When you buy a router, there are several specifications you have to consider. Two such router specs are the router RAM and flash memory.
In this article, we discuss the importance of router RAM and flash memory, as well as how much RAM and flash memory you need in your router.
How Important Are Router RAM And Flash Memory:
A router should have a large enough RAM to handle high traffic and many concurrent users. Router RAM holds routing tables, packet buffers, and temporary caches. Various router functions like NAT, VPN, firewall, and QoS also consume RAM. On the other hand, router flash memory should be large enough to store firmware updates and third-party software.
How Important Is Your Router’s RAM?
Router RAM works similarly to your computer’s RAM and holds temporary data for processing by the router CPU. Routers keep their routing tables, packet buffers, and temporary caches on their RAM.
Routers handling higher traffic loads need larger RAM. With the higher traffic loads, the router should have large enough memory buffers to handle possible packet spikes.
The number of connected users also affects your router’s RAM usage. The router has to keep each user’s session data on the RAM. So when many users connect to the router simultaneously, its RAM usage increases.
Router functions like NAT, VPN, firewall, and QoS also increase RAM usage. So when you enable many router functions, they will consume a significant amount of RAM.
How Much RAM Does Your Router Need?
The amount of RAM your router should have depends on the number of connected users and how much traffic the router handles.
Usually, a home router should have at least 64 MB of RAM, but it is better to go for 128 MB or 256 MB if possible.
You’ll need a larger router RAM if you have many concurrent users on your router and many active router functions. Faster internet connections also require more router RAM to hold large packet buffers.
On the other hand, ISP backbone routers and business routers should have gigabytes of RAM to hold large routing tables and handle packet spikes during higher traffic.
Why Does Your Router Have High RAM Usage?
Your router can have high RAM usage due to several reasons.
If your router handles high traffic, it has to hold large packet buffers, which consume lots of RAM. For example, routers that stream high-quality 4K videos will have high RAM usage due to larger packet buffers.
Also, if your router handles many concurrent users, it will consume more router RAM for user session data.
Active router functions like NAT, VPN, firewall, and QoS can also increase RAM usage.
Sometimes, routers suffering from firmware issues can also cause high RAM usage. Memory leaks in router firmware can increase RAM usage over time.
If your router has a slow CPU, it can also increase router RAM usage. When the CPU can’t handle the traffic, packet buffers will become larger and consume a significant portion of router RAM.
How To Clear Your Router’s RAM
You can simply reboot your router to clear its RAM. A reboot will clear everything in your router’s RAM, including packet buffers and cache data.
Some routers also allow you to clear a portion of RAM without restarting the router. The exact procedure for this depends on your router model.
Usually, you have to log into the router’s admin panel and flush the router cache. However, this will only clear the router’s packet buffers and cache data; it won’t clear all the RAM consumed by your router’s OS.
You can also clear your router’s RAM by logging into the router using CLI tools and issuing the command to flush memory buffers. Refer to your router’s manual for the exact steps and commands.
Can You Upgrade Your Router’s RAM?
It is practically impossible to upgrade a router’s RAM.
In most routers, RAM is soldered to the PCB, so in order to upgrade the RAM, you have to desolder the RAM chip and solder a higher-capacity chip.
However, this requires expensive soldering and desoldering equipment and experience in electronics repair. You might also have to modify the router firmware to make it work with the new RAM chip.
Therefore, upgrading a router’s RAM is practically impossible for an average user. It is also not worth it because it is easier and usually cheaper to get a new router with a larger RAM.
How Important Is Your Router’s Flash Memory?
The flash memory in your router stores the router’s operating system and firmware. Unlike RAM, flash memory is non-volatile and retains its contents even without power.
Router operating systems with more features need more flash memory to store the OS files.
Additional software you install on the router also consumes flash memory. So when you install third-party firmware extensions like VPNs and firewalls on your router, those need enough free flash memory for the installation.
However, if you do not intend to install additional software on your router, you do not require a large flash memory.
You’ll need a router with a large enough RAM to handle higher traffic and many concurrent users. Router functions like NAT, VPN, firewall, and QoS also need more router RAM.
A lack of router RAM can cause random packet drops and other stability issues. So you should have enough RAM for the best performance of your router.
On the other hand, router flash memory stores the firmware and third-party software you install on your router. The flash memory size only matters if you want to install additional router software like VPNs and firewalls; otherwise, the flash memory doesn’t affect the overall router performance.