Supercharge Your PC
Computers can slow down over time for a variety of reasons. For instance, your PC could simply be an older model that doesn’t have quite enough memory to run the newest applications and software. Or, you may be running several applications that collectively use a lot of your system memory. Whatever the reason, you may want to find a way to speed up your computer without buying new components or installing more RAM. Windows 7 and Windows Vista have a built-in feature that lets you use a USB flash drive or memory card to give your computer a bump in speed. It’s called ReadyBoost, and it’s an easy way to give your computer the extra speed it needs to keep up with you and your software. We’ll show you what to look for in a storage device, how to set up ReadyBoost, and provide some tips that will help maximize your results.
How It Works
PCs have a limited amount of memory (RAM) to use for computing purposes. Whenever your PC needs more fast storage access than your RAM provides, the computer will start to use memory from the hard drive to compensate. Hard drives have significantly slower read/write speeds than RAM, so you’ll notice a drop in performance when your computer starts to run out of system memory. ReadyBoost gives your computer an alternative to storing certain data on the hard drive. Flash memory is faster than the hard drive when it comes to reading and writing certain types of data, so ReadyBoost directs that data to the flash memory. The result is better computer performance.
The great thing about ReadyBoost is that it works with almost any flash drive or memory card as long as it has more than 256MB of available storage, but you’ll want a storage device with at least 1GB of free space to see solid results. Microsoft recommends that you double or, if possible, quadruple the amount of space you use for ReadyBoost in comparison to your computer’s RAM. For example, if your computer has 1GB of RAM, you should find a flash drive or memory card with 2 to 4GB of free space available. Your flash drive will also need to have a read speed of at least 2.5MBps (megabytes per second) and a write speed of 1.75MBps. Your USB flash drive has to support USB 2.0. If you can find one that says “Enhanced for ReadyBoost,” you can be 100% sure that it will work; however, drives that don’t have this distinction may work with ReadyBoost, as well. You can tell by connecting the drive to your computer and seeing if a ReadyBoost option shows up in the AutoPlay menu. If it doesn’t, the device might not work with ReadyBoost. Depending on what type of card reader you have in your PC, you can use many types of memory cards. Although most USB flash drives and memory cards do support the tool, there is always the potential that a USB flash drive or memory card may not work with ReadyBoost because of its formatting or interface. You may have to try a few storage devices before finding the perfect one for the job. Microsoft says that computers with SSDs (solid-state drives) may not show the option to use ReadyBoost, and you may see the message: “ReadyBoost is not enabled on his computer because the system disk is fast enough that ReadyBoost is unlikely to provide any additional benefit.” If you receive this message, there isn’t a problem with your flash drive or memory card. It just means that your computer should have enough memory and run fast enough to not need ReadyBoost. In this case, your only alternative to speed up your computer may be to buy more RAM.
Set Up ReadyBoost
If you are using a USB drive or memory card that already has data stored on it, you should clear it completely or delete as much as you can to free up the necessary space. New USB drives and memory cards should be ready to use right out of the packaging. ReadyBoost works best by plugging the device directly into your computer rather than using a USB hub or other adapter. Once you have the device ready, you can then insert the drive into the USB port or the memory card into the card slot, and an AutoPlay window should pop up that displays the name of the device and some options for what you can do with it If this menu doesn’t automatically appear, you can go to the Start menu, click Computer, and find your device under Devices With Removable Storage. Right-click the device and click Properties. Finally, click the ReadyBoost tab and you’ll be in the correct menu. There should be a menu option titled Speed Up My System Using Windows Ready- Boost. (If there isn’t, then there is a good chance your storage device either isn’t compatible with Ready- Boost or it doesn’t have enough available space. If you’re sure that it’s compatible, then you may need to delete more data to make more room. And if your device doesn’t have enough space, there may also be a message that will let you know.) Click the Speed Up My System Using Windows Ready- Boost menu, and a Properties menu should pop up with information on how to set up your device to use ReadyBoost. There are three options in this menu. Do Not Use This Device will make it so that your storage device isn’t used for ReadyBoost but can be used to store other data instead. This is the option you’ll want to select if you want to stop using your flash drive or memory card for Ready- Boost and want to repurpose it. The second option is Dedicate This Device To ReadyBoost; selecting this will let Windows use all of the available space on the device to help speed up your computer. If you choose the third option, Use This Device, it will automatically set the amount of storage space used to the recommended amount for the best possible performance. But, if you want to adjust the amount of storage space dedicated to ReadyBoost yourself, you can use the sliding scale to do so. After you make your selection, click OK and Windows will configure the device. Any leftover space can then be used to store any additional data. With Windows 7, ReadyBoost can support multiple storage devices adding up to a total capacity of 256GB. You can use up to eight storage devices total, as long as you have enough inputs to support them. ReadyBoost can use a maximum of 32GB of free space from any one device. icrosoft warns that flash drives or memory cards that are FAT32 formatted can only offer 4GB of memory for ReadyBoost to use. Keep in mind that you may only need to add a fraction of the maximum amount of storage possible to see the best results. Continuing to add devices after this point is unnecessary because there may not be a noticeable increase in speed. Computer repair Las Vegas done right!
Get The Most Out Of Your Existing PC
Using ReadyBoost with your computer can help increase its performance and help make you more productive. And although ReadyBoost’s effects won’t be as powerful as those from upgrading RAM, it may give you just enough of a performance increase to run the programs you need and save money from not having to upgrade your computer’s components.
Smart Computing | August 2011 p.22
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