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If you’re looking to give your computer a quick & free speed boost The Windows Speed Up Guide The Windows Speed Up Guide This manual explains why Windows slows down and what you can do to prevent this from happening too quickly. Read More , try ReadyBoost. The Windows feature adds additional memory 5 Ways to Clear Memory & Increase RAM on Your Windows Computer 5 Ways to Clear Memory & Increase RAM on Your Windows Computer RAM, the final frontier. You always seem to run out of it. We'll show you how you can free up internal memory and extend your RAM, both virtually and physically. Read More to your system without having to buy more RAM.

ReadyBoost has been around in some form since Windows Vista. It allows flash storage devices to be utilised as memory cache, bypassing the slower hard drive. Although the feature is less relevant for users who run solid state drives or have plenty of RAM, it remains beneficial for users with older hardware.

Let’s find out exactly what ReadyBoost is, how it helps your system, what devices are compatible, and more!

ReadyBoost Explained

To run applications, your computer needs to access certain bits of data all the time. These data would normally be stored in RAM, but if you’re running low, it will be delegated to your hard drive. Rather than storing these files on your hard drive, ReadyBoost works in conjunction with a Windows feature called SuperFetch to store them on a flash device.

harddrive1

The reason that this is preferential is because flash devices are quicker than a hard disk drive The Best, Fastest, Most Rugged USB Flash Drives You Can Buy Right Now The Best, Fastest, Most Rugged USB Flash Drives You Can Buy Right Now USB flash drives are some of of the coolest inventions for geeks. We've rounded up five of the fastest, most rugged, and overall best drives on the market. Here's what we've found. Read More . The latter is made up of physical, moving components. Every time something is accessed, the drive needs to spin the internal platters to access it sequentially; this isn’t the case with flash, which can randomly access memory quicker.

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Windows Vista allows for a single flash device to be used for a maximum of 32GB cache, while Windows 7 and above allows for multiple devices up to 256GB. However, using that amount of storage dedicated to ReadyBoost is overkill – it’s very unlikely you’ll need that much data stored in the cache.

How To Enable ReadyBoost

It’s very simple to enable ReadyBoost and you can get it set up within minutes. First of all, plug your compatible flash device into your computer. If AutoPlay pops up then there’ll be an option to Speed up my system. Alternatively, open up Computer, right click on the flash drive, select Properties, and then click the ReadyBoost tab.

enable-windows-readyboost.png

From here you’ll be able to allocate a specific amount of space to ReadyBoost. Windows will recommends using a certain amount of capacity, depending on the size of your drive, for optimal storage. Whatever you don’t use can still be used as standard storage.

Once done, hit OK and you’re up and running. Just remember to keep the flash drive plugged into your computer at all times to keep ReadyBoost running.

Compatibility

ReadyBoost is available on every operating system above and including Windows Vista. However, the feature is only available on flash storage devices; the most common of which is a USB stick, but also includes solid state drives and SD cards Getting Cramped? 5 Ways To Increase SSD-only Ultrabook or Netbook Storage Getting Cramped? 5 Ways To Increase SSD-only Ultrabook or Netbook Storage The ultra-portables can't afford the room for a big, hulking hard drive. SSD comes at a price; literally, and figuratively. These expensive drives (although progress is made every day) still cannot reach the capacity of... Read More .

USB Stick

To use ReadyBoost, you need a device that meets a certain set of rules. While these requirements were a bit trickier to meet years back, modern devices should have no issues. The minimum requirements for the device are:

  • 256 megabytes capacity, with at least 64KB free
  • Access times of 1 millisecond or less
  • A read speed of 2.5 MB/s for 4KB random reads
  • A write speed of 1.75 MB/s for 1MB random writes

Don’t Use With SSDs

Windows won’t let you use ReadyBoost if you use a SSD as your storage device. This is because the cache will be slower than using your SSD, so ReadyBoost actually becomes disadvantageous.

Equally, although a SSD can be used as a ReadyBoost device, it’s quite pointless to do so. It’s a waste of the speed and storage of the drive How To Optimize SSD Speed & Performance How To Optimize SSD Speed & Performance Although Solid State Drives can deliver break-neck computing speeds, most users don’t know a nasty secret - your drive might not be properly configured. The reason is that SSDs don’t come optimized out of the... Read More ; using the SSD for its primary purpose and buying more RAM How To Upgrade A Laptop's RAM, Step By Step How To Upgrade A Laptop's RAM, Step By Step Is your laptop old, slow, and has the hardware never been upgraded? Working on a slow computer can be a real drag. Before you buy a completely new one, however, you should consider ways to... Read More would be a cheaper and more sensible option.

solid-state-drive-3

If you don’t know if you’ve got a SSD then you’ll need to check. Trickily, Windows won’t tell you which you have, so you’ll need to do a bit of investigative work. In your Start menu go to Run and input msinfo32. From the window that opens, filter down to Components > Storage > Drives. This will give you a list of all the drives installed. Finally, take the model number of the drive and Google it to find your product information.

Is It Worth It?

ReadyBoost had the most benefit back when the feature was launched with Vista. This is because the feature works best when applied on a system with a small amount of RAM, which wasn’t uncommon back in 2007. Modern computers come with a couple of gigabytes of RAM minimum.

Also, SuperFetch data is always going to be better stored on RAM as it provides quicker access. Using flash devices is a second-best option, but RAM isn’t particularly expensive nowadays How Is RAM Made, And Why Does The Price Fluctuate? How Is RAM Made, And Why Does The Price Fluctuate? Read More and it’s much more beneficial to buy some more if there’s room for it inside your computer.

ram-memory-modules

Nevertheless, that doesn’t mean ReadyBoost has to be completely discounted. Those computers with very small amounts of RAM (less than 1GB) will see a performance enhancement from using it, speeding up the running of intensive programs and the loading of files, but those users may wish to consider looking to buy more RAM for the long term.

The Future Of ReadyBoost

It’s not known if Windows 10 Windows 10 In Pictures - A Guided Tour Of The Technical Preview Windows 10 In Pictures - A Guided Tour Of The Technical Preview The Windows 10 Technical Preview is now available to everyone. Some bugs aside, it does look promising. We'll guide you through the new Windows one screenshot at a time. Read More will come with ReadyBoost or if the feature will be considered outdated and ditched. With higher amounts of RAM being commonplace, ReadyBoost could be preparing to hang up its hat.

Then again, maybe it’s still worth it for those users who are running older hardware and don’t want to buy more RAM, or don’t have the spare slots to expand.

Have you ever used ReadyBoost or do you use it currently? Did you get much performance increase from it?

  1. Keelan Goodall
    February 5, 2016 at 7:18 pm

    So, do i need to keep my usb stick in at all times when using my laptop?

  2. Vaidya
    February 3, 2015 at 6:43 am

    When I open up properties, there is no tab for ReadyBoost. How do I proceed.

  3. Dal
    January 29, 2015 at 8:41 pm

    sorry the double post

  4. Dal
    January 29, 2015 at 8:40 pm

    Actually Windows XP have this feature under a different name

  5. Anonymous
    January 29, 2015 at 8:39 pm

    Actually Windows XP have this feature under a different name

  6. Suleiman
    November 22, 2014 at 5:24 am

    Windows XP is not the lucky guy, right?

  7. Mark
    November 21, 2014 at 7:35 pm

    So, I actually have 8 GB of ram. But, sometimes when I am running an MMO, along with skype and google chrome at the same time, I will get an error saying windows is running low on ram and my ram usage exceeds 90% in the task manager. Would readyboost help mitigate this, or is something else going on to use all that ram?

  8. Speed Dog
    November 21, 2014 at 2:55 am

    I always here that this feature really shortens the life of your flash drive.

    • Joe
      November 30, 2014 at 12:14 am

      Hey Speed Dog - thanks for your comment. Microsoft claim that every drive they support will function for 10+ years with ReadyBoost.

      • sdfasdf
        August 11, 2016 at 11:02 am

        fjaisofjsfsaoif saaoifjs dfo

  9. Juran Malik
    November 20, 2014 at 10:12 am

    hey will this work with MacBook's?

    • likefunbutnot
      November 21, 2014 at 2:33 am

      No. This is a feature that was introduced to Windows in Vista and there is no OSX equivalent.

  10. Akinade
    November 20, 2014 at 7:19 am

    Thanks a lot for this information. But, please, I have an ACER (Aspire 5315) with a 1GB RAM but every game appears slow. I increased the RAM with another 1GB. But its still the same. Please, what should I do? Thanks

  11. T
    November 20, 2014 at 3:36 am

    You should include some tips on checking your RAM to see how much you have.

    • likefunbutnot
      November 21, 2014 at 2:31 am

      Belarc Advisor is a nifty tool that will amount other things exactly identify the type of motherboard, number of RAM slots and what each slot is populated with. If you just want to see how much RAM you have in Windows, just bring up System Properties by typing (Windows Key) + (Pause/Break). If you have a name-brand computer or know your exact motherboard model, you can pop over to Crucial.com and step through its Memory Upgrade Advisor. You don't have to buy RAM there. Just take note of the characteristics for the modules it suggests and look for the same RAM on Amazon or wherever you prefer to buy computer parts.

      If you're doing it for the first time, you might look to see if there's a Youtube video about how to take your computer's cover off so the RAM can be installed. There's usually about two minutes of work involved, but in very rare cases, RAM is either entirely non-upgradable (modern Apple laptops) or not in a location that's easily accessible to end users.

  12. rokoronties
    November 19, 2014 at 11:17 pm

    " First of all, plug your compatible flash device into your computer. If AutoPlay pops up then there’ll be an option to Speed up my system. Alternatively, open up Computer, right click on the flash drive, select Properties, and then click the ReadyBoost tab." It is integrated in Windows. You don't have to search it online.

  13. michel
    November 19, 2014 at 8:24 pm

    I tried this on Vista with 2g of ram and experienced no noticeable effect. I left it configured for several months, and when I decided to reclaim the flash drive, again I didn't notice any difference.

  14. DalSan M
    November 19, 2014 at 7:52 pm

    Not sure why you left out important information about Windows Vista only being able to use 4GB on FAT32 formatted USB flash drives, and you have to format to NTFS to use up to 32GB. Windows 7 and up removed that restriction, but formatting to NTFS allows the performance of caching to be slightly better. Also, even if you have 4GB or more of RAM, Readyboost can still speed up program loading times, though not usually by much.

    I have used Readyboost for the past 3+ years on my netbook, starting with 4GB in FAT32 format, to eventually 28GB in NTFS. The netbook came with 2GB RAM installed, running Windows 7 HP 64-bit. There was some boost with the 4GB FAT32 flash drive, but the performance was a little better with NTFS formatting. Going to 28GB (leaving some extra space for portable storage) did not prove as useful as I would have hoped, but still made a difference when using virtual environments and resource heavy programs. Even after I upgraded to 8GB RAM, the netbook seemed to perform slightly better when using Readyboost. Also, the hard disk activity dropped some when using Readyboost vs not using Readyboost.

    Another thing to note is that if you are going to use a smaller size flash drive for Readyboost, you may as well dedicate the whole flash drive to doing so as the Readyboost files would still remain on the flash drive when you eject the drive.

  15. Joe
    November 19, 2014 at 6:32 pm

    Nice informative article, I'd like to try it on an old 2003 dell optiplex that I want to use as a HTPC but the current ram is too low to provide video at a normal framerate.

    You provided many links to other make use of articles but no links to the actual subject of this piece.

    Why you did not link to the ReadyBoost website?

    • Tom
      November 19, 2014 at 9:12 pm

      Read the article again Joe... it's built into Windows, therefore, there is no site to link.

    • likefunbutnot
      November 20, 2014 at 4:55 am

      In your case the problem is not going to be the amount of RAM but rather the hardware decoding capabilities of whatever is handling graphics in that computer (probably i810 integrated video or something like a Radeon 7200 or Geforce 2 MX). Literally any discrete GPU made in the last five years will handle h.264, VP6 et al. in hardware, but unfortunately a machine of that vintage is going to be stuck with an AGP slot and no real upgrade options.

      At any rate, Readyboost only matters on computers that don't have enough RAM in the first place. I never really found it to make a subjective difference except on a Vista/7 machine with less than 1GB RAM, and even for the masochist who still wants to use a modern version of Windows on a machine that old, it's still fairly underwhelming because at the end of the day Readyboost just isn't extra system RAM.

    • foobar
      November 20, 2014 at 7:59 am

      >Why you did not link to the ReadyBoost website?

      What, this?
      http://windows.microsoft.com/en-us/windows7/products/features/readyboost

      It doesn't really offer much aside from the video.

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