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Flash Drives tend to be in the 10-30 MB/s transfer rate speed compared to HDD's in the 100+ MB/s range.

I realize that seek time is shorter for the Flash drive, but if you've defragged your page file to get it into one contiguous section, it seems like the seek time would be minimal.

I'm curious b/c I was thinking of putting my swap file on a flash drive to speed up an old pc.

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up vote 3 down vote accepted

Well, ReadyBoost is really mostly of benefit for systems short of RAM (less than 1GB). Now that RAM is cheaper, ReadyBoost has really outlived its usefulness. If you have plenty of RAM, there's no point in using ReadyBoost.

Now, while a USB flash key is slower in sequential transfers, for an OS drive this is really irrelevant. Flash has a MUCH LOWER access time and THAT is why it benefits over a hard drive. We're talking about an access time of a few NANOseconds; the best the 7.2K drives can muster is an access time of around 12 MILLIseconds! For an OS asking for multiple small files ASAP, hard drives are pretty slow.

Still, from best to worst, here's how all active memory storage techniques stack up: -CPU Cache -RAM -ReadyBoost Flash -Hard Drive virtual memory (Swap File)

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It's mostly hype. Most thorough benchmarks show little to no improvement, especially in modern systems with adequate RAM. In many instance it actually lowers performance.

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I think I read somewhere (can't remember where) that it's only useful w/ <= 512 MB of RAM. – dsimcha Dec 9 '09 at 4:59

Your OS is using your Hard Drive and so are you, so while it's actually transferring info faster, multiple threads accessing them make it slower.

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ONLY if you have LESS THAN 2 GB of RAM, enable ReadyBoost for your USB flash drive to cut down on the number of hard accesses Windows makes. A 512 MB to 3 GB ReadyBoost.sfcache file should be adequate.

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