If you’re looking to give your computer a quick & free speed boost, try ReadyBoost. The Windows feature adds additional memory 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!
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.
The reason that this is preferential is because flash devices are quicker than a hard disk drive. 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.
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.
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.
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.
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; using the SSD for its primary purpose and buying more RAM would be a cheaper and more sensible option.
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 and it’s much more beneficial to buy some more if there’s room for it inside your computer.
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 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?