Saturday 16 August 2014

Ramdisk for Timeshifting

I've added an extra 16GB of memory to MediaServer8 to now give a total of 32GB.

This has allowed me increase the assignment of memory to my Windows7 TVServer VM from 4GB to 16GB.

I want to experiment with using a ramdisk for timeshifting rather than a physical disk. A ramdisk is a virtual disk that exists only in memory. The advantage is that it's superfast, the disadvantage is that the contents are destroyed on each restart. However, this is not a big deal for timeshifting as there are only transient files stored.

For me, using a ramdisk rather than a physical disk also means that I can remove the 75GB Raptor I've assigned as a timeshift drive, freeing up the SATA port and physical bay for another storage drive. So all in all, it should be win-win.

Having researched a little, I came accross a free RamDisk implementation: ImDisk from ltr-data. (note that the actual download I used is the ImDisk Toolkit, a package maintained by a user  which provides an easy to use UI and some other bits and pieces).

Here's a quick overview summary video;

It was pretty easy to figure out how to set up the Ramdisk. First, I disabled sharing on my existing timeshift drive and set up a 12GB RamDisk via the 'RamDisk Configuration' shortcut the installer placed on my desktop. I set it to use format as NTFS and once the drive appeared, I set it up to use the same share name as my previous disk (\timeshift). This meant that I didn't need to change any settings in my ArgusTV Server config or on any client PCs which access the shared disk.

ImDisk Ram Disk Configuration Utility
So far, so good. I've been watching LiveTV content throughout the morning and don't see any particular difference in performance. SD and HD channels alike play back perfectly. Pause, rewind, fast forward is fine.

I suspect I've somewhat over-pprovisioned here. I have 12GB assigned to the Ramdisk, but in ArgusTV advanced settings, timeshift files are set to 4x 750MB.

I'll keep an eye on disk usage and general stability over the coming days and once I'm happy everything is working well, I'll remove the Raptor drive.

It also remains to be seen how this behaves on restart. There is an option to recreate the Ramdisk on windows boot but I suspect I might have problems with the share settings.

I'll update this article if I make any further adjustments or have any additional findings or observations. Stay tuned!

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