A Complete Guide to Windows ReadyBoost

Windows 7 and Vista has a feature coined ReadyBoost which makes use of flash drive storage space for speeding up Windows systems. You might have already noticed it, but in case you have not, just insert any USB Flash drive or flash memory card and you will see the option in the Autoplay dialog. ReadyBoost feature in Windows also saves frequently used data on the drive for faster access. In this article, I will try and explain how it actually works, how to use it and its effects on speeding your PC .

How Does Windows ReadyBoost Actually Work?

The technical part is not that tricky as it is in most cases. Hence I thought of including this here. With USB 2.0 technology, average data access speeds for flash drives ranges up to ten times faster than that of the 7200 rpm hard disk. Nowadays with the advent of USB 3.0 the speeds are reaching even higher. Now with ReadyBoost, the data needed mostly are saved on the flash drives making them accessible in little to no time. Whereas in general the data access speeds vary for hard disks depending on how contiguous the data is and the amount to be read.

Benchmarking Reports

To show how ReadyBoost performs to speed up your PC, you might want to look at some actual test reports.

[Source: Tom’s Hardware, PC Stats]
So as it infers, the less the memory your computer has the more the effect of ReadyBoost is felt. But more or less it does have an effect on your system.


PC Requirements:

  1. Your PC should be running on Windows 7 or Windows Vista.
  2. The hardware configuration should include USB 2.0 ports. (up to 8 for 64-bit system)

Flash Drive Requirements:

If you have already got spare USB Flash Drives just plug it in to your PC. If the USB drive is capable of ReadyBoost, use the Autoplay dialog to open the ReadyBoost dialog. If your drive is not supported, you will see a warning message.

However, if you are willing to buy a new flash drive solely for the purpose of ReadyBoost, here are the features you should look out for,

  1. Read speed of 2.5MBPS throughout for 4K random reads and write speed of 1.75 MBPS.
  2. The storage capacity of 250MB to 4GB for Vista 32-bit machines and 250MB to 16GB for Windows Vista 64-bit systems.
  3. If you have Windows 7 32-bit running, you will need 250MB to 4GB memory on the flash drive whereas you have to raise the bar up to 32GB for Windows 7 64-bit machines.

Are There Any Security Risks While Using Windows ReadyBoost?

Certainly the first question that arises here is what if the portable flash drive lands on wrong hands? Well surely there is a chance of data theft. Right? Fortunately, you do not have to worry about this either as Microsoft uses AES-128 data encryption to encrypt all data written to ReadyBoost cache, which negates the chance of data misuse considerably.

How to use Windows ReadyBoost?

Now that you are reading this part, I assume you are ready to try it on your own. Follow the steps below to use ReadyBoost.

  1. Plug in the USB flash drive to your PC.
  2. Wait for the Autoplay dialog to pop up and then choose Speed up my system.
  3. Now the Flash Drive Properties window will open. Choose the option, Use this device and use the slider to change the space to reserve for Windows ReadyBoost. It is better to go on the default (recommended) space.

NOTE: Using the option “Dedicate this device to ReadyBoost” reserves all the space on the flash drive for ReadyBoost.

So Does Windows ReadyBoost Actually Work?

Finally we have the most important question in mind. My answer would be, theoretically yes, it does for everyone, but practically, the faster experience is inconceivable for some users depending on their system configuration as the test reports conclude. You could certainly give it a try and let us know about your experience.

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