"Vista Ready Upgrade" does not mean ReadyBoost-compatible

I bought two SD Cards today, each of which are 2GB in size (and each with a warning on the back that this means 2*10^6, not 2*2^30, bytes).

One of them is to go into my wife’s pink camera, the other is to go into my laptop, as a ReadyBoost drive (aka spare memory).

Now, a ReadyBoost drive has to pass a couple of simple speed restrictions – so, every time you try to get a drive to work as a ReadyBoost drive, Windows Vista runs a little test to make sure that the drive is fast enough to give a little extra performance.

Occasionally, someone will say “how can I disable the test, and enable ReadyBoost on a drive that isn’t so fast?” – the answer, quite frankly, is “well, duh, you can’t!” Okay, so that’s a little tactless – how about I borrow a trick from Jesper, and simply rephrase the question: “How can I make Windows add a component into my system’s data flow that deliberately slows the system down?”

When you put it that way, the answer of “well, duh, you can’t!” actually seems appropriate.

I ran the test on my two drives – actually, I waited for the hard-drive light to stop running (Vista was indexing some stuff, and the test doesn’t work so accurately when Vista is busy), and then I ran the test.

The SD Card from SanDisk (whose primary selling point, apparently, is that it has a pink label) passed the test.

The SD Card from PNY, labeled “Windows Vista Ready Upgrade”, failed the test. Over and over again. Really – I tried the test several times, and in between, I tried it on the other drive, which passed over and over again.

I played the odds, and won – one of the cards was suitable for ReadyBoost, and the other was suitable for the camera.

My suggestion to you is to ask the guy in the store – “Is this disk / card compatible with ReadyBoost?” – so that you can take it back for a refund if you find it fails the test.

Ironically, SanDisk’s web site has a section on it talking about ReadyBoost – but they only describe their USB drives. I prefer my SD Card, which sticks out of my laptop only about a twentieth of an inch, rather than my USB drives, that stick an inch and a half out, and are always ready to be snapped off.

5 Responses to "Vista Ready Upgrade" does not mean ReadyBoost-compatible

  • Mosh Jahan says:

    Lukcy so and so! My Dell D420 has an SD slot and it worked with Vista Ultimate initially then just stopped working. I’m confident it is not a hardware failure but have had no luck getting Vista to recognize the SDs again. In the hardware list it thinks everything is hunky-dory. I know the SD cards are technically okay as they work fine in my XP machines.

  • alunj says:

    Not so lucky – my USB stopped working a few weeks back.

  • Will says:

    Lucky you. i’ve tried three SD cards in my dell 1501 laptop and none will work with ready boost.
    i’ve got:
    a kingston 1gb x133
    a lexar 1gb x133
    a Sandisk Extreme iii 2gb card.

    any ideas?

  • alunj says:

    1. Don’t run the ReadyBoost test until your machine is some significant time into the boot.
    2. Until SD cards come with a “ReadyBoost ready” designation, don’t buy SD cards for the ReadyBoost, but be pleased if they work for you.
    3. Maybe it’s not the cards. Could it be that your SD card slot just can’t do the speed required?

  • Richard says:

    I see a pattern. I have used two Corsair GT USB drives and both worked for a while as ReadyBoost then stopped working, just like the examples above. The drives themselves are fine, if I turn on ReadyBoost they flash a bit and when I go back it is off again.

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