ReadyBoost is a utility that was first introduced in Windows Vista and then again with Windows 7. It is a simple way to help speed up your computer. By inserting a flash storage device, like a USB stick or card, you can then let ReadyBoost use it as hard disk cache, thus improving disk reading speeds.
Before your device can be used with ReadyBoost, the system will first perform a series of tests to ensure that it is compatible. The requirements that it checks for are:
• At least 256 MB in size and with at least 64 KB of free space
• Access time of 1 ms or less
• 2.5 MB/s read speeds and 1.75 MB/s write speeds
The utility will tell you if your device doesn’t match the specifications. In Windows 7, you can actually use up to eight devices for a total of 256 GB cache memory.
You probably won’t see much change in performance when using ReadyBoost if you have a top end hard disk operating at 7200 RPM or higher. If your drive is performing at 5400 RPM or lower then you are more likely to see a difference. When using ReadyBoost, it doesn’t become the primary way that the system caches. Instead, it will only kick in when it can help boost performance. For example, sequential read operations will be better performed using the hard disk than a flash drive. AnandTech performed a series of tests to test the true performance that ReadyBoost gives you. For instance, it cut down the load time of Adobe Photoshop by 13 seconds. However, there was virtually no difference when it came to loading very large Word documents. Users can test their own speeds by using the Windows System Assessment Tool.
Flash drives do wear out over time when they’ve been written to a vast amount of times, but the likelihood of this happening is quite low. Microsoft claims that the drive should be able to function for at least ten years, which is ample time. Something to look out for when using ReadyBoost on laptops is the increased power it will consume, thus leading to more heat being generated. This may mean that you see a decrease in battery life and you could have to connect additional cooling to your laptop.
If you are serious about using ReadyBoost then you will want to be using it on Windows 7 to get the full benefits out of it since you can use multiple devices. Also, make sure to experiment with different types of media (like a flash drive or SD card) as some will work better than others. And bear in mind that if you have a solid state drive then you will not be able to use ReadyBoost. If you have a slow hard disk and a compatible device (some are marked with “Enhanced for Windows ReadyBoost” on the packaging, but a lot aren’t) then you should definitely give ReadyBoost a shot. Monitor the speeds and see if it makes a change – it could speed up everything from boot time to file loads.
What is ReadyBoost?
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