ReadyBoost is a special disk cache service in Windows Vista, 7, 8, 8.1, and 10 that uses fast removable devices, such as USB flash drives, Secure Digital, and CompactFlash memory cards for speeding up smaller random disk reads. This can significantly improve Windows performance while many random small files are read frequently or when a computer does not have a sufficient amount of RAM (Random Access Memory). Traditional hard disk drives and hybrid hard drives (not SSD-s) are up to 80 times slower than removable devices in reading random small files. That's why you cannot use external hard drives for ReadyBoost - no real performance gain is possible.
- A suitable USB port for ReadyBoost must support at least the USB 2.0 standard, and USB 3 (SuperSpeed, blue ports) or USB C is even better.
- You need a USB stick or a memory card that has at least 250 megabytes of disk space (one to three times the amount of RAM is strongly recommended), access time under 1 millisecond, random read speed of at least 2.5 megabytes/second, and random write speed at least 1.75 megabytes/second.
Windows always checks the performance of removable devices automatically, so you do not need to run these tests yourself.
- In 32-bit versions of Windows Vista, 7, 8/8.1 and 10, and on FAT32 file system devices, you can use up to 4 GB (gigabytes) of storage for ReadyBoost. The older FAT16 file system can also be used, but the maximum cache size is limited to 2 gigabytes then.
In 64-bit Windows, up to 32 GB of the cache can be created on a single NTFS-formatted removable drive, even if the drive itself is larger. Windows 7, 8/8.1, and 10 also support the exFAT file system (cache up to 32 GB in size, too) for ReadyBoost.
On FAT16 and FAT32 drives, file size limits of 2 and 4 gigabytes still apply.
You can convert FAT/FAT32 drives to NTFS file system without losing any data if you want to use ReadyBoost cache larger than 2 or 4 gigabytes. Read the Disk Management in Windows article for detailed instructions.
- While Windows Vista supports only one ReadyBoost drive at a time, Windows 7 and later allow combining up to 8 different removable devices. Therefore, in 64-bit Windows, you can create ReadyBoost cache of up to 8 x 32 GB, or 256 GB in total size.
- The ReadyBoost cache file is always encrypted using the AES-128 algorithm to protect private data. Compression is used to cram up to two times more data into the file.
- Take special care of the drive used for ReadyBoost, because forcibly removing or disconnecting it while Windows is running can result in numerous errors (files not found, programs and apps crashing, etc). Always use the Safely Remove Hardware icon to eject ReadyBoost drives properly.
- If Windows is installed on an SSD (Solid State Drive), ReadyBoost is automatically disabled because no performance gain is possible. You'll see the "ReadyBoost is not enabled because this computer is fast enough that ReadyBoost is unlikely to provide additional benefit" message in the ReadyBoost tab.
Please note that adding more RAM to a computer always enhances performance even more. But if you use 32-bit Windows and your computer already has 4 GB of RAM installed (the maximum supported), ReadyBoost can be helpful in speeding up application launches.
In a test cited on Wikipedia, the time to complete a specific operation was decreased from 11 seconds to 2 seconds using ReadyBoost on Windows Vista PC with 512 megabytes of RAM. But doubling the amount of memory and turning off ReadyBoost decreased the time to 0.8 seconds.
Do not expect ReadyBoost to turn an ages-old Celeron computer into a brand new eight-core i7, though. ReadyBoost does not speed up processors or RAM, it enhances hard disk access times for small random reads - the effect is most noticeable while launching larger disk-intensive programs such as Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom, Microsoft Outlook, etc.
Also, check the Windows Experience Index (WEI) subscore for primary hard disk - if the score is low, ReadyBoost's positive effect will be more noticeable. In case your hard disk is rated at or near-maximum (5.9 in Windows Vista; 7.9 in Windows 7; 9.9 in Windows 8), there might be no point in using ReadyBoost. Please note that WEI is not available in Windows 8.1 and 10, but you can still measure performance as described in the WEI tutorial (see the link at the beginning of this paragraph).
Please use a USB drive or a memory card with capacity at least double the RAM size to let ReadyBoost perform optimally. If your device has 4 GB of RAM, you should choose a drive with 8 or more gigabytes of disk space.
You can check the total amount of RAM in your computer using the keyboard shortcut Windows Key+Pause/Break. Alternatively, right-click (My) Computer / This PC icon on Desktop or in the Start menu and select Properties.
For larger (over 4 GB) drives, it is strongly recommended to convert the existing FAT/FAT32 file system to NTFS. This can be done without any data loss, but reverting the conversion normally requires formatting the drive.
First, connect the drive you want to use for ReadyBoost. If AutoPlay/AutoRun is enabled, you can click the Speed up my system using Windows ReadyBoost option.
Please note that this option is available even if the drive does not meet the minimum requirements for ReadyBoost.
Alternatively, you can open Windows/File Explorer (keyboard shortcut is Windows key+E), right-click the removable drive, and select Properties from the menu.
Open the ReadyBoost tab.
If Windows states that "This device cannot be used for ReadyBoost - The device does not have the required performance characteristics for use in speeding up your system", you should try another, faster drive. Another option is plugging the device to a different, faster USB port.
Although there are many articles online that show how to tweak Windows Registry to allow ReadyBoost on slow drives, I strongly suggest against doing so - using a sluggish removable drive can slow down Windows even more.
The "ReadyBoost is not enabled because this computer is fast enough that ReadyBoost is unlikely to provide additional benefit" message probably means that Windows is installed on an SSD and no performance gain is possible.
If ReadyBoost options appear, you can use the device for speeding up Windows Vista, 7, 8/8.1, or 10.
In Windows Vista, enable the Use this device option and move the Space to reserve for system speed slider all the way to the right.
In Windows 7, 8, 8.1, and 10, select the Dedicate this device to ReadyBoost option.
The Windows recommends reserving <a number> MB for optimal performance field always reserves some space for file storage, so it is largely irrelevant.
Click OK to create ReadyBoost cache on the disk.
Windows then creates a special encrypted and compressed file named ReadyBoost.sfcache on the disk.
It takes some time for the cache to fill with data - system files related to Windows are added first, followed by open apps/programs, and then programs or apps you launch. This causes a temporary bump in disk activity. Allow ReadyBoost to do its work for at least two or three days and see if applications start and run faster. Generally, Windows and installed programs should be more responsive if ReadyBoost has enough disk space for its cache.
To turn off ReadyBoost, open Windows/File Explorer (keyboard shortcut is Windows key+E), right-click the removable drive used for RB, and select Properties from the menu.
Open the ReadyBoost tab and select the Do not use this device option.