So Saturday while I was taking care of some shopping errands, I decided to look into picking up some memory to use for Vista's ReadyBoost feature.
(More on why I wanted that in another post...but it's even better than you can guess....)
Now I already knew that all when it comes to ReadyBoost, all memory is not created equal and the thought of buying some and finding out it didn't work wasn't appealing. The memory I had been looking at in the store still hadn't began being marked as "ReadyBoost" compatible so I was on my own.
First Techie Try
I was in a particular GoodPurchase big box tech store and having nothing better to do, decided to ask a black and white clad young man behind a counter if he could assist me.
"I'm looking for some memory for a laptop and want to make sure it is ReadyBoost compatible. What can you recommend?"
Simple question right? For a tech support geek? You would think.
So he asked what model of laptop I had.
Deciding not to reveal my secret identity as a desktop and network support tech, and being a nice lazy Saturday, I decided to go with the flow.
I told him there was one very similar in the store.
We walked over there and he immediately began to explain to me that unless I was 100% that was the exact same model he couldn't tell me. Each model had different specs and while the laptop shells looked similar, they would often have different insides.
"You mean system boards impact ReadyBoost memory?" I asked in as noobie a voice as I could muster without laughing.
He nodded and explained that system boards have different specs which will determine the particular kind of memory I need to get. Without that information, he couldn't make a good recommendation.
He suggested that I log onto the Crucial memory website and check there.
I thanked him for his time and he wandered off.
Umm. 100% wrong here.
ReadyBoost is a feature of Windows Vista that allows USB or SD removable media memory to be used as caching space by the Windows Vista memory manager system "...via a technique called SuperFetch -- part of Windows Vista's intelligent heuristic memory management system."
It has nothing (well not much at all) to do with the physical systemboard and system RAM.
It does have everything to do with the memory device's speeds for random read/write activity.
That's why it is important to know if a memory device meets the needed requirements before you buy...it may turn out that while the memory stick looks good or is pretty fast, it isn't fast enough to work for ReadyBoost. Rejected!
Here are some very good posts on Vista's ReadyBoost worth doing your homework with:
- Windows ReadyBoost - Windows Vista Blog
- ReadyBoost - Using Your USB Key to Speed Up Windows Vista - Tom Archer's Blog
- ReadyBoost Q&A - Tom Archer's Blog
- Faster, Vista, Faster! - TechBlog
- Obsession indulged: More on Vista's ReadyBoost - TechBlog
- ReadyBoost Compatibility List - Grant Gibson
- ReadyBoost: Compatible vs Enhanced - Grant Gibson
- Vista and ReadyBoost - Scott Hanselman's Computer Zen blog
- USB Flash Memory for Windows Vista ReadyBoost: Results - ExtremeTech (has some setup screenshots)
- Windows Administration: Inside the Windows Vista Kernel: Part 2 ... (Tech Geeks only: Heavy Duty Microsoft technical description on ReadyBoost. Fascinating look, if you are really interested in the guts of the process.)
So to Recap on Vista's ReadyBoost
- The USB stick must be at least USB 2.0
- Some SD/CF media will also work if it meets the specs.
- External SD media readers will (probably) not work.
- External hard-drive based media won't (to my understanding) work.
- Internal hardware SD media readers will (probably) work. (make sure your drivers are up to date)
- The device minimum spec for ReadyBoost appears to be 2.5MB/s read & 1.75 MB/s write, while Microsoft’s ReadyBoost usage guidelines say that for a device to be listed as Enhanced for ReadyBoost it must do around double that - 5MB/s read & 3MB/s write (based on 4k random reads and 512k random writes). reference link
- The memory media has to have between 256M-4GB of space. Anything more or less won't do.
- Only one ReadyBoost device per machine.
(That's all at least the best I can tell.)
Second Techie Try
So I returned home after the fun and frustration of techie one and decided to attempt to do some research as to a brand/model of SD or USB media that would be sure to work.
I found some articles that listed some ReadyBoost memory devices (linked above) but nothing that was a "hit out of the park" with certainty when I went to the store. (I can only hope and expect as Vista gets more common, more removable memory manufacturers will begin to clearly label their products as "ReadyBoost Ready" to help confused consumers.)
For my second attempt I went back out and stopped by an Office Supply store that I knew carried a nice variety of USB drives.
Just my luck, there was a young salesguy right there helping another guy with a PSU. When he got done he saw me looking in the USB case and asked if I needed help.
"I'm looking for a USB drive that I can be sure is compatible with Vista's ReadyBoost. Do you have anything that I can be sure will work when I get home and plug it in?" I asked.
"Sure. We have several kinds. In fact I use one myself. Works great. The Ativa brand. It's on sale."
I spotted it in the case.
"We have the 1GB on sale."
I saw a 2GB one as well. "I think I'll try the 2GB one."
"That's the same size I use. I love it," he said smiling.
He pulled it from the case and I bought it for about $50.
I got home, cut it out of the plastic wrap and plugged it in.
Vista likey! A quick confirmation for configuration and I was in business.
Hurray for Techie Two!
No trying to impress me with geekspeek. Ask and you shall receive.
Ready and Boosted!
So now I'm using a 2GB ReadyBoost share and loving it.
And from what I understand...the longer I use it, the smarter Vista will get and performance should get even better.
How sweet is that?
Just remember, do your homework on ReadyBoost and if you aren't getting a good answer when asking the Techies...move on.
And why was I looking for a stick of memory to use with ReadyBoost?
Well...you'll just have to wait a bit longer for that story.