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Windows Vista ReadyBoost - Add More RAM Without Opening the Case

written by: Joli Ballew•edited by: Bill Fulks•updated: 7/23/2010

If you've ever tried to add RAM to a PC, you know how problematic it can be. If you have Windows Vista, those days are over. ReadyBoost lets you add RAM without opening the case!

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    Windows ReadyBoost

    If you've ever tried to add more RAM (random access memory) to improve a PC's performance, you are fully aware the number of steps involved. You have to find out what kind of RAM you need and make sure you have the slots available to install it (motherboards have limited expansion capabilities). You have to purchase and install the RAM and cross your fingers that the PC will boot; it's very easy to damage the RAM, motherboard and/or mount incompatible RAM during installation. If the computer does boot, and if you can get the PC to recognize the newly added RAM, you've hit the jackpot. This doesn't happen as often as you'd think.

    Adding RAM has changed with Windows Vista, thanks to a new technology called ReadyBoost. You can now add RAM easily, without opening the case. ReadyBoost technology lets you use a memory stick such as a USB flash drive (thumb drive) or a secure digital memory card (like the one in your digital camera), as RAM. Just plug the device into an open slot on your PC, and, if it is compatible, which it often is, choose to use the device to significantly improve system responsiveness. No assembly required.

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    How to Use Windows ReadyBoost

    Here's how to use Windows ReadyBoost:

    1. Insert a flash drive or memory card into an available slot on the outside of your PC.

    2. Wait while Windows Vista checks to see if the device can perform as memory. Note:

    • The USB Key must be at least USB 2.0
    • The device 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
    • The USB Key has to have at least 64mb of free space

    3. If prompted to use the flash drive or memory card to improve system performance, click Speed Up My System. A prompt for a flash drive and a prompt for a secure digital storage device are shown. [See Image1] [See Image 2]

    4. Open Computer, and right-click the new icon for the hardware. Choose Properties.

    5. Define how much of the device's memory to use for performance, and how much to use for file storage. [See Image 3]

    If the device isn't fast enough to serve as a ReadyBoost memory cache, you'll see the message here. You can opt to never test this device again if desired. [See Image 4]

    Important: ReadyBoost only offers performance enhancements when and if you run over your current RAM buffer. That's because when your PC has used all of the RAM it has access to, it sends the excess data it needs to cache to a paging file on the hard drive. Since the hard drive has to spin to write and read data and ReadyBoost memory does not, performance is enhanced.

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    Images and Screenshots

    Speed up your system with a flash driveSpeed up your system with an SD cardConfigure the deviceWhen a device isn't compatible
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