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This chapter is from the book

This chapter is from the book

Boost Vista with Your USB Key

Vista has a fun and useful new feature called ReadyBoost, which is quite ingenious. It's used to put your USB memory key to work to add extra virtual memory to the system, giving the machine more resources to work with.

Windows traditionally uses empty hard drive space to create an extra work area when main memory runs out. However, now there's a new option. Use your USB key (see Figure 4.12)!

Figure 4.12

Figure 4.12 Use your USB flash drive, like this SanDisk Cruzer Titanium key, to give Vista some zip with ReadyBoost.

Although the flash memory in one of these little portable drives is not as fast as standard RAM or a hard drive, Vista can use it to read and write small pieces of data. That said, not all USB keys will work as ReadyBoost drives. There's always a catch, isn't there?

Each key you use as a ReadyBoost drive has to pass a series of speed and capacity tests to qualify (see the sidebar "Is My USB Drive Ready for ReadyBoost?" for details on this).

Here's how to set up a USB flash memory drive as a ReadyBoost drive:

  1. Plug your USB flash memory drive into a USB 2.0 port.
  2. When Vista detects the drive, the Autoplay applet will show a list of options. Choose Speed Up My System Using Windows ReadyBoost (see Figure 4.13).
    Figure 4.13

    Figure 4.13 When you plug in your USB key, the Autoplay applet gives you the option to use it as a ReadyBoost drive.

  3. Vista will perform a bunch of tests on the drive to see whether it is suitable.
  4. If it passes, the Autoplay applet will display the ReadyBoost tab. In it, adjust the slider bar to the amount of memory on the flash drive you would like to use for ReadyBoost.
  5. If the ReadyBoost option doesn't appear, the drive does not meet minimum specifications needed to work as a ReadyBoost drive.

You can learn more about ReadyBoost at the Ready Boost Q&A at http://blogs.msdn.com/tomarcher/archive/2006/06/02/615199.aspx, and you can look up your USB key at http://www.grantgibson.co.uk/misc/readyboost/.

Alternative Ways to Enable ReadyBoost

If Autoplay is disabled on your machine or the USB drive is already plugged in, enable ReadyBoost as follows:

  1. Click the Windows button, and then click Computer.
  2. Locate the USB flash drive you want to use for ReadyBoost and right-click on it.
  3. Choose the Properties option.
  4. Click on the ReadyBoost tab; then click the Use This Device radio button.

You can remove the USB drive at any point without causing harm to the system. Of course, after you take the drive out, the computer will slow down to its original performance level.

ReadyBoost Is a Ready Bust on My USB Key

If your USB drive failed the ReadyBoost tests, you can find out how fast it is by digging into the Event Viewer:

  1. Click the Windows button.
  2. Type Event Viewer in the Search box on the Start menu.
  3. Click the Event Viewer when it appears in the menu to open it.
  4. Dig into the Event Viewer by clicking the arrow next to each of the following:

    Applications and Services Logs > Microsoft > Windows > ReadyBoost.

  5. Click on Operational.
  6. In the center panel, click through each of the Information items until you see an event listing that references your USB drive (it should be the top one if it's the most recent event) and why it succeeded (see Figure 4.14) or failed. Size and speed warning information is also presented, although if it fails the size test, it won't do a speed check so that data is not available.
    Figure 4.14

    Figure 4.14 The Event Viewer shows that the Lexar drive plugged into my computer is suitable for ReadyBoost. It also displays read and write speeds.

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