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Does Windows ReadyBoost have a meaningful impact on performance?

Does using an SD card with ReadyBoost help? Would I notice any difference on a 32-bit netbook with 1 GB of RAM, running Windows 7 Starter? Should I use an 8 GB SD card, or more?

  • 1
    What do you suppose will happen if you accidentally bump the USB drive out of position while using it with ReadyBoost?
    – invert
    Aug 23, 2010 at 14:13
  • 3
    As I would be using a SD card, nothing would happen, if I would bump the USB drive out of position. :-)
    – apaderno
    Aug 23, 2010 at 23:50
  • 1
    @wez ReadyBoost is designed to make use of removable devices, so it has been written to handle disconnected scenarios - you may remove the device at will.
    – icelava
    Nov 19, 2010 at 9:11
  • 1
    Don't look at the speed, look at the latency. ;-) Apr 11, 2011 at 19:53
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    @jet, the seek time is much lower on memory based drives. Hence if the file is small it can be retrieved faster anyway. May 31, 2011 at 13:26

6 Answers 6


Yes, it works really well, but you have to get a 'fast enough' storage for this. It helps me a lot in my notebook. And it's good since I don't have to use a 7200 RPM HDD, nor waste money on SSD or something like this. I'm not made from money and a fast enough pendrive is dirt cheap now. Try it out with a friend's pendrive.

(I'm running Windows 7 Ultimate with 4 GB DDR3 1066 MHz low-holo Gepida memory (IBM-Lenovo ThinkPad T500), dual-channel. YET, it helps a lot.)

  • 1
    I guess that it would help even more on a netbook with less memory, and running on a 32-bit CPU. I saw an SD card with a transfer rate of 15 MB/sec; I hope it helps.
    – apaderno
    Aug 20, 2010 at 14:56
  • Indeed. It'd give a huge boost if you find a good card. Faster = Better. They are all dirt cheap, so just search for them. The Wiki article gives an explanation about the 133x and so on marks on them. (Here: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Secure_Digital)
    – Apache
    Aug 20, 2010 at 17:11
  • When you say "it works really good", what are you basing this on? Have you used a stopwatch to test doing the same thing with and without readyboost? Or, does it "seem" faster and therefore you say with certainty that it is faster? I have researched ReadyBoost a lot and everything I have found says it is not much help at all if you have 2GB of RAM or more.
    – GeoffDS
    Jan 2, 2012 at 3:23
  • It seems much faster. Didn't do any test, and I don't really care about tests (why would I? I don't want to boast about benchmark scores, I want to use my computer.) Anyway, try it for yourself, with a fairly good pendrive. Also, a slower HDD counts too (laptop 5400rpm that is.)
    – Apache
    Jan 2, 2012 at 11:31

Yes, ReadyBoost will help.

But I think an 8 GB card will likely be overkill - with ReadyBoost, more is not always better. ReadyBoost works as an optimization for your existing RAM and page file. You're not storing or caching more information anywhere, you're putting the same information in a faster location.

Your page file rarely grows as large as 8 GB. It does happen, but most of the time it's sitting much closer to 4 GB, and so I recommend looking for a faster 4 GB card. That will be a closer match for your actual use. Check reputable reviewers for actual benchmark data, as the faster the card, the more the speed boost.

Even better, most netbooks support up to 2 GB of real memory. ReadyBoost will help, but the 2 GB upgrade will help more.


It can help but only if you have minimal RAM. Benchmark tests by various sources have been done to show its effect:

Toms Hardware Windows Vista's SuperFetch and ReadyBoost Analyzed

As you can see, if you have 512 MB RAM, ReadyBoost can really help. If you have 2 GB or more it probably will go un-noticed.

For you with 1 GB ReadyBoost would help slightly, a 4 GB or 8 GB USB stick would work best (see the other link in my comments), although for the same price you could probably get a 1 GB RAM upgrade which would be better.

  • AnandTech Readyboost performance tests: anandtech.com/show/2163/6
    – Mark
    Aug 20, 2010 at 15:48
  • Are there any performance tests for Win7? All the ones I find seem to be Vista, and I wonder if Win7 offers any improvement over Vista in this area?
    – DMA57361
    Aug 20, 2010 at 15:56
  • @DMA57361 Not really, its pretty much going to be similar to Vista tbh, the only updates for readyboost with win7 were supporting more than 4gb, supporting more than 1 readyboost devices, and support to use it during boot up to improve start speed.
    – Mark
    Aug 20, 2010 at 16:35

Yes. It helps as you will be able to open many more software on your computer at the same time. But you will have to wait several minutes each time you turn on your computer.

In my case with a Windows Vista laptop (2 GB RAM) + 4 GB in ReadyBoost, I need to wait around 15 minutes before having the full power of my computer (I can see that because the hard drive LED doesn't stop running when ReadyBoost is on contrary if it is off).

  • I'm not sure this is correct. ReadyBoost does not increase memory space (and so does not allow additional programs to run). What it does do is cache things so they can be loaded faster when the relevant program starts. If your ReadyBoost cache has to rebuild itself on every boot (I'm guessing this is the delay) then you have a configuration problem, or you keep removing/reconnecting the ReadyBoost drive.
    – DMA57361
    Aug 20, 2010 at 15:12
  • @DMA57361 Can you give a source for your claim? I read that readyboost doesn't keep data from removable drives between reboots because of security concerns and that such behavior is normal. The rebuilds are reason I'm not using it at the moment. If they are result of bad configuration, I'm interested in fixing that.
    – AndrejaKo
    Aug 20, 2010 at 15:25
  • @Andreja RB cache is both compressed and encrypted to mitigate security concerns. My RB cache is not rebuilt on boot - if it was it would be pretty useless (FYI, mine's an SD card that is always plugged in to the machine, and I don't know what would regularly cause cache rebuild as reported by David). Have a read of the Wikipedia article, it's a fairly useful overview. This is an aging (it doesn't include improvements brought by Win7) but useful post as well.
    – DMA57361
    Aug 20, 2010 at 15:33
  • @DMA57361 I know that it's both compressed and encrypted. I too used to use an SD card and I got rebuilds after every boot on two computers. I'll take a look at articles. Now I at least know that I'm experiencing exceptional condition which needs to be solved. Thanks a lot!
    – AndrejaKo
    Aug 20, 2010 at 15:41
  • 1
    Since this discussion is not related to the question asked here, I asked separate question about preserving RB cache after reboot. Link: superuser.com/questions/178386
    – AndrejaKo
    Aug 20, 2010 at 16:18

It can help but only if you have minimal RAM.

Benchmark tests by various sources have been done to show its effect

Not really true. Most comparisons are done vs a pagefile or direct program access, these are not comparable. I'm using an i7 rig with 9 GB of RAM, usage rarely goes above 5-6 GB when under load, I've never reached 8 even with the latest games.

  • True: Windows 7 does have much better handling of the pagefile and related objects.
  • True: ReadyBoost enables faster retrieval of small files while your disk is busy with other searches. Namely the prefetch files (small cache links to commonly used programs etc.)

In my real world tests it speeds up the load times of applications drastically. Windows 7 does not store prefetch data to RAM — and that is where the boost lays.

My ReadyBoost is a 16 GB Class 10 SD card. The reader, I need to upgrade it as it's basic and often overheats, but other than that it works great. I squeeze every inch out of my system, I have had it for many years – removing that ReadyBoost does make a difference.

Don't listen to that minimal amounts of RAM nonsense. It is a different system entirely.


Not really. Instead replace the disk of your netbook with a SSD drive. That will give you a lot more speed for all applications plus a longer battery life.

  • 4
    With only 1GB of RAM, ReadyBoost will help. Plus, the cost of an SSD it much greater (overall, not per GB), especially as it's a netbook an SSD will have to replace currently working hardware. A cheap or spare SD/USB is drastically cheaper.
    – DMA57361
    Aug 20, 2010 at 15:02

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