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I'm building a new computer and plan on using a few spare USB sticks with readyboost to cache disk writes. I'll be running Windows 7 Enterprise SP1 x64

I have a single 2 TB disk, and plan to make a partition for windows (100 GB) and use the rest for data.

I know Readyboost will work nicely for the C drive, but am unable to find any information on whether it will accelerate a second drive or partition.

Just to clarify, I'm NOT trying to use the harddrive instead of the usb sticks. I'm trying to speed up the second partition using the USB sticks

So, will readyboost work for a secondary partion or harddrive?

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You mean you want to accelerate your data partition? –  Diogo Jun 28 '12 at 12:38
Yes. You must understand that you are only going to get a small performance boost. It also depends if Windows 7 is x86 or x64 because there is a limit. –  Ramhound Jun 28 '12 at 12:44
@Diogo: Yes, exactly. Accelerate my data partition –  Sebastian Jun 28 '12 at 12:56
@Ramhound: I expect disk performance to be better. Not like an SSD but somewhere in between. I especially expect to see performance increases on small 4k random writes –  Sebastian Jun 28 '12 at 12:58
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2 Answers

up vote 2 down vote accepted

Apparently ReadyBoost is closely related to SuperFetch,

USB memory stick with fast access flash memory offered Microsoft an alternative place to work with SuperFetch's cache

Now, I don't have ReadyBoost enabled in my system, but I got 4 GB RAM while my system usage only average on 1-2 GB. Several applications that I put in other partition still benefit from SuperFetch caching (as indicated by their fast loading and low disk activity during loading after I just boot up my PC, but slow load and high disk activity if I open them after opening other large programs for extended time). So, yes, SuperFetch speed up other partitions as well (which should works with ReadyBoost). However, according to TG Daily benchmark, you still better of adding more RAM instead of adding the USB sticks. Of course, since those USB sticks are just laying around unused, it's a free performance boost, but they are more intended for the case when we can't upgrade the RAM.

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Sounds good. I was expecting it, but wasn't sure. I have plenty of RAM, but as you say, the sticks are just lying around undused :) –  Sebastian Jun 29 '12 at 7:19
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You need to know that Readyboost does not boost disk performance, but RAM performance, so in this case it will boost both partitions of your system.... Just attent to the fact that it will only works if your system have few memory, such as 512MB:

A system with 512 MB of RAM (the minimum requirement for Windows Vista) can see significant gains from ReadyBoost. In one test case, ReadyBoost speeds up an operation from 11.7 seconds to 2 seconds (conversely, increasing physical memory from 512 MB to 1 GB without ReadyBoost reduced it to 0.8 seconds). System performance with ReadyBoost can be monitored by Windows Performance Monitor.

The core idea of ReadyBoost is that a flash drive (aka USB thumb drive or USB memory stick) has a much faster seek time than a typical magnetic hard disk (less than 1 ms), allowing it to satisfy requests faster than reading files from the hard disk. It also leverages the inherent advantage of two parallel sources from which to read data, whereas Windows 7 enables the use of up to eight flash drives at once, allowing up to nine parallel sources. USB 2.0 flash drives are slower for sequential reads and writes than modern desktop hard drives. Desktop hard drives can sustain anywhere from 2 to 10 times the transfer speed of USB 2.0 flash drives but are equal to or slower than USB 3.0 and Firewire (IEEE 1394) for sequential data. USB 2.0 and faster flash drives have faster random access times: typically around 1 ms, compared to 8 ms and upwards for desktop hard drives.

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I believe that's a misunderstanding. Readyboost does not extend ram as such. It will just let Windows put some disk cache on the USB sticks instead of RAM. Disk reads are faster if they're in memory, but if a program needs the RAM, it's better spent there than as a disk cache. Sooo, I believe that Readyboost is a disk cache, just on flash memory instead of ram. Fortunately flash is persistent, so the cache will "survive" reboots –  Sebastian Jun 28 '12 at 12:59
ReadyBoost is about disk performance. It cash's disk content, system dll's and also the page file. I think because it contains the page file it becomes confused with an extension of ram. With out ReadyBoost that same page file would exist but now on the HDD. @Sebastian ReadyBoost uses SuperFetch to determine what to cash. Quick read on SuperFetch shows that it will cash files/app's you use most often. –  animepunkw Jun 29 '12 at 6:37
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