive that you can use for this purpose. All data on the USB drive will be erased, so make sure to back up any important files.
- Plug in your USB drive: Connect your USB drive to the Ubuntu system.
- Format the USB drive: This step is optional but recommended to ensure that the drive is clean. You can use the Disks utility in Ubuntu to format the drive.
Creating a Swap File
Once your USB drive is ready, we can proceed to create a swap file on it. A swap file acts as virtual memory that the system can use when it runs out of physical RAM.
- Open a Terminal: You can do this by pressing
Ctrl + Alt + Tor searching for Terminal in the Dash.
- Find the Mount Location: Use the
mountcommand to find out where your USB drive is mounted. The mount location will look something like
- Create an Empty Swap File: Use the
ddcommand to create an empty swap file on the USB drive. The command will look like this:
sudo dd if=/dev/zero of=/media/YOURUSERNAME/YOURSTICK/swap bs=4096 count=131072
In this command,
if=/dev/zero specifies the input file, which in this case is a special file that produces null bytes when read.
of=/media/YOURUSERNAME/YOURSTICK/swap specifies the output file, which is the swap file we’re creating.
bs=4096 sets the block size to 4096 bytes, and
count=131072 specifies the number of input blocks to copy. This command creates a 512 MB swap file. You can adjust the size as needed by changing the
- Set Up the Swap File: Use the
mkswapcommand to set up the swap file:
sudo mkswap /media/YOURUSERNAME/YOURSTICK/swap
- Enable the Swap File: Use the
swaponcommand to enable the swap file:
sudo swapon -p 1000 /media/YOURUSERNAME/YOURSTICK/swap
In this command,
-p 1000 sets the priority of the swap file to 1000. The system will use swap files with higher priority before using those with lower priority.
Alternative: Using zRam
If you’re looking for a more permanent solution to increase the usable amount of RAM, you might want to explore using zRam. zRam is a Linux kernel feature that creates a compressed block device in RAM and allows you to use it as swap space. This can be especially useful on systems with limited RAM. You can find more information on how to use zRam in Ubuntu here.
While using a USB drive as RAM in Ubuntu can provide a temporary performance boost, it is not a long-term solution and may not provide significant performance gains compared to a swap file on a hard disk drive. However, in situations where you need a temporary increase in RAM, it can be a handy tool. For a more permanent solution, consider using features like zRam or upgrading your physical RAM.
No, using a USB drive as RAM in Ubuntu is not a permanent solution. It is recommended to use it as a temporary solution when dealing with heavy loads.
Yes, you can use any USB drive for this purpose. However, it is important to note that all data on the USB drive will be erased, so make sure to back up any important files.
Yes, it is recommended to format the USB drive before using it as virtual RAM. You can use the Disks utility in Ubuntu to format the drive.
To create a swap file on the USB drive, you need to open a Terminal and use the
dd command. The command will create an empty swap file on the USB drive. You can adjust the size of the swap file as needed.
To enable the swap file on the USB drive, you need to use the
swapon command in the Terminal. This command will enable the swap file and set its priority.