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Speeding Up Windows 7

If you go into a retail location and pick out an entry-level computer system, often you will find that it comes with the bare minimum performance components. The hardware that is most often at a minimum is the memory or RAM (Random Access Memory). RAM is the part of a computer that determines how many resources your computer has to run programs. The more programs you have opened, the more RAM is used. If you use up your entire RAM with open applications, your computer then has to use virtual memory which is basically a file on your hard drive. Because hard drives are typically slower than RAM, this means that any programs using this virtual memory, will be sluggish.

It’s not uncommon to purchase new computers with only 1GB of memory. Many of today’s applications use large amounts of memory. Web browsers also are culprits of high memory usage. Here is an example of what is being used on my computer:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Just from having various pages open in Google Chrome and Internet Explorer, I am using up about 556MB of memory. In addition, I have multiple Word and Excel documents open along with Outlook and other applications. It’s easy to see why computers with minimum amounts of memory can easily seem slow. The obvious fix for this is to increase the amount of memory installed in your system. However, that may not always be an option.

With Windows Vista and Windows 7, Microsoft introduced a feature called ReadyBoost. ReadyBoost doesn’t increase the amount of RAM that you have, but instead of Windows using your slower hard drives in your computer for virtual memory, it allows you to use a faster type of storage. This storage can be found in pen drives (jump drives/USB keys) and other flash memory storage devices. Not all USB drives are ReadyBoost compatible, so verify that before you purchase the hardware.

When you insert a USB drive into your system, it will test and see if it’s compatible with ReadyBoost. Then you will receive a prompt similar to this:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you select Speed up my system, you’ll be taken to a screen where you can select how much of the drive you want to dedicate to ReadyBoost:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Depending on how much space you select, a file will be created on the drive in the size specified. That will then be used for ReadyBoost. If you wish to quit using the drive for ReadyBoost, then simply go into the Properties of the drive and choose the ReadyBoost tab and choose Do not use this device.

There are times when ReadyBoost may offer no noticeable performance increases:

  • If a system is infected with viruses or spyware it may continue to operate slowly even after using ReadyBoost.
  • If a system has a large amount of memory, ReadyBoost increases will be nominal, if any.
  • If a computer has a high performance hard drive such as a solid state drive, performance will usually not increase.

For more information on ReadyBoost, visit these links:

http://windows.microsoft.com/en-US/windows7/products/features/readyboost
http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/magazine/ff356869.aspx

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