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There’s been a lot of talk about Vista’s ability to use Flash drives to “boost” system performance. Traditionally, Windows will cache files both to system memory and to your hard drive. The cached files on your hard drive reside in the Page File, which is also known as “virtual memory.” The problem with this approach is that even the fastest hard drives are sluggish when compared to flash drives, at least when it comes to seek times, which are nearly instantaneous on solid-state memory. Readyboost tries to address this situation by allowing Vista to use the Flash drive for its Page File, rather than the slow hard drive. It’s important to note that the actual Page File is still cached on the hard drive, but is being accessed from the Flash drive - which means that you're not at risk for losing your data.

So, how do you enable it? Simply insert a “Readyboost capable” Flash drive that is 1GB or larger in capacity into one of your system’s USB ports, and when the pop-up box appears asking what you want to do, scroll down to find the option, “Speed up my system using Windows ReadyBoost.” You can then specify how much space to make available on the device.

This is a hotly-contested feature in Vista as some users claim a decent performance gain (mostly people with less than 1GB of RAM), but others say the benefit is negligible. If you’ve got a spare USB drive laying around, why not give it a shot? We didn't notice a profound difference in performance, but that doesn't necessarily mean that you won't.
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