Let's things clear for all people:
ReadyBoost is a cache, so any time it reads from cache it gains.
But, have in mind this:
- If your HDD seek is faster than on your USB drive, no gain is possible with small files
- If your HDD secuantial read is faster than on your USB drive, no gain is possible with large files
Some USB sticks are very slow, some very good (and also very expensive) HDDs have a seek time of less than 1ms, for that ones, ReadyBoost can not gain anything, since the HDD is faster than any other.
When ReadyBoost can gain? Easy: when HDD is slower than USB memory used.
It has nothing to do with how much RAM is in use... ReadyBoost is used for Read DATA when applications load files, are executed, etc...
But, if you do not have enought Free RAM for all apps loaded, then it can be a 'gain' because Windows tends to use a portion of RAM for such cache... with ReadyBoost enabled such cache goes onto USB, leaving more RAM free.
That is no gain at all, if USB is slow... better use a 4GiB Pagefile on a second Sata HDD... or use a Sata to CompactFlash / SD / etc adapter and use it for pagefile.
Now things clear, ReadyBoost gain is only possible when:
- ReadyBoost can read files faster form USB memory than form your actual HDD
Having that in mind:
- Use of multiply USB 2.0 memories (assuming all have same seek time and speeds) is much better than using just only one of similar speed... better use four of 1GiB each than one of 4GiB if all have similar read/write/seek specs.
- Do a Read/Write test and use the fastest USB memory you have, that would make it as better as possible
- Without ReadyBoost run 'resmon' to see how much RAM is really 'free' and how much is 'waiting'... the gain can olny be on that size... that would make an idea how much RAM can be freed by using ReadyBoost, so you can load more apps, etc... regardless of speed,... this is only to gain Free RAM, not to improve speed
- No matter how much RAM you have, ReadyBoost can gain if USB speed is enough
- ReadyBoost allways gain something... more Free RAM... and if your USB memories are faster than your HDD it will also gain in loading speed
- Give it as much GiB as you can
- Use more than just one USB port for ReadyBoost
How many USB ports to use? Easy: Use USB memories of same specs, (like in Raid0), then Sum all Read/Write speeds... if your USB is 2.0, it has a transfer limit of near 25MiB/s (i have never got on Windows more than that with very fasta USB Sata II HDDs on secuential Read/Write, on Linux i can go upto 28MiB/s and with a Root USB port upto 48MiB/s).
In other words:
- If 'resmon' tells you that your free RAM is Zero (most like can be) and ready RAM is 500MiB, can use ReadyBoost to gain 500MiB free ram
- If your HDD is too slow versus your USB stick/s (sum USB sticks speed to campare), use ReadyBoost to gain speed when loading files
- If you use software that constantly reads millons of differente files, do not use ReadyBoost, you will loose all benefict since if can not caché all of them, and the fail versus succed is very poor... for example 3D games framerate lost 100fps downto 40fps or less...
- More than one USB stick is better than just one, see Raid0, it is similar... if two files need to be readed at same time and are allocated on different USB sticks, can be readed at same time (also see USB chain and ensure thay are located on differente root ports)
- USB_A_stick read at 10Mib/s
- USB_B_stick read at 10Mib/s
- If use both on same root port can not read at same time, so on 1 second can read only 10MiB (from US_A_stick or from USB-B_stick)... this is not tottaly true... USB can transfer more than 20MiB/s, so if Reads are with a size less than 10MiB, they can be interlaced, so they can read near 20MiB/s... that needs both USB sticks to have a 'buffer', most have it... old ones, very old ones does not have it.
- If use both on different root port can not read at same time, so on 1 second can read 20MiB (10 from USB_A_stick and 10 from USB-B_stick) at same time
So what is better? Test and test it seriously...
Test your HDD seek time, test your HDD secuential and random Read and Write... compare them to the USB sticks, etc you have... see how many USB ports you can use at same time... test them in parrallel so see if can transfer at same time or waits till other in use... etc...
- Activate ReadyBoost with only one USB stick on one USB port, test loading speeds
- Activate ReadyBoost with only two USB sticks on two USB port, test loading speeds on different USB port
- Test with three USB sticks... four, five... etc... as much as you can
- See how much free RAM you gain
- Evaluate the resoults and act acording to them
Note: Between test, please power down the PC, so ReadyBoost does not have anything cached, so that way results are not getting false.
It is not easy, but it is worth a try.
If your HDD is a Sata III, able to read at 300MiB/s or more, with a seek time of 2ms, no gain will be if your USB is 2.0, so in that case only use it if no free RAM, run remon to see real Free RAM versus 'waiting' ram.
ProcessExplorer only gives 'Free' RAM, it does not show 'waiting' ram.