Does using a USB flash drive and Windows ReadyBoost increase system performance?
Question by Sachin Kanchan /

I have known that Windows Vista and now 7 have allowed users to add RAM to their systems by plugging in a USB drive and changing its property to ReadyBoost. Does it really improve the performance of the system?

I have a laptop without a graphics card and sometimes when I play games they suffer from slow down… so can readyboost help me out?

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Answers (11)
  • alex

    it increase significantly but should only be used by the people who don’t have enough money to buy a faster ram, by the way, why the hell ‘Bruce Epper’ wrote so much stuff!

  • Dalsan

    Just as a tip if you use a flash drive for Ready Boost; if you want to use more than 4GB, then you need to format the flash drive to NTFS instead of the original FAT32 format as this will allow up to 256GB for Ready Boost, FAT32 only allows up to 4GB.

  • Craig Snyder

    In all of my experiences, I’ve never really been able to feel a noticeable difference using ReadyBoost vs. not using it. That’s not to say the performance increase isn’t there, just don’t expect to be able to feel it out.

  • Pete

    Another consideration is that USB drives are connected to USB, with a maximum throughput (on USB 2.x) of 480 Mbits/sec – if nothing else is on the USB bus. 480 Mb/sec equates to a max speed of 60 MBytes/second, substantially slower than the performance of SATA. As other respondents have noted, latency on a flash drive is slower. If the amount of data moving back and forth is small, there would potentially be some increase in speed, due to low latency of the USB drive. However, moving large blocks of data, such as video buffering, as you would be doing in a gaming system will achieve less of a gain, and potentially even a decrease in performance.

  • Sachin Kanchan

    thanks to both of you, it helped….

  • Bruce Epper

    For playing games, it might help and yet again it might not. The apparent speed of your computer depends on many more factors. When it comes to gaming, your performance will depend on the type and speed of your processor, the video capabilities of your video subsystem (including GPU and VRAM), the type and speed of your system memory, and the speed of the media the game is being played from.

    If a game refers to materials that are stored on an optical medium (CD/DVD/BluRay), it will slow down because the speed of optical drives is slower than many hard drives and many times slower than RAM. If you have options to do a minimal, standard, or full install of the game, the full install will always give you better performance overall.

    The speed of your hard disk will make a difference here as well. If your system does not have enough RAM, it will begin paging data which has a larger performance impact on games or other memory-intensive applications. Having your paging file on a separate disk from the OS (not just a different partition) can help performance here. The same can be said for having your operating system and program files on different drives.

    The amount of RAM installed in the computer and the speed of the RAM will have an impact too, especially if the game is RAM hungry. If you already have a lot of RAM installed in the computer (generally > 4GB), the speed improvement that is seen by using ReadyBoost when executing single applications, including large games, tends to be minimal.

    Having a multi-core processor helps any programs that take advantage of the additional processing cores. Also, a higher clock speed translates to more instructions that can be executed per second. Both give distinct speed advantages (as long as care is taken with concurrency issues) for any application. There are also benefits for having a processor and motherboard chipset that complement each other well. Processors that cannot take advantage of the more advanced features of the chipset or vice versa can inhibit performance.

    And here is the kicker for gaming. The video subsystem almost always rules the performance metrics for the game. When locally installed games lag, it is most frequently due to the video card/chipset and the memory it has available for its use. Dedicated video memory is faster that that used for the rest of the system, so if it is using shared memory (video memory is a chunk of system memory reserved for that purpose), you not see the best video rendering for any purpose including watching movies, games, animation, and similar video-intensive programs.

    All that being said (written?), you can always try to use ReadyBoots to help out your gameplay, but don’t be too surprised if it doesn’t help with the issue you are seeing.

    • Sonic_Pro

      Very well explained and concise. Not only is your information right,,, but it is written very well.

  • Kyem Ghosh

    yes it makes the computer 80-100 times faaster as the memory of your flash is optimised as cache memory… Moreover the ReadyBoost compresses the data of your flash to nearly half of the original size but the thing is that your device should have an access time maximum of 1ms for best result… Even you can use any of your hard disk partition for readyboost.. But flash drive has faster access time than a magnetic hard drive and laptop drives are much slower…. So carry on with your flash and also use your free hard disk partition for maximum speed!!!!…

    • Mike

      There is no benefit using a regular (platter) hard disk for ReadyBoost. With it’s slow random access time of 7ms and above it will essentially be the same as paging which already happens by default.

      ReadyBoost is designed for storage devices with a random access time of 1ms and lower and at least 2.5MB/s read speed for 4K random reads.

      From a usage point that puts it in between the paging file and the RAM. It is there to hold and offer data that doesn’t fit in the RAM (like paging) at a very low access time to speed things up.

      In general ReadyBoost is designed for situations where you need more RAM yet an actual memory upgrade is not possible or just too expensive. Also if you have a Solid State Drive in your system you will benefit more from putting the paging file on the SSD than using ‘some’ device for ReadyBoost.

    • Sachin Kanchan

      thanx..that was useful

    • epiquestions

      wouldn’t it be more expensive to use flash drives and readyboost since flash drives have limited write cycles and it would only shorten the life of your flash drive?