Is Virtual RAM in Android Really Useful? [FAQ]

Can you finally download RAM on your smartphone?

by: - Last updated on: July 7th, 2021
Key Takeaways
  • RAM is very essential in Android smartphones as it keeps important applications running in the background.
  • Virtual RAM feature in Android can increase the effective amount of RAM on a smartphone.
  • Smartphones can get virtual RAM through OTA updates by OEMs.
  • Virtual RAM can help your smartphone to hold more applications in memory, but is it really useful? Let’s find out.

RAM is one of the most integral hardware parts in hardware when it comes to computers, mobile devices, and even small IoT devices. With its universal presence in the latest technology, RAM is often referred to as ‘The more, the merrier. As easy as is to upgrade the RAM on your PC or laptop by adding a fresh new stick, this privilege is not practically possible on smartphones as the RAM is either a part of the SoC (System on Chip) or soldered on the PCB in phones. To overcome this, smartphone OEMs have borrowed the Virtual RAM technology from the PC ecosystem to Android devices.

Virtual RAM android

Recently, we have seen the buzz of Virtual RAM on Android devices with the likes of the Vivo X60 Pro that comes with Virtual RAM by default, and cases like the Redmi Note 10 Pro which received the Virtual RAM functionality with a software update. So does that mean our childhood jokes of ‘Download extra RAM’ have turned to reality now? is Virtual RAM on Android devices really useful? The answer is very interesting!

What is Virtual RAM in Android?

Virtual RAM on Android is a technique where a part of your Android phone’s regular storage is used like RAM for effectively increasing the amount of total RAM on your device. This concept was first used in computers, and slowly people started using Virtual RAM on Android devices with ROOT access by modifying the software on their phones. Now smartphone manufacturers have started including the concept of Virtual RAM on their phones out of the box.

How does Virtual RAM work in Android?

Let’s take an example. You have an Android device with 4GB of RAM and 64GB of internal storage. With the Virtual RAM feature, a part of the 64GB storage, consider 2GB for instance, will be specifically allocated to be used as RAM. Now the total effective RAM on your device will be 6GB (4GB + 2GB) with a storage space of 62GB.

Now, Virtual RAM will not directly be used as an extension of the RAM. In the first place, the reason Phone RAM and Phone Storage are different components is because RAM is an extremely fast volatile memory with the primary function of rapid but temporary reads and writes. Whereas the internal memory is slightly slower but holds data for a longer or almost permanent duration. This way, more number applications can be stored in RAM and kept ready for usage on request by the user.

In Virtual RAM technology for Android, the Android operating system will prioritize the applications stored in RAM. Important and demanding applications like games, video players, will be given importance and placed in the regular RAM for faster access. Whereas less important applications will be shifted to the virtual RAM memory. Android device manufacturers optimize the usage of virtual RAM for efficient management of apps on the physical RAM.

How is Virtual RAM in Android useful?

Virtual RAM acts as a supportive aid for the existing RAM. Although virtual RAM memory cannot replicate the exact potential of phone RAM, it surely cuts the workload of the actual RAM by a little margin. When the RAM storage starts filling up, your Android device will remove some lesser-used applications from the memory. So next time when you open that application, it will load right from scratch which will take more time and also consume more CPU resources.

The addition of Virtual RAM ensures that such applications are kept in the background for a faster app loading time. You can also consider Virtual RAM as a swap memory where certain applications are cached in the virtual RAM partition of your storage.

Is adding virtual RAM to Android really effective?

Virtual RAM uses the regular storage unit of your Android device like a RAM expander. It will surely increase the capacity of your Android phone to hold a few more applications in the memory. But you won’t notice an instant performance boost in your Android device. Virtual RAM will speed up a few operations and make your phone feel faster, but the difference will not be as significant as day and night. So the end device performance will remain the same.

The reason behind this is that most Android devices nowadays come with at least 3-4GB of RAM, even in the midrange segment. Based on our experience with testing multiple Android devices from a variety of companies, that figure is enough to keep 8-10 regular applications in the memory. So latest devices from Android OEMs are capable enough to retain apps with an onboard RAM of around 3-4GB.

Now keep in mind that this is a general case, and the actual memory management of a phone will vary from company to company, their software optimization, the type of applications being used, etc.

When it comes to cheaper devices from the budget segment, these devices may have just 2GB of RAM, to keep the cost low and make the phone more affordable. This comes with a tradeoff, as OEMs try cost-cutting in several aspects of the phone, including the type of memory used. So such Android phones usually come with the older tech eMMC storage which is slower as compared to the latest UFS 3.1 standards.

On such phones, using Virtual Memory to increase the RAM will not be a good idea as the slower storage won’t be able to cope up with the additional duties of RAM when used virtually. And this is why we don’t see manufactures opting for Virtual RAM on budget devices as it won’t do any good.

Is Virtual RAM good for gaming?

Virtual RAM expansion on Android will not boost up your gaming performance directly. Yes, it will help you to keep a few of your applications running in the background, as the extra bit of RAM will take over some of the duties of regular RAM. But if the topmost gaming performance is your priority from your Android phone, it’s always recommended to clear all background applications from the RAM. So for the gamers, Virtual RAM is not really a game-changing feature.

Can I use an SD card as RAM on Android?

Yes, you can use an external microSD card as Virtual RAM for which you will require ROOT access on your Android phone. Rooting an Android device comes with its own set of risks which one should be aware of. So please attempt this at your own will and we will not be responsible for any issues with the same. This process will use card partitioning, meaning that you won’t be able to use your memory card as regular storage after using it as a RAM expander.

Here are some methods for rooted devices using which you can use an external SD card to create a swap file to use it as Virtual RAM. Do note that all of these services require root permission. You should also use a good card memory like a Class 10 memory card or better for using it as Virtual RAM on your Android device.

  • ROEHSOFT RAM Expander
  • RAM Manager Pro
  • Link2SD

You are requested to use the above-mentioned methods at your own risk. In case of card malfunctions, you may face some issues with your Android device.

Can I get virtual RAM Android with ROOT?

Yes, you can increase Android phone RAM on most devices with ROOT. For rooting your Android phone, you can refer to forums like XDA Developers, where you can find guides to root any Android device. With ROOT access, you can either use a micro SD card (external storage) or use the internal storage itself in real-time as Virtual RAM. Here are some ways to get Virtual RAM on Android with ROOT.

  • ROEHSOFT RAM Expander
  • Swapper – ROOT

Other Frequently asked questions about RAM on Android devices

Here are some additional questions which are commonly asked with respect to RAM on Android devices.

1. Why Does Your Phone Need More RAM?

As RAM holds all the background processes in your phone, having more RAM means that you can keep more applications in the memory. This will ensure a faster app opening time as the application is kept active in the background and you won’t have to wait for the app to load for a smoother user experience.

2. Does Increasing RAM Improve Your Android’s Performance?

If you are expecting a drastic change in performance with more RAM size then that’s not the case. For instance, when a device has a 6GB RAM variant and an 8GB RAM variant, it does not mean that the 8GB variant will be faster. It just means that the higher variant will be able to hold more applications in memory than the former. So a higher RAM size does not necessarily account for better performance.

3. Is it possible to increase RAM on Android?

Android users can take the path of rooting and increase the RAM of their virtually. But if you wish to increase the actual Android RAM without any memory card, then it’s not possible. Android smartphones are not modular, and hence physically increasing the RAM is not feasible.

4. Does clearing RAM frequently in Android help?

Frequent clearing of RAM on your Android smartphone can go both ways. One way is that your memory is always kept free with no background applications, hence the power consumption of your device will be less, which will extend your battery life. On the contrary, repeatedly clearing the RAM will lead you to freshly load the application every time which gets time-consuming. So it depends on which side of the boundary do you prefer to be.

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    1. This technology is fairly new to Android devices, so no conclusive test results are available. But considering that both RAM and internal storage are FLASH storage devices, there should not be any problems with the lifespan of internal storage if you use Virtual RAM. So it is not something to worry about :)