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How To Use Your USB Flash Drive As Added RAM Memory On Windows 7 Through Software

Updated on August 8, 2012
A comparison graph showing performance differences between standard RAM and combination with ReadyBoost enabled USB drives.
A comparison graph showing performance differences between standard RAM and combination with ReadyBoost enabled USB drives.

ReadyBoost was an innovative technology Microsoft implemented in Windows Vista. Through it, Windows can use part of or whole capacity of an assigned USB drive as system RAM, which in a way could upgrade the performance of a system. However, at that time, USB drives were of higher price and lower capacity and most users would not choose to "sacrifice" a USB pendrive to achieve higher Windows speed, especially because the difference at that time was not significant.

With Windows 7, ReadyBoost has been enhanced and can provide a larger scale upgrade on system performance. Now it not only works with a larger section of USB drives in the market, but also can support more than one of them, something which allows RAM usage to be spread in more places.

It has to be noted, however, that still performance upgrade is not extraordinary - it cannot even be compared with replacing CPU with a newer, faster one, or adding more system RAM as RAM modules. Still, the difference will be seen when working with resource-hungry software and with multitasking; applications such as Photoshop and multi-tabbed internet browsing will gain higher speed and ease of use. Additionally, the reason why ReadyBoost is not as effective is because of typical transfer limits of the USB ports, which are way lower than RAM modules.

Connect the USB device on one of your computer's USB ports, preferably directly to them and not through a USB hub. You can decide to use either a part of the capacity of the flash drive, or the whole of it, which is preferable. Back up the entire usb drive files, just in case you run into problems; no-one likes to lose crucial files because of device malfunction or user mistakes. Right click on your USB drive and choose Properties.

Select "Dedicate this device to ReadyBoost" if you want to make the whole USB drive available or "Use This Device" to assign only a part of it to RAM. You can choose how much of the capacity will be used by the following slider. Click OK and the system is ready to use your "new" RAM memory.


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    • Tonyx35 profile image

      J Antonio Marcelino 4 years ago from Illinois, USA

      I've actually used this on a few occasions and it works alright. USB 2.0 flash drives anyway.

      While I would always be in favor of larger capacity of RAM, ready boost is a good option if you have a free USB port and an unused flash drive sitting around.

      I stopped using it since I ran out of USB ports ( mouse, keyboard, USB headset, gamepad, webcam, lol. I leave the front USB ports for plugging in external hard drives or my printer. Voted up.

    • rileriki profile image

      Mateja Ristic 4 years ago from New York

      O.K. CyberFreak lets take that this is our common PUBLIC CALL to all FREAKS and GEEKS who have mighty 64 bit Windows 7 machines, with only 4GB RAM, to plug in USB3.0 Flash Drive capacity at least 8GB (do not forget to set page file size to minimum on standard mechanical HDD), then open 20-30 webpages on Firefox that has at list 10 Add-ons , then open 20-30 pages in chrome, and activate some heavy tasks in PhotoShop and play some heavy game like Battlefield 3. Maybe someone can try and to report their results here....

    • CyberFreak profile image

      CyberFreak 4 years ago


      I also don't have laptop/desktop with USB3 port available at the moment for a try. I suppose it won't make much of a difference on a system which already has plenty of RAM installed, but you never know.

      With USB3 port and USB3 flash drive, ReadyBoost would work much more efficiently due to the increased bandwidth and speed.

      Maybe someone can try and report their results here?

    • rileriki profile image

      Mateja Ristic 4 years ago from New York

      Did you try to use USB 3.0. flash drive?

      I don't have Desktop/Laptop with USB 3.0 to try to test ReadyBoost.

      Perhaps it doesn't have sense because most modern Laptops with USB 3.0 and SSD hard drive, has 4GB RAM that is quite enough for almost needs.

      Pagefile on SSD takes all needs for more memory in case that 4GB is not enough....blah, blah or I am not right.

    • CyberFreak profile image

      CyberFreak 4 years ago

      I don't know why it didn't work for you as supposed. My primary guess would be the USB drive you got is either slow or has performance issues due to long life (for example many writes and reads).

      The memory RAM sticks should always be your priority, because they will offer a significant boost to your overall system performance. This guide is mainly for those who want a temporary boost in RAM.

      Thank you for your comment.

    • profile image

      Tyler 4 years ago

      This didn't work. I have been palying a game with a lag cause I have 2gb of ram and I readyboosted 4000mb from my device to have more ram and it never did worked. It just says readyboost is configuring your system cache. But I still have the same lag. I might as well just by the ram sticks.

    • profile image

      Hamzuz 5 years ago

      I've tried it and it was great.