Install More RAM on Raspberry Pi
Of course Pi-Apps lets you download more RAM!
Have you ever been using your Raspberry Pi when the screen froze? Most likely, your system ran out of RAM.
On default Raspbian, freezes happen easily and suddenly. When the RAM fills up, the entire system becomes unresponsive. Many people think the only solution is to buy a Pi with more RAM, but THAT'S NOT TRUE and this app proves it.
This app uses ZRAM to increase the capacity of your RAM. ZRAM is a kernel module to compress data on-the-fly and store it in RAM. It has all sorts of uses, but it can be an extremely performant Swap drive with the right tweaks.
Some types of data compress better than others. On average, the ZSTD algorithm reaches a 3:1 compression-ratio, but in some cases it can approach 5:1! When used as Swap, this means that theoretically, one RAM chip can store 5 times as much memory! While real-world loads are unlikely to be compressible that much, the results are still impressive. In a recent test, Chromium was instructed to open 200 tabs. (mostly youtube videos)
When everything finished loading, Chromium had consumed 7GB of RAM. However, this test was performed on a Raspberry Pi 4 with only 4GB of RAM! Without ZRAM, the screen would have frozen within seconds. But with ZRAM, the system was still very responsive.
What does this app do?
- This app will disable the default Swapfile. (By default, RPiOS comes with a pitiful 100MB swapfile that does barely anything) Disabling Swap reduces the number of writes to the SD card, boosting performance while increasing its lifetime.
- This app will setup ZRAM to extend the usable RAM, when necessary. How much ZRAM? It's calculated based on a 4:1 ratio of your devices available RAM. On a 1GB Pi, there will be 4GB of ZRAM; on a 4GB Pi there will be 16GB of ZRAM. Remember: this relies on compressing data, so some situations may not be able to reach the full 4:1 compression-ratio.
- This app will adjust a few kernel paremeters to optimize RAM usage.
- Remember how ZRAM can be used for other things too? This app will also set up some high speed data storage using ZRAM. It's perfect for managing large files temporarily, without filling up your SD card. This is similar to a RAMdisk, but it doesn't use the RAM as quickly. You can access this storage by going to the new /zram folder.
Of course, uninstalling this app will revert everything back to how it was.
How do I know if it's working? There are a few ways to check.
- You can run the htop command to see RAM and Swap usage. Htop will refresh itself every second, just like the Task Manager.
- You can install Conky from Pi-Apps. This will display the RAM and Swap usage on the desktop. Conky refreshes twice every second.
- To see more detailed ZRAM information and statistics, run the zramctl command.
What about Novaspirit Tech's popular ZRAM tutorial from a few years ago? Is this app better? Yes. First, Novaspirit created four swapdisks, while only one is necessary. Also, he used LZ4 compression, while this app uses the new ZSTD compression algorithm. (ZSTD is slightly slower than LZ4, but its compression ratio is far better) Also, he didn't tweak any kernel parameters, severaly limiting ZRAM's effectiveness.
Overall, this app is designed to get the most out of ZRAM. Even if your Pi never uses all available RAM, installing this app will unlock more space for file-caching, thereby improving performance while reducing writes to the SD card.
Fortunately, More RAM is very easy to install on your Raspberry Pi in just two steps.
- Install Pi-Apps - the best app installer for Raspberry Pi.
- Use Pi-Apps to install More RAM.
For the best chance of this working, we recommend using the latest version of Raspberry Pi OS, which is currently version Bullseye.
Raspberry Pi OS has 32-bit and 64-bit variants, both of which will run on most Raspberry Pi computers, including the Pi 3 and the Pi 4.
More RAM will run on either PiOS 32-bit or 64-bit.
Pi-Apps is a free tool that makes it incredibly easy to install the most useful programs on your Raspberry Pi with just a few clicks.
Open a terminal and run this command to install Pi-Apps:
wget -qO- https://raw.githubusercontent.com/Botspot/pi-apps/master/install | bash
Feel free to check out the Pi-Apps source code here: https://github.com/Botspot/pi-apps
Install More RAM
Now that you have Pi-Apps installed, it is time to install More RAM.
First launch Pi-Apps from your start menu:
Then click on the Tools category.
Now scroll down to find More RAM in the list.
Just click Install and Pi-Apps will install More RAM for you!
Pi-Apps is a free and open source tool made by Botspot and other contributors. Find out more at https://pi-apps.io