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Favorite Windows 7 Function of the Day: Readyboost

By:Christine Fettinger

I wanted to write a bit about a cool little function of Windows 7 called Readyboost. While not a new function (it originated in Vista), Readyboost has been enhanced in its Windows 7 form. In Vista, it was a neat concept of a tool that ultimately was limited and provided little noticable effect. In Windows 7, the limits are mostly gone and the effects can have quite an impact.

First though, what is Readyboost. Readyboost is a feature that utiltizes space on a portable flash drive for caching functions that are normally run on the computer’s hard drive. These kinds of random access reads and writes cannot take advantage of a hard drive’s full speed. Flash memory can be up to 10 times faster for this kind of activity. On systems with lower amounts of memory and slower hard drives, using cheap flash memory can provide quite a significant performance boost. Even newer, faster systems will see less CPU and hard drive usage if they allocate a lot of space to Readyboost. Also, it will never use the flash drive for critical functions, so it’s always safe to remove the drive at any point.

Where Vista was limitied to only using 4GB, this restriction was removed in Windows 7. Windows 7 also now allows for multiple drives to be used with Readyboost at the same time, making it easier to add space. Another enhancement in Windows 7 is the optimization of what kind of data utilizes Readyboost, making it more efficient and not wasting it’s space on data that cannot take advantage of it.

Setting up Readyboost is quite easy too. Simply insert the USB drive and wait for the Autoplay window to appear. One of the options will be to setup Readyboost with the device if it’s compatible. If you have Autoplay disabled, right-click the device, select Properties, and find the Readyboost section. You will have the option to dedicate the entire device to Readyboost, or to only allocate a portion. The rest can be used for normal purposes.