Windows 7 supports Windows ReadyBoost, originally introduced with Windows Vista. Ready- Boost uses external USB flash drives as a hard disk cache, thus improving disk read performance in some circumstances. Supported external storage types include USB thumb drives as shown in Figure below, SD cards, and CF cards.
Unlike Windows Vista, Windows 7 recognizes that ReadyBoost will not provide a performance gain when the primary disk is an SSD. Windows 7 disables ReadyBoost when reading from an SSD drive.
External storage must meet the following requirements:
- Capacity of at least 256 MB, with at least 64 kilobytes (KB) of free space. The 4-GB limit of Windows Vista has been removed.
- At least a 2.5 MB/sec throughput for 4-KB random reads
- At least a 1.75 MB/sec throughput for 1-MB random writes
Unfortunately, most flash storage provides only raw throughput performance statistics measured under ideal conditions, not the very specific 4-KB random reads required by ReadyBoost. Therefore, the most effective way to determine whether a specific flash drive meets ReadyBoost requirements is simply to test it. Windows Vista and Windows 7 automatically test removable storage when attached. If a storage device fails the test, Windows will automatically retest the storage on a regular basis.
Some devices will show the phrase "Enhanced for Windows ReadyBoost" on the packaging, which means that Microsoft has tested the device specifically for this feature. If you connect a flash drive that meets these requirements, AutoPlay will provide ReadyBoost as an option.
AutoPlay will prompt the user to use a compatible device with ReadyBoost.
Alternatively, you can configure ReadyBoost by right-clicking the device in Windows Explorer, clicking Properties, and then clicking the ReadyBoost tab. The only configuration option is to configure the space reserved for the cache. You must reserve at least 256 MB. Larger caches can improve performance, but the ReadyBoost cache cannot be greater than 4 GB on a FAT32 file system or greater than 32 GB on an NTFS file system.
Windows Vista and Windows 7 use the Windows SuperFetch algorithm (the successor to Windows Prefetcher) to determine which files should be stored in the cache. SuperFetch monitors files that users access (including system files, application files, and documents) and preloads those files into the ReadyBoost cache. All files in the cache are encrypted using 128-bit AES if the flash storage device is removable, but hardware manufacturers can choose to disable encryption on internal, nonremovable ReadyBoost devices. Because the ReadyBoost cache stores a copy of the files, the flash drive can be removed at any point without affecting the computer-Windows will simply read the original files from the disk.
ReadyBoost provides the most significant performance improvement under the following circumstances:
- The computer has a slow hard disk drive. Computers with a primary hard disk Windows Experience Index (WEI) subscore lower than 4.0 will see the most significant improvements.
- The flash storage provides fast, random, nonsequential reads. Sequential read speed is less important.
- The flash storage is connected by a fast bus. Typically, USB memory card readers are not sufficiently fast. However, connecting flash memory to an internal memory card reader might provide sufficient performance.
Computers with fast hard disks (such as 7,200- or 10,000-RPM disks) might realize minimal performance gains because of the already high disk I/O. ReadyBoost will read files from the cache only when doing so will improve performance. Hard disks outperform flash drives during sequential reads, but flash drives are faster during nonsequential reads (because of the latency caused when the drive head must move to a different disk sector). Therefore, ReadyBoost reads from the cache only for nonsequential reads.
Note In the author's informal experiments, enabling ReadyBoost on a 1-GB flash drive on a laptop computer with a WEI disk rating of 3.7 decreased Windows startup times by more than 30 percent. Gains on computers with a WEI disk rating of more than 5 were minimal.
ReadyBoost creates a disk cache file named ReadyBoost.sfcache in the root of the flash drive. The file is immediately created for the full size of the specified cache; however, Windows will gradually fill the space with cached content.
To monitor ReadyBoost performance, use the System Tools\Performance\Monitoring Tools \Performance Monitor tool in the Computer Management console and add the ReadyBoost Cache counters. These counters enable you to monitor how much of the cache is currently being used and when the cache is read from or written to. It does not tell you exactly what performance benefit you are achieving by using ReadyBoost, however.
In this tutorial:
- Managing Disks and File Systems
- Overview of Partitioning Disks
- How to Choose Between MBR or GPT
- Converting from MBR to GPT Disks
- GPT Partitions
- Choosing Basic or Dynamic Disks
- Working with Volumes
- How to Create a Simple Volume
- How to Create a Spanned Volume
- How to Create a Striped Volume
- How to Resize a Volume
- How to Delete a Volume
- How to Create and Use a Virtual Hard Disk
- File System Fragmentation
- Backup And Restore
- How File Backups Work
- File and Folder Backup Structure
- How System Image Backups Work
- How to Start a System Image Backup from the Command Line
- How to Restore a System Image Backup
- System Image Backup Structure
- Best Practices for Computer Backups
- How to Manage Backup Using Group Policy Settings
- Previous Versions and Shadow Copies
- How to Manage Shadow Copies
- How to Restore a File with Previous Versions
- How to Configure Previous Versions with Group Policy Settings
- Windows ReadyBoost
- BitLocker Drive Encryption
- How BitLocker Encrypts Data
- How BitLocker Protects Data
- TPM with External Key (Require Startup USB Key At Every Startup)
- TPM with PIN (Require PIN At Every Startup)
- TPM with PIN and External Key
- BitLocker To Go
- BitLocker Phases
- Requirements for Protecting the System Volume with BitLocker
- How to Enable the Use of BitLocker on the System Volume on Computers Without TPM
- How to Enable BitLocker Encryption on System Volumes
- How to Enable BitLocker Encryption on Data Volumes
- How to Manage BitLocker Keys on a Local Computer
- How to Manage BitLocker from the Command Line
- How to Recover Data Protected by BitLocker
- How to Disable or Remove BitLocker Drive Encryption
- How to Decommission a BitLocker Drive Permanently
- How to Prepare AD DS for BitLocker
- How to Configure a Data Recovery Agent
- How to Manage BitLocker with Group Policy
- The Costs of BitLocker
- Windows 7 Encrypting File System
- How to Export Personal Certificates
- How to Import Personal Certificates
- How to Grant Users Access to an Encrypted File
- Symbolic Links
- How to Create Symbolic Links
- How to Create Relative or Absolute Symbolic Links
- How to Create Symbolic Links to Shared Folders
- How to Use Hard Links
- Disk Quotas
- How to Configure Disk Quotas on a Single Computer
- How to Configure Disk Quotas from a Command Prompt
- How to Configure Disk Quotas by Using Group Policy Settings
- Disk Tools
- MoveFile and PendMoves