Windows ReadyBoost is a resource-boosting feature introduced back in Windows Vista. It is included in the newer versions (ie, Windows 7, Windows 8) as well and is supposed to increase your system’s performance by allowing you to use a USB flash drive, SD card, CompactFlash, or SSD as a memory cache solution. It also works with other external hard drives and devices as long as they are faster than the system’s drive(s), up to 32GB per cache file.
Essentially, it is like offering more memory to your PC, only it doesn’t work as well. It simply takes a light load off of various computing tasks, therefore should only be considered an extra “bonus” to system performance to help take the edge off (not a major system upgrade).
You will see a slight increase in performance when it comes to opening applications like Adobe products and Office docs, rendering video or 3D, and possibly even playing games (although we weren’t able to verify that in any of our benchmarks). Working in Photoshop, we did see an improvement where in some applications although there was an improvement, it was nothing we noticed (a 5-10% increase in the time it took to perform a task).
So is it worth it? I can be, as long as you are using a device that is fast enough. Sticking any USB drive into your PC isn’t going to do the trick. It has to be fast enough to qualify for ReadyBoost to begin with, but then it also needs to be faster than your system’s hard drive(s) as well. Even better, plan to be way faster so that you can maximize performance and not just play games with it.
We find that drives that are 90mb/s+ really do the trick. SanDisk Extreme Pro SD (click here for our review) cards do the trick well or you can take the next step and try a crazy fast USB thumb drive. You can use an SSD (Solid State Drive) but it would be overkill as you really only need 8-32GB of capacity depending on how heavy you use your system (ie, 16-32 if you constantly use your system for heavy tasks and keep it running 24/7).
If your system runs on nothing but SSD hard drives, you *do not* need to make use of Windows ReadyBoost as your drives are already more than fast enough and ReadyBoost will be nothing more than a waste of money and zero performance boost. Also, keep in mind that upgrading your physical memory should always come first as it will result in the best performance increase between the two options. ReadyBoost, as mentioned, is simply the icing on the cake.
Have you made use of Windows Readyboost and want to share your performance opinions? Comment below! You can register or simply log in using your favorite social network. We’d love to hear from you.
To turn ReadyBoost on or off
- Plug a flash drive or flash memory card into your computer.
- In the Autoplay dialog box, under General options, click Speed up my system.
- Or you can find the drive in Windows Explorer, right-click on it and select “Properties”
- In the Properties dialog box, click the ReadyBoost tab, and then do one of the following:
- To use the maximum available space on the flash drive or memory card for ReadyBoost, click Dedicate this device to ReadyBoost. Windows will leave any files already stored on the device, but it’ll use the rest to boost your system speed.
- To use less than the maximum available space on the device for ReadyBoost, click Use this device, and then move the slider to choose the amount of available space on the device you want to use.
- To turn ReadyBoost off, click Do not use this device.
- Click OK.