Windows Vista ReadyBoost

There seems to be quite a few questions about Windows Vista ReadyBoost: What is it? How does it work? (at a general level and at a technical level) What devices are compatible with it?

Simply put, ReadyBoost is a new feature in Windows Vista that takes advantage of non-volatile flash memory to improve the operating system’s performance.

Windows Vista: Features Explained: Windows ReadyBoost provides a good general explanation of what ReadyBoost is, how it works, and how to use it. In particular, that reference states: "The flash memory device serves as an additional memory cache—that is, memory that the computer can access much more quickly than it can access data on the hard drive. Windows ReadyBoost relies on the intelligent memory management of Windows SuperFetch and can significantly improve system responsiveness."

Many of us have an increasing number of USB flash-drives, most of which we don’t even use. Every few months it seems that the capacity of these devices are doubling in size…and is the amount of space we need on them to back up our important data. So what do you do with an "old" USB flash-drive device? Why not use it as a ReadyBoost device with Windows Vista? With prices falling on 1GB, 2GB, and larger sizes–you might even want to invest in a new USB flash drive so as to get the best performance out of your new Windows Vista PC.

Caveats:

  • Before you think about using multiple ReadyBoost devices on your PC, note that the current implementation of ReadyBoost limits a PC to using only one device at a time.
  • Not all USB flash-drives are compatible with ReadyBoost. See Grant Gibson’s ReadyBoost Compatibility List for details.

So how does ReadyBoost work? Tom Archer, Program Manager for the Windows SDK Tools and Build Environment, has an excellent technical post about ReadyBoost on his blog.

I purchased a 2GB Sony MicroVault (on sale at Staples stores this week for $19.98) for use with my Windows Vista PC. I’m impressed with the performance improvement within Vista–especially when many applications are open concurrently.

So far, I haven’t found much information regarding the read/write speed of USB flash-drives and how this affects ReadyBoost’s performance. Obviously, the faster the device the better.

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