Introduction: Extra Ram Using a Thumb Drive

Picture of Extra Ram Using a Thumb Drive

Computer running slow? Have a thumb drive lying around? I have the solution for you!

Step 1: Memory Stick

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Plug in the memory stick

Step 2: Properties

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Right click on the device and select properties, then "ReadyBoost".

Step 3: How Much?

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Now you need to choose whether or not you want to use the whole device or only a portion. Select this using the options.

Note: You will not be able to use the dedicate memory as storage space.

Step 4: Congratulations

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You are done!


themhs65 (author)2016-06-23


mkaislasuo (author)2016-02-11

Do u know how to turn readyboost on? my pc says i have to turn it on :/

Orngrimm (author)2015-12-06

You are aware,that this was a failed experiment of Microsoft? The physics just dont add up:

Medium DDR3-memory (DDR3-1600) has with a clock of 200MHz a transferrate of around 96Gb/sec which is 12GB/sec.

Even the fastest USB3.1 (to which you would need a stick capable of filling this bus to the brim!) only delivers 10Gb/sec which is 1.25GB/sec

So lets face it: even medium-speed-RAM is around 10x faster than the fastest possible USB-thing around.

Do yourself a favor and dont buy PK K´isauve SSD 3.1 (Only 3.1-Stick i could find) with a transferrate or around 50% of the max USB3.1-Speed (Around 500MB/sec) for around 160$. That would be (at 128GB space) around 2.5$ per GB space per GB/sec transferrate.

As comparison: Cheap 8GB-sticks for 128GB total will yield 0.3625$ per GB space per GB/sec transferrate

2.5$ vs 0.36$

It is just not worth it.

Also: You clutter your USB-Controller and may have negative preformance-effects (because of USB is not ment to by Windows to serve such a constant Read- and write-bonanza) depending on the layout and organisation of your USB-Controlers...

cybertype2000 (author)Orngrimm2015-12-07

Didn't get most of what you said, but, WOW!!!

aarnould (author)cybertype20002015-12-08

...but whatever he said, he said it real fast... probably at 65 terra blibits every nano second!

ncmxracer (author)aarnould2016-01-21

Best comment yet

Fugstar (author)Orngrimm2015-12-08

Why are you comparing DDR speeds with USB speeds?

It's mechanical hard disk latencies (not transfer rates whatsoever!) that you should be chucking numbers around for.

Upgrade RAM - upgrade Hard disk - great for you if you have money - the instructable is about a completely free of charge "upgrade" using existing, possibly defunct equipment - lots of people don't bother carrying their old 1/2/4 gig sticks around any more - on older PC's that may or may not benefit depending on motherboard, hard disk and memory configuration.

+1 to instructable for offering up an easy, free, quick tweak that many people obviously are not aware of.

-1 for your comment for being unnecessarily negative and not understanding what this was about.

Orngrimm (author)Fugstar2015-12-08

Why comparing ReadyBoost vs. RAM? simple:
Because you try to increase the space available for the swap-file. The swapfile is just an extension of "not so often" used content of the RAM if it doesnt fit into the RAM-space you have available. "Not so often used" in RAM-terms is maybe only 20 times a second...

So yes, a USB-thumbdrive is faster in latency than (sometimes) a (fragmented) magnetical harddrive. BUT: with ReadyBoost one just trys to lessen the blow you already have: Storrage of data not fitting into your RAM somewhere else than in your RAM.

What i suggested with my comment was not to use a USB-bus for a task, it is not designed for. Sure, it MAY be faster due to no mechanical latencys compared against a magnetical harddrive. But a quick calculation of mine shows me: more than 580kB writing and even the slowest Harddrive wins with "first to write the last bit" against a normal USB-stick from Sandisk.

So better not only go with a solution from uber-suck to medicore-suck but fix the problem-source itself: too low amount of RAM. This way you can disable the swapfile alltogether (Did that) and thus forcing windows to exclusively use the plenty of RAM you supplied. I did that with my 16GB and noticed a REAL speedboos in normal work-conditions since i disabled the swap-file.

Believe me: i know what the post and suggestion was about. I am a programmer and work as a specialist in IT-hardware on hardware-level and -interfacing. The problem in the presentes solution was that it only lessens the blow a little bit and not completely eliminates it.

Fugstar (author)Orngrimm2015-12-09

You have completely and utterly missed the point. Your suggestion is to spend money. The Instructable does not require this. Therefore Instructable wins - hands down - compared with your "solution".

I have 16Gb of RAM myself. We are not talking about my machine, or yours.

Surely for these folks less well off than ourselves this is a great idea to at least try? Can you not understand that?

BobS93 (author)Orngrimm2015-12-08

You remind me a bit of the morons that work at most big box stores. This is actually a great idea just to speed your system. I have used it before but instead of a USB (which to me would be annoying) I use a SD card instead. it does actually work without having to spend a lot of money. I agree upgrading your RAM to the max is the best route but this works well too. Don't immediately start spouting "Go get more ???" some folks don't have the cash at hand. Oh and by the way in case you were wondering A+,MCSE, Network and security certified.

пёжыг (author)Orngrimm2015-12-08

Any slow RAM faster than any SSD. But this option precaching HDD read operation. Like combo SSD+HDD-drive there SSD for cache + HDD like storage. This function need if you already have HDD and unnecessary flash-drive.

Orngrimm (author)пёжыг2015-12-08

Rreadyboost does not work the same as a HybridDrive you mean... Readyboost cannot directly cache often used files on a harddrive. You need the harddrive to do this on its own and internally as an example like the Seagate 1TB SSHD #ST1000DX001

zeroaxe (author)2016-01-02

Trying it from now on. Let's see if it helps my Laptop ;)

ender_scythe (author)2015-12-09

How would I do this with Linux?

You really need more RAM using linux?:) I use linux on daily basic and have no clue where you spend all your ram:)

As I often say, one user's experience is not *every* users experience. I use a number of small board Linux devices for various tasks and they are almost always under-spec'd on ram. In most cases, the affordable ones tend to top out at 2GB of main memory and they are not expandable or upgradable. As such, I have had to use both microSD and USB flash as swap space to fix performance issues. Not as good as being able to add more ram, but in practice it works relatively well.

Stoky_ (author)ender_scythe2015-12-09

Mount it as swap.

Troels (author)2015-12-14

what happens when you plug it out ???

S200 made it! (author)2015-12-14

Very Good!

WillemD4 (author)2015-12-13

i tried it and my computer tells me readyboost is disabled. because readyboost wouldn't make a difference in performance.

CMatulac (author)WillemD42015-12-13

If your page file is on an SSD, readyboost is disabled. Thats the next best alternative to more RAM.

voraz (author)2015-12-08

I have used ReadyBoost on a number of systems with good results. This Microsoft TechNet paper explains it's purpose. ReadyBoost

If you have a system with an older or slower spinning HardDrive or one with little to no cache then this is an effective way of modestly improving it's performance. It is true that this will wear out USB drive quickly because of the constant read write cycling but if you have spares and don't need them....

This is not an addition to RAM it is only a way of adding HardDrive cache. It is disabled completely when using an SSD drive because it would impede in stead of enhance performance.

The TechNet paper explains the minimum specs required of the USB or flash memory card for it to work.

USB is slower than the internal bus but that is not the determining factor on if and how much performance gain you will see. On older slower HardDrives the bottleneck is the drives IO card and read write performance not the bus speed. This was intended to create a larger cache for the drive to allow much faster access to data currently in use bypassing the slow performance of the drive.

fazgard (author)voraz2015-12-13


mexomagno (author)voraz2015-12-09


Dwargh (author)voraz2015-12-08

As a computer scientist I agree!

jelmore3 (author)2015-12-12

I think I read this could be done with a Micro SD card as well? My work got me a horrible Dell Venue 8 Pro with only 2 gigs of ram. Would doing this with a micro sd card help me at all?

fazgard (author)jelmore32015-12-13

I've used it successfully with 8gig SD cards.

fazgard (author)2015-12-13

Since there's a pile of Nay-sayers, I'll take the time out to comment.
The above is simply use of readyboost.
I've successfully used this technique successfully in with many of the old N450-era Netbooks. Upgrade memory from 1g to 2g stick, insert an 8gig SD card and enable readyboost, and bam.. it's a little screamer. The performance upgrade for overall system and windows page files was significant.

1. It does work well, and as advertised with the correct type flash memory.
2. It works best with SD cards, and not off the USB bus.
3. The simplest test In the WIn7 world of desktop gadgets, you can actually see that the ram usage % / processor load % previous to using readyboost would be high , and drop to 1/2 scale % for both after using a SD as readyboost in normal operations. There are many ways to measure performance, this is a simple example.

1. It doesn't work / would be pointless with SSD's, only the older slower HD's.
2. It only works with certain types of NAND flash memory. If an inserted flash is not usable, you won't have the option to enable readyboost.
3. Using a USB drive - it would be sticking out in the way, and hogging one of the few USB ports available on the older netbooks that it works well on.

Takeaway - In my memory of it, the concept was not really for 'extra ram' but for extra performance. If you're a multi-tab-open-kinda-guy it helps dramatically on the older computers with slow hard drives.. as windows now will use the readyboost drive for it's page files instead of competing with normal data transfers from the hard drive.

mad_machine (author)2015-12-12

No. This is not extra RAM this is extra virtual memory space, and this will speed your system only if you have high quality thumb drive or SD card. Preferably in USB 3.0

mirobane (author)2015-12-12

old stuff from windows vista, but seems legit with actual and afordable usb 3.0 keys from now. this will kill the flash memory after 2 weeks, but legit.
mac user can do also. they just need to install windows and follow tutorial ;)

DanT4 (author)2015-12-11

I'm still laughing over here. Best one of the week, cred. And so true.

Everything impossible (author)2015-12-09

No, if you want slower memory you do that lol. Windows still has its purposes though

lennin monroy (author)2015-12-08

if I put a 32gb thumb drive will it help me record better when gaming?

mexomagno (author)lennin monroy2015-12-09

I think absolutely not. But why not try anyways?

Goodiescoza (author)2015-12-08

nicely laid out tutorial, that said this extra ram using a thumb drive doesn't work at all, tried it on several computers and laptops, no improvement at all. windows doesn't even register that it is available. it may help if you are really low on hard drive space and you use it as the virtual memory in windows.

Don't be discouraged by my criticism, but change the title to adding virtual ram.

That's because this doesn't have anything to do with RAM at all.

Readyboost uses a thumbstick as a hard-disk accelerator, by storing frequently used files on the (hopefully fast) thumbstick instead of on the (comparatively slow) hard-disk. It's made entirely redundant by having an SSD.

Itrme (author)thethiefmaster2015-12-09

as i understood it: the swapfile in windows are actually files loaded into ram that are in low usage. so they get placed onto the disk as swapfile to free up ram. Then when the file is needed again gets loaded back into the ram memory. the speed here is depending on the speed of your HDD. using an USB to keep the files rather then your HDD will in most cases improve read/write times dramatically and for systems with low ram improve performance (untill the usb dies). the thing is, nowadays Ram is so cheap i wouldnt consider using a usb. im more likely to install more ram and eliminate the swapfile alltogether.

Anybody who knows anything about the type of memory used in thumb drives knows that even ancient drives are faster than USB sticks...

It's more about response time. Old spinning hard-disks have multiple-millisecond response times, but a flash drive is below 0.1ms. Literally orders of magnitude faster.

But as I said, entirely redundant now that SSDs are widely available.

DavidS74 (author)thethiefmaster2015-12-08

You are absolutely correct about readyboost using the thumb drive as a cache for files.

AdrianS24 (author)2015-12-08

you have just won the internet ;-)

krutais001 (author)2015-12-08


I wish I could upvote this

Dawn Chang (author)2015-12-08

Better to use a SSD

mkempe (author)Dawn Chang2015-12-08

Those likely to use this very cheap hack are far less likely to afford a SSD, when you consider that it'll cost almost more than their entire system.

Razor 911 (author)2015-12-08

nice idea thanks for sharing

superviser (author)2015-12-08

don't worry about the haters it's a good idea if you have no money, well done.

Jeremy_Hamback (author)2015-12-07

Why don't you just download more ram?

Orngrimm (author)Jeremy_Hamback2015-12-08

That would require a bigger diameter cable than normally available. too bad, but good idea! ;)

superviser (author)Orngrimm2015-12-08

dude show a next to no cost solution not everyone has money laying around usb sticks yes.

DouglasK5 (author)2015-12-08

great conversation about the aspects of disk usage and memory management. probably would not have happened without the project write-up as a spark. good job everyone. thanks.

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