Use a Ramdisk to increase Firefox security - gHacks Tech News

Use a Ramdisk to increase Firefox security

If you choose to delete the cache whenever Firefox exits it's gone, right? Wrong! Sure, it got deleted from the hard disk but every file recovery utility, like Recuva, can be used to restore the deleted cache. This means that everyone may take a look at each and every website that you visited during your last browsing session despite the fact that you deleted it.

You could run a free disk space wiper like Eraser every time you close Firefox but that is not very practicable. A far better solution that would also speed up your browsing experience is to use a Ramdisk to store the Firefox cache.

Ramdisks, I hear you moan already that they are a relict of the past and not useful anymore. Wrong again..

Ramdisks make sense in many situations, especially if you have enough RAM so that the Ramdisk gets a decent amount of it. As a quick explanation, a Ramdisk is a temporary disk in your RAM. It has a drive letter and behaves like any hard drive or USB device that is connected to your computer.

The benefit is that it is faster than a hard drive because RAM is faster than hard drives and that everything that gets written to it will be gone once you restart the computer.

I'm going to explain how to create a Ramdisk and set the directory of the Firefox cache to it to increase security and speed. First, download the file Ramdisk.sys and extract it to your computer. Start the application ramdisk.exe afterwards.

create a ramdisk

Click on the left button Install Ramdisk and wait a few seconds. All other options should become active afterwards. Begin by selecting a size (of your RAM) for the Ramdisk. I would not use more than 50% of your RAM for the Ramdisk, I'm using 25% which translates to 512 Megabytes of RAM for the Ramdisk.

Select a drive letter afterwards, pick one from the end to avoid conflicts. Keep the Fixed Media Entry and click on OK. This should initialize the Ramdisk. Check to see if the new drive letter is available in My Computer.

Now open Firefox and enter about:config in the address bar. Filter for the string browser.cache.disk.parent_directory. If it is not found create it by right-clicking the empty space and selecting New > String from the menu. Paste the above string into the form and enter the value driveletter:\\directory.

My Ramdisk has been created with the drive letter Z:\ which means that I used the value z:\\temp\\ for the Firefox cache. Please note that you have to use double "\\" and not single "\".

Restart Firefox after creating the new entry and visit some websites. Now head over to your Ramdisk and check if the cache is filling with the files of those websites. If you followed this instruction it should. The cache will be deleted once you reboot or shut down your system.

Update: We have uploaded the file to our own server. Ramdisk

Summary
Use a Ramdisk to increase Firefox security
Article Name
Use a Ramdisk to increase Firefox security
Description
The guide walks you through the steps of setting up and configuring a Ramdisk to improve Firefox security.
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    Comments

    1. Jojo said on December 15, 2007 at 1:08 am
      Reply

      Download link doesn’t work. When I click on it, I get:

      User is not allowed to use direct links.
      Please email [email protected] for support

    2. Martin said on December 15, 2007 at 1:50 am
      Reply

      That’s strange because I can download the file without difficulties. Try this alternate download link http://rapidshare.com/files/76624404/ramdisk.zip.html

    3. Oneder said on December 15, 2007 at 2:46 am
      Reply

      Much easier and safer way to run your browser is to use Sandboxie and Returnil.

      http://www.sandboxie.com/

      http://www.returnilvirtualsystem.com/

    4. Dante said on December 16, 2007 at 12:22 am
      Reply

      The link worked fine with me. But hey, thanks for reminding me. I used to use ramdisks. Than the harddisk requirements got too large and I forgot all about ramdisks. Now ram is getting up to 4 gigs, time to use ramdisks again.

    5. Dante said on December 16, 2007 at 12:25 am
      Reply

      Just took a look at Sandboxie. Interesting. But ramdisks are inherently safer. It permanently goes away into thin air. It never touch the harddisk at all. I used to use ramdisks to play CIV I back in the old days. MIS never caught on :)

    6. Chris Lees said on December 22, 2007 at 2:05 am
      Reply

      512 megabytes of RAM being set aside for the Firefox cache is ridiculously huge. Why have most of it sitting aside doing when it could be unallocated and being used for system cache (making the whole computer faster)?

      50 megabytes is all you need. The cache is there for storing HTML and images that you download within the course of your web browsing, so even 50 megabytes is generous.

    7. Peter said on December 27, 2007 at 2:16 pm
      Reply

      Try putting FireFox Portable
      (www.portableapps.com) on the RAM-drive .
      Man, does that speed up load-times ..

    8. Leonid said on January 17, 2008 at 10:03 pm
      Reply

      My goal was to capture video file in cache 45 minutes long and 90 MB size. The file in cache named 45FD74EDd01 was growing to 65520 MB and stopped growing at this size. I coped it to other folder, renamed by adding “.flv” and could see part of video only.
      How can I increase this file to e.g. 100 MB? What command in about:config?

    9. Chad Habergood said on February 29, 2008 at 12:21 am
      Reply

      In light of this, in ram disc ain’t so secure…
      http://www.nytimes.com/2008/02/22/technology/22chip.html

    10. Red said on April 14, 2008 at 2:41 am
      Reply

      Why would you bother with the ramdisk – why not disable the browser.cache.disk ,this would force firefox to store the cache in ram . that is how protable firefox does it
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mozilla_Firefox,_Portable_Edition
      http://technicaltricks.blogspot.com/2008/02/optimize-firefox-reduce-memory-leakage.html

    11. Oneder said on July 21, 2008 at 5:16 am
      Reply

      Been playing with the ramdisk and I think it can actually compliment Sandboxie in setting Sandboxie’s storage folder as the ramdrive.

      Using the ramdisk does seem to speed things up while Sandboxie provides excellent security.

      There is no need to change FF’s cache path as Sandboxie caches everything into the ramdisk.

    12. nico said on September 4, 2008 at 5:07 pm
      Reply

      It doesn’t work with Xp64, do you have à 64bits version

    13. paranoid said on October 7, 2008 at 1:55 pm
      Reply

      And if you want to be really paranoid, you can take your newly created harddrive and encrypt it with open source TrueCrypt (http://www.truecrypt.org) :P

    14. solnyshok said on May 9, 2009 at 1:14 am
      Reply

      for x64 ramdisk there is a solution described here http://www.sevenforums.com/software/3117-i-cant-install-cenatek-ramdisk.html

      it works for me under windows 7 x64. if you follow the instruction there, please notice that RamdiskVE.exe (the configuration utility) will report error creating ramdisk but after reboot you will have a ramdisk with your parameters.

    15. Brian said on June 7, 2009 at 10:37 pm
      Reply

      My RamDisk has defaulted to FAT 16 file system. Can this be changed to NTFS? Have read a previous list of instructions which are not very easy to follow.

    16. ProsperousOne said on February 26, 2010 at 5:38 pm
      Reply

      I’ve tried doing this using Dataram RAMDisk, but nothing is getting written to my Ram disk.

      I’m not saving the RAMDisk Image, as I don’t want to slow down the bootup or shutdown time and I want to delete the cash on each reboot.

      Unfortunately, nothing is getting written in to the my Ramdisk Cache directory (G:\FF_Cache), even after shutting down firefox and rebooting.

      I’ve added the “browser.cache.disk.parent_directory” to firefox, and tried all of the following as the string values with no luck:

      G:\FF_Cache\
      G:\\FF_Cache\\
      G:\FF_Cache
      G:\\FF_Cache

      Any other suggestions?

      thx!

    17. Midnight said on January 16, 2011 at 4:04 am
      Reply

      Actually, the Cache will be deleted once you shut down Firefox!
      Just noticed that, now!

      Firefox loads much faster and performs much better since installing RamDisk and moving the FF Temp stuff over!

    18. shaun Hollingworth said on June 1, 2011 at 5:39 pm
      Reply

      Those using ramdisks for the storage of sensitive data should be aware that some ramdisk designs will use memory which is capable of being exchanged to the swapfile contents.

      A ramdisk designed for such data should use none pagable kernel memory so the contents can never be swapped out to disk, and not easily explored by user mode programs. They can’t be too large as such kernel memory can be precious and some versions of Windows will not allocate too much of it in one chunk and I would expect such a ramdisk to have maximum size limitations whereas the one in this article does not appear to.

    19. Maurice said on March 7, 2015 at 12:24 pm
      Reply

      The download link is dead but an installer for ramdrive.sys on Windows 2000/XP can be found here: http://www.codeguru.com/cpp/w-p/system/devicedriverdevelopment/article.php/c5789/RAMDISK-Version-10-for-Windows-2000Windows-XP.htm. If you have WInXP SP2/3 or WIn2k3 the files needed to install ramdrive.sys are already included with the installation – you just have to run this command to install it:

      devcon install ramdisk.inf Ramdisk

      Alternatively you could install it from the Device Manager.

      A more powerful option is the dynamic RAM drive in the ImDisk Toolkit and you no longer have the 512Mb limit: http://reboot.pro/files/file/284-imdisk-toolkit/

      1. Martin Brinkmann said on March 7, 2015 at 12:31 pm
        Reply

        Maurice, thank you for your comment. I have fixed the broken download link.

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