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Is Windows ReadyBoost destroying my flash drives?


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#1 moeburn

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Posted 17 August 2013 - 22:41

I've never had a USB flash drive that lasted more than a year, without becoming totally unreadable/unrecoverable.  I've also never had a USB flash drive that I didn't use as a Windows ReadyBoost drive, which puts the paging file on the flash drive to take advantage of flash's better random access time over a HDD.  But after 6-12 months, one day I'll decide to use the USB drive for a file transfer, or I'll reboot, or I'll just move it to a different USB port, and I'll discover that I can't access it, or I can only read some files, or its only intermittently accessible.  It's happened to everything from a cheap $5 WalMart 4GB drive, to an expensive 32GB USB 3.0 Corsair-brand drive (that corsair one had a rubber case, so it couldn't have been shock damage).  It's also happened to USB flash drives plugged into other computers as ReadyBoost drives, so I know it isn't my PC that's destroying them.

 

I read somewhere that USB Flash drives only have anywhere from 2-10% of the program-erase cycles of a consumer-level SSD.  So that could explain why they die so fast.  Now I have an SSD, so ReadyBoost is useless for me.  But a friend of mine just bought a 32GB USB 3.0 flash drive to go with their USB 3 laptop, and I was about to suggest to them "Hey, you should use that drive as a ReadyBoost drive, it'll totally speed up your system!", but now I'm not so sure...




#2 +cyoung1616

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Posted 17 August 2013 - 22:58

Just copy this to google and read, lots of people are asking the same.

 

ReadyBoost destroying my flash drives

 

Cody



#3 francescob

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Posted 17 August 2013 - 23:00

ReadyBoost has nothing to do with paging files. And yes, all pendrives are garbage: I always try to pick the ones with the best user reviews on newegg/amazon yet I've found bad 'sectors' even on those with the most immaculate reviews.

 

If there was a proper tool to test the drives maybe the quality would improve: I still haven't seen a single pendrive remapping damaged flash areas yet, I wonder if the wear leveling works at all. Anything that keeps writing in the same area like ReadyBoost can easily kill the drives over time.



#4 Javik

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Posted 17 August 2013 - 23:15

Readyboost is designed to take over the part that traditional mechanical hard disks don't handle well. Small random paging writes, as you get a lot of these on a system disk it will decrease the life of your flash drive. If you're needing to use readyboost just get some more ram or an SSD, anything over 4GB you shouldn't really need really need readyboost on.



#5 soldier1st

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Posted 17 August 2013 - 23:53

Are you at your max ram or is the ram upgrade too expensive? Readyboost is no substite for actual ram. If you need to use Readyboost, then buy a flash drive that is meant for it. If your system is at max ram then Readyboost could be of use but i stress the word "could". I've had flash drives last between 4/10 years.



#6 OP moeburn

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Posted 18 August 2013 - 00:42

ReadyBoost has nothing to do with paging files. And yes, all pendrives are garbage: I always try to pick the ones with the best user reviews on newegg/amazon yet I've found bad 'sectors' even on those with the most immaculate reviews.

 

If there was a proper tool to test the drives maybe the quality would improve: I still haven't seen a single pendrive remapping damaged flash areas yet, I wonder if the wear leveling works at all. Anything that keeps writing in the same area like ReadyBoost can easily kill the drives over time.

 

 

Readyboost is designed to take over the part that traditional mechanical hard disks don't handle well. Small random paging writes, as you get a lot of these on a system disk it will decrease the life of your flash drive. If you're needing to use readyboost just get some more ram or an SSD, anything over 4GB you shouldn't really need really need readyboost on.

 

Well obviously one of you is wrong.  Which is it, ReadyBoost has nothing to do with paging files, or small random paging writes?  Actually, according to wikipedia:

 

"[Readyboost] caching applies to all disk content, not just the page file or system DLLs"

 

So yeah, I was wrong, it isn't the page file.

 

Also, you should try reading posts before responding to them: "get more ram or an SSD" - Why would I get another SSD when I already have one? - " Now I have an SSD, so ReadyBoost is useless for me. " 

 

And who the hell would use ReadyBoost if they could afford extra RAM or an SSD?  The whole point of ReadyBoost is a small yet significant performance upgrade you can do with a part that most people have lying around the house.  Obviously if you have the disposable income to spend on extra RAM or an SSD, you won't be looking at ReadyBoost.

 

 

Are you at your max ram or is the ram upgrade too expensive? Readyboost is no substite for actual ram. If you need to use Readyboost, then buy a flash drive that is meant for it. If your system is at max ram then Readyboost could be of use but i stress the word "could". I've had flash drives last between 4/10 years.

 

I disagree, ReadyBoost is a perfect substitute for actual RAM when you can't afford actual RAM.  Obviously more RAM would be faster than more ReadyBoost, but more RAM can cost several $20's, and more ReadyBoost costs around $5.  Except that most people have USB flash drives lying around the house already, but most people don't have extra RAM lying around the house.  

 

But to answer your question, I have 4GB of RAM, and there are very very few situations when I have needed more; Usually when rendering large videos/pictures in video editing studio software or Maya and such.  But extra RAM doesn't do a damn thing to a 3D game's framerate performance, nor does it significantly help with day-to-day desktop PC usage.



#7 francescob

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Posted 18 August 2013 - 02:04

Well obviously one of you is wrong.  Which is it, ReadyBoost has nothing to do with paging files, or small random paging writes?  Actually, according to wikipedia:

 

"[Readyboost] caching applies to all disk content, not just the page file or system DLLs"

 

So yeah, I was wrong, it isn't the page file.

 

What I meant was that ReadyBoost is a caching mechanism for everything on the HDD, of course that includes the page file since it's written on the disk as well but it still has nothing to do with the paging mechanisms, it's not 'just another swap file' like everybody think it is. Since the performance improvements in many tests are almost non-existent and nobody guarantees it doesn't mess up your system when the flash drives starts having bad areas (and a lot of drives have those even since purchase) I would never recommend it.



#8 droolingmonkey

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Posted 18 August 2013 - 02:52

Just wondering OP what your experience of ReadyBoost was. (Despite the USB drives dying, of course). Did you actually notice any performance gain?

 

(I've never tried it, just interested in how it went for you).



#9 OP moeburn

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Posted 18 August 2013 - 03:02

What I meant was that ReadyBoost is a caching mechanism for everything on the HDD, of course that includes the page file since it's written on the disk as well but it still has nothing to do with the paging mechanisms, it's not 'just another swap file' like everybody think it is. Since the performance improvements in many tests are almost non-existent and nobody guarantees it doesn't mess up your system when the flash drives starts having bad areas (and a lot of drives have those even since purchase) I would never recommend it.

 

Yeah, I was wrong, I thought I heard someone say it was just another page file.  But no, it includes any other writes, which is pretty cool.  I personally noticed quite a significant performance gain, but you have to let ReadyBoost sit for at least 5 or 10 minutes after plugging the drive in for the performance boost to take effect.  If you watch the Windows Performance Monitor counters for those first 10 minutes, ReadyBoost is busy filling up the drive with whatever the hell it thinks it should fill it with.  

 

As for the bad sectors on manufacturing, well SSDs have the same thing, and even HDDs had them in their early days.  But they are premarked as bad sectors in the file system, so it is impossible to access them, and they will never cause any issues.

 

Just wondering OP what your experience of ReadyBoost was. (Despite the USB drives dying, of course). Did you actually notice any performance gain?

 

(I've never tried it, just interested in how it went for you).

 

A HDD+ReadyBoost was basically like 10% of the apparent performance boost you would get by replacing the HDD with an SSD.  Sequential writes were unaffected, but small random reads like opening several programs at once, reading a large file that happens to be fragmented on the HD over and over again (like editing movies), trying to use your system for general purpose stuff while another program was reading/writing the HD all the time, closing/running the same program multiple times; all these things seemed to me, to be faster with ReadyBoost.



#10 droolingmonkey

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Posted 18 August 2013 - 04:09

Cheers man, good to know. Might use some of the dust-gathering sticks I have lying around to bump the old beast in the living room up. (It doesn't matter if they die, they're dead to me anyway. Ptooey.)



#11 Growled

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Posted 18 August 2013 - 04:29

Just wondering OP what your experience of ReadyBoost was. (Despite the USB drives dying, of course). Did you actually notice any performance gain?

 

(I've never tried it, just interested in how it went for you).

I never did, or if it there was any it was only a slight gain.

 

And of course it destroys drives. Drives have only so many uses and if you constantly access them they are going to wear out quicker.



#12 Javik

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Posted 18 August 2013 - 12:03

I disagree, ReadyBoost is a perfect substitute for actual RAM when you can't afford actual RAM.  Obviously more RAM would be faster than more ReadyBoost, but more RAM can cost several $20's, and more ReadyBoost costs around $5.  Except that most people have USB flash drives lying around the house already, but most people don't have extra RAM lying around the house.  

 

But to answer your question, I have 4GB of RAM, and there are very very few situations when I have needed more; Usually when rendering large videos/pictures in video editing studio software or Maya and such.  But extra RAM doesn't do a damn thing to a 3D game's framerate performance, nor does it significantly help with day-to-day desktop PC usage.

 

If readyboost keeps killing your thumb drives then you're not really saving money at all, almost all RAM comes with a lifetime warranty these days, RAM is more durable than a flash drive and it's not really that expensive any more, and it's a hell of a lot faster.

 

However if you do already have that much ram, you really have no need at all to use readyboost and you are essentially just wasting your money because it was designed for use on systems with less than a gig of ram. At this moment in time all you're really doing is wasting your flash drives. Readyboost will not do anything to a game's framerate either.



#13 +goretsky

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Posted 23 August 2013 - 09:26

Hello,

 

ReadyBoost is designed so that it performs more reads than writes over the long term, but over time the operating system is going to write to the USB flash drive, and they do have a finite number of write cycles--one which is far below even consumer-grade SSDs because they all use fewer dies of MLC flash RAM and no wear-leveling to manage writes across them.  Because of this, I always treated any USB flash drive that I used for ReadyBoost as (1) disposable; and (2) not to be re-used for anything other than ReadyBoost. 

 

I am thinking you may have just gotten unlucky with your choices of USB flash drives; I have some machines running Windows Vista with USB flash drives plugged in for ReadyBoost and, as far as I can tell, that part is working fine without any errors.

 

In my experience, ReadyBoost only produced human-noticeable performance improves under machines running Windows Vista with 512MB of RAM.  Once you got to 1GB of RAM, it was hard to see any performance improvement, and past that, well, the OS is better at using system DRAM to cache things than ReadyBoost.  I am really surprised that you used ReadyBoost on a machine with 4GB of RAM and found it to be of benefit.  Your machine would likely need very slow, heavily-fragmented and very full hard disk drives to see the difference, as modern HDDs have a sustained read rate of anywhere from 60-100MB/s, which starts out at 2-3×the sustained read rate of USB 2.0 flash drivers (20-30MB/s).

 

As others have mentioned, I'd really look elsewhere at your system to determine where bottlenecks are occurring, and what upgrades (besides ReadyBoost) you might want to make to improve performance.

 

Regards,

 

Aryeh Goretsky





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