Flash RAM card for PB - smart upgrade?

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by tristan, May 10, 2007.

  1. tristan macrumors 6502a

    Jul 19, 2003
    high-rise in beautiful bethesda
    Question for the brain trust. Is it worthwhile getting a Flash RAM card for a PB and then keeping all your files on it?

    Here's my situation. I have a 1.67ghz PBG4 with 2 gigs of RAM - maxed out. I work as a financial writer/consultant and spend most of my time in Word, Excel, Safari, and Mail. I'll probably keep this machine until the Penryn update in '08. There's certainly no way I will upgrade before MS Office is a universal app.

    All the files & data I work with is well under 300 megs and could easily fit on a flash card. I'm wondering whether it would be worth it in terms of extending my battery life, keeping the machine heat down, and just having a backup of all my files.

    It seems like a cheap upgrade and a smart move, but maybe I'm missing something. I haven't heard of anyone else using Flash as their primary document and mail storage. And could I keep my Safari cache there? And would Tiger swap there? Any thoughts? Thanks.
  2. CanadaRAM macrumors G5


    Oct 11, 2004
    On the Left Coast - Victoria BC Canada
    Good for backup
    Good for transport

    Notsogood for primary file storage. Flash memory cards (Flash is not RAM) are very slow to write data. They can't just change one 'bit', they have to copy a whole sector, erase it, and rewrite the sector with the one changed bit. This is not an issue when you are saving a 1 Mb jpg file all at one go from a camera. But it's a huge issue when you want to random access memory, repeatedly (like your applications want to do with docs and xls's

    Make it a rule never to work on files directly on a flash card/device. Always copy the file to your hard drive, work on it there, then copy the saved results back to the Flash device.

    Also, Flash memory (the affordable type you are thinking of, at any rate) has a finite time it can be erased and rewritten, and then the chips burn out. Not the kind of thing you want to be constantly writing temp files to.

    Think of Flash memory cards as floppy disks and not as RAM, and you will be more on target.

    It wouldn't significantly reduce the heat, because the hard drive would have to keep spinning for the OS, and the applications, and the CPU would still have the same workload (if not a bit more, managing another USB device)
  3. tristan thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Jul 19, 2003
    high-rise in beautiful bethesda
    Thanks for the advice. Maybe I'll wait a couple of years on Flash until the performance and capacities get better.

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