Vista’s Lacklustre ReadyBoost

Vista’s ReadyBoost seems to be lacking in the performance. The technology promises to let you speed up Windows by plugging an inexpensive USB flash drive into your PC. ReadyBoost may speed up Vista a tiny bit, it can also slow it down in some instances.

The premise is this: Although writing data to and reading it from a flash drive is, in most cases, slower than writing and reading to a hard drive, if the data is scattered randomly in small chunks, then flash drives are faster. Vista’s ReadyBoost is supposed to use that one speed advantage to create a faster, flash-drive-based cache of one of Windows’ major bottlenecks — the swap file on your hard drive that most Windows operations use.

So ReadyBoost should theoretically speed up certain frequently performed Windows tasks such as loading programs. The technology seems to works with only the fastest flash drives — those capable of 3.5MB/sec. throughput for 4KB random reads, and 2.5MB/sec. speeds for 512KB random writes.

ReadyBoost does shorten the time it takes to load frequently used programs — but not by much an average of 6% on our notebook and desktop PCs. If launching a program in Vista feels lethargic, one of these drives may help — a bit. But installing more RAM inside your PC would help a lot more.

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