Saturday, May 12, 2007

Ready.... boost!

A little known fact about Windows Vista, is the ReadyBoost feature which allows you to use a USB memory stick (amongst other things) as virtual memory to enhance performance. Yes, you can plug in your memory stick into your USB port on the computer where Vista is installed and you can use the empty on the stick to increase your virtual memory.

According to Matt Ayers Program Manager in the Microsoft Windows Client Performance the 'feature is designed to improve small random I/O for people who lack the expansion slots, money, and or technical expertise to add additional RAM.'

However, there are a few things you have to have in mind before using this feature:
  • Not all USB devices can be used; it has to be fast enough in RANDOM reads and writes.
  • You can only use up to 4GB of flash for ReadyBoost, with a minimum of 256MB.
  • Microsoft recommends a ratio of 2.5:1 flash to system memory for best performance.
  • You CANNOT use a harddisk for ReadyBoost; it simply is NOT fast enough.
  • You CANNOT use your MP3 player.
  • You can only use 1 device per machine.
  • You can any type of device, this includes compatible SD/CF/memory stick/MMC.
  • Microsoft uses 'AES-128 to encrypt everything that (they) write to the device.'

Now, you might think what Vista is doing is putting the paging file onto the flash disk and if the USB device is removed unexpectedly all hell will break loose. Nope, Microsoft simply caches parts of the paging file (for performance purposes ONLY) and if the information is not found, they fall back to the harddisk.

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