ReadyBoost acts as a hard drive cache for your Windows Vista / Windows 7 & Windows 8 computer by assigning cache space within your removable flash media. Instead of buying a new SSD, ReadyBoost from Windows is a far the less expensive solution that leverages flash memory that you might have left over from other uses.
When Should You Use ReadyBoost?
According to Microsoft, here are some setups that could benefit from ReadyBoost:
- The computer has a slow hard disk drive. Computers with a primary hard disk Windows Experience Index (WEI) subscore lower than 4.0 will see the most significant improvements.
- The flash storage provides fast, random, non-sequential reads. Sequential read speed is less important. This is because ReadyBoost will read files from the cache only when doing so will improve performance. Hard disks outperform flash drives during sequential reads, but flash drives are faster during non-sequential reads (because of the latency caused when the drive head must move to a different disk sector).Therefore, ReadyBoost reads from the cache only for non-sequential reads.
- The flash storage is connected by a fast bus. Typically, USB memory card readers are not sufficiently fast. However, connecting flash memory to an internal memory card reader might provide sufficient performance.
Note that if your primary drive is an SSD, then ReadyBoost will automatically disable itself since no performance benefit will be gained.
Setting up ReadyBoost
- Buy some good performance SDHC memory. Windows 7 & 8 can use (Ready Boost started with Vista, but Vista is more limited in how much memory you can assign for Ready Boost). The flash memory can be formatted as either exFAT or NTFS (FAT32 has a 4GB limit so is not recommended as a drive format). Kingston SDHC is a good brand, but I recommend SanDisk Extreme: numerous Amazon reviews vouch for it as being a good flash memory choice for Windows ReadyBoost.
- Figure out how much you want to assign for Windows to use as a cache. Optimal allocation is 1GB of flash memory for every 1GB of ram that you have in your computer. You can have a maximum of 32 GB per flash device, with up to eight flash devices for a total of 256 GB.
- Always opt for an integrated card reader (like those built into a PC tower or a laptop) instead of USB card readers and USB storage that is limited by the USB bus speed.
To configure ReadyBoost, right-clicking the device in Windows Explorer and then select Properties -> ReadyBoost tab. You can also configure flash memory via the Autoplay dialogue that pops up when you plug in the card into your card reader:
You simply have to configure the amount of space you want reserved for the cache. You must reserve at least 256 MB for the ReadyBoost cache, up to 4 GB for a FAT32 formatted flash memory or up to 32 GB on either an exFAT or NTFS formatted file system. You can use the remainder of the flash drive for regular storage, and also note that the flash drive can be removed at any point without confusing your computer: Windows will simply read the original files from the disk instead of retrieving them from the flash memory cache.