Use a flash drive to give your PC a quick boost of energy

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Sometimes you might be in a situation where you need to give your computer a quick boost of RAM (memory) in order for it to be able to handle an extra load.  Maybe you’re working on an older computer, and you have Word, Chrome, Photoshop and maybe a few other programs all running at the same time, and your old PC is choking on all those memory-intensive programs.  Fortunately, there’s a way to just give it a nice “nudge” by bumping up the available memory.  All you need is a blank flash drive.

extra RAM

Note that the important word about the flash drive is “blank”.  The first step in this process is to format the flash drive, which will wipe everything off it.  So make sure there is nothing important on there that you need to save somewhere else first.

Your computer might currently have anywhere from 1 gb of memory (RAM) to 8 or even 16 gb.  The programs on your computer use this memory to run, and they all have to share the memory at the same time.  If there are a lot of programs running, all of them will run more slowly because there is only so much memory to go around among them.

It’s like if you and some friends had a pie to share.  If you want as much pie as possible, it’s a lot better to share the pie with 4 friends than with 10 friends.  But if you can add another pie or two, that’s a solution as well.

computer memory

The trick I’m talking about today is like adding more pie (memory) so there’s more to share.  That way, all of the programs running should be able to run faster.

Setting this up is pretty simple.  Here’s how you do it:

1. Plug in the flash drive.  Click the Start button, then click Computer.  You’ll see the icons for the various drives displayed there, including the one for the flash drive:

flash drive RAM

2. If you have not done so already, do a right click on the flash drive and choose Format.  This clears everything off the drive so that the whole thing is available for use.  In the image above, you can see that the available space shows as 3.76 gb of space, but this is a 4 gb drive – that’s normal.

3. After the format is finished, close that window and then once again do a right click on the flash drive icon.  This time, choose Properties.  In the new window, click on the ReadyBoost tab:

flash drive ram

4. In that window click on the option that says “Use this device” and slide the marker all the way to the right in order to take full advantage of all the memory on the drive:

flash memory

5. Click OK to close the window, then close the “Computer” window with the red X up in the right corner.

If you try this, let me know what you experience as far as increased speed.  When I did it, it wasn’t a huge difference, but my computer is running 8 gb of memory already so it’s pretty fast anyway.  It would probably be a lot more noticeable if a computer is running 1 or 2 gb of memory, and the flash drive added another 4 gb or 8 gb.

When you’re done with your need for this extra RAM, you can take out the drive and use it for storage again.

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February 3rd, 2014

Great tip, Scott. Thank you. I have a quick question though, is this irregardless of OS. Meaning does it apply across the board for the various operating systems out there? I ask because I have an older OS and am wondering if the steps above are going to work for me.

p.s. I so plan to try this. Let me know.


Scott Johnson
February 3rd, 2014

It works with Windows 7 and 8. I have heard mixed results so far for Windows XP. But for anyone using XP, you’ve got bigger issues to deal with anyway. 🙂

Larry O'Grady
February 3rd, 2014

General – AutoPlay – Tools – Hardware – Sharing

That’s what I see when I go to ‘Properties’ of the 8gb flash drive. There is no READYBOOST or CUSTOMIZE option available to choose!

I’m running Win XP in a HP laptop with 2g ram. What version of Windows are you talking about Scott?

– L –

Scott Johnson
February 3rd, 2014

What I’m hearing from most XP users now is that this does not work with XP. It works with Windows 7 and Windows 8. As mentioned in a previous comment, you will need to upgrade or replace your Windows XP computer shortly anyway so it’s kind of irrelevant.

February 6th, 2014

Great. Thank you for the reply, and yes! I read your post on XP right after this one and that was most helpful. Especially the bit about Windows 7. Great tips as always – thanks again. 🙂


p.s. What is Windows Starter considered – this is the OS found in netbooks? I have a Dell Mini 10.

Scott Johnson
February 6th, 2014

That is actually Windows 7 Starter, so it is a variation of Windows 7 but with much more limited features. More detail on that here: