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Vista ReadyBoost and USF Flash Drives


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The way Vista tests a USB flash device for use with ReadyBoost can be a little 'deceptive'. Some USB flash devices will initially test as not compatable, however, they may really be compatable. Theres a little trick to it that the average user may not realize, and this may be the reason why some USB flash devices are not listed in the various lists on line as comptable with ReadyBoost when in actuality they may be compatable.

When you first plug a USB flash drive in Vista comes up and asks you what you want to do with it, one of the options is to use it to speed up your system, click on this and Vista will check the flash device for compatability with ReadyBoost. The problem is that the very first test may not be accurate if it comes back and tells you that the device can't be used for ReadyBoost when it may be perfectly capable for use with ReadyBoost. So...here's the trick to determine if your device is or is not compatable with ReadyBoost;

1. Insert the USB flash device, and let Vista detect the device. When it comes up and asks you want you want to do close the GUI and do not make any selection.

2. Next, go to USB Flash device in explorer or disk management and format the device. Format the USB device you plan to use for ReadyBoost with NTFS and cluster sizes of 4096. Name the drive something you want like 'My_ReadyBoost' or something.

3. After the format is complete right click on the USB device and choose 'Properties' then the 'ReadyBoost' tab.

4. On the ReadyBoost tab unckeck the box to stop testing the device every time.

5. Next, click the Test again button. If the tab changes from the test tab to a tab that gives you two options of 'Do not use this device' and 'Use this device'. Check the 'Use this device' box and do not make any other changes on the tab especially to the 'Space to reserve for system speed' slider, leave the 'Space to reserve for system speed' setting at what ever Vista recommended.

6. Click 'Apply' then 'OK'. Your done.

The fact that the tab changes is not a true indication of ReadyBoost capability. Some flash devices may in fact allow this tab to be shown and still not be ReadyBoost capable. To determine if your device will indeed be ReadyBoost capable look on the flash device after you complete the above steps, if a file named ReadyBoost.sfcache exists on the flash device and the flash device is actually being used when you access any hard drive in your computer to start up an application then congratulations as your device may actually be ReadyBoost capable even if it initially tested as not capable.

May or may not work for all USB flash devices, If the tab with the two options in step 5 above will not come up, or the file named ReadyBoost.sfcache does not appear on the device, then the device is truly not compatable with ReadyBoost so you will not be able to use it for that purpose. The flash device must handle a capacity of between 2 to 3 times your installed RAM. While your using the device as a ReadyBoost drive you can't use it for normal storage purposes you can only use it for ReadyBoost. The ReadyBoost device must be USB 2.0 and the USB port your plugging it into must also be USB 2.0.

I stumbled across this when an IT friend of mine gave me a call and told me that all 30 of the company purchased Verbatim 4GB Store and Go USB Flash devices were giving mixed results for ReadyBoost with several different machine models. Some would pick the Store and Go USB Flash drives right up and let you know the devices were ReadyBoost compatable and didn't need further testing by Vista. Some machines would not detect the device as compatable. We knew the flash devices were ReadyBoost capable because some machines were using them just fine and detected them as compatable, so we came to the conclusion that differences in chipsets may be the dividing factor because on the machines with certain chipsets the devices would be detected and used just fine with ReadyBoost but the exact same Verbatim 4GB Store and Go USB Flash device plugged into a machine with a different chipset would not initially sucessfully test as ReadyBoost capable. After doing this little trick, all the machines that tested the USB device as not ReadyBoost compatable intially were now using the devices in a ReadyBoost capacity without complaint. There was a noticible improvement in speed of the system, it varied between systems, but there was a difference.

So...you be the judge, give it a try and see what happens, it can't hurt. Hope this helps someone out.

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