Improving Disk Speed: ReadyBoost and ReadyDrive

Hard disk drive is one of the main bottlenecks on system performance. This happens because the hard disk drive is a mechanical system, being far slower than the RAM memory. That is why if you put more memory on your system it will be faster: fewer accesses to the hard disk drive will be required.

ReadyBoost technology addresses this issue. ReadyBoost allows you to use any piece of flash memory from any size – including pen drives and even memory card from digital cameras – as a disk cache. Cache is a system that stores recently or most frequently accessed data in a faster memory. Thus ReadyBoost improves system performance by storing the hard disk drive most frequently accessed data in the flash memory. So if the required data is already in the flash memory, the system doesn’t need to grab data directly from the hard disk drive, improving the system performance – accessing the flash drive is a lot faster than accessing the hard disk drive.

Since nowadays it is really easy to find pen drives at 1 GB and beyond at very affordable prices, it is an interesting option to buy a pen drive just for use it as a disk cache on your PC – i.e., it is a very cheap way to improve your system performance.

Enabling and configuring ReadyBoost is really easy. When you insert a pen drive or a memory card to your PC Windows asks if you want to configure ReadyBoost on that device (see Figure 16). If you missed this screen, you can simply go to Computer, right click on the device you want to enable ReadyBoost, choose Properties from the menu that will show up and then clicking on ReadyBoost tab (see Figure 17).

Windows Vista ReadyBoostFigure 16: Windows asks if you want to enable ReadyBoost when you install a pen drive.

Windows Vista ReadyBoostFigure 17: Enabling ReadyBoost.

The configuration is really easy: just select “Use this device” and the how much space you will allow ReadyBoost to use.

This technology allowed hard disk drive manufacturers to create hybrid disks soldering flash memories directly on the HDD printed circuit board to be used as disk cache. That is why you should see “Vista-Optimized” or “ReadyDrive” hard disk drivers emerging on the market on the months to come. ReadyDrive is the name given to ReadyBoost technology when used with such hard disk drives. When installed on Windows Vista these drives are faster than similar hard disk drives without this technology.

ReadyDrive is supported by all Vista versions, while ReadyBoost is supported by all versions but Starter.


Gabriel Torres is a Brazilian best-selling ICT expert, with 24 books published. He started his online career in 1996, when he launched Clube do Hardware, which is one of the oldest and largest websites about technology in Brazil. He created Hardware Secrets in 1999 to expand his knowledge outside his home country.