ReadyBoost SchmeddyBoost

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run away!

The concept is simple and straightforward. Use flash memory in the form of a USB 2.0 drive, SD card, or Compact Flash as an area for disk cache in order to speed up your computer. Microsoft offers ready boost only with the Vista operating system, not XP, and to be useful the system must contain less than 512 MB of memory. That is the minimum required for Vista, by the way. In addition, the flash device must pass the test requirements to be of use. Are you starting to get the picture? A system, or laptop, with Vista and 256MB of memory? You’ll go a long way before you find one of those but I’m sure there are a few out there.

OK, lets see what else is needed to use this simple, straightforward concept:

  • USB 2.0 with a minimum of 64 MB free space. Something at least equal to your amount of memory would be best.
  • Must be capable of 3.5MB/s uniformly across the entire device for 4KB random reads and 2.5 MB/s for 512KB random writes.
  • The device must pass the test after inserting the device in your system and instructing it to use as a ReadyBoost device.

Looking on NewEgg and also in the local BestBuy, the cost for a device that is large enough and fast enough should be between $9.99 and $19.99. In order to get at least a decent amount of storage out of the purchase I figure 4 gigs at 19.99 is the way to go.

So far so simple. I go to BestBuy and purchase the least expensive USB Flash Drive that is ReadyBoost capable. The cost is $19.99 plus 6% tax and $5.00 for gas for a total of ….. Naw, just funnin with ya. Although I did have to pay tax and the gas I’m not really going to include that. I go home and pull all the memory out of my old system and rummage around until I find an old 256 stick of ram. I install the 256MB of memory into the system, boot, plug in the USB flash drive, and choose the ReadyBoost option. The system tests to be sure it’s good enough and Bingo, I’m Mr. ReadyBoost.

I do my usual jockeying back and forth between ReadyBoost and no ReadyBoost and feel no difference opening programs or surfing. I check the test results on my ReadyBoost installation and confirm that it did pass and is being used.

Next I download PC Mark and run some tests with and without ReadyBoost. I download SuperPi and run some tests. I download SiSoft Sandra and run some tests. I run the PC Pitstop OverDrive test. Nothing is showing improvement, nothing, zip, nadda.

Because I’m sure I’m doing something wrong, I check the internet to see what others are coming up with, and guess what? Their reviews are as mixed and minimal as my results. While some reviews give a long and lengthy run down of what ReadyBoost is and how to go about using it, the reviews that actually quote results are not showing much more than 1% here and 2% there.

The Final Blow

I go to BestBuy and return the USB flash drive. I don’t feel bad over this return because it basically didn’t give me any “Boost”, Ready or otherwise. I drive around the corner and ask Gary at Florida PC “Hey Gary, what are you getting on DDR2 laptop memory”. Even though I haven’t been using a laptop for my tests I figure that the laptop memory would be more expensive than standard memory and would at least make the ReadyBoost concept cost effective. He’s a quoting a price in the $40.00 range. I say, “Yikes, that’s high”. Gary says, “ memory is low right now, what have you seen 2 Gigs going for?” I say,”2 gigs?, I’m just wanting a measly 512 MB?”. He laughs and says, “for you 512 MB is going for $11.00.

ReadyBoost is just not a viable alternative.

End of story

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19 thoughts on “ReadyBoost SchmeddyBoost

  1. SuperPi is used to to determine the time your processor takes to calculate. It has nothing to do with RAM. I be SuperPi opened quickly though.

  2. Flash memory comes in various speeds. If your flash memory is faster than your disk it will speed things up and if your flash memory is the sam as your disk it may also speed things up as it can help avoid thrashing (the disk spinning as the system goes between tying to read and write for your applications disk access and the disk read /write for memory swapping). But the author is righ about one thing. DDR is much faster than flash memory and if you can get 2 gb for $40 thats not bad.

  3. I use a 8 gig sd card and leave it in the slot. I also configure the card for speed, not quick removal. The other 4 gig I use for backup. Just like Paul says, it does help with large files.

  4. The first line in the article is:
    “The concept is simple and straightforward. Use flash memory in the form of a USB 2.0 drive, SD card, or Compact Flash as an area for disk cache in order to speed up your computer.”

    As mentioned by other comments below, this is not the concept at all. The basics are that some programs page a lot. The more paging, the more I/O activity, the more work your computer has to do. Likewise, some programs – particularly in a development environment – cache gigabytes at a time. So while it won’t “speed up” your computer, it will help prevent it from slowing to a crawl when using programs that benefit from paging: Visual Studio, Photoshop, video editing, and (god forbid) Eclipse all at the same time.

    But if you want to “increase speed” as opposed to “prevent slow-down” than RAM is the way to go.

  5. My conclusions leave me to believe that ReadyBosst DOES Help. The results vary with applications written and that that can really use Ready Boost. Any speed increase is worth it. And with all software/hardware – it is only getting better

  6. The author clearly does not know what he is talking about.

    The minimum size requirement for ReadyBoost flash memory is 256MB, and has nothing to do with the amount of RAM. The following was copied directly from MS at this address:

    http://windowshelp.microsoft.com/Windows/en-US/help/12428141-2e4c-43ab-8dd2-a6ed6e3b87761033.mspx

    The recommended amount of memory to use for Windows ReadyBoost acceleration is one to three times the amount of random access memory (RAM) installed in your computer. For instance, if your computer has 512 megabytes (MB) of RAM and you plug in a 4 gigabyte (GB) USB flash drive, setting aside from 512 MB to 1.5 GB of that drive will offer the best performance boost. The minimum size for any USB flash drive to work with Windows ReadyBoost is 256 MB.

  7. ReadyBoost takes a considerable amount of time to monitor and log usage patterns and app requirements before you will see improvement. Superfetch is far more detailed in its monitoring than prefetch, and optimizes the cache down to times of day and days of the week. If you really want to see if ReadyBoost works, you at least need to give it a couple months of time. Just as defragging too often does not give the system time to determine optimal file layouts from your usage patterns and therefore defrags in a less efficient way, not allowing ReadyBoost and superfetch to gather data first will mean that you won’t see the effects.

  8. It works, if you’re not biased. As Paul said (05.18.08), it was not intended to replace system RAM, but to help with the page file access and to lower HD trashing.

    Vista has a lot going on in the background -search optimization is the main one- and having the ReadyBoost will lower HD access. You can verify it by using the Reliability and Performance Monitor built into Vista. It will show CPU, HD, Network, and RAM usage. Having ReadyBoost installed will lower HD access because it will shift a lot of the lower priority virtual memory to the page file on the USB clip and leave the info that is accessed more often in the HD page file.

    XP is stable –but OLD. Why don’t you all just grow up and upgrade?! You sound like all the people who didn’t want to leave Windows 98se because XP had to many bugs and used to much RAM…..does that sound familiar—anyone?

  9. Hi
    I use a 2GB flash pen in the ReadyBoost and i notice a big difference when i’m playing games, like unreal 3 for example.

    So, it really works in my opinion.

  10. The author of this “article” doesn’t seem to understand what ReadyBoost is. He seems to feel that it is a replacement for system memory, which is not the case, nor has it ever been described as such.

    Take you 4GB RB-ready USB drive and use it in a capable system, running applications, that due to their nature, want to swap memory, such as using Photoshop CS3 on a desktop replacement notebook runing Vista with 2 GB of system RAM. You will notice a definite improvement in the speed of the application when working with large image files.

    For the cost of a good SD memory card (to fit the slot already found in most current notebooks) ReadyBoost provides a performance gain with complex, memory intensive applications that aren’t already seriously shortchanged in basic system memory. As the author pointed out, equipping your Vista notebook with 2GB of memory is so cheap that if you can’t take that basic step you should go back to paper and pencil.

  11. I use Vista Enterprise on a 2gig Dell D600 laptop w a 4gig USB flash drive. ReadyBoost does speed up my DVDNextCopy software – the rips subjectively seem about 25% faster, but otherwise, in routine business use I don’t see anything else happening any faster. I bought a 3 pack of the USB 2gig drives on sale at Costco, and Vista will not use 2 of the 3 drives (all same make & model) for Readyboost. I put the USB drive that works in my pocket if I’m not using that specific software. What cluster. Glad I had other uses for the thumbs.

  12. I thought ReadyBoost was used for speeding up start time. Doesn’t it basically stores everything that is loaded during start up, allowing the computer to boot faster?

  13. “Tim M Says:
    I have readyboost with Vista home Premium. I have a USB plug. It is used only for ReadyBoost an I do not see a speed increase! There must be some problem but i can not figure it out.”

    It’s simple, actually. It came from M$, too soon with too little substance and too many claims. I wiped my laptop and installed XP minus the bloat and crap. Works quite well.

  14. Readyboost only makes sense if the flash media connected has a higher sustained rate than your HDD or at least equal if you want you move your swap there and do that manually

  15. I have readyboost with Vista home Premium. I have a USB plug. It is used only for ReadyBoost an I do not see a speed increase! There must be some problem but i can not figure it out.

  16. Readyboost’s intended use is to increase cache for system memory to draw from instead of drawing from a much slower source your harddrive.

    [Edited by administrator]

  17. On a laptop with 1GB of RAM and a 2GB SD card readyboosting, I kept having Vista drop out of Aero when I removed the SD card. No idea WHY it was doing this, but it seemed pretty clear that was the cause, as Aero would come back up if I reinserted the SD card.

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