is-readyboost-worth-it-or-not?

ReadyBoost came to the Windows operating system in Vista. ReadyBoost allows users to take advantage of removable media to help speed up your OS. ReadyBoost isn’t foolproof, but under the right circumstances and PC setup, ReadyBoost can make a difference.

ReadyBoost can be a way to help improve Windows performance in certain circumstances, but not everybody will get the same benefit.  It really depends on system specs and what a user does on a particular PC.  In some cases, the only way to understand if ReadyBoost works for a PC is to actually try it and see what happens.

Does ReadyBoost really improve performance in Windows? Can it make such an improvement that you don’t need more RAM or a PC upgrade? Let’s take a look at what ReadyBoost is, how it works and whether it’ll work on your computer.

What is ReadyBoost?

ReadyBoost works with a removable device, like a USB drive or CompactFlash card, to help filter a PC’s cache.

using-readyboost-on-a-pc

Since removable devices are often quicker at filtering information than the hardware a computer utilizes, this can help give your Windows PC another place to loop cache through to help speed the OS up. ReadyBoost can be used temporarily or it can be used for as long as the device stands up to the challenge. ReadyBoost can eat away at the life span of a removable device because of how it constantly transfers data back and forth.  Eventually, the ReadyBoost device will no longer work and simply die.  In the event that it happens, you’ll need to replace the device.  There’ll be no way to salvage it.

How ReadyBoost works on a PC

When you take advantage of ReadyBoost, it utilizes another feature introduced in Windows Vista called SuperFetch. SuperFetch allows a computer to pre-load information into your RAM before you actually open a program. These programs are determined by SuperFetch as it monitors what you use in the background, similar to how you can opt to preload pages in your favorite Web browser.

Since removable devices can read information quicker than your computer, when you apply SuperFetch to ReadyBoost on a USB drive, the information your PC pre-loads in this process can be done elsewhere. This keeps valuable memory freed up on your PC but still gives you quick loading of apps and programs. Depending on the PC’s setup, hardware and what programs you are using, this can potentially speed up your Windows computer.

Does ReadyBoost actually improve Windows performance?

Removable devices may quickly read and write data but when it comes to storing data, your RAM will win out every time. Unless your PC has a small amount of RAM, ReadyBoost will not work for you. In fact, you probably won’t even be able to enable it.  If that’s the case, you’ll never be able to try ReadyBoost to see if it works with your PC.  That’s a good thing, that means your PC is up to par and can handle the load that ReadyBoost tries to improve.

ReadyBoost-won't-work-on-all-PCs

Most PCs come with upwards of 4 GB or more of RAM. If you have less than 1 GB of RAM, ReadyBoost may show an improvement in your PC. AnandTech did a benchmark performance test of ReadyBoost with computers using only 512 MB of RAM to show the difference between using it and not.

The results are interesting. While ReadyBoost makes a slight difference under the right circumstances, it can’t beat simply buying more RAM and upgrading your PC. The performance improvements you see from hardware upgrades can’t compare to ReadyBoost.

When should you use ReadyBoost?

If you’re using less than 1 GB of RAM, it’s possible ReadyBoost will have a slight impact on your performance. However, if you’re using that little RAM, it may be time to buy a new PC or supplement your RAM instead of relying on ReadyBoost to make the performance difference for you. ReadyBoost can only improve performance in Windows when used on a high-quality, high-capacity removable device. Often, those devices can still cost hundreds of dollars, making a RAM upgrade more desirable with better results.

Before choosing whether to use ReadyBoost or not, take a moment to compare your PC specs to what is currently on sale in the market. PC prices have gone done significantly over the last few years making them more affordable than ever. Tablets, eReaders and even mobile phones can pack more of a punch than older PCs even if they’re using ReadyBoost at its optimal setup.  If it’s time to upgrade or buy a new PC, ReadyBoost is not the solution for you.

Are there alternatives to ReadyBoost?

There are several alternatives out there to ReadyBoost, but when it comes down to it, if your PC is too old to handle what you do on an everyday basis, it’s time to consider a new one. In some cases, it can be cheaper to buy a new stick of RAM than it is to get a removable device that truly lets ReadyBoost make an improvement.

While you can try any of the handfuls of ReadyBoost alternatives out there, ReadyBoost probably won’t make much of a performance improvement on your PC. Unless you’re using less than 1 GB of RAM in Windows, ReadyBoost isn’t really worth it.

Have you used ReadyBoost in the past?  Or currently?  Let us know in the comments below!  We’d love to hear how it’s worked for you, what your setup is and whether you recommend it to others.

  • I have maxed my board out with the following configuration. I have 4 GB of DDR2 667 MHz in slots 1 and 3 on the asus p5lp-le lithium motherboard. This is to enable Dual channel for the RAM. Windows and the bios will recognize more RAM, but the chipset won’t.
    I also have a 3.2 GHz dual core processor with a L2 cache of 4 MB. Socket 775. That’s the maximum that the board will handle. I also have 2 – 1 TB hard drives in a RAID 1 configuration. A Geforce 210 PCI Express 16x video card. Two video monitors hooked up via VGA and a DVI to VGA adapter. I also am running a Netgear N300 wireless adapter, laser printer, inkjet printer, a scanner, and a webcam.
    I have also 2 PCI USB 2.0 cards installed (5 ports) each and a sound card because onboard sound has failed. In total I have 12 USB 2.0 ports on the back. (4 used for ReadyBoost and 5 for peripherals.
    128 GB of USB 2.0 ReadyBoost RAM is also installed and set to optimal performance. I do plan on maxing it out to 256 GB over the next month or two.
    I have noticed a slight improvement as I go higher in my ReadyBoost configuration. I have noticed that my overall usage performance on my processor is actually going down. Initially, my processor was running, without any additional applications running, at 62 % of maximum. My RAM with two Internet Explorer browsers open, task manager and device manager open is using 1.5 GB of RAM and 1.7 free. (about 47% usage).
    I know a new computer build is necessary to get any additional speed out of this system. I have tweaked the registry as much as I could, turned off as much unneeded effects for Windows, and optimized my video card for speed.
    So, for those people who have an older computer, unless you do go higher in your ReadyBoost and have a RAID enabled, you won’t see much improvement.
    The RAM usage hasn’t gone down.
    Overall, ReadyBoost has only made a slight improvement in my system

    • I think you want SSD as the system partition to top off your system; they are much cheaper these days. I dont know how you can expect speed through the USB-assigned serial bus. I got much better performance using esata than even the USB3 card I have. FYI here are benchmarks for my system disk, an old Intel Sata-II SSD:

      ———————————————————————–

      CrystalDiskMark 3.0.3 x64 (C) 2007-2013 hiyohiyo

      Crystal Dew World : http://crystalmark.info/

      ———————————————————————–

      * MB/s = 1,000,000 byte/s [SATA/300 = 300,000,000 byte/s]

      Sequential Read : 259.036 MB/s

      Sequential Write : 81.367 MB/s

      Random Read 512KB : 201.249 MB/s

      Random Write 512KB : 55.811 MB/s

      Random Read 4KB (QD=1) : 21.362 MB/s [ 5215.4 IOPS]

      Random Write 4KB (QD=1) : 31.109 MB/s [ 7594.9 IOPS]

      Random Read 4KB (QD=32) : 182.817 MB/s [ 44633.0 IOPS]

      Random Write 4KB (QD=32) : 55.894 MB/s [ 13646.0 IOPS]

      Test : 1000 MB [C: 44.7% (33.3/74.4 GB)] (x5)

      Date : 2014/07/27 15:28:27

      OS : Windows 7 Home Premium SP1 [6.1 Build 7601] (x64)

      ———————————————————————–

      • No matter how much “caching” you do, the initial read from a slow disk will typically be the bottleneck. Windows boot times, first time application launches, etc will all be slow. ReadyBoost is not helpful during boots since it is not running until Windows is up and running. Like you say maynard, assuming RAM is not the bottle neck, upgrading to a SSD is one of the most simple changes you can make to increase your computer performance.

  • Mitch Alan says:

    Ready Boost is to speed up disk drive read times, not just RAM. Flash drives are faster than a hard disk for certain tasks.

  • Aaron Toon says:

    Thanks for the information. I just implemented ReadyBoost on a laptop running Windows7 and I’ve observed a noticeable performance increase. Because I’m not using a SSD for my system drive, using the cache created by ReadyBoost is a lot faster than reading data from the hard disk drive and it also reduces loading of the RAM.

    • Awesome! Good to know that, and enjoy the performance boost.

    • I’m not clear what you’re actually saying when it comes to reading data from a non-hard drive location. Are you using a flash drive? Why would using ReadyBoost reduce loading of the RAM… or do you mean something else when you use the term RAM? ReadyBoost seems really gimmicky, and investing in a SSD… even a cheap one is a better investment. A 128GB can be had for $30-$40 these days.

      • Aaron Toon says:

        When ReadyBoost is implemented, some data is being read from whatever device is being used by ReadyBoost (in my case, a micro SD card). Being able to retrieve commonly used data from the cache created by ReadyBoost is what takes the loading away from the RAM, because otherwise that data would have had to be loaded from the hard drive to the RAM. In my case, I’m using a micro SD card inserted directly into my laptop. My laptop only has the space for one hard disk and I require a minimum of 1.5TB of data so an SSD is not an option unless I’m willing to spend significant money on a large capacity SSD.