Hey everyone! I’m writing this quickly on Wednesday morning, but IDK when it will be up because I’m just typing it up as a nice short post to stick in somewhere in the upcoming crazy weekend (see last post. also, I forgot to add in the last post that I have Friday off, but will still probably be out doing something). That way if I need something new to post, this can be a nice throw in! Today I will be discussing Readyboost. Like other things I’ve talked about, you may have heard about this, and you may be thinking, “when are you going to talk about more advanced, in-depth, mind warping stuff?” That’s a valid question. I will be getting into some stuff like installing Linux in the future. But those posts take more time to make and are harder to explain. But rest assured I will get into some much more exciting stuff soon. I’m planning a detailed explanation of internal computer hardware sometime soon (might expect the first part this week), so at least that will be somewhat more in-depth. Anyways, onto the mini-lesson.
With windows Vista a cool new feature was introduced (an innovation in Vista? no way…) that allowed you to plug in a USB flash drive and run it as “external RAM” or extra external cache. It was called Readyboost (duh) and in Windows 7 it was improved. The Microsoft page about it says that Windows 7 Readyboost can use up to 8 USB devices totaling 256 GB. However, I remember hearing you can only use 1 device from 256 MB to 4 GB. I think that it may have been upgraded from that to the specs on MS’s page since then. The flash drive must “be able to do 3.5 MB/s for 4 KB random reads uniformly across the entire device and 2.5 MB/s for 512 KB random writes uniformly across the device and has to have at least 64mb of free space” (that’s from a page I found in my research). Those stats may be wrong, so it would be good to double check them. In the mean time, stick a USB flash device in your rig and test it! Go to my computer>right click>properties>Readyboost tab. it will then run a quick test to see if you can use the device for Readyboost. If it is usable for this purpose, you will get three options: “Do not use for Readyboost,” “Use for Readyboost,” and “Dedicate to Readyboost”. “Use for Readyboost” lets you choose how much space on it is used for the cache file that will be put on it. “Dedicate” automatically fills all the remaining space with the file.
Pick your setting and click ok. Now, of course flash drives wont be as fast as true RAM, so if you want to build a fast editing rig or something and got the idea “oh, now I can just buy a gazillion USB sticks and have dirt-cheap RAM,” forget it. These drives are no substitute for RAM. However, they are blazing fast compared to the HDD’s SWAP file (it’s a file the HDD puts cached data on instead of the RAM if the RAM happens to get full. If it needs to be used then your whole system will slow down a lot because instead of using only the RAM, which has several connecting pins right on the motherboard and can send/recieve data electronically whenever necissary, you have to wait for the HDD to finish spinning to the bit of data it needs. the spinning action is much slower than the electronic signals in the RAM. As you may have guessed, RAM is faster than flash drives because flash drives have only 4 connectors and RAM has many more. that’s probably not all competely accurate, but you get the idea). However, Readyboost drives are great for a computer with low RAM trying to run a large program. For example, I use mine to run 3ds Max. I’ll have to run some tests to get exact preformance improvements, but I find it helps a lot.
And that’s it for this post! Just a quick note, if you need to take the flash drive out, don’t worry. The HDD saves a copy of the cache file and just loads it into the RAM of SWAP file if you yank it out. The cache file will stay on the drive. You can delete it, but if you plug it into the same computer again it will just erase the old cache file and start a new one. You do not need to set it as Readyboost each time; it will save your Readyboost preferences and automatically set it up again once you plug it back in. Thanks for reading. Enjoy!