Saturday, August 16, 2008

ReadyBoost for Vista - Does it work?

ReadyBoost is a feature built into Windows Vista that allows you to insert a flash drive or memory card, allocate up to 4 GB, and it's supposed to speed-up your system.

As I mentioned in the previous piece, I did some research before writing this piece but almost all of the articles were dated.  One implied that 'a fix' was on the way in SP1 (done).  Another said it wasn't working with all computer manufacturers (That was in 2007).

With the price of RAM dropping, and my system (finally) configured with all the latest drivers, and enough on-board ram to make Vista (very) speedy, I decided to give ReadyBoost a try this past week.

I was able to pick up a Verbatim 'Ready-boost enabled' 8 GB USB flash drive for $25 on sale .. (and I actually needed a larger flash drive anyway).

Off to the test...

Putting the flash drive in the the slot, a dialog came right up asking if I wanted to use a portion of the drive for ReadyBoost (with 4MB recommended).  One click ... done.

It's important to realize that ReadyBoost is not the same as adding RAM to your computer.  It essentially caches data that would normally be cached on your hard drive for faster rendering.  (A copy is kept on your computer so if you pull the drive, you're still in business).

There are numerous (again, mostly older) articles on the web with varying degrees of success with ReadyBoost.

Here's what happened in my case.

Putting the technical stuff aside, the best performance I achieved was leaving the flash drive plugged in and letting the computer 'get used to it'.  Using Sleep instead of Shut-down for a day or so, and keeping the drive plugged in (For 25 bucks ... why not?).

The are a lot of factors that will determine success with ReadyBoost.  System resources, how many programs you use and how often, and others.  I did vary the programs I opened and closed during the 'test period'.

Benchmark programs don't recognize ReadyBoost as memory do there's no hard-line test that I'm aware of.

It's been four days since the tiny drive has been plugged in. The system IS faster.  Positively not an illlusion (as one article implied??).  Faster boot, faster shutdown, faster program launching.

My take?  Everything to gain and nothing to lose (although I won't vouch for YOUR configuration :).
I did pull the drive a few times briefly, and in my case, there was absolutely no data loss although I'd probably recommend shutting down to pay it safe.

Apparently, things have improved since the early Vista reviews of ReadyBoost, or, this box just likes it?

I'd be curious if anyone else is using the feature and what your results have been, here in the comments or on Friendfeed.

While there are MANY ways to improve the performance of Vista .... my flash drive is staying right where it is ... plugged in.

Note for you technoplies (Do you really want to be called a geek? :)  The most extensive explanation in how ReadyBoost works from Microsoft that I could find is here.