Vista's ReadyBoost flash drives lack significant boost

Windows Vista's Windows ReadyBoost sounds too good to be true, and based on our extensive lab tests, it is. The technology promises to let you speed up Windows by plugging an inexpensive USB flash drive into your PC. But we found that while ReadyBoost may speed up Vista a tiny bit, it can also slow it down in some instances.

The premise is this: Although writing data to and reading it from a flash drive is, in most cases, slower than writing and reading to a hard drive, if the data is scattered randomly in small chunks, then flash drives are faster. Vista's ReadyBoost is supposed to use that one speed advantage to create a faster, flash-drive-based cache of one of Windows' major bottlenecks -- the swap file on your hard drive that most Windows operations use. So ReadyBoost should theoretically speed up certain frequently performed Windows tasks such as loading programs.

The technology works with only the fastest flash drives -- those capable of 3.5MB/sec. throughput for 4KB random reads, and 2.5MB/sec. speeds for 512KB random writes. For this article, the PC World Test Center and I looked at three ReadyBoost-capable drives: Kingston's 1GB DataTraveler ReadyFlash, Lexar Media's 4GB JumpDrive Lightning and Ritek's Ridata 1GB Twister EZ Drive.

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with a dual core proccesor and 2GBs of RAM im running Windows Vista Premium and i dont see any delay in performace at all. i cant wait for that santa rosa NAND Flash tech to come out and play. loading windows will be so much faster.

HD's are much faster than USB drives bur you should defragment because USB drives can be faster if the pagefile is extremely fragmented (spread across the HD).

Well, seems obvious to me that this feature requires a fast USB stick. No need to test that any further (except if you have nothing better to do). My brother has a Buffalo FireStix R, and thanks to it his Vista is amazingly fast, you would never guess he has only 1GB of RAM.

Indeed...the kingston and ritek drives are some of the slowest there are in this regard. Testing the Lexar Jumpdrive Lightning against the speed king Corsair Flash Voyager GT would be useful. All in all though, my guess is that ReadyBoost would show the maximum advantage on a laptop.

Yeah. I find it funny PC World wasted money on a test rather than just look at the Vista ReadyBoost documents.
Microsoft has a logo program "Enhanced for ReadyBoost” which tells you which flash drives will provides perf increase.

It is. It's just like all that 'Windows Vista Certified' junk. I HATE that. Because every single vendor now has had to go and get 'certified' to compete. It's a load of bull.