What is Shadow RAM?

Random access shadow memory (RAM) is a type of memory stored on a stick of RAM that has a duplicate version of the computer’s basic input and output operating system (BIOS) information. In addition to ensuring that the BIOS is never erased, shadow RAM has an accelerated access speed so your computer can boot faster. Some computers use the BIOS for reasons other than booting, and this RAM often helps with that. Many computers with shadow RAM, especially those that don’t need it, allow the user to enable or disable RAM on command. There are some problems associated with using this RAM, but if your computer doesn’t need it, then using it will mean that there will be a little less memory available to your computer.

RAM card.

When a computer boots, it goes into read-only memory (ROM) to access BIOS information. The problem with this is that the ROM tends to be slow because it is a larger memory store, so booting from the ROM can take a long time. With shadow RAM, BIOS information is copied and used from RAM. RAM is twice as fast as ROM, so this cuts boot time in half. If the user accidentally erases the BIOS, this RAM will also have the information needed to start the computer.

Most computers only need the BIOS to boot, but others also use it for normal functions. These systems are mostly obsolete or certain command-line interfaces. Shadow RAM contains a BIOS version and access speed is faster, so this often speeds up processes that require BIOS.

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Some systems rely on shadow RAM and the user cannot change how the computer uses that RAM, but other computers use it as a convenience rather than a necessity. The latest systems typically allow users to disable and enable RAM at any time. It is usually best to keep it enabled unless users are doing intensive work.

While there are many advantages to having RAM enabled, there are also some advantages to turning it off. Part of the RAM is being used to hold the BIOS information, so this sector will not be available during processing. If someone is using intensive programs that need all the RAM to work properly then it can slow down the computer. Outside of this scenario, having shadow RAM enabled is usually not an issue and most users should not notice reduced RAM availability.

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