Kicked it up a gear with ReadyBoost
A couple of years ago I bought a new Dell laptop. It was a middle range spec that I expected to throw more hardware at in the subsequent years. Sure enough, the hard drive became too small, too slow and the machine good certainly do with more than 2Gb RAM.
RAM was the primary concern. It was running out often enough that Vista was constantly going to virtual memory on a slow drive without much space to work with. I ran the analysis tool over at Crucial which to my complete surprise told me that the laptop only supports 2 RAM slots, each of which can only handle a capacity of 1Gb/stick. Surely this was not right. I searched the Dell site and found the specs for the hardware which told the same sad story. Dell in their wisdom sold a Vista laptop that was hardware limited to 2Gb RAM. So I’m not just surprised now, I’m utterly shocked.
Fast forward to this weekend. The machine now takes 20 minutes to work on some task in virtual RAM which leaves the machine completely locked up. After thinking about getting a larger and faster hard drive, I realised that there is a better solution that would be very cheap. Vista came with a technology called ReadyBoost. It uses flash memory to work with virtual RAM before falling back on the hard drive. Flash is faster than hard drives and easily expanable via a USB connection so I get around the hardware RAM restriction. It is also a lot cheaper than buying a new laptop hard drive.
The good guys down at Harris Technology had some ReadyBoost compatible 4Gb USB flash drives for $18 each. I bought one for the laptop and one for the desktop.
After using the laptop a bit yesterday, I found that it was a lot more responsive. When it did use virtual RAM (which happens a lot), the machine was processing a lot faster.