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Actually Speeding up your Windows 7 PC PDF Print E-mail
Written by Tim Wray   
Thursday, 16 February 2012 00:00

Often, over the years, I have heard of technologies that promise to increase speed of your computer when it slows down. Most, including those commercials you see on TV for magical software you can call and buy that will increase your PC's speed 50% and whatnot, are totally bogus and designed to rip you off.

I want to tell you at least one that actually works.

Readyboost is a feature that was introduced in Windows Vista and improved upon in Windows 7. It can utilize a thumb drive that has the right specifications as a swap partition, much as Windows does on the hard drive in addition to physical RAM in the computer. The difference is, the solid-state storage technology utilized in USB thumb drives (also known as memory sticks, USB drives, or Flash Drives) can be accessed much more quickly than a mechanical hard drive, as there are no moving parts in a thumb drive. A hard disk drive has spinning "platters" read by a magnetic head. While fast, they are still not as fast as solid state storage.

For some time, I had no thumb drives that met the specifications required by Readyboost.

The three basic requirements to use a thumb drive for Windows Readyboost:

  • Must have an access time of 1 millisecond or less
  • Must be capable of 2.5 MB/s read speeds
  • Must be capable of 1.75 MB/s write speeds for 512 KB random writes spread across the device uniformly

Windows will tell you if a device cannot be used for Readyboost when you plug it in and try to use it, but you can also run a couple of commands in the command prompt to see the exact results.

To test for read requirement, you can use "winsat" to do a random read test with this command, in a command prompt:

wisat disk -read -ran ransize 4096 -drive driveletter

where driveletter is the drive letter of your thumb drive.

To test for the write requirement, use this command:

winsat disk -write -ran -ransize 524288 -drive driveletter

Again, driveletter is the letter of the USB Flash Drive.

For quite some time, my work laptop has been a Core 2 Duo running Windows 7 32 bit, but with only 2GB of RAM. While I recently upgraded to 4GB (and got a huge performance boost in responsiveness), using a Cruzer Micro 8GB thumb drive, with the maximum possible space on it dedicated to readyboost, I found that the laptop went from nearly unusable slowness and delays in launching applications to snappy responsiveness on most programs.

So, if you are low in RAM in particular and need a cheap solution, get a thumb drive that will work with Readyboost and you should at least be in better shape.

 

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